Staffing the Internal Agency | Knowledge Partners | All MKC Content | ANA

Staffing the Internal Agency


By Jim Wallace

Agency Management & Marketing Operations Expert, Jim Wallace, of Blum Consulting Partners explores the best ways to prepare for work with contractors and how to best streamline the process for both procurement and agencies.

Competitive Analysis

"Surprisingly the mark-up staffing companies charge clients can range from 20% to 100%. It pays to run a competitive analysis to drive to the best rates and get transparency"

Most in-house agencies are built with a mix of staff employees, contractors, and freelancers which allows flexibility to scale and address burst capacity needs, seemingly, a sound business and operational approach.

But how do you prepare to work with contractors? How do you align with HR and Procurement to make sure you are getting your needs met? What are the pitfalls and best practices for working with a staffing company? And how do you know if you will get the right talent at the right price?

Of course, there are many things you should evaluate when reviewing and selecting a staffing company.

  • Financial and contractual considerations
    • rates
    • terms
    • contractor conversion timing
    • cost
  • Anticipated degree of difficulty and time it takes to execute the MSA
  • Ability to source the right talent
  • Lead time and candidate screening for the hiring process
  • Reputation in servicing the requesting client or other clients

We always start with a competitive selection process. It is wise to take a fresh look at the field of staffing companies even if you have experience with hiring. While there are many things to look for during your review, some key ones include markup, conversion flexibility, true experience in securing "agency" talent, their reputation and level of service, and culture and chemistry fit. Also, ask for recent and relevant case studies.

Following are five key considerations to help you prepare for hiring and ensure you find the right company to meet your in-house agency staffing needs.

  1. Outline your support requirements early: Occasionally we have seen clients wait till the end to start talking about their support needs. Getting on top of this from the start is critical to a successful relationship. Being clear about items like who is the lead from the staffing company on the engagement, outlining your standard reporting requirements and cadence, and setting clear expectations for on-boarding and training are a must.
  2. Align on the location strategy: While this has always been important, in today's hybrid working world it is even more critical. Being clear on what roles must be in certain locations vs. remote will help drive a successful staffing plan. In-office vs. remote working requirements are a top-of-mind item for both contactors and clients so it pays to be really clear upfront on the company policy.
  3. Absolutely negotiate the markup: Surprisingly the mark-up staffing companies charge clients can range from 20% to 100%. It pays to run a competitive analysis to drive to the best rates and get transparency. Define how many contractors you plan to hire over what period to help drive the conversations. Obviously, the more people you hire the more profit for the staffing company which should help drive the negotiation. Additionally, the level of people you are hiring should be considered as the degree of difficulty is different for recruiting entry-level, mid-level, and senior level contractors.
  4. Define expectations for the working relationship:
    1. Be clear on the process for hiring, reporting requirements and your compensation requirements for the staffing company.
    2. Ensure the staffing partner has a very clear understanding of your roles and requirements. There are lots of nuances when hiring for an in-house agency including familiarity with specific software packages and operating platforms.
    3. Outline your success criteria before you start the relationship to help set yourself up for a great working relationship.
    4. Be clear on how evaluate performance. Setting the expectations and the outlining the playing field will help drive the right behavior and stronger performance.
    5. Be clear on contractor conversion costs and expectations, and outline the process if a contractor is not working out.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when selecting and setting up a staffing company for your in-house agency. If you utilize these best practices, it will help ensure you find the right partner and get the right talent for the job.

About the Author

Blum Consulting Partners, Inc., specializes in process review, analysis, and implementation to maximize creative output, effective process, and efficient use of resources in the creative execution process. We work with agencies, creative content providers, marketing stakeholders, and in-house agencies, to identify and close gaps at each step of the creative process. We deliver solutions and implement procedures that help companies plan for future growth, deliver on expectations, communicate better internally and externally, and save time and money.

This article was originally published on MXPIQ.COM in 2023.


"Staffing the Internal Agency." Blum Consulting Partners, 2023.

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