…and we have an office Dog. LIVE – Thursday 7th April, Brighton

The Agency Owner podcast comes to The Tempest on Brighton Seafront this April!

Stephen, the Office Dog will be there with his assistant Luna to keep you all quiet and happy.

Doors open at 5.30 pm and the event runs for an hour with time to mingle with your friends and peers afterwards.

Free drink on arrival with the bar open throughout the show. You’ll have the opportunity to ask our panel a question and will hear all about their experiences doing what you know is a hard job!

Sign up for a free ticket below 👇

Our Panelists are:

 

Transcription:

Speaker 1:

Hello, and thanks for coming along to And We Have An Office Dog, the digital agency podcast where we talk to agency owner directors and learn more about what makes them tick. From the things that make them similar to the things they’d rather have known sooner. Where they’ve success and where they’ve learned some hard lessons. All will be revealed with your host, Chris Simmance, the agency coach. And he’s talking to three epic agency leaders in this live podcast edition. Okay. Let’s see what they have to say. Over to you, Chris.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So the first question I’ve got for everyone on the panel is, with the government trialing a four-day work week, first of all, how do you feel about it? And do you see it working in the digital agency space? So I’m going to start on the far end here. Nichola with the short chair.

Nichola Stott (guest):

For us, I think it would be really easy. We’re a really small agency, we’re boutique. We can mold ourselves however we want. And we choose which clients we take on to a certain extent. Our model is not about growth in terms of size or head count. Our model is about value and performance and profit. So for us it could work. But I don’t think it could work for every single type of formal agency.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So if the country moved into a four-day work week, it would work. But until then?

Nichola Stott (guest):

I think it could be a difficult transition for some.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah, okay. And Carrie, what do you think? Because you’ve got just an incredibly larger version of an agency with quite a lot of people to worry about.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Can you hear me?

Chris Simmance (Host):

No.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Hello? Hello.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. [inaudible 00:02:01].

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah, so I guess overall, I don’t really have … If the country went into this, we’d make it work. The agency that we’ve built is throughout the pandemic, so we’re fucking so nimble and be able to change. Honestly, I’m so shocked at how nimble we are and be able to adapt. So I think we’d make it work. But I think right now we are in growth stage, so I think moving to a four day week is not … Not that I’d exactly see it hindering the growth for us as an agency. But I think right now we need to give all we can to our clients. They’re looking for commitment and things like that. But I do think overall, if this is a country thing, we could make this work.

Carrie Rose (guest):

And I also think overall from the benefit side of things, I think reducing work hours to make it fit, but also making sure that not everybody is off at once. I tweeted about this recently. I was like, “I don’t really understand the four day working week.” And somebody said, “Not everybody is off that one day. It changes.” So some person might have a Friday off or a Monday off, it varies week on week. And that made sense. I think that could make it work.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah, I think it doesn’t have to be the Friday or the Monday or whatever. Depending on the business and the business’ needs, there’s some businesses which, regardless of whether it’s mandated or a government agreed upon thing, that it can work for. Because if you work in finance, it’s 24/7.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

You can’t pick up the phone on a Friday and not hear from your PR agency who are trying to get something over the line, and no one be there.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah, it’s true.

Chris Simmance (Host):

But I guess you have to mix that in with when people are around, I suppose what you said.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah, and I’m going to be honest and say, when you’re in growth stage, honestly, all you’re focused on is efficiency. You’re trying to fit all the hours into five days. Never mind fucking four. I’m going to be honest and say, that’s what we are trying to do. So efficiency right now is our agency at the year three, we’re focusing on how do we cut down the workload to be more efficient? Where are we spending our time? So I guess we’d start there and really get better as an agency and being proactive. And then we could look at the four day working week. But yeah, I think it’s amazing. I would love four days, by the way. I would love that for me.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So just a quick show of hands in the room, who already does work four days?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Oh, wow. Are you agency, or?

Audience:

[inaudible 00:04:07].

Carrie Rose (guest):

Does it vary? Does it vary in terms of like.

Audience:

Yes. I’m [inaudible 00:04:17].

Carrie Rose (guest):

This is obviously a crazy question, but do you have to make up the hours? Or is it literally just cut straight off?

Audience:

[inaudible 00:04:22] I take [inaudible 00:04:25].

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. Yeah.

