John Emmerson’s Story
London Agency is a public relations agency based in Melbourne, Australia. They specialize in the medical domain, specifically to clients involved in medical devices, diagnostics, and pharmaceutical areas. They use human-centered storytelling to make their clients’ complex, highly-regulated products compelling to the end customers.
John Emmerson is Director at London Agency.
John found out about SYSTEMology through Build a Better Agency Podcast – a podcast hosted by Agency Management Institute.
On the podcast, SYSTEMology founder Dave Jenyns was a guest, providing advice on scaling an agency successfully by using systems.
Dave’s own story of scaling his SEO agency and creating time for family resonated with John.
At the time, John had a team of eight people and some procedures in place, but they lacked the level of consistency that he wanted to scale the business.
“Most business owners know that improving your systems is important, but it is seldom on fire. Therefore, that sort of really critical work may not necessarily be prioritized in the way that it absolutely should be. And that is unquestionably frustrating; I would suggest that it is probably the biggest barrier to scaling for any business.”
John then read the SYSTEMology book, and a couple of things stood out to him:
- The importance of having a systems champion drive the systemisation effort. One of the barriers to systemising a business is often business owners having too much on their plate to get it done themselves.
- A clear methodology that was simple to implement. Many owners struggle with the “how” of developing systems in their business.
“How do you start? It’s unlikely that this is the first time that any small business owner has thought about it and tried to give it a go, so there is a very particular methodology that the SYSTEMology book describes.” – John Emmerson.
John was concerned that his firm operates in the service industry, which has a high intellectual property and customization level, making it challenging to establish systems to scale the business.
When John learned about the SYSTEMology Catalyst program that could provide him assistance and direction, he signed up.
His goals for the program were to gain a better “definition around systems, build systems, socialize that within the team, and have a methodology so that we can do that more.”
Having a system for improving systems
John mentioned that the SYSTEMology method had given him and his team a sense of empowerment.
“The program has been able to empower us, to show that we can develop systems that will serve as the optimum way to improve our business and our working lives. We also see how we can repeat that again and again.”
Creating standardized ways to generate new income streams
John and his team now know that they can provide new services for clients and deliver a standardized experience thanks to their SYSTEMology expertise.
“If we’re looking to open new streams in the business and so on, we can develop a particular playbook to do that in a standardized way that will offer the best results for clients and make for a pleasant and productive working environment for the team.”
Removing key person dependency and bottlenecks in delivery
John and his company developed a system to get that information shared collectively in the team and then into a repeatable pattern.
“What I love about the program is that there are some very simple ways that you can document processes, whether it be in Google Sheets, doing a quick Zoom video recording, and so on… So you’re removing key person dependencies because nothing is something that can only be done by one person.”
John and his team have now got a suite of systems that run without any key person being involved.
“We’ve just accepted that this is how we do things here; we know this is the best way for us.”
Winning team support to shift to a systems culture
Many business owners are concerned that employees will get in the way of their systemisation.
This doesn’t have to be the case at all, as John discovered: “I was pleasantly surprised at how open to systems the team are.”
Shifting perspective on what can and can’t be systemized
John also realized that his agency’s business systems were not so dissimilar from other types of businesses.
“There are always going to be challenges on capacity, resources, and so on. Therefore the likelihood of you being able to build an entire system for your business in one week, particularly with what we do, which is a service industry with a high level of intellectual property and tailoring, but nonetheless, you’ve got to do it, and you’ve got to start somewhere.
Furthermore, John understands that while clients may have distinct problems, his team can follow a predictable pattern in how it addresses those problems.
“While each client’s unique challenge might have its particular characteristics, nonetheless, it will follow a particular pattern that can be systemized. If it is literally unrepeatable (which I’d be surprised if it is), then don’t offer it because, by definition, you can’t do it again.”
In the words of John, systemizing his agency is comparable to what tailors can do.
“Even the best tailors in the world who produce bespoke clothing for their customers still have a standard process!”
Because of their commitment to assisting medical technology businesses, London Agency has experienced a boost in business during the pandemic. John is optimistic about the future, and with his systems approach in hand, he’s even more excited.
“The client base is seeking partners with a unique skill set, which means that we’re in a perfect place to grow. By having a systems culture, we will be able to meet that challenge and be able to deliver repeatable results.”
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London Agency implemented a systems culture, removed key person dependency, and built a sustainable and scalable agency.