Ramping up your resilience: How to win during a downturn

Find out what was discussed at our inaugural BIMA x Forecast Roundtable


On Tuesday 9th August, we were thrilled to host the inaugural BIMA X Forecast Roundtable, held inside the elegant private dining room of the Brasserie Blanc on London’s Southbank.

This intimate event brought together a diverse group of 10 Agency and Professional Services leaders to discuss the current economic climate and looming recession. The purpose was to share concerns, advice, and tangible methods leaders can put in place now to retain talent, remain competitive and sacrifice as little profit as possible.

To host and steer the conversation, we had 2 experts in the industry: Melanie Lawn, CCO at Forecast and Mary Keane Dawson, Business Coach and Global Ambassador for BIMA.

Mel has been Chief Customer Officer at Forecast for 9 months – responsible for all things customer post-sale. Mel joined Forecast due to her expertise scaling high-growth software businesses to acquisition or IPO. Prior to Forecast, Mel played a role in the growth and sale of Peakon for $700M. Mel’s background is in PR, marketing and brand agencies – the likes of Freud Communications and Text 100, therefore Mel seriously understands the grit that goes into agency life!

Mary’s unique career spans 35 years of female leadership experience in publishing, advertising and creative agencies, as well as martech, influencer, social platforms and performance media. Working with highly talented teams, she has built, led and sold three agency businesses as well as raising over £100+ million of investment funding for both start-ups and established businesses. A committed advocate and global ambassador of BIMA, she was the perfect co-host for the roundtable!

So that open and honest conversation was encouraged, the meal operated with Chatham House Rules, both with regards to the recession, but also the high calorie count all attendees had on their name tags next to their food order…

In short, the key takeaways were as follows:

Act quickly

In challenging times, leaders have to take actions quickly. If you have a tough decision to make, it will only get harder if it is dragged out.

Manage Expectations

Covid inflated salaries and expectations across the board, educate your teams on the value exchange of working in your organization

Gen Z want flexible working, a casual work environment that encourages open communication and mental health support... and yes they do want a ping pong table, pool table or even an Xbox.

But actually, what they really want, and need, is a clear progression plan and coaching. The pandemic forced many young people to enter their agency careers behind screens, without the boozy parties, and client-on-sites of times gone by. Educate them on what work is all about: lasting relationships.

Build Relationships

The softer sell will make your client relationships soar. Where possible, have face time with your clients. Clients rely on their agencies to make them look good. Instead of discussing the project over Zoom, why not go to their office or organize a cross-office drink? Agency partnerships are more successful when both parties recognise they’re part of each other's teams.

One attendee at the roundtable even hosts onboarding sessions for their clients' new employees to meet the agency and learn how the businesses work together. This encourages the idea that everyone is just as much part of the agency as they are the clients.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead sounds obvious… but it's easy to overlook. Work out what your bottlenecks and challenges will likely be in 6 months time and prepare for this. Get a consolidating software that acts as a single-source-of-truth!

Forecast is the ultimate upgrade for all Professional Services Businesses. Our platform automates busywork, predicts outcomes and guides projects to success, ultimately empowering every team member to do their best work. Agencies such as FINALLY and Holition have been able to increase billable utilization rates, mitigate risks and improve client satisfaction with Forecast.

Subscribe to the Forecast Newsletter

Get a monthly roundup of productivity tips & hacks delivered straight to your inbox