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Full-service marketing agency Candybox Marketing uses Toggl Track to sustain up to 40% growth YOY and move away from hourly billing

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"Candybox Marketing is a full service digital marketing agency based in Canada — recently named one of the top 10 best places to work in the country. It’s also one of Canada’s fastest growing agencies, with up to 40% growth year-over-year."

Results with Toggl Track

  • 20-40% annual growth, year-over-year
  • Bigger deals, even with bigger quotes: Quoted 120k to a client against vendors quoting 50k and less, but won the deal
  • Data-driven decisions for pricing, capacity utilization, forecasting, project management and staffing: Now we don’t take on projects less than 20k
Team members of Candybox Marketing

People like the fact that if they work hard, they're recognized. And because seeing the data out there means they can act proactively, team members are now looking ahead to take on projects and hit their KPIs. Everybody wins.

Darrell Keezer, CEO at Candybox Marketing


Just a few years ago, the main challenge at Candybox Marketing was staying profitable.

“If you’ve come from the agency world, you’ll get it. Agencies need to keep the lights on,” said Derek Joynt, Chief Operating Officer at Candybox.

Today, the full-service agency is a team of 40 — and growing. The company was recently named one of the top 10 places to work in Canada. It’s also one of Canada’s fastest-growing agencies.

As they grew larger and their projects grew more complex, so did their needs. Seeing an entire project through from end to end, from the first Google search to the custom website, is baked into how Candybox Marketing does business.

Business has benefited from this approach. But it also meant that their business model was as complex as their projects.

Externally, they needed a way to measure the resources spent on these projects so that they could quote accordingly or decide when a project wasn’t worth it. Internally, they needed a way to manage capacity utilization, staffing, or mid-project pivots.

“We believe that you can't manage what you can't measure,” says founder and CEO Darrell Keezer, quoting Peter Drucker.

On top of all that, Candybox Marketing also needed a way to ensure that these measures were not just profitable, but also humane — and that they’d be adopted by the team.

“The biggest obstacle to time tracking is getting people to do it,” says Derek.

With Toggl Track, Candybox Marketing found a tool that could do all of the above.


Passing on unprofitable projects and winning clients with higher quotes

With their upgrade to Track Premium, Candybox was able to access a slew of features that made it easier to set project budgets and estimates — whether it was a monthly recurring retainer for a campaign, or a fixed fee for a project with a set scope — and track against them.

This data helped them make better decisions about which projects to take on.

“When quoting a website project, at the end of the year we would evaluate: Where did we win? And where did we lose?” said Darrell.

“One reason that we figured out years ago for losing was that we weren’t quoting the complexities of the different pages on the website,” said Darrell. “We had initially quoted per page. But one page could take two hours. Another page, we'd find out later, took us 15 hours to build.”

The experience taught them to work complexity into the pricing before starting the project, and also gave them the actual numbers to build the quotes on.

The process also taught them that any project that below $20,000 typically led to a loss. “It didn’t matter what we did; we would lose,” said Darrell. “If we didn’t have the data that Toggl Track provided, we might still be doing unprofitable projects today.”

This approach also paid off when it came to winning clients. In one instance, Candybox Marketing was quoting 120k on a client project against competitors who had quoted 45 and 50k, respectively.

“We were more than double the competition but we ended up winning that contract because they recognized that the other vendors hadn’t quoted them properly and so probably weren't going to be able to deliver on those objectives,” said Darrell.

This is only one of the many reasons the Candybox CEO attributes the agency’s consistent year over year growth over the past five years to Toggl Track.

Screenshot of project alerts feature in Toggl Track
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Getting team buy-in with transparency

There was initially a lot of opposition to time tracking, admitted Darrell.

“Part of it is a leadership communication thing,” he said. “If I were to just dump Toggl Track on people, that wouldn't go well. We have to communicate what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how it’s going to benefit everybody.”

Beyond pricing decisions, Track data is also used on a day-to-day project management level to avoid taking on more work than the team can handle, or to pivot mid-project if necessary. It’s also used to evaluate individual utilization and calculate merit-based compensation.

What’s key is that all of the data is available for the team to view and take action on.

“People like the fact that if they work hard, they're recognized,” said Darrell. "And because seeing the data out there means they can act proactively, team members are now looking ahead to take on projects and hit their KPIs. Everybody wins.”

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