Words for Breakfast
ROLL User: Helen Steemson, Creative Director
The Business: Words for Breakfast
Industry: Copywriting agency
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Who are Words for Breakfast?
Words for Breakfast is a copywriting agency that has been around for just over ten years. We are a team of writers who focus on creating text for clients, in the form of business documents, marketing materials, blogs and other digital content. We work directly with marketing managers within large organisations, or we partner with other boutique creative agencies as their outsourced copywriting team.
What makes you different?
The model we run is unique. We bridge the gap between a larger agency that has huge overheads (which are then passed on to the clients) and a freelancer (who has limited time or sometimes needs time off, leaving clients stuck without someone to write for them). We are a passionate, efficient team that can consistently create quality outputs, with the systems and processes in place to make sure the work always gets done.
Life before ROLL
Initially, I was tracking jobs and cashflow in Excel spreadsheets. I created one sheet per month so I could see my revenue each month. I used the spreadsheets to track leads and projects. It was all very detailed – I even had an organised system of colour coding. But I spent lots of time transferring data. I used Excel along with Xero from day one. But the gave me almost nothing with which to manage the business. I couldn’t forecast billings. I had no way of tracking where we generated leads from. There was no way to keep track of old projects that had been stalled. There was no way of tracking tasks and how we spent time. I tried to use Excel to develop a database, but I had no means of capturing leads and no customer relationship management system. Work came because I had a good reputation and people were calling me. But I wasn’t proactively contacting people – I wasn’t proactively getting in touch with people to update their blogs, etc. The work I was doing was great, and I was servicing clients well, but I wasn’t providing as much customer service as I could have been or as I wanted to. The missed opportunity was around turning clients into more valuable clients. I knew there was a problem there and a need for better systems. I knew I had to change something as the business was growing.
What other software did you trial or use?
I tried and used a few other systems. Asana was good for project management, but it was huge and I was only using about 15%of it. I used Harvest and Timely for time tracking, and I was using Xero for the accounts. But nothing was integrated, so I had to transfer information from one system to another. I wasn’t able to forecast how much each job was going to cost, and I wasn’t able to track the profitability of each project. On top of all of that,it was costly running several systems. I also looked at WorkflowMax, but it was too big for what I needed. I even looked at having a system designed for me, based on Infusionsoft. I knew that eventually, something would be right. ROLL was beginning to fill a niche that people had been screaming out for. I actually looked at an early version of ROLL, but it didn’t have the functionality that I needed (yet). But the team at ROLL were smart, and they kept in touch with me as they made improvements to the software. Eventually, I brought a new employee into Words for Breakfast and she put us on to ROLL because she was familiar with it. She implemented it for us and introduced some new processes into the business so we could use ROLL.
What has ROLL done for your business?
With ROLL, we now have better oversight of our business as a whole. It’s a repository or a single point of truth for all of our information, rather than having it spread across different software tools or stored in my head. Operationally, we're smarter with our tasks and time. We don’t have to rely on memory to get back in touch with someone. We set tasks in ROLL, and it’s seamless. I can see where we’re spending our time, how we’re tracking with time on a project, how long certain processes are taking, where we can be using our time better, where we’re being efficient and what clients cost us money. With ROLL anyone can see the information they need (that they have access to) and we now have processes in place so we can function like we should – keeping in touch with clients, managing our time, watching for cost over-runs. ROLL lets us capture things early. It’s a tool that helps us look forward, to see how we’re tracking towards our goals. Because of this ability to do better forecasting, ROLL has helped make certain conversations with clients easier. If we can see that we are over-servicing or that we’re going to overspend, we have the numbers to explain charges to clients. By looking forward, we can change operationally where needed. Rather than just looking backwards and saying, “damn, we should have done something differently,” we can proactively alter the course. We were good at our work, but our operations were holding us back. We’ve dropped a lot of manual processes, and we now have bigger clients and bigger projects. With that comes more complexity in each project and more detail that we need to manage, so ROLL helps with that.
How has ROLL added value?
In the three years that we’ve been using it, ROLL has helped us increase our revenue significantly. The year after we introduced it to the business, our revenue jumped up by 50% from the previous year, and we continue to see year-on-year increases. It’s not just down to the software that we’ve seen such a jump in revenue. It’s also due to the changes we’ve been able to make to our processes because of using ROLL. We now do a better job of following up on leads and keeping the momentum. Our pipeline in ROLL makes this follow-up so much easier. We make smarter decisions about spending money, now that we have a proper budget and clearer financial goals. Before ROLL, I was making decisions based on how cashflow was looking each month and how much money was in the bank account. With ROLL, I have a better understanding of how we’re tracking towards the financial goals we have and can immediately see if we’re going to hit our targets. That’s really motivating for us. There has been growth around the business as well, not just in the business. Along with revenue growth, we’ve experienced growth in the size of our team and growth in the size of our clients. We’re now working with some of the country’s biggest brands. ROLL has also helped grow me in my capacity as a business owner. I can now see the future of Words for Breakfast as a business without me, not fully dependent on me.
What are two standout benefits that you love about ROLL?
1. ROLL enables me to look forward and make decisions based on reality rather than how I’m feeling that day, whether I’m nervous or over-confident based on the bank balance.
2. ROLL helps us provide better, more comprehensive service to our clients; and the flow-on effect of better service is that we grow as a business.
If you were to sum up ROLL in one sentence... what would that be?
"ROLL is a tool that lets me manage my business in a way that I know I should, but haven’t been able to before without it, when we were being held back by our systems and processes."