Case Studies

Revolution in Suburbia

HOW TRACKING TIME CAN INCREASE PROFITS

Suburbia Advertising, (www.suburbiaadvertising.com) a full-service design, advertising and multimedia company with offices in Vancouver and Victoria, Canada, has used FunctionFox, a web-based system, for several years now.

DROPPING CLIENTS TO MAKE MORE MONEY

Suburbia Advertising had used the web-based system for a year, to record time and expenses and help plan workflow and production. When they analyzed the data they'd collected over the year, they discovered that a full 80% of their time had been spent on clients that brought in only 20% of their revenue.

"We were shocked," says Virginia Boggie, Partner at Suburbia Advertising. "We had no idea we were spending so much time on work we couldn't bill – and shortchanging our profitable clients at the same time. The clients that took up most of our time and energy were the ones that didn't see the value of our work."

"We made a New Year's resolution to drop some of our least profitable clients, refocus our energy on the clients that appreciated the work we do, and aggressively seek out just 3 new business opportunities in the coming year."

A surprising element of Suburbia's new focus was a strategy to refer some of their least profitable clients to other companies. Boggie explained, "We want to keep our competitors busy working on those smaller accounts. They are so busy catching the little fish, they don't have time for the big ones!"

FEWER STAFF = MORE PROFIT

In a small design firm like Suburbia Advertising, losing 2 members of a 7 person creative team was a frightening thought. "When two of our junior designers told us they were leaving, we worried we wouldn't be able to handle the workload," says Boggie.

Personnel and Project reports showed Suburbia how much billable time each member of the creative team was putting in each week.

"We found that everyone was always busy, and the work they were doing was fabulous, but we really weren't able to bill all the creative development time," says Boggie.

"FunctionFox showed us that each of the remaining creatives would have to put in only an additional 3 hours of billable time a week, to make up for the designers that were leaving."

"We could see that we had the capacity to handle the work without replacing the departing designers," says Boggie. "FunctionFox showed us not only that everyone was busy, but exactly what they were busy with, and how much of that time we were able to bill."

BETTER WORKFLOW + BETTER CASH FLOW

Suburbia has not only used the FunctionFox system to reduce the number of clients and personnel while increasing revenue and profitability, it has helped adjust workflow to increase efficiency.

Boggie says, "it lets us see instantly which people have time available to take on extra work. In the past,we could see that everyone was busy, but didn't realize that so many people were putting extra, unbillable hours in on jobs simply because we hadn't given them a steady stream of billable work."

Knowing who's working on what, and how long the work is taking them, is vital in planning for maximum efficiency – although you can't put a time limit on creativity, you can limit the amount of time spent on unbillable tasks.

"We've changed the way we schedule and assign work," says Boggie. "Now we can make sure everyone has enough work and no-one is spinning their wheels putting in hours that we can't recoup."

FunctionFox has created a revolution in Suburbia. A new roster of clients, new staffing policies, new and improved workflow have all stemmed from the simple introduction of this easy-to-use time-tracking system.

"We love FunctionFox," says Boggie. "Every day we find new ways it can help us improve our productivity and profitability. It even makes it easier to get people to do their timesheets!"

Visit their website at www.suburbiaadvertising.com.