Audience:

So that when I’m at business I can actually focus. [inaudible 00:04:30].

Nick:

That’s totally fair. Yeah.

Audience:

[inaudible 00:04:35]

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. That’s exactly it.

Audience:

[inaudible 00:04:43]

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Audience:

[inaudible 00:04:44].

Chris Simmance (Host):

But I mean it-

Carrie Rose (guest):

Part time [crosstalk 00:04:45].

Chris Simmance (Host):

… has to work for you. It has to work for the business, doesn’t it?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Audience:

[inaudible 00:04:51].

Chris Simmance (Host):

So the final person on the panel to ask this question of, I know that you do already do a four a work week.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Does it work?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Sometimes. No, it does. So we’ve done it since 2017. So we’ve been doing it for five years. And the thing you need to know about four day work weeks is the holiday entitlement. If you give everyone 28 days holiday, if you’re really smart with your holiday allocation, you can actually book half a year off and still get paid for it. So we need to do block bookings of holidays only. So if you want to take time off, you need to take a week at a time. Or we have something called a floating Friday where you can move your Friday to any day of the week.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

And also like agency people, you already work four days. None of you pricks in here are doing mad work on a Friday if you think about it. No you’re not. No, no. Fuck you all. You’re going out on a Thursday night for beers, because that’s just what agencies do. You’re coming into Friday morning a little bit hungover. Then you’re having a pub lunch that day. And then we invented beer Friday. Agencies, that’s what we do. So no real work’s getting done on Friday. So just get rid of it.

Carrie Rose (guest):

We actually to add onto that. So we’ve rolled out unlimited holidays. That’s probably one of the discussions another day. And that’s been really hard to manage. But one thing I have noticed, people have got clever. They just booked every Friday off or whatever and ended up being four days work working week. So unlimited holidays I guess is a simple solution to that well, but fucking hard to manage again.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. And systems and processes are required across the board for this.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. You’ve got to be on it.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Because you’ve got to be able to catch up with everything. And let’s face it. Everyone here who works in digital marketing wants to gamify everything.

Carrie Rose (guest):

[crosstalk 00:06:29].

Chris Simmance (Host):

And if you get one extra day off a week, you’re going to take as much as you can. So as the leaders of agencies, you’ve got to make sure it says foolproof as possible. And I think that it can’t be completely foolproof because it can’t be can it?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

No, it really can’t be foolproof. And I think as long as no one takes the pass, it’s fine. But the problem with that is when you’re a small agency like ours, great because we can have visibility over everything and we can come and go with people. Your head counts over a hundred?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

That’s harder. Considerably harder. So I don’t think it’s for everyone. From our point of view, no one’s ever sick. We actually need to push people to take time off and our retention’s really high. Some of the people are with us have been with us since inception. So yeah, it’s just a different way of doing things.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So in a similar vein, I think, as you say, your agency started and basically … Not just started, but grew through COVID.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

And the vast majority of that time people were working remotely.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So since then, there’s been an awful lot of talk around office versus home versus hybrid. There’s a lot of things that are developing over the over time as well with technology with the Metaverse stuff. I mean, Teams and Zoom, everyone hates it, but it’s the thing. How do you, Carrie, how do you guys work from a remote versus office versus hybrid point of view?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. So this is a massive argument in our agency because I’m pro office, but that’s just because I love people. I love being around people. That’s where I get my energy. That’s where I get my confidence from. When I do something, seeing the reaction of others and things like that. So I was pro office. But what we are is we are half and half. We do three days or two or three days into the office and then two days working from home and it’s completely flexible as well.

Carrie Rose (guest):

We have quite a lot of remote workers and quite acceptable on that sort of stuff. But I think we just asked our agency, we just said, “What do you guys want? And with the average …” Oh, look. It has a tie.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. So we just asked the people, and this is one thing I just asked Ross and said, “What have your people said?” And it is been quite varied, but our people said they wanted the office. So we invested, I’m going to admit 700,000 pounds into our office.

Carrie Rose (guest):

It’s got hammocks. It’s got a bar, all that kind of stuff. But our average age at Rise at Seven is 27. These are young people. Do you know what? I interviewed a graduate the other day, just a rolling content. And I said, “There’s hybrid role.” And she went, “What does that mean?” And I was like, so innocent. So many graduates don’t even know what that means. They have fucking idea. So there’s an opportunity here.

