Aim for the Holy Grail: 100,000 per head revenue

"I’d say you should be perceived by the client to add considerably more than £100k per member of the team - and if you’re not, that’s your priority."

David Wood | Chairman | BBL/P

How would you explain what “aim for the Holy Grail: 100,000 per head revenue” means?


£100k per head (as an average) used to be a reasonable measure of productivity when salaries were lower and the costs of doing business predictable. In its favour, it encourages a bias to fee-earners, but nowadays if that’s your Holy Grail I’d say it lacks ambition.

Take away profit (the first call on sales), ever increasing tax, operational costs, salaries on-the-rise and rent and I suspect £100k won’t get you far.

So, bring out the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and blow things up a bit. Why focus on one metric when there are lots to think about. A doctor doesn’t stop at blood pressure. Take a more forensic approach to looking at the whole “body” of the 
business and don’t be afraid of surgery (and avoid homoeopathy).

Is what you do worth £100k per person to your clients? 

Of course I’m going to say yes but not go any further so our secret sauce remains… ehrm …secret. Looking beyond our company however and according to a recent survey, many clients are not all that happy. The WFA & Observatory Research found that only 25% of multi-national advertisers were very or extremely satisfied with their current agency roster. 69% were making or had recently made changes.

And anyway, rather than worrying about metrics, I’d suggest focus on the essentials - the value you add to your clients and to your team. EBIT will follow.

I’d say you should be perceived by the client to add considerably more than £100k per member of the team - and if you’re not, that’s your priority. Do things that make your agency more valuable (always bearing in mind Mark Earl’s advice - making things people 
like will always beat making people like things). Then there’s the team. We value Gallup Q12 or variants of it. Designed to discover if people have a sense of autonomy, belonging, purpose and mastery.

If you have clients who know you add significant value and an engaged team, look forward to rather more than £100k per head.

David Wood's full bio

David Wood (AKA "Woody") is from Lancashire and came to London via Oxford where he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics. His early career was in advertising. He’s proud of a long and diverse career which included working with the late Lord Bell for Mrs Thatcher, stints on Camelot, Royal Mail and global work for McDonald’s, Vodafone and HBOS.

In 1994 he founded the first digital agency in the then Saatchi Group - Bates Interactive. Digital became an increasing fascination leading to joining Clerkenwell based ISP Group 
NBT plc in 2000, first as global Marketing Director and later adding responsibility for New Product Development.

David Wood got involved in the world of luxury with Mary Portas and later branding with Heavenly Group.

Since 2019 he has been Chair of BBL/P - a Soho based digital marketing consultancy focussed on luxury business, which he’ll happily tell you is the best job he’s ever had.

He lives in Chiswick with his wife who is a business coach (they met in an Ad agency). Woody has two grown up no-longer-kids and an eleven year old, plus Rocky the Plummer Terrier. He doesn’t do anything in the spare time he doesn’t have.

Humble promo of David Wood and BBL/P


What I love most about David is how humble he is. BBL/P is one of the most impressive businesses I've seen in the agency world at that size - providing intelligence to some of the most well known luxury brands on our planet. David has been a partner and founder to numerous agencies that have literally shaped our industry e.g. Bates (the first "digital" agency of its kind in the UK). But instead of being all "high brow" about it, he just goes about his life trying to be nice to people, cheering people up and always willing to help out when called for. An incredible human being, someone I personally admire a lot in our industry and have a lot of time for.

Daniel (Polymensa founder)

Explore other perspectives

Darren Low
Founder @ Low&Behold

"It is one of the agency myths or bullshits, because it ignores all the other dynamics in your agency"

Read more

Chantelle Glenville
Chief Operating Officer @ Strategiq

"I think it’s useful to have quick and easy benchmarks to refer to"

Read more

Jason Neale
Founder @ The Agency Works

"I think it’s a good measure to aim for; but can also create negativity in an agency"

Read more

Jinny Mitchell-Kent
COO @ Great Estate

"I wouldn't exclude it from recommendations but it would be part of a wider set of things to consider."

Read more

The Rabbit Hole: The Moth

I think one of the main reasons we humans have survived as a species for so long is our ability to tell stories. This site has some of the most incredible stories I’ve heard, told by 'ordinary' human beings...

Peak down the rabbit hole

Blindspot: Capa e Betina

Since my move to Portugal, I’ve naturally come across cultural novelties all the time. One night I was walking down the narrow and dimly lit roads of Peniche. I could only hear my footsteps and the occasional screech of a seagull, when suddenly a whole crowd of people draped in long black capes cut me off at the next crossing. I honestly thought I was walking through a Harry Potter film set.

The capes are called “Capa e Betina” and are the traditional school uniform in Portugal. But what I didn’t know is that JK Rowling used to live in Porto and allegedly was inspired by these particular uniforms. Now if you’re a hard core Harry Potter fan, I am sure you already knew this.