"We used to miscalculate our retainers"
Why the agency pflüger : kreativ ackern. relies on automatic time tracking - Interview with owner Gero Pflüger
Hi Gero. What is your job - and what is your agency "pflüger : kreativ ackern." specialized in?
Gero: Ages ago, in the early 1990s, I once learned to be a publishing salesman, but quickly switched to graphic design, which I then did for about 20 years. In 2007, I went into business for myself with a design agency. The agency name "pflüger : kreativ ackern." dates back to that time. - which is so well established that I don't dare change it. Shortly after I became self-employed, the financial crisis hit and at some point business was only good in one area: namely with the clients for whom I had also made Facebook pages. That's when I started to get more involved in that. Eventually, I dropped graphic design completely and focused on social media marketing. Since 2014, I have been advising companies on their appearances on the social web, developing social media strategies for them, conducting workshops and training sessions for their employees so that they learn how to use social media platforms professionally, and I take over the operational activities of social media marketing from content planning and creation to community management with my agency. I also give talks and am the author of the book "Social Media Marketing for Dummies," which is available in bookstores.
Why are accurate times important to you?
Gero: Agency work is billed to my clients as retainers, which is a flat monthly fee. These flat rates should be as transparent as possible for my customers, as comprehensible as possible. That's why we constantly measure how much time we need on average for which work step. How long do we actually need to research and write a blog article? How much time do we need to create an Instagram story - and how long does it take to implement the concept? How long does community management take per published post? But we are also concerned with the question of which activities we perform but cannot be directly assigned to projects, because they must of course be included in an honest calculation.
For us, time recording is not used to control those who record their time, but solely for calculation purposes: Based on these figures, we regularly determine and review the flat rates for our services, which we then disclose in our offers.
Personally, I also find it interesting how much more free time I have now than before I started using timeBro. I've noticed how much I used to do on the side during my working hours - surfing the Internet at random, playing games, listening to music at random, chatting with friends and family. Now I bundle all that, go to work later and go home earlier, and now I get a lot more done in my time. I haven't had a 60-hour week in years now.
What problem did you have with time tracking?
Gero: I don't hold it against anyone if they forget to record the times cleanly. It just happens - and especially it happens to me. I really forgot to record my times all the time. And when I did, it was cumbersome because every time had to be typed in manually or a timer had to be started and stopped manually. So there were huge inaccuracies - and that's just not useful as a basis for calculating fees and prices seriously. I always wondered why my company was often short of cash, even though we worked so much. Quite simply: I simply operated with completely wrong figures and therefore often set too small time windows for the projects and thus agreed on too small retainers.