Maintaining an agency's creativity and culture during growth

CleverCherry logo

Birmingham-based brand, digital and advertising agency

30-strong team.

Clients include Yale, Glow-Worm, Drayton Manor Park, Cameron Homes, Millbank,

Nigel Wilson, Managing Director, Ian Allen, Founder, and Deep Sangar, then Production Manager discuss how they grew their agency yet maintained their culture.

They also talk about agency scalability, how clients have changed over the years, and how Synergist pulls everything together and educates the team.

"It's educating the team. They make better decisions now.

"It promotes self-education. Team members are much more aware now of what costs go into a job."

CleverCherry office reception area

2 years of constant change

Says Deep Sangar: "We've just been through 24 months of major change. New premises. New layout. Open plan. Glass. 7 live webcams for all to see us! Total transparency."

"Team expansion. From 15 to 30 people due to new account wins and client development. New System: Synergist. We previously used a basic job bag system. Prior to that, we simply used internally developed spreadsheets."

Did all this change affect their culture and creativity?

"It's a fantastic working environment here. It's a happy place to work. Nigel and Ian are great bosses. They give you responsibility. They employ really talented people, and make sure they see you as one.

"It all pulls together. The atmosphere is brilliant."

Says Nigel Wilson, MD: "Our creativity is as high as ever, and we're pleased to say that the culture is really working. That's very important to us here."

Client work by CleverCherry for The Music Shipping Company, supplier of drums and accessories

Why is retaining the culture important to them?

"It's who we are. You don't want to lose the important aspects of your personality and what you stand for. We've got people here who can remember when there were only 5 people in the company.

"I believe that culture is the key in our industry. Ian Allen set the tone of the culture here. And now we're running with it at full speed. In two words: We're talking about Openness and Empowerment."

"It's still a journey. Nothing happens automatically. You have to work at it all the time. But it's exciting to feel the buzz around here."

Ian Allen, Founder: "Frankly I was dubious that we could maintain our culture and keep creativity levels high with all these changes. And implementing Synergist on top of it all! And here of all places! Believe me, if you can make it work here, you can make it work anywhere."

And Clevercherry today?

Deep Sangar: "Synergist pulls everything together... Jobs, estimating, scheduling, purchase orders, invoicing.

"It tells me immediately about the state of every job, the requisitions, the time remaining, the time quoted, everything.

"It flags up problems early on.

"At the end of every day I generate a report that shows all the key information, which I use to email the account managers with updates, slippages, etc.

"At a quick glance, I can see everything.

"It makes it easier than ever for me to work with the account managers and work out what we need to do to keep on track. It's very flexible. It's a great system."

"The Studio has benefitted greatly. It's removed a lot of admin from them. It's cleaned everything up. Made it slick. No more Post-It notes flying around! No more physical timesheets! No, we wouldn't go back to all that now.

"Of course, some people are wary of change. A few were sceptical. I might even have been one myself! But it only takes a very small time to adapt to new things. The system makes their lives easier. Afterwards, you find yourself saying, 'What was all the fuss about?'"

Client work by CleverCherry for Euro 2016, a sweepstake

Says Nigel: "For the past two years we've been investing in people, premises and the system. Everything's connected now. It's all come together. It's paying off, and I can breathe a sigh of relief!

"You've got to think fast today. An account manager asks you about some costings. With the history of previous jobs in front of you, you can say 'Here's what happened before.' It makes decision-making easier and more transparent."

"We no longer have to rely on gut instinct and experience alone. It's there in black & white. Synergist gives me the reports I need.

"It's educating the team. They make better decisions now. It promotes self-education. Team members are much more aware now of what costs go into a job. It means that even though we're benefitting from Synergist today, next year we'll benefit even more."

"We've changed beyond recognition in the past two years. But we still have who we are at our core.

"Clients are more frugal today, more savvy. Their budgets have been tightened. Their budget has to go further. So you have to respond. It's never been more important to be able to deliver efficiently."

Client work by CleverCherry for Yolo Food Company: a website

"Synergist has helped us be more scalable. People are more empowered now. Decisions that used to drop relentlessly into my lap every day are now taking place with no fuss. That's a payoff that keeps on paying."

Time to see it

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Synergist can be shaped to the way you work.

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Synergist consultants, Agency Works, will be in touch to arrange your bespoke demo. Their experience working with hundreds of agencies means they can help you work out what's right for you.