We are a small, independent event management agency. The business was started 12 years ago and we work for some pretty big, competitive companies that are major international players in their business sectors. So why would they choose a small agency like ours and trust us to support and sustain their reputation and safeguard key business relationships?
To understand this situation we need to dispel some preconceptions and myths about small independent companies generally and agencies like ours specifically. Here are a few:
“Small” means new and inexperienced.
We are not a start-up, but even when we were, we already had decades of industry-specific experience, hundreds of supplier contacts and a long list of successful projects for prominent client companies across several sectors.
Clients hiring small agencies conduct the same due diligence as they do when assessing bigger suppliers and they demand the same standards of service. Those clients are making a deliberate choice that reflects the many positive aspects of the close relationship which they can develop with a small independent company. They are not in the mood to compromise and the owner of a small supplier agency has nowhere to hide!
“Independent/owner-managed” means the principals are not good enough to be employed by bigger companies in their field.
Most small agencies in our industry are owned and managed by experts with established successful careers and reputations. They may “go independent” as a life-style choice, or more often because they want to retain a bigger share of the profits they have previously generated for their employers!
Ambitious, determined, risk-embracing entrepreneurs are a breath of fresh air for many jaundiced corporate decision-makers who are disillusioned with the expensive service they often get from big agencies.
Small suppliers carry lower overheads, directly employing a core team of outstanding people. They accept full responsibility for the service they provide. They also have the flexibility of augmenting their human resources with the best freelance specialists for projects when required. Independent agencies work much harder at creating strong relationships with partner suppliers (in our case venues, technical and production companies, entertainment and catering companies, overseas destination representatives and many more.)
“Small suppliers have fewer resources”
With the power of IT systems, internet connections, virtual networks and sophisticated project management programmes at their disposal, small agencies have as much “resource muscle” as the bigger players.
The owners of these small companies have an acute personal understanding and appreciation of all these business tools. They cannot depend on departmental managers or board directors to second-guess what might be needed and to decide for them! They are personally liable for delivering the right service solution for their clients every time.
Independent agencies are flexible and agile. When necessary, they can amicably connect with other independents in jointly-managed projects or programmes, or simply sub-contract aspects of the operation with confidence and in complete confidentiality. Directors of small agencies tend to have a real can-do attitude and are motivated by the desire to help clients succeed, because that generates personal satisfaction and reward for them too!
Experience meets opportunity
Our headline theme summarises what happens when an experienced, accomplished professional decides to go it alone. Small agencies are run by people who really care about applying their skills, knowledge and experience to ensuring that their clients maximise every opportunity.
In our company, PAEM, we are committed to the principle of life-long learning through networking and consulting with others in our sector. Our CPD (Continuous Professional Development) will be enhanced by the recent decision to become a member of a UK-based alliance of independent, privately-owned event agencies called AIEA.
AIEA, the Alliance of Independent Events Agencies, exists to network, share our knowledge, experience and resource to enable us to provide the best quality service to our clients. You can discover more by visiting the Alliance’s web site at www.aiea.co.uk .