Paul Holmes 10 Jul 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Metzger Associates was not immune to the problem facing the entire industry — client retention. Clients were leaving the agency due to its employee turnover and small size. Recognizing its high turnover rate (15 to 20 percent) and that of PR professions on the agency level in general, the company’s management team got together to assess the situation. It was obvious that Metzger Associates wanted to make its mark in the PR industry. Understanding that employee retention can mean client retention, Metzger Associates began to gather specific research from publications and companies regarding employee benefits packages.
The company then created a top-notch benefits program that is unsurpassed in the industry and satisfied the needs of current workers. Now, the company needed to spread this information to the national and local media, as well as the public relations industry, through two media tours. The results were overwhelming, and today the growth of the firm is driven, not hampered by the recruitment of new employees, and the retention of existing ones. It is through a wonderful environment and the execution of its benefits program that Metzger Associates’ employees continue to maintain professional development and growth.
Metzger Associates should be used as an example to other agencies in the industry — if you want client satisfaction and retention, develop happy employees.
CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITIES:
Metzger Associates was very excited about its new plan to develop a comprehensive benefits package. There were many issues to consider, like cost, management of the program and satisfying the interest of all employees.
Cost is always a common concern among agencies. It is a give and take relationship — spend more on employee satisfaction and pay less on extraneous needs. With help from an out-sourced human relations firm, Metzger Associates made sure it could afford its offerings.
Understanding that the personal liberties the benefits gave employees would be difficult to manage, Metzger Associates developed a unique system to manage and track each employee’s time down to the hour. Without this approach the company would risk having an excellent benefits program that would not be utilized because employees were overworked and stressed. This individual approach lets each employee know they are being treated fairly and that management is being true to its commitment of providing a balanced lifestyle. The depth and breadth of this program was something that could not just get bolted on, it needed to be the basis of our entire organization.
Then there were the employees. How can the company satisfy everyone? The only way to achieve this was developing a well-rounded program. By combining monetary rewards, investments, education, exercise and relaxation, Metzger Associates accomplished this task nicely.
However, among these challenges was the largest opportunity of all — receive recognition from the public and clients for its efforts in developing happy and healthy employees. That opportunity was worth the adventure.
RESEARCH, PLANNING AND OBJECTIVE:
Metzger Associates had two main objectives: recruit and retain the profession’s best and brightest communications practitioners. These were both very important in maintaining the growth of the agency and client retention.
First, Metzger Associates researched many sources to determine what was being offered in the industry. But it wasn’t so we could match other companies. It was to surpass them and gain a competitive edge.
The company searched publications and hired a human relations firm, which contacted its clients for information about their programs. After materials were collected, all benefit packages were laid out and analyzed closely. Then, Metzger Associates’ benefits were created.
Secondly, the company had to introduce the new package to the public. A media tour was developed in which national and local reporters were contacted and communication was maintained.
Usually when companies are faced with problems of client retention, they develop programs that affect only the client. These can include offering more services, lowering rates, expanding office locations and increasing hours. However, this doesn’t address the real problem. It’s only a temporary solution. Metzger Associates buried down to the root — the core problem clients were facing — turnover of agency employees. So, we met our business goals (client retention) by recruiting and retaining our workforce.
It was through this strategy that Metzger Associates’ employees were able to grow professionally and client satisfaction was maintained.
Metzger Associates launched its comprehensive benefits program January 1, 2000. Employees were presented with the most exciting benefits ever recorded. When new applicants came forward, Metzger Associates was sure to show its program. But the execution didn’t stop there.
Now that the program to retain employees was enforced, the company had to begin showcasing it to the industry in order to attract the profession’s best and brightest communication practitioners. In first quarter of 2000, Metzger Associates went on a media tour. The management team met with reporters from PR Tactics, PRWeek, O’Dwyers PR Service Report and others. These meetings resulted in prominent coverage.
Through its strategic approach and extensive research, Metzger Associates received phenomenal results. The company saw an increase in job applicants and a decrease in turnover. The turnover rate reported in 2000 was 2.2 percent, down from approximately the 15 to 20 percent figures reported in 1999.
The benefits program was being used widely among its employees. Of the $80,000 available, approximately $48,000 was used for relaxation, physical fitness, education and outdoor living. These figures don’t include individuals who no longer needed to attended work on their birthday, contributions to 401(k) plans and the rewards for bringing new clients or retaining ones established with the agency.
In addition, Metzger Associates not only retained clients but dramatically increased its client list. Some new clients include Sprint PCS, Time Warner Telecom and Space Imaging. And due to the expansion of client and staff size, the company opened a second office, which is located in downtown Denver.