How Xero Projects helped streamline a creative agency

Chris was running his creative agency with outdated accounting software that couldn’t keep up with his projects. Find out how his accountant and Xero Projects changed his day to day.

Heading up a creative agency

Chris Cooling was working for Broadgate Communications as a graphic designer when he decided he wanted to start his own creative agency. 

“We did a lot of work with housing associations and after about eight years with the company I really wanted to spread my wings and do some more creative work,” says Chris.

So, after speaking to the managing director David Whelpton, Chris started Broadgate Creative in 2010 with his support. Now, both the comms and creative arms of the business sit together under Broadgate Creative, with Chris as creative director and a 50/50 shareholder in the business. 

“With the clients I’ve gathered over the last ten years it’s now probably a 50/50 mix with the housing side of the business and the creative side,” says Chris. “It’s a funny mesh, but it does work well together.”

Heading up his own creative agency has allowed Chris to explore different design avenues, working on everything from event branding to designing websites. And it has allowed him to broaden his customer base, working with small tech businesses as well as large multinational companies.

 

Xero is two steps ahead and so easy to use, It’s a lot quicker to do the invoicing and send reminders when people haven’t been paid – it saves a lot of time. – Chris Cooling

A more efficient workflow for client job tracking

However, as a small firm juggling multiple projects Chris needed an easy-to-use system that would allow him to keep track of everything going on in the business. 

“I became quite frustrated with the accounting and project management software we were using,” says Chris. “It didn’t have the features we needed, it was clunky and the userface wasn’t easy to use.”

Making the move to Xero happened when their accountant Chris Scott moved into the office next to theirs.

“Our previous accountant didn’t do much proactively, but Chris Scott is really motivated in all sorts of ways,” says Chris. “He introduced us to Xero and it seemed like a fresh start so we switched.”

Getting to grips with how Xero worked was a relatively pain-free process. Chris Scott took the Broadgate Creative team through it and demonstrated all the main features, which they picked up quickly.

“Xero is two steps ahead and so easy to use,” says Chris. “It’s a lot quicker to do the invoicing and send reminders when people haven’t been paid – it saves a lot of time.”

And using Xero Projects means that Chris can stay on top of how much time is being spent on each job, ensuring that clients are being billed correctly. And because Chris manages both internal and external designers, being able to enter and bill everyone’s time through Xero Projects makes life so much easier. 

“The ease of adding tasks is great,” says Chris. “Because of the nature of what we do there are a lot of different tasks that come through and we like to break them down so the clients can see.”

 

Building long-lasting relationships

Strong relationships are key to the success of Broadgate Creative, as so many of Chris’s clients are repeat customers. 

“We’ll get approached by people who initially just want a logo but the project turns into something much bigger,” says Chris. “Then we tend to become an external partner and we’ll have long-term relationships with most of our clients.”

Maintaining a close-working relationship with their accountant is also really important to Broadgate Creative – so important in fact that they now share an office space in Aylesbury.

“When our old office was sold we decided to move into a nicer building and our accountant Chris moved with us,” says Chris. “It’s pretty handy having him so close – we can just ask him a question when we need instead of picking up the phone.”

And with a solid support network around them, Chris is able to focus on doing the job he loves – taking things and making them better. 

“For me, it’s all about improvement,” says Chris. “It’s what I enjoy the most, the before and after. It could be a website or a brochure, we’ll always look to improve it – that’s where I get my kick out of things.”

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Using Xero Projects, Chris can easily keep track of clients' jobs

Broadgate Creative kitchen

Strong working relationships are important to Chris and his team

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