Why a Video Production Company Won’t Make Business Decisions Without Forecasting in FUTRLI
Posted on 19th April 2017 in Customer Stories
Written by Freya Hughes
Covering fashion shows to cage fighting, 3xScreen Media produce and distribute live video crafted for online, mobile and television audiences. Its impressive client list includes Disney, HSBC, Converse, LinkedIn, Twitter, Red Bull, Shell, Nike and the Olympics. Therefore, the team know all about working to exacting standards and delivering projects on time and on budget. Forecasting is an essential part of their daily operations and, in this blog, we catch up with owner Scott Robinson to find out how he has used FUTRLI to control cash flow and advance business growth since 2014.
Scott Robinson, Managing Director & Founder
How has working with FUTRLI been for you?
FUTRLI is an asset for assurance and comfort. My view is that 3xScreen is a really cool business and we do lots of funky, interesting things – but that anyone can create a cool, fun business if they’re paying enough for it. The one thing I can be genuinely proud of is that my business is compelling economically. FUTRLI is there to help make sure what we’re trying to create is economically worth creating, and helps me ensure that I can be proud of what it is we’re creating. Working with FUTRLI is the right way of operating for 3xScreen because of its integration of forecasting, reporting and our accounts package, Xero. I need assurance that I’m making the right decisions to grow the business, and forecasting is a key part of the process. I wouldn’t make decisions without it.
“I realised if [accountants] were using FUTRLI they’d be on the same page as me. I needed forward-focused financial business guidance to be able to operate to the high standards we’ve set ourselves”
How often are you using FUTRLI?
I’m on it most days so a couple of times a week is a minimum. I’m looking at where and how we’re going, and that keeps staff in the loop as well as other stakeholders. I’m in the process of trying to get my business consolidated into a larger business, so I’ve been sharing my figures on my FUTRLI Dashboards with a potential external stakeholder. The fact that it is so professionally presented and thought-out gives them a good degree of comfort. Now, they have a solid understanding of what we’re working towards and how we’re tracking it all. Whatever the underlying figures, we’re sure it’s well understood, and we can see why things are the way they are. I’ve given them live access to Dashboards so we can see what’s been going on recently with the same period last year. It’s been like a security blanket for our business.
The key thing I look at is month and year to date performances against forecast. With FUTRLI, it’s become an easy thing to track (spreadsheets were a nightmare!). I compare them against the same period last year, and then sales, expenses, income, cash at bank, cash flow. Then I break down sales by service and by segment as well. This helps me always have an eye on how sales are tracking year to date and by month. If I want to go into the next level of detail, I’ve got a P&L Board which is the current year: actual and forecast, and then the same for the previous year. So if I see something on the snapshot card that I want to further get my head around, I can just drop down into the P&L detail. That’s how I like to use it – it is never one static view, my business data gives me answers.
“I’ve now got my Forecasts all set up so they’re daily. It makes it a lot more useful for me to be able to see where we are compared to where we should be. If I don’t know about it there and then, good or bad, how can I do anything about it?”
Life before FUTRLI, what were you using and what was it like?
A while back I realised our system wasn’t reaching our needs and wouldn’t in the future. So we moved across to Xero. The eco-system of Xero attracted me to it – I’d spoken to a few different accountants on Xero’s FUTRLI community discussion. I realised if they were using FUTRLI they’d be on the same page as me. I needed forward-focused financial business guidance to be able to operate to the high standards we’ve set ourselves.
I’m currently the bookkeeper here at 3xScreen. It doesn’t take up that much of my time as everything is automated now, and it keeps me close to the figures in a meaningful way. I can’t imagine another way to do my accounts now. I like when everything is clean looking too, as it does on the FUTRLI app. I’m seeing exactly what I want to see. I like to view project profitability and then take action with a feedback loop, where we look at what worked and what didn’t work on a given project. This helps us adjust quotes for what comes next and keeping us from wasting any hard-earned cash – which is painful when you work so hard. Doing online bookkeeping makes it easier to ensure things like expenses are attributed to the right projects and it makes our business dashboards even more meaningful.
I wish there was more guidance when I was starting out because there was a certain amount of trial and error finding the best add ons. FUTRLI was so new it didn’t offer the support it does now. Now we have it figured out, we’re using FUTRLI for Dashboards and Forecasting, Expensify for expenses and InvoiceSherpa for chasing invoices, which is actually incredibly useful as we’ve got bots automatically chasing invoices for payment. It integrates with different languages, different kinds of emails, annoying the hell out of people with reminders for non payment both on email and texting. It’s incredibly powerful technology that takes away frustrations from working with a spreadsheet. Doing it all automatically is very valuable to time and efficiency for me. It’s a fast-paced industry so I need reliable software than can keep up with us.
What’s your number one piece of advice for other entrepreneurs?
You must forecast and look ahead. I think we live in a very special time where being small is a benefit. Think about David and Goliath. David can beat Goliath. When the Davids come together, we can create something that’s hugely compelling. I think with five million small businesses in the UK it’s more than a small social chain, it’s the future of the way many of us are working, it’s fundamentally changed and will continue to fundamentally change. Coming together has given us the opportunity to achieve amazing things, and that’s why working with FUTRLI has been such a pleasure – there’s plenty of support and we’re in control of every aspect.