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Award-Winning Digital Marketing Agency Founder Felt “Anxious and Vulnerable” Before FUTRLI
Posted on 29th April 2017 in Customer Stories
Written by Freya Hughes
Trusted by hundreds of international brands including Papa Johns, Travelbag, V&A, Fluid Branding and Trevor Sorbie, Koozai, a digital marketing agency, is a master of their industry – and their case studies and packed trophy case proves it. The business has come a long way in the last eleven years and their strategic process is now fully backed up by data. We spoke to head honcho Ben Norman about how he operates Koozai using FUTRLI’s software and Management Accountant team to extract maximum value from the platform, with the least effort.
Why did you choose FUTRLI over competitors?
About eleven years back when we started Koozai, we were using spreadsheets, as many start-ups do. Our entire financial plan was done on Excel spreadsheets. It’s fine when you’re small but when things amp up that’s when it is unmanageable. We were using Xero so had all the actuals there, but Xero is pretty pants for predicting what’s going to happen. You can put in basic budgets and such but it’s isn’t predictive.
After looking on Xero’s marketplace, I tried a few different things. Fathom was cool as a dashboard but it was very much built around looking at and analysing the past. You could do some planning in it but it wasn’t budget based. Then we tried Float. I never ‘got’ Float – I didn’t trust the data, never spoke to a person and all it ultimately told me was how my cash was doing at that exact moment. It made it so difficult for me to see what my profit was doing at that point. I couldn’t do anything really. Spotlight was just hideous to use. I signed up with them, saw it was four separate products, not all-in-one, and immediately logged back out and tried something else.
What’s the most important part of FUTRLI to your business?
I think the quicker people realise the value of FUTRLI, the better. We’ve been using it a while now and if a competitor came along and told me I could use their product for free, it would be irrelevant.
It’s the sense checking, the confidence and the reassurance that I love about FUTRLI. The real power is having access to a management accountant, they know the platform inside out so they could just focus on me and my business. FUTRLI is really powerful because you can combine past, present and future data, but I worried I’d not programmed it right. The onboarding was an absolute lifesaver as I now completely understand what I’m doing and why my figures are what they are.
Would you be happy to operate without FUTRLI?
No, I wouldn’t. Without the forecasts and scenarios, it just makes you feel unsettled and anxious because you think you know what’s happening but you’re not 100% sure. One of the biggest things is cash flow planning. How do you know what your cash is going to look like over the three or four months if you don’t plan? That’s the problem – people don’t just plan, and they don’t run scenarios because it’s kind of hard. I get it, checking spreadsheets and Xero takes ages. Once you’ve compared all of your figures and checked they’re right, you’ve wasted hours or even days. The way that we’ve set up our forecast, it just has our key metrics and I can literally open it up and see where I am and trust that it’s true. FUTRLI also forms the backbone of our monthly reviews.
Tell us about working with our Management Accountants. How has that support helped you?
I’d definitely come on board with FUTRLI if I wasn’t already. It’s about the value – for a management accountant to go through all your figures with you and provide ongoing support is unbelievable. It brings so much confidence and reassurance with it. And it forces you to look at the figures – if you say you want to be in a certain financial position by the end of the year, you’ve then got a proper advisor saying get your arse in gear otherwise you’re not going to do it.
It’s all been so easy since setting up with a FUTRLI management accountant. The team are absolutely brilliant. They are worth their weight in gold!
A big selling point for me is how proactive they are. I can just pull in all the stuff from Xero and then the management accountants have gone and worked out some really cool equations and different metrics based on different codes. We have a lot of repeating monthly and yearly subscriptions so we know they won’t change. It’s so much easier now we can understand previous trends and add them into our forecast. It’s really intelligent software and it’s so accurate.
How do use FUTRLI in your business?
I check FUTRLI multiple times a week. The biggest thing that we do is in our Monday management meetings, where we go through our business forecast. We monitor performance as a team and because the forecast and actual data is all in one place, it’s easy to know what cash you’ve got available like for debtors amongst other things.
Another beauty of FUTRLI is that the non-financial data. We import these operational business drivers every month and then correlate this non-financial data with financial data. FUTRLI is very good for the future and that’s what matters. I really like that you can mix and match data sets like this.
I’m going to be giving my team access to the dashboards next month. I’ll be setting up one for my management team, so they’ve got a dashboard to which they can log in and quickly see all of the key metrics at a glance. You’ve got a more confident up to date grip on what’s happening so instead of feeling like you need to wait until the end of the month to act on something, you can act based on where you’re at. I think a lot of businesses just check everything once a month and then deal with it then but that means they’ve then wasted a whole month, which is costly and risky.
Would you recommend FUTRLI to fellow digital marketing agencies?
Yes, absolutely. I know a lot of digital agency owners and they don’t always want to look at the figures, their strength is in marketing the business. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, especially when tools like FUTRLI make it so easy. In our industry this isn’t acceptable to ignore or guess the figures, your must plan ahead and know the outcome of different scenarios on your business. If your biggest client left, how would you survive? What actions would you need to take? What is your burn rate? If you’re reading this and you think 6 months, then half it. That is the power of FUTRLI. Oh, and to go back to the original question I have already recommended at least two that are now onboard.
Any last thoughts?
I think definitely one of the stand-out things with FUTRLI is that the team are always looking to make it better – if there’s a better way, a better feature, something that can be done automatically rather than manually – FUTRLI are really quick to look at it.