Carrie Rose (guest):

But I also think flexibility and all that sort of stuff. So I’m chill. I don’t care whether people coming or not. I’m not really want to chase or anything, but yeah, we do encourage three days in two days at home. And we just do that by improving the social life at Rise.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. And I think culture plays a big part into this. Nick, Nichola. What do you guys do in terms of working from home, remotely down at Erudite and keeping the culture in the business still there?

Nichola Stott (guest):

It’s not hard. There’s only 10 of us so we are fully remote. We went remote during the pandemic. We are a very different model. We don’t take graduates. So I think if you’ve got grads, you need to be in an office. You need to be in a place where you can teach them how to work. What is the culture? How do we take a good meeting? What’s the etiquette? All that stuff that you get that in an office. We’re not that model. We are taking people on who’ve had a minimum of five years experience. Our starting salary’s like 40 K and there’s there’s ten of us. And we only do technical SEO. Our company DNA is really easy. It’s not difficult.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So what you’re saying is you only do technical SEO. There’s no need for culture because you’re all nerds.

Carrie Rose (guest):

You don’t talk to each other.

Chris Simmance (Host):

It’s camera off Zoom meeting, isn’t it?

Nichola Stott (guest):

Shots fired. Shots fired.

Carrie Rose (guest):

I’m joking.

Nichola Stott (guest):

SEO nerd is culture.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Nichola Stott (guest):

Yeah, thank you.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So it works well for you being totally remote anyway. Did you have an office before and got rid of it or do still do?

Nichola Stott (guest):

That. Yeah, we had an office before. We got rid of it. We didn’t need it. I’ve got people from Romania. I’ve got an amazing girl just started from South Africa. I’ve got an amazing tech SEO in Cornwell. It does not matter. It doesn’t matter where we are physically. We meet every morning at 9:00 AM. We have our water cooler stand up or whatever. We’re all sat around. One girl’s got a parrot and another girl’s got a rabbit.

Chris Simmance (Host):

I like the parrot.

Nichola Stott (guest):

Yeah. I like you, Luna. You’re nice, but you know, rabbits and parrots.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Did you say a parrot?

Nichola Stott (guest):

Yeah. A parrot dude.

Chris Simmance (Host):

As a-

Nichola Stott (guest):

You need an office parrot. Level up.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Has the office parrot learned anything like technical text?

Nichola Stott (guest):

He’s really good at-

Chris Simmance (Host):

Technical text.

Nichola Stott (guest):

He likes link building, but it’s not really what we do. So I have to reign him in. He’s a spammer. There you go.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Ross, your entire team is remote as well. Right?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah. We’re entirely remote. We were all in the office. I personally don’t like remote. I think there’s a very limited shelf life to everyone being remote. And I think we’re all going to want to go back into the office pretty soon. They all get WeWork passes and stuff like that. And most of them I see in WeWork, just not the one I’m in. So I don’t know what that says about me. They just don’t be nice to me.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

But they’re all actively going into WeWork anyway. But it’ll be a flexible thing where you get like half in half out. But hiring is so hard, I don’t know about you guys when it comes to hiring, especially seniors. If I get a senior and they’re like in South Africa, I’m taking them because they’re so good. And if they can only come in every well … Our technical directors in Abu Dhabi and he flies in every six months. So it does work. It’d be ideal if you’re sitting right next to me so I can annoy him about tech stuff. But you know, you make a work.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:12:14].

Nichola Stott (guest):

One thing. We can do that. Margins aren’t shit. We can do that. We can fly them in. We can see each other. It’s not the end of the world.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah, no. I think that’s what you are doing in a couple of weeks aren’t you? You’re flying some of the team in from different parts of the world for a big team get together.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah. So it’s every quarter we fly them in and then every half year we have a big mad party. So yeah, that’s how we do remote culture.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So then, Nick, do you do anything on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis in terms of just it’s not work but you get together somehow or?

Nichola Stott (guest):

We’ve done that in the past and to be honest, it’s awkward.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Okay.

Nichola Stott (guest):

You know what, it is?

Chris Simmance (Host):

Because they’re tech guys.

Nichola Stott (guest):

It’s a bit weird and a bit forced apart from Pictionary. That’s fun.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. Sold. Okay.

