A fortune teller told one of the founders of 7 Group that if the number 7 appeared in their business name, they would always be successful. And 30 years on, that fortune has proved true.
Despite their small team, the full-service boutique design agency has worked with some pretty amazing clients, including Plumbing World, Argue Fire and Wintec in New Zealand. They've expanded their offices to the US, where they have been able to dominate a niche market – providing graphic design services for dental clinics.
But it wasn't always smooth sailing. Director Peter J. Crook credits WorkflowMax with smoothing out some of their agency's teething problems. "My business partner had a very set way of doing things, and he wanted to control every one of the graphic designers. He would hover over them, demanding to know what they were doing. I didn't want someone sitting out in the studio all the time, micromanaging things. The day he left was the day we implemented WorkflowMax."
Peter's team also remember how things were different before WorkflowMax. "Only one or two people in the company had a good overview of what was going on," said Lindsay Undergrove, an account manager. "We used to have job bags on the floor. So for every job in WorkflowMax, we used to have a physical bag, like a folder.
"Now, we've become more effective in managing jobs. We gave everybody second screens to work with, so they could have WorkflowMax sitting on one screen all the time. We consider it an investment in employee productivity."
"WorkflowMax was introduced because of our lack of visibility." adds Aaron Jacobson, another account manager. "WorkflowMax was the solution we found to manage workflow, billing, accounting and everything else."
"One of the things that we thought was quite neat about it was the transparency it offered to clients," said Peter. "We can give them a login for the system, so they can see the status of the job. None of them use it, but the fact it's there says how transparent we are as a company. That becomes a selling point to the client. It's definitely a unique point-of-difference."
WorkflowMax acts as a failsafe for queries – if a client disputes an invoice, you can always go back and find all the details. "If a client comes back and says, 'why did it cost so much?', then we can easily go to timesheets, and then say, 'you asked us to do this and that.' We can always go back and check what's going on, and where the time is being spent."
Aaron finds the system extremely intuitive, and that managing jobs from WorkflowMax saves him a significant amount of time. "If I have ten briefs or ten jobs I need to open and work on, I can get it done so quickly that work starts to pile up in the studio. Sometimes, it works too fast!"
Since implementing WorkflowMax and following the insights gained from the software, 7 Group have increased their hourly rate from $80hr to $110hr, becoming instantly more profitable. This was done without any complaints from clients.
For Peter, the true genius of WorkflowMax lies in the overall picture it provides for the company. "I'm assigned to every job that goes through, so I get every notification for every job. I get 160 notifications each day and I read every one of them. I can clearly see if there is an issue going on with the client and then I will go out to the studio and say, "what's going on, guys? What's the problem?"
"It's fantastic. Recently, I was away in the States, and I was getting email notifications every day and reading all of it. I love knowing exactly what's happening in my agency, no matter where I am."