Before becoming the newest member of WORKetc’s international support team, Sarah Emms was Head of Agency for 121 Creative, one of Australia’s biggest design studio franchises.
She’s built an impressive resume in the franchising and marketing sphere, although it wasn’t exactly what she was working towards when she got out of university.
“Like many youngsters at the time, I was unsure of what career I wanted to be in,” she reveals with a hearty laugh. “It was my good fortune to land a great job in marketing with a great team of mentors around me.”
Falling into marketing proved serendipitous for the new mother to two boisterous young boys. Before becoming Head of Agency at 121 Creative, she was the marketing manager at Kwik Kopy Australia. Both brands are owned by the same company.
”I discovered that marketing came naturally and was something I really enjoyed. So I went on and studied and moved my way up the ranks. I loved the people and the company so moving into a more senior position was fairly organic.”
A business management app for a franchise
Sarah first came across WORKetc in 2015, while she was with the 121 Creative, a creative design franchise with 13 different studios across Australia each run as an independent business under one banner brand.
At the time, 121 Creative wasn’t using any business management software of any kind. The fact that it was a franchise also complicated things a bit. There was no uniformity or consistency among the reports each studio submitted.
“We had a set of criteria that we used to judge the platforms we checked. We came across WORKetc through a referral, actually, from one of its clients called Web123, a Melbourne-based web development company that we had worked with,” she explains.
A deliberately slow process
Just finding WORKetc wasn’t the end of the process, of course. Before rolling the system out to all 13 studios, 121 Creative undertook an exhaustive six-month evaluation to make sure the system successfully hit each and every one of its needs and requirements.
“What happened was we took on one studio—121 Circular Quay—initially to try the product,” explains Sarah. “They tested the product for about six months and used it in their studio as the sole product for running their business.
“We weren’t using any management software at all, so over the six-month evaluation period, we created everything from scratch. We weren’t working from any experience that we had previously. It was all completely new.
“Once we were comfortable that the product fit our needs and met our requirements over the course of the testing, we started rolling it out on a staged process.”
The process is deliberately slow, says Sarah. In fact, it’s still happening right now. Not all of 121 Creative’s franchisees are in the same place in terms of business size, and each one has to follow its own individual time frame rather than just implementing the system in one studio after another.
“The last thing we wanted to do was rush the process and discover that it wasn’t the right platform for that particular business,” she says. “The issue with a franchise is that these are obviously a lot of people’s bread and butter; we wanted to avoid any kind of interruption if possible.”
Reaping the benefits
Scheduling issues aside, Sarah says the extensive prep work has definitely helped make the transition to WORKetc much smoother. It’s easier for 121 Creative to replicate their base account across each franchise and make sure that everything is consistent, from reports and templates to branding and invoice design.
According to Sarah, this high level of consistency was a key component in 121 Creative’s decision to sign up with WORKetc.
“From a franchise point of view, that’s what 121 was looking for,” she says. ”They wanted all of the accounts set up the same so they can output the same reporting, all that kind of stuff that a franchise would need on a regular basis. They were looking out for that consistency, that uniformity.
“They wanted to be able to support everyone in the same way, so the accounts needed to look consistent so everybody’s on the same page when it comes to how the sales process is implemented, for example, or what the stages are in a sales process.”
Aside from the consistency, Sarah explains that WORKetc has helped with sales, project management, and billing in studios that are already using it. The timesheets feature has also proven to be a big benefit.
“Previous to WORKetc, it was just the designers writing down their timesheets on a piece of paper. The system should give them a better picture of how profitable their projects are. That’s absolutely key; they didn’t really have that in-depth reporting across projects previous to using WORKetc.
“If they weren’t tracking their time, they wouldn’t have been able to know exactly how much each project is costing them. So they really wouldn’t have been able to say immediately, ‘Yeah, that project was profitable,’ and then explain the how and the why.”
Now that Sarah is part of the WORKetc support team, 121 Creative still calls on her expertise and experience with the rollout and training process from time to time, albeit from an account manager perspective. Her time at work is now spread out across sales and support for WORKetc’s clients all over the world, with a particular focus in Australia and New Zealand since she’s in the same time zone.
Given her experience on both sides of the line—going through QuickStart and the entire onboarding process first as a client and then becoming part of the WORKetc support team—Sarah had a few choice tips for business owners looking for a complete business management app.
“I would say that signing up for a free trial should definitely be the first step,” she says. “Next, talk to someone about what your business objectives are. I understand that some people are reluctant to do that when they’re first checking out a product because they’re worried that someone might try to give them the hard sell. They’re concerned with how much information they share.
“It’s really something that you definitely need to talk about at some point, though. You need to be clear about your business requirements and what it is you want and then share that with the WORKetc team so that we can show you how the platform can be molded to those requirements.
“WORKetc offers clients excellent support. The best thing a business owner can do is have a chat with the team about their requirements. You’ll soon see the WORKetc team is not all about the sale. We have a genuine interest in making sure WORKetc is the right fit for your business.”