Nichola Stott (guest):

Seriously.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. And what-

Nichola Stott (guest):

Remote Pictionary is a good laugh. Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So Carrie, as you’re growing, you’re moving the agency over to the States as well as the UK.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

How do you envisage keeping the two teams as it were one?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah, to be honest, you have to have a leader in every single location. That’s what you got to have. And that leader need to replicate your vision and your culture and things like that.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Do you know what? I watched a podcast video recently and it was by the ex CEO of Asus. And he basically grew Asus, I don’t know how many people, but I think it’s like 5,000, something like that. And he basically said, “When you’re growing a business from say 50 to a hundred people, you can’t control anything. You can’t control people. You can’t control process. What you can do is inspire.” How the fuck can I inspire a hundred people in my fucking three bed house in Donny? Do you know what I mean? How can I do that? I have to have an office space. And my role as the CEO is inspiring every single person. And what I have to have is a leader in … Well, we have a Sheffield office, we have Manchester, we have London and now New York. And I have a leader in every single office and their role is to inspire every single Riser. So yeah, you have to move away from control to inspiration. You can’t inspire a hundred people sat at home.

Chris Simmance (Host):

It’s, yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s the leadership style that needs to change in some spaces.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah, it’s true.

Chris Simmance (Host):

But then at the same time, if it’s one office in one place with four people, you still need to have a good leadership style anyway because people need to follow someone.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So the pandemic’s helped a little bit in terms of the push into technology. Not just in digital marketing, but in the wider world. What things are you guys looking at in terms of technology that’s happening in either digital marketing or as part of running a business that you think is going to make a big impact in the future? Ross?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah. We’re automating a lot of processes. So if you think about the project management side, a lot of that can be … A lot of these tools are smart enough so they can look at a table of information and then do natural language processing and write sentences. So getting smart with that to do client weekly updates. Obviously don’t send them directly to the client, send to an account manager and they can edit them. So little small improvements like that is where we’re going.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

The stuff that we do. So when we look at it, we repeat ourselves quite a lot with the general style of campaigns. So I think taking big data warehouses for yourself so it’s just there and ready to use. And from a creative point of view as well, there’s a lot of templating that’s done in creative, especially in agency world. And it’s a real dirty little secret. Because you go into client, it’s like, “Yep, here’s this big, fancy piece of creative. I promise we’ve never done it before.” But we all know that’s not true. We’ve done a version of it before. We’re not remaking that button. We’re not redoing this thing.

Chris Simmance (Host):

You’ve changed the colors of the tables.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Oh dear.

Chris Simmance (Host):

No, sorry. Not PR.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

But there’s there’s tools like Figma now where they’ve got like APIs out. So you can actually get all of the element based stuff of everything that you make automated to a degree. So we do a lot of PR and we’re making these content based PR assets. The thing is with that stuff, it needs to be fast. And that’s the biggest learning for us. So we’re using a lot of technology like Figma to be able to repeat things and pull it up a lot.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

And also reusing creative as well has been a big thing for us too. So I don’t know if anyone’s ever followed the Sam Rush Twitter account, but they just put the same thing up all the time. Because you’re looking at it a different time of day, but that’s still growing their account for them. And same with these PR assets. We’re just getting smart with whenever forward features are coming out, it’s getting pinged in and we’ve got our … Imagine every single asset we’ve got for a client. When something happens, we’re like, oh, we’ve done that last November and it’s not dated. So just being smart with alerts and notifications as well.

Chris Simmance (Host):

And one thing I know about Nichola at Erudite is that you guys are relatively usually ahead of the curve in terms of tech changes. Don’t shrug, you are, you have been. You have been at least. What are you guys looking at, at the minute? What’s important for the future of the agency?

Nichola Stott (guest):

For us, we think we’ve just got it nailed. We use OneDay, we integrate everything with APIs and then we leave well enough alone. I just think you just get too bogged down in all the planning and playing house and integrating different technical solutions. And all you need to do is just do the work. Just do it, get on and do it. It just needs to be good enough.

Chris Simmance (Host):

And then, but as technology develops in the sector itself, there’s going to be changes in how we work I presume in terms of the standard operating procedures that you play. Fingers crossed links aren’t a thing in the future, sorry guys.

Nichola Stott (guest):

We don’t do that.

