4MAT, an award winning digital agency specialized in the recruiting industry, realized they needed to improve their workflows and streamline their processes in order to maintain their elite position in the market. Like many global agencies, they relied on several different tools to manage their clients and projects. But, as their popularity grew and demand increased, their ability to expand globally was hindered by their disjointed processes. 4MAT Managing Director, James Saunders, says that at that time, the company “had no real visibility into client and project work,” making it hard to know what was going on and risky to invest in growing the business further. So began their mission to find a solution that empowered and connected everyone on their team.
Transparency and automation increase revenue by 10%
Long-winded email threads and managing inbox folders weren’t working anymore with the agency’s teams in different offices globally. They wanted to expand, but continuously struggled to find the information they needed, connect with the right people, and organize projects in a multi-tool environment.
As a result, productivity and efficiency suffered. Knowing what people were actually working on was complicated and tracking utilization was impossible. “We had no way of knowing how many projects we were doing, who we were doing them for, or how long it was taking us," explained James Saunders, 4MAT's Managing Director. "Because of the volume of projects, we were not able to spend as much time on the high value projects as we desired,” and naturally the quality of work began to suffer.
Recognizing this was no way to run a growing business, James and the team began to look at new tools to improve their work management. 4MAT looked at various business management tools but couldn’t find a solution that allowed them to seamlessly organize all of their client work in one place - until they found Accelo.
“I didn’t think it was possible to have this kind of company-wide transparency and collaboration. I love Accelo’s Stream. It’s made the entire team more connected” James said. Now, 4MAT can find all of their data and client information without having to search through disorganized email threads or jump between task tracking, project management or a myriad of other tools.
With the most important information always up to date and in one place, "it gives us a much quicker turnaround," says James. With its automated time tracking - which captures time spent in meetings and client emails automatically, 4MAT has been able to increase billable hours by 10% each week.
Reducing costs with 15% better efficiency
In addition to boosting revenue, 4MAT has also been able to cut costs through increased efficiency. In a growing business, that means winning more accounts without the need to hire more employees - making for a much more profitable business.
As James puts it, “now we always know exactly where everything is, and where all the problems are." It’s allowed them to see how much of their team’s billable hours are being utilized and where they can be more efficient, even though their team is dispersed.
"The main thing is that Accelo has made it clear what’s important and what’s not so important. Now we know what we can afford to put off for a bit for when we have more time to do it," says James.
As James describes, "when we didn’t have Accelo, all we had were threads and threads of emails, so often, we would have over 5 or 6 threads of emails about the same project - we were wasting so much time. With Accelo, we have a central location for everyone to communicate and collaborate; to work out the timeline, content, design, or copy issues together.”
While all growing businesses seek out new clients and revenue, improving efficiency and utilization can dramatically boost profits from the work you're already doing for your existing clients. "The virtue of having everything in one system makes it a lot easier for people to collaborate on projects, and it breaks down some of those knowledge barriers, so you don't have to track things down in your notepad or search through email threads to follow up on tasks. It's almost made it a joy amongst everyone to map out a project," says James.
Higher revenue and lower costs means a big profitability boost
The powerful thing about increasing revenue and reducing costs is their effect on profitability. With most businesses running on an EBITDA margin of 15%, being able to increase revenue by 10% by billing more for the work you're already doing (by reducing time leakage) means every extra dollar goes straight to the bottom line (boosting net margins to around 25%).
Then when you add in the lower costs of a 15% increase in efficiency (in 4MATs case, being able to take on more projects with the same amount of staff), and with labor costs represent 50%-60% of a business' cost base, it’s easy to see how this can boost profit margins by another 7%-8%. The revenue boost and the efficiency savings together can drive EBITDA profit margins up over 30% - double the industry average.
For a growing business like 4MAT, being more profitable allows them to invest in winning new clients and expanding to new offices with confidence, knowing that the systems underpinning their growth will keep them on track as the business expands.