Rise Case Study Quick Facts
- Company: Rise
- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Company size: 10
- Industry: Web design and development
Web design and development agency Rise started as many companies do: with an enthusiastic, entrepreneurial founder and a vision.
Kahl Orr began his career as a web developer, realizing his passion for entrepreneurship during his first professional job.
Soon after, he left the company, turned his former employer into a client, and has never looked back.
It’s paid off.
Rise now builds high-end, custom websites, web apps, and mobile apps for well-loved brands.
“We support some of the nation’s largest brands, handling their development and acting as a direct extension of their internal marketing teams,” Orr explained.
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Remote from the start
The fully remote team started as a lead gen agency at the beginning of 2017. Having worked remotely as a contractor, Orr saw the benefits of distributed teams and knew he wanted to start his business this way.
This decision helped Rise keep overhead costs low and access talent from across the country.
A rebrand and some serious growth later, Rise became the web design and development agency it is today. While growing the business was always part of the plan, it happened sooner than anticipated thanks to an influx of client work.
Now at the 10-person threshold, Rise credits Hubstaff as an integral part of allowing the agency to operate efficiently as a 100% remote team. Let’s find out why.
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The challenges of scaling a remote business
As many business owners know, running a remote team comes with its own challenges.
Growing a remote team? Even more so.
There are many unforeseen challenges that can arise as you build your team and business.
Defining your growth strategy, attracting and retaining talent, finding clients, outlining processes and even coming up with an employee handbook are likely floating around in your mind as you consider how you’ll grow.
“Our biggest challenge has been shifting responsibilities as we scale,” Orr explained. “We have always had more work than we know what to do with, and have unfortunately turned away business because we haven’t been able to scale fast enough to take it on.”
Part of this inability to meet client demands came from not having efficient time tracking systems in place.
Time tracking as a profitability tool
For some businesses, time tracking is a way to see how long projects take and where efficiency can be improved.
For agencies like Rise, time tracking is a crucial business operation that can make or break budgets.
“Hubstaff is an integral part of allowing us to operate efficiently as a 100% remote team.”
“We need to track hours to remain profitable on fixed-scope projects and monthly retainers,” Orr explained.
So when the company didn’t have a full-featured time tracking app the whole team could use, things were a little messy.
“We used to manage everything through our email inbox, project management platform, and support desk,” Orr said. “Time tracking was spread across these three.”
This isn’t uncommon, especially for growing companies. Taking time out of your workday to find and try out business software can get pushed aside as other priorities pop up.
However, the hurdles quickly become too much to handle.
According to Orr, almost every responsibility and process had to change.
“First I was doing client work myself. Then, I hired teammates to handle the client work and had to manage them myself,” Orr said. “Now, we’ve had to hire a manager so that I can focus my time working ‘on’ our agency rather than ‘in’ it.”
It’s a common trend for business owners. The more team members you add, the more hands-off you become in the day-to-day work so you can focus on larger initiatives like growing your business or leading it toward your goals.
“I basically began wearing all the hats, and have been shedding them one at a time,” Orr said.
The agency reached a point where not having a time tracker was no longer acceptable.
“It was very difficult to track total time per client/project mid-billing period,” Orr said. “Since we started using it, Hubstaff has enabled us to centralize all of it in one easy-to-use platform!”
“It was very difficult to track total times per client/project mid-billing period and Hubstaff has enabled us to centralize all of it in one easy-to-use platform!”
Searching for a better solution
Orr started looking for software the same way many professionals do: by asking their peers.
“I found Hubstaff through my Digital Agency Insiders group on Facebook, where other owners in my position spoke very highly of the software,” Orr said.
From there, the agency went through a full research process with the intent to consolidate time tracking into one platform.
Comparing Hubstaff to others found through Google searches, Orr said it stuck out as the obvious choice.
Choosing Hubstaff for agency time tracking
“Hubstaff met all of our requirements when choosing a time tracking platform,” Orr said. “Specifically, the ability to easily attribute time to a specific task, project, retainer or client, with a system that our team would be able to easily adapt to.
These features were also very important to the agency when comparing platforms:
- Ability to include comments and notes for individual time logs
- Ability to track spending, with different rates for employees or contractors, and bill rates for clients
- Ease of use for its remote team
Accuracy, profitability, efficiency: The benefits of Hubstaff
Once Rise started using Hubstaff for remote work management, the benefits became clear.
“We no longer had to track time across the several platforms our teams work from, and manually add them up to get an idea on where we’re at for the billing period,” Orr said.
“We can now easily see total time and dollars spent per team member, task, project, client, and retainer during each billing period.”
As an agency, Rise could check in on budgets, retainers, and team hours to make sure they weren’t going over.
With budget and hours information easily accessible and accurate, Rise is able to invoice clients and pay their team members more quickly and with less hassle.
“The desktop application and mobile app have proven extremely easy to use for our remote team, and forecasting our spending has never been easier for our management team.”
“Invoicing and contractor payment times have been cut down substantially,” Orr said.
Rise no longer needs to consolidate hours from multiple platforms in order to gather hours or invoice clients.
“We export payments via CSV and then enter them into our payroll platform. Hubstaff has saved us a ton of time over our old way of compiling hours and billing clients for them,” Orr said.
This means better budgeting, easier invoicing, and simple contractor payments — all from one app.
Invoicing times went from several hours to less than 1 hour for all clients and contractor payments.
Seamlessly time tracking and invoicing
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Rise’s favorite Hubstaff features
- Desktop and mobile app for time tracking
- Ability to track time by project and task
- Activity rates for productivity tracking
- Contractor payments based on hours worked
- Being able to check retainer hours mid-pay period
- Using the budget and project limits to stay on track
Looking ahead to more growth
The benefits extend beyond management and to every team member. Contractors and Rise’s project manager can now easily access the information they need mid-billing period.
What’s next for Rise? More growth.
“This is the first year we’re performing inbound marketing and outbound sales. We’re looking to build a more consistent/reliable pipeline of leads for custom web and mobile app projects along with retainers,” Orr explained.
Along the way, Rise will use Hubstaff to keep admin tasks in check and processes streamlined.
“We’re confident that Hubstaff will help us continue to restructure and remain efficient while doing so,” Orr said.
Interested in learning more? Listen to our podcast episode with Jason Swenk on what’s needed to grow an agency.