I have spent nearly 15 years working with Marketing Agencies in various financial roles. I have seen what works and what does not. When an agency reviews specific reports regularly and takes action, they see success and grow profitably.
If you don't work with an agency, don't discount these reports. Many of them are the same for you but with some industry-specific variation.
1. P&L Comparison
A Profit & Loss (P&L) Report alone has some value, but it means much more when there is context. I recommend reviewing a report that provides you the P&L and compares the following:
- Monthly comparison to last year, budget, and the previous forecast
- Year-to-date (YTD) comparison to the previous year, budget, and previous forecast
- Full-year forecast to the previous year, budget, and last forecast.
- Next year forecast (This is most important after mid-year).
By reviewing these reports, you can understand where you are in your agency and where you are headed. You catch expenses early that may be getting out of hand—the trends in your business. To build this report, I recommend building out a monthly P&L until the end of the year and maybe next year, depending on where you are in the year.
2. Revenue Comparison
Take a look at your revenue by client and compare revenue to the prior year, budget, and forecast. I would recommend a similar approach as the P&L comparison in that you look at the month, YTD, full-year, and maybe even next year.
Get an understanding of your existing revenue, prospect revenue that has not closed, and unidentified business needed to hit your yearly goal.
3. Client Profitability
A Client Profitability Report can take time to produce. Start with your P&L and revenue by client reports, as mentioned above. Combine these reports with employee salaries and time spent by client. This report is valuable because it will tell you which clients are unprofitable and which one is carrying the load for the business. Clients that took more time and were not priced appropriately will typically be unprofitable or below the margin you desire.
If you have a good time system, this a bit easier to produce. If not, survey your employees each quarter to know the percentage of time they spend per client. Then, you have all the pieces to build this report.
Reviewing this report regularly and taking action on the results will eventually lead you to more profitability. Don't be surprised if you come to the conclusion you need to stop working with some clients. It will also inform your future pricing decision, so new clients will produce the margin you want.
4. Balance Sheet
This report is looked at the least as it is the hardest to understand. This report provides more information as to where cash is going. It informs of Accounts Receivables, Debt, and other accruals. Without reviewing this report, you may be profitable, especially if you practice accrual basis accounting but do not have cash. The answers are in the Balance Sheet. If your Balance Sheet is clean and reconciled, then you can safely rely on the numbers on the P&L.
5. Weekly Cash Flow
Many businesses run tight with cash and have to dip into a Line of Credit to continue to pay vendors or employees. There is nothing wrong with this. I know many agencies carry large passthrough expenses, and seasonal exposure makes cash fluctuate over the year and even the month. A weekly cash flow will help you understand the cadence of how customers pay, due dates for vendors, credit card payments, and payroll. Also, payments such as taxes, fixed assets, or bonuses can be forecasted to understand their impact.
I know that that there is a lot in the list of reports above. It can take some time to get to a point where you have accurate information and have this information. Don't let this stop you from getting this information and reviewing it regularly.
If you desire help producing these reports or even a financial assessment of where you are today, book a time here to find time on your calendar to talk for 15 to 30 minutes.
Also, if you want more information, check out this resource page specifically for marketing agencies.