Annual Revenue: $4-5M
Team Size: 14 FTE
Industry: Creative Agency
Category Design Studio, Gold Front, was established in 2013. They’re based in San Francisco, with a team of roughly 14 spanning across the US. To put it simply, Gold Front started as a brand studio and eventually found their specialization in category design helping growth-stage startups define and dominate new product categories.
Their client list boasts recognized category pioneers such as Slack, Robinhood, Keep, Adobe, Clari and more. When they reached out to Parakeeto in 2018, they were poised for growth as category design became a focus in silicon valley, and knew efficient and profitable operations would be crucial to their ability to scale.
Despite increasing revenue YoY, one of the most difficult aspects of running a creative studio like Gold Front was the constant waves of work. Working on large scale projects for big brands meant fluctuations in demand that could have a significant impact on team utilization. This caused large spikes and valleys in the team’s workload for several years.
Founder Josh Lowman couldn’t help but notice that lack of consistency throughout their business ‘systems’ was making it more difficult to understand patterns and forecast the future. Data structures were inconsistent from contracts to estimates and from finance to project and time tracking. The flow of a project project wasn’t streamlined through these systems, and insights were difficult to glean.
Although they were familiar with concepts like Capacity, Utilization and Average Billable Rates – the details behind calculating, bench marking and interpreting these metrics was challenging to figure out. The information found in books and industry reports was inconsistent and unclear.
During this time, Gold Front was relying primarily on cash-based accounting to guide decision making and understand the business. This made it nearly impossible to get a full picture into where opportunities lied for improvements to the business.
All of these factors made rapid growth more challenging challenging painful than it needed to be. Growth felt like it was coming at the expense of the bottom line. The team wanted better insights and visibility into the future.
Together we set out to streamline how projects flowed from estimation & contracting, through to project delivery. In doing so, we streamlined project delivery workflows and created more consistent data structures. This structured data unlocked insights about utilization and project performance, as well as the ability to start forecasting capacity and revenue much earlier in the sales process.
Growth Over the Years w/ Parakeeto
The first step in implementing data operations at Gold Front was the process of structuring their data.
We began by evaluating how Gold Front structure their teams & resourcing and contrasting that with how they estimated projects. Once consistent data structures were established, we were able to streamline how projects were estimated and subsequently set up in time tracking and project management systems to ensure consistent data structures, as well as transform historical data to begin unlocking insights about past projects. In doing so, we unlocked two important insights.
The first was a clear pattern of profitability in certain client and service segments Gold Front was serving – exposing services and clients that were much more profitable than others. This allowed Gold Front to refine it’s positioning and focus it’s business development efforts on the types of engagements that were driving the most success for both their clients, and for themselves.
The second was fluctuations in utilization. Despite utilization being about average as a company, significant peaks and valleys made utilization feel as though it was much higher than it actually was – often creating intense periods of overtime for the team as many project deliverables came to a head at the same time.
Unlocking this insight led to the implementation of better forecasting and project planning practices, as well as pipeline reporting which eventually stabilized Gold Front’s utilization rates and created a more stable working environment for the team.
“It really became foundational for our companies health”, explained Lowman.
With their new-found visibility, Gold Front would enter 3
years of 45%, 56% and 96% YoY growth while simultaneously
more than tripling their profitability and decreasing the amount
of overtime work required by their team.
Gold Front really was and continues to be a great example of what the power of insight can do for the health and longevity of your agency. When smart agency teams are empowered with the right insight, they tend to make great decisions and thrive. Gold Front is no exception.
The ongoing partnership between Gold Front and Parakeeto has allowed them to deepen their reporting capabilities and knowledge, as well as navigate changes to products, pricing, team structures, tools and process while maintaining their reporting capabilities and historical data.
To see this case study in video format on the Agency Profit Podcast, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.
“The beauty of working with Parakeeto is that you’re getting true expertise. Their insight into all of these agencies at once actually helps us. We all benefit
from their iteration on tooling, from learnings with us
and with their other clients, and really just helps the
service offering as a whole.
– Josh Lowman, Founder @ Gold Front
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