An email subscriber asked me: “How many accounts or customers can a person manage? I limit mine to three at a time. But maybe there is a better way to figure out how many projects I could wear.
Like many questions about agency growth… it depends. Typically 4-8 counts per person. But it could be 20 accounts per person … or just 1 account per person.
Let’s look at the factors, to help you find the answer to your agency!
16 factors: how many accounts can they handle?
Here are the key factors to consider about the accounts receivable management workload, when deciding what’s right for your agency, and for each role, and for each person in the role.
- Broad or targeted role: If someone is only an account manager (i.e. they don’t also take care of order fulfillment), they can usually manage 4-8 accounts. If someone is only a strategist (i.e. not also a day-to-day customer contact), they can handle 8 to 12 customers. Learn more about the six agency roles. It’s hard to switch between tasks when someone is doing AM, PM, Strategy, and / or Subject Matter Expert (SME) work.
- Client budget: Budget matters. If a client spends $ 100,000 per month on services, it may only be one or two clients for their PA. If a client spends $ 5,000 per month, the PA can have eight clients. Part of this also depends on how much you pay for the AM, for example, $ 60,000 versus $ 120,000. In general, plan to allocate 20-25% of the client’s budget to AM and PM.
- Customer need: Regardless of the budget, an MA may be able to handle 6-8 easy-going clients… or just 2-3 needy clients. If the need for customers persists, consider “strategic attrition”… or you could end up losing your employees instead.
- Level of service: An agency providing product services to small businesses can fulfill requests through a support ticket system, while an agency doing expensive custom work can limit their clients’ workload to deliver an in-store customer experience. If a member of your team is the “maintenance and support” person (dealing with ad hoc requests from former customers), they could potentially process requests from 20 to 50 accounts, if each customer rarely contacts … and has weak expectations about the assistance experience. . What does your agency’s service level agreement (SLA) contain, whether specific or implied?
- Client complexity: Regardless of budget and level of service, how complex is the client? If you work with multiple departments in a single customer organization, each department is technically a “customer”. I’ve had this in the past, where we had multiple clients within a university — we received payments from one place, but we treated each department as a separate client.
- Billable target: An AM or PM will ideally bill around 20 hours per week. They can reach 25 hours per week… but much more means they will be working long weeks. Look at the billable load of each employee: if they are already in the target, it will be difficult to accept more clients without needing a longer week each week.
- Agency structure: An MA in a pod structure can manage more accounts because the rest of their team is “static”: everyone in their pod manages the same customers. This makes it easier for someone to step in to help, rather than having to share the context of the whole situation.
- Frequency of meetings: Do you have monthly meetings or weekly meetings? The frequency of client meetings impacts how many clients a person can handle, as 10 one-hour meetings per week (plus prep and follow-ups) means they only have 20 hours left to go. do the rest of their work.
- Frequency of customer integration: How often do you integrate new clients? Onboarding clients tends to be time consuming. If an MA onboard a new customer every two weeks (while maintaining their existing customer load), their workload will explode quickly. Consider what would happen if the trend continued.
- Employee experience: Your senior employees can probably handle more accounts at a time than your junior employees, as senior team members have more experience dealing with customer issues.
- Nature of the work: Are you doing a very complex job that requires multiple people, or does your job lend itself to one person doing it all? In PR agencies, people tend to play multiple roles (eg, AM, PM, Strategy, and PME). This tends to mean that they are ideally dealing with fewer clients at a time. I also see this in PPC agencies, where a PPC strategist can do AM, PM, and PME work.
- SOW Clarity: How clear is the Statement of Work (SOW)? In other words, regardless of your SLA, what are you committed to? And what not in the SOW? If your AM doesn’t know what’s in the scope — or the statement of work is vague — it’s more difficult to avoid the creep of the scope. And [unmanaged] scope creep leads to less ability to handle truly billable work.
- Administrative assistance: If an account manager has an account assistant or project coordinator who helps him with details, the MA can manage more accounts. If the MA must do all themselves, they cannot handle so many clients.
- Sales support workload: If an MA or strategist also does a lot of sales support, for example, attending sales meetings, doing scoping, or in some other way assisting the sales process, they can’t handle that many checking accounts.
- Managerial responsibilities: The more people someone manages, the less bandwidth they have to directly manage clients. Your VP of Accounts can oversee 20 accounts … but they’re not the daily contact for everyone, or even potentially all of them. This means that they can help MAs resolve any issues that arise.
- Owner priorities: As agency owners, most of my clients want to reduce or eliminate their day-to-day client responsibilities. After a few years of activity, they generally want to do strategy for their agency’s biggest clients… or not work in contact with clients at all. But that does mean someone else has to get things done.