Carrie Rose (guest):

I’m all for that.

Chris Simmance (Host):

And maybe everyone has to change their templates of some sort. But there’s things that are coming through every single year that are changing. And Carrie, you guys have been, the things that you do are relatively, they come out quick, right?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

From an outsider’s perspective.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Constant.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Things happen quick.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So you must be trying to keep up with and ahead of stuff all the time.

Carrie Rose (guest):

All the time. And Will and everybody are looking at me thinking I’m the biggest fucking nightmare, because I am the person that changes our business every four weeks. I am the person that goes, “This is new. We need to do this. This is how it change things. New tech, new technology.”

Chris Simmance (Host):

Is that true, Will?

Carrie Rose (guest):

All the time. But the biggest problem that Risers have is they’re like, “Carrie, you’re changing all.” And people don’t like change. They don’t, especially in SEO. We don’t really like change. But change has to happen.

Carrie Rose (guest):

I read this, I tweeted it out the other day. It was like, Google did like, I don’t know how many, it was 10,000 updates or something. If Google’s doing that, it’s because they’re trying to keep up to date with users. I’ve got to change and I’ve got to do 10,000 updates in my business constantly. That sounds dramatic, but you know what I mean.

Chris Simmance (Host):

It’s overly dramatic in fact.

Carrie Rose (guest):

But yeah, one of the things that I’ve learned about … Take Social Chain. Social Chain is a hundred million pound agency because they created a process that they could build once and sell it twice. They sold it a hundred times to a million different brands and they spent a lot of money buying it. So it’s a templated approach that they can rinse and repeat. But it’s all about creating that and selling it. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. And you’ve got to build tech to be able to do that.

Carrie Rose (guest):

So we’ve created Rise Labs. I’m looking at Tasha because she’s been a big part of that. Rise Labs has basically every tool or you can imagine. Everything from search trends to looking at Amazon search and all different keywords and that sort stuff. We’ve created everything in house. But also we use all the tools externally, but yeah, tech is massive for us to be able to keep up to date with change. So yeah, it’s a big part of our innovation.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Okay. So out of all the people who run an agency, hands up again? And everyone else? Okay. So keep your hand up if it’s really hard to run an agency?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Fucking hell.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Sorry. It is.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

I think that means yes.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Cool. Okay. I’m in a job then. Great. So it’s hard is hard to be at the top, really.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Massive. Yeah.

Chris Simmance (Host):

So where do you guys go when you need advice from a leadership point of view, from a growth perspective? Where do you go? Where do you look for? What do you do?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Usually the pub is my first point of goal who the pub.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Who?

Chris Simmance (Host):

The pub.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

The pub.

Chris Simmance (Host):

The bottom of a pint of Guinness. Okay.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah. From a leadership point of view, one of the things I came to terms with over the last couple of years, because of the pandemic was as a leader, if your brain isn’t right and your emotions aren’t right, then that will rip through your entire team.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. 100%.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

So one of the things I would recommend for all leaders, even if you don’t have any extreme past traumas is get into therapy and be there consistently. Mostly because when you hold a mirror up to yourself in some of the decisions you’re making, you realize it’s trigger based on how you’re feeling a particular point in time. If you want to scale, you need to be able to have trust in people and let go. And if you can’t do that, then that’s going to seriously hold you back. So I made some awful leadership decisions just because I was like a hurt little boy. And I was like, “Why aren’t they doing what I want? I am the boss. Can’t you see I’m magnificent.” And then you go home and you’re like, “Man, what is going on?” And then you start unraveling all this stuff and you’re like, huh. You just need to get people this space to deal with it. But that’s my recommendation from a leadership view.

Chris Simmance (Host):

I think that’s spot on in a sense that getting therapy, knowing yourself. I think Nichola, you touched on this in our recording that we did a few weeks ago.

Nichola Stott (guest):

Yeah. I think you were quite shocked when you said, “What would you change?”

Chris Simmance (Host):

I wasn’t prepared for you to just say, “Get therapy.” But yeah. It works, doesn’t it from a getting your mind right point of view.

Nichola Stott (guest):

A hundred percent agree. You really need to be healthy and you need to be able to be there because everybody’s looking at you, everybody. And essentially you’re paying their salaries. You’re paying them. It’s a weight. Every night it is a weight on you and you need to be strong enough to be strong enough for them. Yeah. It is really, really important.

