For a digital agency, BGT Partners sure encourages a lot of face-to-face interactions.
Headquartered in Miami with offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, BGT Partners likes to downplay Facebook and instant-messaging use in its offices wherever possible, and even flies its employees in from other cities for weeklong intra-office trips on a regular basis. It's not quite what you'd expect for an agency that specializes in social-media and online buzz measurement.
David Clarke, BGT's co-founder and managing partner, said the company's new corporate offices in Florida are designed to have an open-office feel, with "huddle rooms" for his staff to verbalize any issues or ideas. "So often, IMs or e-mails get misconstrued," he said. "We want to encourage people to come back and forth and explore all other areas of the company if they're interested. We can only tell you to do so much."
To further encourage a friendly workplace, employees are expected to say "hi" every morning and "goodbye" every night. And during reasonable hours, no less -- Mr. Clarke said all offices recognize a fairly strict 9-to-6 work schedule. "Our managers will walk around and kick people out if they're in the office any later," he said. "We want people to take care of themselves, and if you're not happy that 's gonna start hurting your work."
With flexible hours and a litany of performance-based rewards (monthly spot bonuses, annual raises) it's no wonder that BGT has only lost one employee in the last three years across its 175-person staff. That extends to clients, too -- many companies have stuck with the agency upwards of 10 of its 15 years in existence.
Mr. Clarke chalks that up to the fact that BGT doesn't try to compete with traditional agencies, both in terms of business and recruitment. "We don't go in and say "We're going to replace your agency of record.' We want to earn every little piece of business."
Personnel-wise, the company looks to professionals from other sectors with an expertise in marketing, like automotive or engineering, rather than the big New York and Chicago ad shops. In fact, they've turned down otherwise qualified applicants from other agencies looking to climb the ladder for a few years.
"We want people who've kinda had their first job, had their second job and want to invest in the future," Mr. Clarke said. "We never have anybody with an attitude."