August 10, 2020 How to bring an agency ‘in-house’

By Melinda Jennings

business people shaking hands in a meeting room

Ah, the classic argument of agency vs in-house. It’s been waging since the days when cavemen bickered over whether to source fire-building materials from outside parties or build up their resources themselves (hey, it could have happened!).

It can be hard to know whether it’s better for your business to create an in-house team of specialists, or simply bring in a ready-built team from an agency. Ultimately, only you (and your key decision makers) will know what’s right for your organisation. However, we’re here to equip you with the right tools to make that decision.

Why bring an agency in-house?

There are a number of potential benefits to hiring an agency and bringing them in-house. Such as? Glad you asked…

Saved time

Because specialists from agencies come in ready to hit the ground running, you can save a lot of time bringing them in-house. And, as we know, time is money.

This includes time you’d usually spend onboarding your new employees, building and nurturing their talent, and providing professional development (e.g. performance reviews). Agencies handle their own training in-house, allowing you to benefit from skilled professionals without having to do any work.

Top talent

Agencies have long attracted a certain go-getter type of worker. That’s because usually, to work for an agency, you need to be agile, a big thinker, and quick to complete work (which still needs to be high quality).

Agency life certainly isn’t for everyone. But it can attract some really top talent. And who gets to benefit from that talent-scouting if you bring an agency on-board? Your company, of course!

More flexibility

You may have a need for a new role, but do you know how long it will need to be filled? Is it a project-based position, or will there potentially be work afterwards? These are the kinds of questions you may be asking yourself when considering hiring someone, even if it’s just on a contract-basis.

With an agency, you have far more flexibility to bring them on for a short-term project, a long-term partnership, or anything in-between! You could get their assistance for a quarter and find you don’t need them again until the next financial year.

It’s a lot easier to have specialists from an agency come and go, rather than employees you’ve brought on yourself.

Fresh perspectives

It doesn’t take long to become over-familiarised with a business. While that level of knowledge can be handy (and is probably part of the reason you’re so good at your job!), having a fresh set of eyes and ideas can have a really positive impact.

Because specialists from an agency will likely still be working with other clients, or at least learning from their colleagues, it’s easier for them to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening across the industry. This means they can keep delivering fresh ideas and knowledge to your company, for as long as you keep them around.

Greater productivity

Another thing agencies are known for is speed. It’s pretty well expected for specialists working agency-side to whip up amazing work in as little time as possible. Need we spell out how beneficial that can be to your business?

Cons to bringing an agency in-house

Handing over the reins to an agency isn’t all sunshine and automatic sales growth. There are some cons you might like to keep in mind.

These include:

  • Contractors from agencies might not have full access to all your software and programs, especially if your company has strict security regulations in place. You might be able to work with your IT team to give them access, but this can be trickier than setting up a new employee, for example.
  • In-house employees often have more of an opportunity to get a deeper, more rich understanding of your business over the time they work there.
  • If your team is working together every day, in the same space, it can be a lot easier to build comradery and a team culture. Agencies will often organise to have their specialists work in your office a certain amount of days per week, but if full-time presence is important to you, this might not be ideal.

Is bringing an agency in-house is right for you?

There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all answer to whether bringing an agency in-house is the best approach for your business. But by taking stock of a few considerations (including the pros and cons listed above), you’ll be one step closer to figuring it out.

Some additional questions you can ask yourself include:

  • How easy is it to integrate contractors into our system?
  • Will we need help for the short-term or long-term? Or are we not sure yet?
  • How much time could we save bringing in an already-specialised agency?
  • Do we already have an established relationship with an agency, or would we have to start from scratch?
  • How open to new ideas are we as a company? Could a fresh perspective and specialised knowledge benefit us?

Finding the answers to these questions can help you get a better idea of whether adopting an agency is the right move for you. If you decide that it is, there’s just one more hurdle to face: how exactly do you bring an agency-in house?

A step-by-step guide for bringing an agency in-house

1. Find an agency

Well, before you bring an agency into your company, you need to choose one. You may already have an established relationship with a brilliant agency – if so, congrats! Skip this step and merrily move onto the next.

If not, it’s an exciting opportunity for you to find an agency that suits your company’s beliefs, ethos, and requirements. From an agency-perspective, we know how fulfilling and important it is to work with clients that share our values, and the same goes the other way, too.

As well as doing some research, reach out to your network and see if anyone already has an agency connection up their sleeve. Knowing someone who can vouch for an agency will go a lot further than an average Google search. If you find a couple of agencies that you’re pleased with, don’t be afraid to pit them against each other; not in a Hunger Games arena-style fight – more in the way of asking them to pitch for your business. A good agency will be able to clearly and concisely demonstrate why they’d be a good fit for you.

2. Figure out what (and who!) you need

Understanding the scope of the work required can be tricky, but it’s important. Your chosen agency needs to know how many specialists you’ll need on the job, and what kind of skills they need to be equipped with.

Don’t be afraid to lean on your agency for this process. As long as you can provide an outline of the brief and your budget requirements, they should be able to work with you to come up with the best solution.

3. Discuss contracts

Again, most agencies will have a rough draft of a contract based on previous projects they’ve worked on. Still, you need to know what’s important to you and be willing to voice your needs.

Figuring out a contract can include:

  • how many hours per week they’ll be required to work on your brand
  • what output level you expect
  • which meetings they’re required to go to (for example, they might not need to attend all-day planning days your business runs annually)
  • what level of access they’ll have to your systems and software
  • any equipment they’ll be able to use, such as laptops, lockers and phones
  • how you’d like to deal with sick days or leave contractors might take (e.g. those days could be accrued and extended at the end of the contract period), and
  • whether rates will be calculated at a daily or project level (and what those rates are, of course!).

4. Revisit your onboarding process

You probably already have an onboarding process set up for your employees. Rather than reinventing the wheel, you can repurpose this for your contractors when they come in-house. The only difference is that it probably won’t have to be as extensive (for example, your company policies on how they request leave aren’t applicable), so you can choose to chop and change a few things.

5. Let the experts do the rest!

Having a contractor step into your team isn’t as complex as you may think. Once you’ve established the parameters for your working relationship and set them up, you’ll basically work with them as you would with one of your own employees. Of course, you’ll also have the added confidence that they’re a specialist in this field and should be able to work autonomously without you needing to hold their hand.

If you’re on the lookout for a copywriting agency to work in-house with you, well, you’re in the right place. The team at Avion Communications has worked with some of Australia’s most iconic brands and seamlessly integrated our knowledge into new and existing marketing and communications teams.

To find out more about how we could help you and your business, get in contact with us today.