Chris Simmance (Host):

I mean, coming from someone who didn’t get therapy when he was running his agencies, sorry to all the staff I ever employed, because I was the worst boss ever. But I know that now. And I think that it’s really important to know yourself and I learned that the hard way. And I think as you grow an agency ridiculously fast, then you are … Where is that?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Honestly, so I have spent a shit ton of money on coaching. I’m going to admit, I spent a hundred thousand pounds on coaching in the last six months. But I had to. I have never done this fucking before. I had had to do this. But I have transformed. I have learned so much about myself. I know why I make decisions. I know what I was bad at six months ago. And my agency is completely transformed because of that. One thing I will, is anyone a business consultant in this room? No. More like a come in, make redundancies, that sort of type.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Oh, no.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Is anyone a bastard [crosstalk 00:22:39].

Carrie Rose (guest):

Oh, no. Yeah. I also brought in a consultant and I’m going to say that when I’ve hired consultancies, one thing I’ve learned and I’m going to be completely honest about this, consultancies come into a business and what their job is to get paid the next month and the next month and the next month. So what they do is they create problems or highlight problems and they make you feel shit. And they go, “Don’t worry. I’m there to save your life.” You keep paying them because you think, “Oh my God, they’re going to save my life.” But then it keeps coming and more problems. That’s what a consultant does.

Carrie Rose (guest):

So if I could give anyone advice, go get coaching over consultancy in terms of business consultancy. And also go speak to other leaders. I don’t know if you guys know Dan Gilbert of Brain Labs. I’ve spoke to so many agency owners. I went and spoke to Dan Gilbert of Brain Labs and I listed all my problems out to me. I think he’s a paid performance guy. He’s the most kind of bland guy in his face. And he looked at me and he just said, “You haven’t got any problems.” And I was like, “Oh.” And then being told that made me just get so much confidence of these things I’m moaning about is minute. And yeah, I think that’s what you need to be told by other people of people who’ve been there done that. And so many people have offered me loads of free advice.

Chris Simmance (Host):

And I think part of the issue sometimes is being ready for that.

Carrie Rose (guest):

100%.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Because everyone who’s ever taught anything, if you’re not ready to listen, you don’t listen. You’re not ready to listen to it.

Carrie Rose (guest):

I didn’t. I always thought because I’d made so much money-

Chris Simmance (Host):

Well, you spent a hundred thousand pounds. You could have spent 50 and you could have [crosstalk 00:24:03].

Carrie Rose (guest):

This is my opinion. I grew the business so fast and I did so well from generating clients, generating leads. I thought I was the best at what I did. And then I remember, fuck, I don’t know shit. I remember thinking that actually I don’t know everything and that I needed to take the advice on board. But I think what you got to see is when you get advice, you need to line it all up and go, that one’s good, that one’s good, that one’s good. Because nobody knows your business other than you. You are the only person. But yeah, I think you need to drop the ego. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Absolutely. And I think Nichola, you do this with, I can’t remember the name of the group that you do. But being in a peer group of agency leaders. Or there’s other versions of it where department leads can meet with other department leads in other agencies and things like that to learn as a group and share experiences. How do you find that?

Nichola Stott (guest):

Yeah. I mean, it’s fine. It’s a challenge. And that’s what you need. You need to be challenged as a personality or as a leader. But I think one of the best things we do at Erudite is I run my goals through my staff, so they sign them off. So I’ve got a meeting Tuesday morning with my whole team because our financial year starts May 1st. And I say, “These are my three core objectives. And these are my three core objectives off those three objectives.” So I’ve got nine big things for the year. So I lead obviously it’s vision and values as the MD. So I’m leading marketing, I’m leading learning and I’m leading value. And there’s objectives within that. They need to sign it off. And for me, that’s the challenge. That’s where I get my most inspiration from. They’re smarter than me. That’s my job. Hire people smarter than you.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. Hire people smarter than you is something that everyone should do. And if you think you’re smarter than the people you employ, then you’ve hired the wrong people. Sorry. Probably true. Mostly true.

Nichola Stott (guest):

[crosstalk 00:25:48].

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Unless you need someone to rate like 500 lines a minute a day, then you don’t need them to be smarter than you.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Something like that.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yes. You’re [crosstalk 00:25:56].

