Maura Marziano (the vibrant COO of Common Giant) and nearly forty Swerve members from creative industries around the Piedmont Triad met on October 19 for our monthly Swerve Meetup to discuss Embracing Technology. “Revenue is a by-product of always improving,” said Maura, as she shared her technology recommendations. Not stopping there, Maura revealed how leveraging technology can improve and grow your business by saving time, detecting “drainers” in revenue streams, stratifying your clients, and deciding what tools to adopt.
Save time with Zapier
If you could turn a thirty-minute process into a five-minute process, would you do it? Maura and her team did just that by using Zapier. The list of tools and platforms used by businesses can be extensive, and each one requires updating when a new deal or project begins. Maura and her team used the “if/then” sequence features available through Zapier to integrate all of their tools and required only a Google Form submission to kick-start the automated process that would then update every platform utilized in their agency. This saved over twenty minutes, allowing her team to focus on what they do best – design and create.
Detect “Drainers” with Harvest
Maura is huge on time tracking, it’s a process required at Common Giant, and not because they bill by the hour, but because of the useful historical data it provides in detecting clients that “drive or drain” their business. Maura stated that just because a high volume client does business with them, it doesn’t always indicate high profits because they need to look at the expense. If a client requires a high level of interaction; for example, multiple follow-ups, meetings, change requests and phone calls; this drains their business’ resources. They can only see this by keeping track of time and analyzing the data on a regular basis.
Start to Stratify with Quickbooks
With a combination of the reporting tools, such as the Profit and Loss statement in Quickbooks and the time tracking data above, within time one will start to see a story that will determine clients that are your “drivers or drainers.” Maura uses that information to stratify clients and projects. At Common Giant, they use a simple 3-scale model to determine which clients are their best drivers and which are their worst drainers. This helps to maximize their efforts with their best clients and make important decisions on clients that are costing the business money.
Picking the right tools
Maura exclaimed the importance of looking for technology that is right for you. Companies will sell all kinds of bells and whistles that in reality could be unnecessary to a business. To help with that, Maura recommends building a matrix as follows:
- use/features – does it need to be mobile-friendly, have multiple user access, certain integrations, etc.
- budget – if it doesn’t fit the budget, don’t even put further thought into it- cross it off the list
- culture – most importantly, what level of change are you and your team able to tolerate?
After using the matrix to narrow down results, pick a tool and go for it. Don’t forget to:
- make a plan – make good use of free trial periods to determine a tool’s effectiveness
- communicate – let team members and stakeholders know about new tools and processes
- give it time – the process will evolve especially in the early days
- stick to it – ensure the team sticks to the plan and continues to use the tools
- measure – analyze the effectiveness of each tool and make iterations to the process
- Harvest – time tracking tool
- Zapier – automation tool that uses if/then statements and integrations
- Proposify – digital all-in-one invoice and online document signing
- QuickBooks – cloud-based bookkeeping software
- MailChimp – email marketing, automation, and segmentation software
- Co-schedule – social media and marketing calendar planning tool
- Typeform – electronic forms made fun
- Scripted – third-party blog writing services at budget pricing