Nikki Bisel, Owner and Founder of Seafoam Media, Internet Marketing Consultancy and Agency, had tried every project management tool out there, and the result was always the same. The tools were essentially glorified to-do lists, and she was unable to find a platform that truly fit her business’ needs.
“I felt that when I was researching and testing the majority of the other platforms out there, they were all just different versions of the same thing. Accelo was really the only platform that did something different. And that something different for us meshed perfectly with how we run our business.”
Seafoam Media was growing, and, as you may expect, that growth created the need for more support. Nikki and her team were pros at handling client work, but as their client list and projects grew, they struggled to find technology or tools that could effectively manage client projects and relationships. At any given time Seafoam Media had over 50 active clients, each with a retainer and billing arrangements. “Things can get unruly and messy, really, really, quickly when you’re working with as many clients as we are,” said Nikki.
After trying and testing what felt like every project management tool on the market - and investing hundreds of hours on their own custom reporting to try and make them work with retainers - they were tired of disappointment, and understandably so. What the Seafoam Media team found was that each ‘new and improved’ project management tool was more of the same - a glorified to-do list. These tools lacked intuitiveness and required more manual effort and input than they had time for, and since they had no real concept of profit or productivity, they didn't really help Seafoam to run successful projects. All of the time spent trying to find a successful system to scale with was wasteful, especially when switching to another project management tool ensured things would again become unruly and disruptive, creating more chaos and work for Nikki to manage.
Seafoam Media was about to give up on finding a platform that could support recurring tasks and contracts - they'd even sunk hundreds of hours into trying to build their own retainer billing system! Before discovering Accelo, there was no way to track this recurring monthly work against a client’s retainer without having to create their own timesheets and invoices which caused hours of extra, non billable work.
It was against this frustration that Nikki and the Seafoam Media team discovered a new category of technology, built specifically for service businesses like theirs. Service Operations Automation, or ServOps for short, provided a streamlined approach to Project Management that the team was looking for, and a whole lot more.
One of the first ServOps features to shift their business operations was the Team Inbox. By bringing all client emails out of individual, isolated inboxes and into a common client view, ServOps allowed Seafoam to untangle and organize previously hidden information automatically. This has also increased transparency and streamlined communications. Nikki said, “We talk to our clients a lot. From phone calls to in-person meetings to emails, so having the Accelo Inbox has been huge. The ability to attach meetings and phone calls to retainers and projects has been absolutely giant for us.”
The upgrade to a central inbox allowed for increased visibility - not only with information and data, but with billable vs. non billable work, as well, by defining rates. Now, every minute spent on an email, in a meeting, or on a phone call that’s linked to a retainer, project, or company contact (located in the client database) is being tracked and billed for. “The central inbox,” Nikki added, “has really aided in everybody feeling a deeper sense of client relationships.”
The ability to work with a smart retainer system was the icing on the cake. Nikki said, “Working with the retainers portion of Accelo was a huge, wild moment for us. Retainers are 75% of our revenue comes because we do recurring Marketing Strategy services.”
Invoicing has since become a breeze with the implementation of ServOps. Previous to that, Client Success Managers, for example, were losing hours of billable work because they had no way to easily account for all the hours they spent emailing clients.
With the increase in visibility and uptick in billable hours, Seafoam Media is able to manage clients and distribute time in a way that was not possible prior to working with a ServOps platform.
The Team Inbox provides insight that wasn’t previously available and it's given the company a lens into all of the hard work that is being produced on a daily basis. Employees are being recognized for work that wasn’t so easy to see before and the Executive Team is acknowledging work that they are really proud of. In addition, Nikki's team is more involved and excited about delivering great client work, every day. She said, “Having the whole team be a part of client communication - part of that relationship and that transparency, has really aided in everybody feeling a deeper sense of community.”
Nikki says the increase in transparency is advancing Seafoam Media’s bottom line as clients are happier and more engaged than ever before, consequently boosting retainment for long term success. The results are unparalleled - not only is Seafoam Media saving money, but they're working less to get it!