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Today I am really excited to be talking with my friend Mitchell Callahan. Mitchell loves to travel. When he launched his digital agency, Saucal, with his old college buddy, he didn’t want work to get in the way of seeing the world. Staying true to those ideals, today Saucal’s team of 7 is fully remote and spread all across the globe.
Our talk today covers everything from positioning to the software Mitchell uses to run his agency to how he builds a network through his travels, but where we really dug in was how Saucal finds new clients.
Like many agencies, Saucal got their first client from their personal network and grew beyond that by word of mouth. As the agency grew, they wanted something more predictable than referrals, but couldn’t find a system that generated consistent results. After trying nearly everything, Mitchell stumbled across the lead generating power of strong industry partnerships and today he shares with us how you can leverage those partnerships to get more clients.
While the power of forming partnerships is the theme of this episode, my chat with Mitchell was filled with a ton of other tips on running a successful remote agency that you won’t want to miss.
Using partnerships to generate warm leads [11:00 – 17:00]
Since Saucal works primarily with WordPress sites, Mitchell created a process to identify the main players in this space, reach out and build a relationship with them, demonstrate his agency’s expertise, and eventually get listed as a trusted partner on the site.
One of the main benefits of leads coming from these partners is that the sales cycle is much shorter. These warm leads are already invested in the product, and when they know that Saucal is trusted by the product creator, not much convincing is needed. So not only do these partners help lend their credibility in the sale, but they also help warm them up and make bringing them on as clients even easier.
These partnerships have had a major impact to Mitchell’s business and instead of relying just on referrals, Saucal now generates most of their new clients from these partnerships.
Tracking profitability on fixed price projects [19:00 – 21:30]
Saucal typically charges a fixed price for their projects, which means it is crucial to track every cost to make sure the projects are actually profitable. This is something many agencies simply gloss over, but Mitchell realized for his agency to be successful he needed to stay on top of these numbers. To do so, he uses Hubstaff to track each team members hours and integrates the time tracking software with his project management tool, Breeze, so that they know exactly how much time (and money) is being spent on each task.You need to track your numbers if you want to improve - @Saucal Click To Tweet
Before they were shooting in the dark with their estimates, but now he is able to know what it takes to complete common tasks, allowing him to come up with more accurate estimates. With those estimates in place, Mitchell then keeps an eye on Hubstaff to make sure his team adheres to their estimate and is able to step in before things get too far off track.
Hubstaff and Breeze make this process easy, and as Mitchell says, “Just shooting in the dark is insane.”
How travel helps your business [23:30 – 25:50]
Not only is the Saucal team completely remote, but many of them (especially Mitchell) are almost constantly traveling and changing timezones. Usually, this would make productive teamwork almost impossible, but Mitchell found the process to actually help his business in the long run. When he first started actively traveling while managing the agency, being away from email for even 12 hours seemed to cause all sorts of problems, but instead of giving up on the experiment, Mitchell saw this as a sign that he needed to improve his business processes.Going on an extended vacation actually improved my agency - @Saucal Click To Tweet
When there are common lags in communication, you need all of your processes and support systems in place so that things can continue moving forward without anything falling through the cracks. If your team is all in the same room, you can get away with a lack of attention to detail, but not when everybody is remote. Being forced to develop these procedures ultimately made Saucal an even more efficient company.
Saucal’s system for effective remote work [28:30 – 34:00]
If you have ever worked with a remote team, then you know that a failure in communication can easily derail a project. To help solve this, Mitchell worked with a project manager to devise a simple but effective plan to make sure everybody stays on the same page.
Here’s what they came up with:
- Establish a fixed time each day where everybody can be online at the same time for updates
- Hold weekly meetings to go over objectives for the following week
- Record these meetings to help with accountability and record keeping
- You need to have a place where everybody can go and find all of the information and documents for a project
- Within Breeze, Saucal has multiple lists to keep track of tasks, their status, and any supporting documents to go along with it
- Use Hubstaff to keep track of everybody’s hours to ensure accountability and to keep track of progress
If these takeaways piqued your interest, then give the podcast a listen because there is much, much more inside to help your agency succeed.
Thanks for Listening
Who are the big players in your space? Are there any platforms or plugins you work with every day that you could reach out to and partner with? Leave a comment below and tell me how you could use this information in your own agency