Upp B2B is an award-winning business-to-business (B2B) brand marketing agency based in MediaCity outside Manchester that was established four years’ ago following a merger.
Soon after the merger, the agency took on a new accountant but several months down the line it became obvious that the relationship wasn’t working out. “Our accounts and payroll processes were still too clunky and we weren’t receiving any proactive strategic input from our accountant” says Max Clark, Managing Director of Upp B2B. “After a year, we decided it was time to move over to a new finance partner that wanted to invest in understanding the nuances of our business to guide us more effectively.”
Upp B2B was keen to find a proactive finance partner that had experience of the agency sector and evidence of supporting similar businesses on a growth journey. After searching, it came across MAP – an outsourced finance function for digital and creative agencies – and was instantly impressed with its approach, expertise and technological know-how.
Clark says, “The fact that MAP only works with agencies was a huge draw for us as the team has extensive knowledge and experience working with businesses like ours. They immediately understood our operational model and fee structure and we were confident that they could provide us with the guidance we needed for streamlining our financial systems to drive efficiency. Time is money to agencies, so productivity gains can significantly impact the bottom-line.”
Reaping the benefits
Upp B2B soon discovered that MAP was a people business and the team was personable, straight-talking and instantly supportive. It was also highly experienced in recommending, implementing and integrating finance systems.
Streamlined and efficient accounting
In a short space of time, the agency’s business systems and processes improved two-fold, with the management accounts processed far more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Clark says, “Our accounting information and reports are light years ahead of where they were. They’re far more streamlined and our cashflow management and forecasting are in a much stronger place. I trust MAP to get our figures right and provide us with the depth of information we need for our decision making.”
A digital-first approach
Upp B2B has also been impressed with MAP’s digital-first approach. The agency had previously been using a Sage accounting system alongside its Synergist agency management system but the two systems weren’t fully-integrated. Soon after starting to work with MAP, the agency transitioned to Xero (a finance system recommended by MAP), and this was integrated seamlessly with Synergist enabling the team to access cross-platform financial information in real-time.
The payroll system was also upgraded to BrightPay, allowing the Upp B2B team to ‘self-serve’ by allowing them to quickly and easily access and update personal information themselves. All employee information is now far more automated than previously, making payroll, pensions and holidays management hassle-free.
Clark comments, “Unlike more traditional accountants, MAP is great at optimising the use of technology. The team takes you with them on a journey as they identify the best solutions to perform different tasks and then ensure they integrate seamlessly.”
During lockdown, MAP even set-up a WhatsApp Group for all its clients so that knowledge about the changing situation could be deciphered and shared as efficiently as possible. Upp B2B found this group invaluable as Clark explains, “The guys at MAP are great at interpreting information and sharing it and this was vital during the pandemic as there was so much confusion, especially at the outset. The situation was changing by the week, and so having MAP provide reliable and easy-to-digest information on what I needed to consider and act on as a business owner, from furlough through to HMRC implications, was key.”
The agency has received guidance from MAP in all areas, from advice on taking out a loan from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to drive growth, through to providing introductions to help Upp B2B grow the business.
“MAP is excellent at continually bringing new thinking into the mix” says Clark. “And its extensive knowledge of the agency model means that the team will suggest new ways of working that we may never have thought of ourselves. It’s great to have a finance partner that can steer and challenge us in equal measure.”
Following a management restructure earlier this year, the agency is now focused on profitable growth. It’s currently on a recruitment drive and is positive about the future and opportunities in the pipeline. MAP is working in partnership with Upp B2B to support its plans and ensure its ambitions are financially within reach.
“We trust MAP’s input and are reassured that the team will give us the best advice, from our lending options through to strategic planning” says Clark. “As we take stock and figure out our next steps as an agency, we’re reassured to have MAP alongside us.”