Book a demo

Unlock the full potential of your agency

With over three decades of experience in the field, a customer base across 20 different countries and capabilities in six different languages, we can tailor your solution to meet the needs of your team and your clients.

Download our brochure

May 15, 2024 • News

How to Improve Utilisation and Recovery Rates for an Agency?

“Lost time is never found again”. – Benjamin Franklin

As an agency that lost time can mean lost revenue, what’s more frustrating is you know where that time has gone thanks to tracking your agency’s utilisation and recovery rates. However, what can be done to claw back those precious minutes?  

In this blog we will provide you some tips and insights on how to get your utilisation and recovery rates back on track, which means healthier profits and a healthier agency.  

If your utilisation and recovery rates are performing poorly, then here are a few ways you can increase and improve on those rates.  

Boosting Utilisation Rates:

1. Track Your Time Religiously

If you’re not already doing this then, the first step is to implement a time tracking system, this way you can accurately capture how your team spends their hours. Many people may argue and say “time sheets are dead" or "manual time sheeting is not effective”. However, there are many tools available that can log time directly within tasks or projects, providing accurate data with minimal effort. Providing you with a clearer picture where time is being spent.

2. Identify Time Drains and Plug Them

Once you have time data, analyse it. Are there administrative tasks eating into creative time? Are meetings overly long or unproductive? Encourage your team to improve their time management. Schedule meetings only when essential and keep them focused and efficient. Utilise collaborative tools to facilitate communication without lengthy in-person meetings, many times a meeting could just have been an email. 

3. Streamline and Implement Workflows and Processes

Identify and eliminate bottlenecks or repetitive tasks that hinder productivity. Consider automation tools for administrative tasks or project management software to streamline workflows. This keeps projects on track, minimises rework due to miscommunication, and frees up valuable time for billable activities.

4. Improved Resource Allocation

Make sure your team are ready to go, manage team workloads, project timelines, and resource availability. Match team members with projects suited to their skillsets, assign tasks strategically, avoiding overallocation and ensuring everyone is contributing effectively. With correct resource allocation it won’t impede on any new or on-going client project. 

Boosting Recovery Rates:

1. Set Clients Expectations Early

Clearly define billable hours, project scope with agreed deliverables in client contracts this helps set a precedent. Maintain open communication with clients throughout the project to manage expectations and prevent scope creep.

2. Establish Boundaries

Some clients like to push their luck and get their money’s worth. While excellent client service is key, it's important to establish boundaries. Fosters transparency with clients, have proactive conversations to manage their expectations and adjust project costs and timelines accordingly. Don't be afraid to push back on unreasonable requests or constant last-minute changes, this will help you identify potential scope creep early on.

3. Create Project Processes and Workflows

Don't wait for problems to arise. Anticipate potential issues, map out tasks, identify dependencies, and create clear timelines with processes and workflows. This minimises wasted time, avoids bottlenecks, and ensures your team spends more time on the work in hand. 

4. Empower Your Team

Project speed and quality hinge on one crucial factor: a well-equipped, well-informed team. Equip your team with the technology and resources they need to work effectively. This could include project management software, design tools or communication platforms, even a solid brief from the client. Encourage open communication and collaboration between team members reduces rework and ensures everyone is on the same page, minimising wasted time.

5. Accurate and Timely Billing

When payments come in late, they can strain cash flow and make it difficult to meet financial obligations, invest in resources, or take on new projects. Ensure accurate time tracking and prompt invoice generation after project completion. Outline clear and concise payment terms in your contracts, including due dates, late payment fees, and the agency's collection process. Perhaps consider requiring upfront deposits, or staggered billing options for large projects to improve cash flow. This could work well especially for new clients or projects with a larger scope.

6. Follow Up on Overdue Payments

Agencies often need to dedicate time and resources to chasing overdue payments. Don't hesitate to follow up on overdue invoices promptly and professionally. These efforts take away from billable activities and add unnecessary administrative burdens. Develop a system for following up, utilise automated reminders or designated staff members to handle collections efficiently.

Additional Tips:

Invest in Agency Management Software: Agency management software can be a game-changer for improving both utilisation and recovery rates in marketing, PR, creative, and advertising agencies. These tools can be invaluable for tracking time, managing projects, allocating resources, streamlining communication, and automating a variety tasks.

By leveraging these functionalities, agency management software empowers agencies to not only track utilisation and recovery rates effectively, but also take actionable steps to improve them. This translates to a more efficient workflow, a happier team with better focus on billable work.

Promote a Culture of Efficiency: Create a work environment that values efficiency and productivity. Encourage team members to track their time effectively, minimise distractions, prioritise their workloads. Leaving them to focus on delivering high-quality work within deadlines.


In essence, utilisation rate tells you how much of your team's capacity is dedicated to generating revenue, while the recovery rate tells you how much of that potential revenue is actually captured. 

By implementing the above strategies and fostering a culture of efficiency, agencies can work towards achieving higher utilisation and recovery rates. This can be achieved by simply maximising billable hours, understanding how your team spends their time and creating the right processes. This translates to a more profitable business model with a happier team with a better work-life balance, and ultimately, a successful and sustainable agency.


Add A Dash of Paprika to Your Agency!

Paprika is an all-in-one agency management software that has been developed to streamline project management, resource allocation, time tracking and financial reporting. Paprika agency management software is not just another off the shelf solution, it is completely tailored to your agency’s requirements. It has been designed to grow with your business as you scale from a small agency into a large powerhouse company.