Chris Simmance (Host):

I don’t know if anyone from Google’s in here, but no one knows. No one notices. And if they did, they rewrite it anyway, don’t they? Yeah. So that’s all the questions I’ve got because I only thought of four questions. But I’ve made it really easy for everyone to come here and have free drink and there’ll be free food ever so shortly. So stick around, enjoy yourselves. And if anyone wants to chat, they can chat with me particularly, but chat with each other or do what you want.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Is there Q and A or are we good?

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. Q and A.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Q and A?

Chris Simmance (Host):

Any questions from anybody? That’s why I didn’t go to Q and A.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

No, great.

Carrie Rose (guest):

You’ve got a question, Nick?

Nichola Stott (guest):

Why don’t we get John up?

Audience:

Nick’s got a question.

Nick:

[crosstalk 00:26:37].

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah. So the contract actually says you work Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM with an elective Friday off that we decide for you. So you get 52 days off per year as part of the Friday scheme. You get 28 days statutory on top of that and we close it Christmas. I mean, essentially my team are never in the fucking building.

Carrie Rose (guest):

No doubt.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

What you need to be careful of is A, the block booking of holidays. You can only do a week at a time so they take a proper break. And if there’s a bank holiday Monday, we work the Friday. So you’re always doing four days and we just shift it around. So you always still get your bank holidays. It’s just that next Friday you would then work. So you’re always working the four days.

Chris Simmance (Host):

I think I’d always been, because I’d be worried I was not supposed to be working. I wouldn’t know when I was supposed to be working.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

No, we’re quite good at making sure that people … And also, people know when they get it. So holidays is hard. We had unlimited holidays, but then we found that no one actually took any holidays and then that’s a whole other weird, toxic problem you need to deal with. But most of the guys are fine.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

I think it comes from the top. So if you show that you’re taking holidays off and you’re a bit more lax and chilled about it, then it’s fine. But if you’re a really, I used to be what you’d call a pace setting leader. So I’m just like, I’m just going, going, going. Follow me, catch up with me, which a horrific way to run a company especially with young people in it. So yeah. As long as you are showing that you’re taking time away, they feel a lot more chilled about it. And we internally take the piss out of them if they’re like, you know that presenteeism thing? It’s like, I’m not leaving to the boss leaves. [inaudible 00:28:21]. So English. I know.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

So if there’s any presenteeism or anything like that, we nip that in a bud. But we do that with sarcasm and it’s a bit more friendly and relaxed. Thanks for your question.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Any other questions from any?

Speaker 7:

I do.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yes.

Speaker 7:

Have we reached peek digital agency? Like [crosstalk 00:28:41].

Carrie Rose (guest):

Does that manage you mean?

Speaker 7:

Yeah. Like every time.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Crazy.

Speaker 7:

At what point do we go? “Right. There’s more agencies than clients.”

Carrie Rose (guest):

I think there is.

Speaker 7:

Like in Australia.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Well not [inaudible 00:28:53]. You know what I mean? It’s that many.

Speaker 7:

What do you think? Is there still growth? What do you think?

Carrie Rose (guest):

No, I think it’s going to hit a point.

Nichola Stott (guest):

That’s why our model has never been growth. That’s never been our north star. Our north star’s always been value and profit.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

No, the market’s massively increasing as well. So depending what your channel is. I think if you’re like PurePlay, SEO, you’re definitely in trouble. You PurePlay PR, also definitely in trouble. Everyone will always need marketing and it’ll all move into digital. So it’ll just change. The outlook of it will change. But I mean, I’m riding that train. I hope not or I’m going to be selling the big issue in a couple years. So fingers crossed.

Nichola Stott (guest):

I think we’d all do well, actually selling the big issue. That would be really fun.

Chris Simmance (Host):

I mean, you would do with your crutches. You can get extra sympathy vote.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

The real answer to that is-

Nichola Stott (guest):

It’s so there.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

… all the digital agencies, we’re just holding on long enough so that Rise buys us. That’s like the whole, that’s the strategy.

Carrie Rose (guest):

I’m keen. That’s not my goal. I’d love to, but …

Chris Simmance (Host):

I think you’re making a bit of a good point here in a sense I don’t think you’re intending to. But if anyone’s hiring in a digital agency at the minute, they’re finding it hard to people.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Everybody is.

