How do you evaluate an agency?


Appraisals are sometimes dreaded by marketers and their agencies. They can find it painful, arduous, and tense, but it doesn’t need to be that way. The provision of transparent, evidence-based feedback helps partnerships to reset, reassess and delivers better, more impactful work. Whilst appraisals are a useful tool to explore complex issues, embedding a fair system for feedback shouldn’t be a complicated task. At Flock, we believe that all appraisals should be based around the following principles:

All appraisals should be 360, holding both client and agency to account.

All partnerships are a two-way street, that’s why it is critical that appraisals at a minimum include a client-on-agency and agency-on-client assessment (sometimes brands choose to include self-appraisals and / or agency-on-agency appraisals too). All teams must be held to account for their performance and both sides must be ready to embrace feedback. The agencies we work with are particularly appreciative when a third party is used to gain the views of client and agency teams. Delivering feedback without bias means that all parties can be truly open and honest, helping to drive better trust and collaboration across teams.

Ask expert questions that assess past performance and future readiness.

Appraisals should review the last six months of performance. To make sure the assessment is effective, it is key to ask smart questions that evaluate teams against industry standards. That’s why at Flock we ratify our questions with agencies and clients to ensure that we home in on the issues effecting client / agency relationships. However, whilst it’s important to assess past performance it’s also necessary to look to the future. You need to understand if your is agency ready to tackle your long-term objectives and if there are any adjustments you need to make now to ensure that you meet your future goals.

Benchmark your results against industry standards.

Whilst the priority of an appraisal is to understand in detail how your own client/agency relationship is performing, being able to assess your results against industry standards is a very useful measure to determine whether you are in line, exceeding or below industry norms. To date, Flock have conducted over 175 appraisals globally and we have data points across multiple sectors that we use to benchmark agency performance against. This provides valuable insights to both clients and agencies to understand how they measure up against the rest of the industry.

Create collaborative action plans.

To see significant improvement in performance following an appraisal, it is criticalto put in place jointly created action plans that address the opportunity areas highlighted as part of the appraisal. This will align teams on quick wins and longer-term actions that will drive sustainable change and growth for your brand. Flock regularly hold interactive working sessions with clients and agencies to create collaborative action plans. Our consultants have run agencies and worked client side, so we know how to make teams work better together. This, along with our experience of successfully transforming global client / agency relationships means we have been able to coach teams to create action plans that have real impact, some of which have resulted in up to +40% improvement in performance.

Regularly review performance.

To truly embed a focus on continuous improvement, Flock recommends holding appraisals bi-annually. This allows teams enough time to address actions plan items, whilst also maintaining their attention on delivering against the opportunity areas. Whilst some brands do hold appraisals annually, often action plans can get lost throughout a year alongside busy day jobs and constantly changing business priorities.

Put in place an output-based remuneration model.

Agreeing a suitable remuneration model can have an enormous impact not only on the quality of your appraisal but also on the performance of your agency. Attributing appraisal scores to a bonus / malus reward system provides a clear and fair assessment of your agency against pre-agreed measures and targets. Flock have helped many brands to put in place bespoke remuneration models that align with the pitch promise and commitments laid out by their agency partners.

On average, the Flock Agency Appraisal Tool helps to improve agency performance by an average of 18%. Please contact us if you’d like to understand in more detail how the Flock Agency Appraisal Tool can help to deliver an efficient and effective agency appraisal process.

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