The Robot House team at a client kick-off meeting
Company: Robot House Creative
Speakers: Brian Winkeler (Principal Partner)
Year of foundation: 2003
Number of active projects/month: 75-80
Years using Paymo: 3
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Throughout their journeys, startups often experience a one-of-a-time event that radically changes the way they do business. For Robot House Creative, it was their first retainer client.
Brian Winkeler started Robot House Creative in April 2003, after the large ad agency he’d been working for five and a half years lost their biggest client and had a massive layoff, which included him too. Freelancing his way for one year, he paused the project when he got hired at a smaller ad agency. Another five and a half years later he got laid off again. This prompted Brian to resume the work on his own company and focus on it full-time. In 2015, Brett Grimes and Adam LeNaire joined as co-creative directors and eventual partners, turning Robot House Creative into a mature brand development agency.
Then, later that year, one of their clients had an unexpected request:
A client asked us to start sending time reports after we’d been on retainer with them for three months. They wanted time reported from day one. Had we not been on Paymo, I’d have spent hours and hours assembling this information instead of 10-15 minutes to get it together in Paymo. – Brian Winkeler.
Long before using Paymo, Brian relied on an improvised workflow to keep track of his work and issue invoices:
I used my Apple Calendar as my timesheet and would have to manually search job numbers and add hours myself to track time investment on projects. I used a Pages template for invoices and manually updated and emailed each one.
With the new request though, he knew that things had to be changed fast. They tried an app created by a local company, but it just didn’t work out visually. Other apps have gotten on their radar too, but none had a compelling offer to convince them to make the switch in the long run. Until somebody from Second Wind, an online resource hub for small and mid-size ad & design agencies, recommended Paymo as a potential solution.
Paymo seemed to really fit our needs so we started using it soon after we discovered it. It felt very intuitive. The other app we tried just didn’t work well from a navigation standpoint and Paymo was easy to get my head around.
Brian Winkeler, Principal Partner at Robot House Creative
The transition was pretty smooth, taking only a few days. That’s also the advantage of working at a small company that prefers to do things casually, without the need of a deep organizational process. Once he knew his way through the app, Brian looped in Brett and Adam as well. He admits that the biggest element he had to change was de-selecting all the notifications that went on at the creation of a task, to avoid bombarding his team with emails.
Other than that, he advises other creative fellows who wish to hop on Paymo to “watch the latest instructional video and set aside a couple of hours to play around with it. You can figure it out pretty quickly.”
Fine-tuning the “Robot”
Since their first retainer client, Robot Creative House has increased their portfolio with more like-minded clients. Thanks to Paymo, they now offer Time Reports on a monthly basis to be as transparent as possible towards them. These reports also act as a safety net, assuring the team that they stay within the scope of their initial agreements.
Internally, Brian, Brett and Adam take full advantage of the Timesheets area to gain a bird’s-eye perspective of their time investments. They also use it as a benchmark to quickly estimate how long it would take for a new project to be delivered, if its structure is similar to an already completed one.
A breakdown of Brian’s time entries in the Timesheets area
Brian in particular, uses the Recurring Invoices area to automate and track invoices, without going through the hustle of manually customizing them as before. This gives him the edge to stay on top of his business and focus on it with all his passion like he did when he first founded Robot House Creative as a freelancer:
I was a Fine Arts major in college many many years ago because there was no math requirement. I’m not great with numbers. So Paymo’s invoicing has been a godsend because it’s easy to use, I can set up recurring monthly invoices for my retainer clients, it helps me keep track of what invoices are still outstanding, and creates an electronic “paper trail” that I sometimes need to remind clients that we still have money coming to us. It helps a non-math brain stay on top of the most important math there is – getting paid.
Are you also part of a creative team that finds it difficult to monitor projects through their various phases?
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