Chris Simmance (Host):

And everyone’s hiring, but there aren’t any people for it. So maybe there is peak digital agency right now because there isn’t a supply of people for the demand.

Carrie Rose (guest):

There isn’t at all. But also a lot of people going freelance. So many people have gone freelance and started their own thing. But in agencies, people are moving around and things like that. But I’m going to tell you, client side as well. Client side there is constant change of client contacts and things like that. So there is a lot of movement. But I think there is this split between the poor quality agencies are struggling. There is this divide between good and bad and that’s really what we’re seeing. But yeah, I think it’s a good thing, but the demand is big. The demand is massive. But we all in this room are going to be better from it. Everyone in search.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. I think you’re right there. Anymore for anymore?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Any questions?

Nichola Stott (guest):

I’ve got a question actually for Ross and Carrie, if that’s okay.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Do it. [crosstalk 00:30:54].

Nichola Stott (guest):

Do you guys have a balancing personality in your agency? Somebody who pulls you down or challenges you?

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yes.

Nichola Stott (guest):

Particularly Carrie because I think you are really, you’re going fast in one direction. Do you have someone that says, “Not that one.”

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. My COO.

Nichola Stott (guest):

Talk me through it.

Carrie Rose (guest):

So I was looking for an operations director at the time and this is some operations typically look after people, IT, HR, all that sort of stuff. And I basically interviewed about 15 people and I was looking for someone that was going to tell me, no. That was my brief. Who’s going to tell Carrie Rose no? Who is going to do that?

Carrie Rose (guest):

And I found my guy. And he’s a guy called Nick Hussey, but he challenges me all the time. He’s a complete opposite to me, similar to Steven. That’s why I started the business with Kenwright. Because he’s the complete opposite to me. Me and Kenwright are actually very aligned so he doesn’t really tell me no that much. But actually, yeah. But Nick Hussey, my COO who’s promoted recently and he’s now basically my number two.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Good luck.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah. He’s the person-

Chris Simmance (Host):

Good luck, mate.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Yeah, but he does. And I trust him with my life. I honestly do. But I think you need to find that. If anyone’s going to look for your number two, somebody that’s potentially going to run the business for you one day, hire someone that is the opposite to you that can tell you no, that can calm you down as well.

Chris Simmance (Host):

And Ross?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah, absolutely. So the thing that keeps me grounded is my bank balance because I’m not that rich and I can’t do most of the things that I want to do. No.

Nichola Stott (guest):

So Scottish.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

I know, I know such a tight Scottish Bastard. No. So the thing that keeps me grounded has been my FD, because they’re very good at saying “This is what normal agencies look like. Try and be this.” Because agencies are formula businesses, really. So getting into that. And also my new operations director, I think you know her, Becky Simmance.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Yeah. You stole … You didn’t steal my wife. You stole my operations director.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Oh, wow.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Who is also my wife.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

This is awkward.

Chris Simmance (Host):

I saw your eyes going up. Bit of drama. Bit of drama. Yeah.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Can I ask a question? When did you hire FD? At what point? And was it the right decision? Would you wished to have done it earlier?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah. Hired the FD month six.

Speaker 11:

Oh wow.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah. So we’d done a little growth spurt at the start and then I was running on a treadmill. We were making good money, but I would grow up to particular level and then go back down again. So I just constantly had a particular plateau and just keep doing this thing. I’m like, “Huh, what’s going on?” And the FD comes in as like, “Oh, you’re just an idiot. Don’t worry about it.” And then they sort it out, give you management accounts and all that sort of thing. But that’s massively helped.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Does he or she give you strategic direction as well?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yes, she does. I’ve got my business is 90% female.

Speaker 11:

Oh, wow.

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Carrie Rose (guest):

We’re 70, I think, which is crazy.

Nichola Stott (guest):

90.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Are you?

Ross Tavendale (guest):

Yeah.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Oh, wow. Okay. That’s interesting.

Chris Simmance (Host):

That’s good. Lovely. Any other questions before everyone eats free food? Thank you very much for coming to the podcast.

Carrie Rose (guest):

Thank you.

Chris Simmance (Host):

Outro music, then I’ll edit in later. Please don’t feed any food to the dogs because this is people food.

Carrie Rose (guest):

They’re vegan.