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How Toolbox Creative Increased Project Profitability by 937% with Workamajig
April 18, 2022
Agency Client Stories
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Toolbox Creative Toolbox Creative builds brands for innovative technologists. Their wheelhouse includes website design, lead gen strategy, identity design, and content strategy.
Balancing passion with profitability to ensure projects remain on-budget
Gaining insight into the most profitable clients and projects
Finding a solution specifically built for creative agencies
Built-in dashboards to help every role operate efficiently and simplify time tracking
Project management to track conversations, manage files, review change requests, monitor budgets, and more
Finance & KPIs to assess profitability, guide hiring, and automate invoicing
Configurable reports generated in seconds help guide strategic decisions
Integrated data to fit everything together into comprehensive reports
IMPROVING PROJECT EFFICIENCY AND PROFITABILITY
Toolbox Creative loves helping brands succeed. Nothing fires up the team of creatives more than successfully marrying cutting-edge design and brand strategy. But, as Creative Director and CFO Tom Campbell explains, passion doesn’t pay the bills. To keep employees paid and doing what they love, Toolbox needs to remain profitable.
“If we don’t make money, none of us get to do the work we enjoy. Practically speaking, it means finding the balance between being a cool, open workplace, and ensuring that work gets done,” he says.
For a hyper-specialized boutique agency like Toolbox, profitability means keeping projects below estimate and ensuring that most design time is billable.
To meet these goals, Toolbox began hunting for software that would help the team coordinate, communicate, and reduce redundancies—like entering the same data in multiple different places. Tom and his partner, Dawn, also wanted analytics that would give them visibility into profitability.
“If you asked me to rattle off who our most profitable clients are, I’d probably give you an answer that’s 90% right. But it’s the 10% we don’t know that I’m interested in—we needed metrics to back up our gut feelings,” Campbell explains.
Objectivity was something Tom craved. He needed a ‘little devil on the shoulder’ to remind him: you’re a business, think like a business.
“We get emotionally invested in our work—and that’s a good thing, usually—but sometimes it can cloud objectivity. If an outside consultant says, ‘You need to stop working on logos,’ the first reaction is, ‘Whoa, no. We love logos.’ But if we keep working on logos we’re hemorrhaging money,” he says.
The search led Toolbox to Workamajig: all the functionality they wanted, in one powerful and user-friendly system.
“What sold us is that Workamajig is built by designers for designers. There are a lot of business-type software solutions available, but creative agencies have unique needs. Finding something built by our ‘own kind’ was really attractive.”
“We get emotionally invested in our work—and that’s a good thing, usually—but sometimes it can cloud objectivity.”
TOTAL VISIBILITY INTO PROJECT AND BOTTOM-LINE PROFITABILITY
Workamajig helps creative agencies run their projects efficiently. Projects, budgets, scheduling, reporting, and accounting all happen in one place, to create a single holistic view of each project’s health and overall business profitability.
Here are a few of the ways Toolbox Creative uses Workamajig to streamline their daily workflow:
“We use it internally for just about everything,” Tom says. “We use it for all of our accounting. We build projects. We manage project agreements. We log all the time. We do production reports. We host a weekly production meeting based on those reports. We have budgets dialed in for individual designers and budgets for our company as well.”
Tom doesn’t build a lot of projects himself, but even he is accustomed to keeping Workamajig open all day, every day.
“I always have two windows open: my timesheets in one and the calendar in the other. I like to know what’s on my plate and on everyone else’s plate. Occasionally, I’ll pop into a project to look at the estimate or the scope on it.”
Workamajig has helped Tom and the Toolbox team assess project profitability more critically. It enables them to gauge the time spent on each task. This insight helps them move past ‘gut feeling’ and find areas to improve.
“With Workamajig, we’re able to dial in our budget expectations and find ways to optimize. If we’re always putting $10,000-worth of time into a certain type of project but only charging $5,000, I can make a case that we should charge more. Or I can check how profitable it is to offer a particular service, and decide if we should continue.”
Thanks to more efficient project management, better reporting, and bias-free business insights, Toolbox Creative has undergone a substantial transformation.
“With Workamajig, we’re able to dial in our budget expectations and find ways to optimize.”
937% INCREASE IN PROFITABILITY
Workamajig is proud to have played a significant role in Toolbox Creative’s ongoing growth story. They’ve now been partnered for over a decade, and Workamajig continues to support and update its platform to help Toolbox achieve their goals.
This partnership, in combination with consultant advice and the hard work of the Toolbox team, is paying off. Today, revenue is up—and profitability has skyrocketed.
Tom says, “I compared our first five years with Workamajig to our most recent five years. In that time, revenue increased 18%—nice steady growth. But what’s amazing is profitability increased 937%. It tells me that we weren’t very profitable at first and now we’re using our time more efficiently.”
By examining metrics at the client-level, project-level, and employee-level, Tom can spot issues and course-correct before Toolbox sinks too much time or too many resources into a project that would otherwise lose them money.
“We used to be not very profitable on websites. We took a hard look at the numbers, figured out where we were going over-time and over-budget, and plugged the ‘leaks.’ We were able to ride that ship and get profitable,” Tom explains.
Armed with data-driven insights, Tom and the rest of the Toolbox A-Team have the knowledge they need to drive ongoing growth. As their team expands and they take on larger projects, Workamajig continues to help them work smarter and stay profitable.
Tom says, “If you want to have a system that’s built by designers for designers, where you can build out project estimates, track time, budgets and profitability in one place—Workamajig is the platform I recommend.”
“We used to be not very profitable on websites. We took a hard look at the numbers, figured out where we were going over-time and over-budget, and plugged the ‘leaks.’ We were able to ride that ship and get profitable.”