Managing fast growth in a content marketing agency

Copy House

Who are Copy House? A remote-first content marketing agency pushing boundaries to make the world of technology fun, engaging and understandable. Copy House’s bold, innovative approach stands out across its copywriting, social media marketing, design and consultancy services, where they believe in ‘speed + quality + reliability’ for ‘crazy good results’.

Who is Steven Smith? Operations Director at Copy House.

Delivering award-winning work and carving out a niche in the tech industry saw success for Copy House and growth that Steven describes as feeling “overnight”.

The team quadrupled in size within two years. With a series of new client wins and more resources to manage, Copy House needed to “start thinking about the future and how we can make our processes sustainable.”

Finding the right system

“We were running off a Google sheet… trying to log people’s time, estimate and keep it all in one centralised place.” Steven explains things got complicated and overwhelming very quickly and “if you’ve got multiple people in there too, mistakes can happen.”

From there, they moved to a task management tool which “served us well for a while” but had no real reporting capabilities. “We were unable to report on hours and how that would affect budgets. This meant we had to rely on manual calculations and were often unclear on capacity.”

Copy House team

Copy House team

“Our decisions were often based on general feeling around the team and workload, rather than factual data.” Steven admits that “not having the right tool in place made it difficult to plan and show timelines to clients or even internally.”

“It was clear we needed a new system. Our Google sheets and other project management tools could only get us so far.”

Without a system that shows agency capacity, pipeline and connects every aspect of your business from new business to delivery, Steven says you “can hit a lot of bottlenecks”.

“With our sudden growth and change, we knew we needed one centralised agency system to hold as much information as possible. We didn’t have a real view on how things are actually looking.”

Copy House team

Copy House team

Choosing Synergist

“Synergist is very much built around hours and agency project and cost management. It excels in these areas. Ultimately, every agency needs to be focusing on these things.”

From the depth of reporting to its shared resource schedule, there were several reasons Steven knew Synergist was the best agency management system for Copy House and matched its needs as a growing agency.

“I’ve not seen other tools with such an in-depth shared view, it’s made us question our processes at times. There are multiple things we’ve pulled out from it, different ideas on ways of working, which has been massively useful.”

“We’ve had the Synergist software for six months now, and each week we pick up something different.”

In keeping with their ‘keep it simple’ mantra, Synergist’s bespoke nature means Copy House can make changes in their reporting and processes as they grow.

“It really simplifies things because it allows us to adapt.”

Copy House team

Copy House team

Up and running

The consultative onboarding process with a team of agency experts was another significant reason Synergist was right for Copy House, Steven shares. “The Agency Works have a wealth of experience working with a number of other agencies and their individual processes, so you’re tapping into a lot of knowledge.”

“Having your own consultant to lean on and shape the software step-by-step makes it feel even more bespoke. It’s also someone to run things by to make sure I’m looking at things in the right way.”

“It does take time for everyone in the agency to get used to such a big management system, therefore you need to be fully onboarded. This way everybody can see the benefits in real time.”

Steven admits “I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t see the value in onboarding, we onboard clients when mapping out marketing strategy. It’s invaluable, you need those different insights. In any industry if you’re not looking for other people’s perspectives you can easily fail in what you’re trying to achieve.”

“It’s a great process to go through. And we’re still going through it now, looking at how much we want to break things down and how much we want to see. For most agencies our size, you need to get your foundations right to ensure everything is performing as it should be.”

Now their agency management system is up and running, Steven says it helps them see where they can improve efficiency to plan ahead, knowing their system will grow as they do.

Copy House team

Copy House team

The benefits

For Copy House, Synergist offers the freedom they want their team to enjoy through the shared calendar functionality. Steven says “we don’t want to be dictating their whole day/week to them, so we can build time for training and other tasks into their schedules which can be planned in advance. There is also great visibility around holidays. And it’s these little things that make a really big impact.”

Steven says the resourcing tool means they can “book everybody in knowing the team have visibility on what everyone is working on. Which, from a planning perspective, allows project managers and account managers to work together to help move things around if required. And the fact that we can search for a job directly from the schedule makes this process easier, as we can quickly adapt, move or add work if we need to.”

“This visibility, especially for a remote working company is needed. We want everybody to be dedicated to a client, a deliverable, and a set timeframe. A shared system allows us to communicate this and keep people on track. It pulls everything together.”

"The reporting suite is also very useful and comprehensive. There are so many different ways to run reports depending on what you need to look at. Whether it’s utilisation, timesheets etc, you have the option of viewing standard reports or more in-depth data in the data viewer.”

Copy House team

Copy House team

Steven and the team can “see things like estimated time vs actual time and start to identify potential opportunities and issues easier, overall helping improve performance.”

“This is invaluable, especially as we have many clients with a lot of small deliverables to keep track of. Synergist allows us to take a step back and look at each one individually and easily, as a whole team.”

“Before Synergist, we just didn’t have this level of reporting.”

“And having all the dashboards set up for agency management and performance views, we can start to set standards around things like utilisation rates and billings per head. That quick view allows us to monitor things on a daily basis and that makes all the difference.”

Steven explains how Synergist’s integration with Xero “brings visibility to our Account Managers that connects them with our Finance team” as invoices feed directly into the accounting platform. “Each month we bill and invoice on time.

Setting up our billing plans and being able to use that as an invoice tracker helps us see exactly what’s confirmed work and what’s going to be billed.”

“It’s about forward planning and having that future view.”

Copy House team

Copy House team

Looking ahead

Alongside continued growth, Copy House has other “big plans for the future. We’ll continue to be a remote-first agency while bringing in other benefits, like the four-day working week.”

“There are a lot of questions around this… will it add more pressure to the team or will we all benefit? With Synergist’s shared schedule we can see when people are working, or not, so we can see how that impacts our agency capacity, revenue and costs prior to implementation.”

Steven concludes that “Synergist has made people more aware of where they spend their time. And having this visibility brings people together, where we’re working towards a common goal. We can also forecast better, and this also helps us look at who we want to hire in the future, which is unreal… invaluable really.”

Time to see it

Whatever your agency looks like – 10 to 500 people, design to digital –
Synergist can be shaped to the way you work.

See it for yourself.

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.