At EFM, we pride ourselves on delivering Finance expertise that “moves the needle”, providing as much or as little advice and execution as is needed to help take our SME clients’ businesses to a position of growing strength.
And when our associate Tony Williams got the call from Bedfordshire-based B2B marketing communications agency, BCM, to deliver guidance and support their accountant wasn’t providing, another EFM success story was born.
Nearly two years on, BCM Agency – whose clients work for and with some of the biggest names in industries including construction, engineering, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and business services – is thriving under Tony’s financial stewardship.
We interviewed Tony and BCM Agency to find out how – and why – this relationship works.
The meaning behind the numbers
For BCM Agency CEO, Miriam Drahmane, who started the business after many years’ client and agency management experience, and subsequently went through an extensive process of rebranding it, business finance was hardly a closed book – but at the same time, she felt that conventional year-end-focused accountancy did not truly articulate the story the numbers were capable of telling.
“All that changed when we brought Tony in,” she explains. “The numbers, interpreted carefully by Tony on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis, started to make real sense. Tony didn’t just highlight where we were spending money, he showed us where else we needed to be spending money, based on best- and worst-case scenarios, to support growth, and on projections that were built around our business strategy.”
Inevitably, this meant changing the way many of the finances were managed – cash-flow forecasts, for example – and asking more searching questions about future revenues and expenditure, but Miriam emphasises that this was not simply textbook rigour, but a typical demonstration of Tony’s determination to spot trends and respond to them proactively, and in good time.
“We sadly don’t have a crystal ball at BCM,” she says, “but when it comes to Finance, Tony gets as close as possible to predicting future finances. His ability to look into the distance and plan for what could be coming next means he has completely shifted our focus towards longevity and resilience.”
“This, in turn, means we budget much more effectively for opportunities that will drive our growth, such as resource planning and taking on new staff, but also making sure we can properly look after the people we already have. Indeed under Tony’s advisement we have now introduced a profit share scheme for the team.”
Finance done smarter
Tony has also advised the business on smarter ways to understand and optimise workflow and productivity, at minimal manual effort, including the adoption of technology solutions.
“Tony has worked with media and advertising agencies for years and knows the pitfalls, so can help steer us successfully. He also has significant experience of deploying and using software to maximise the efficiency of agency processes, and advised us soundly when we, in turn, decided to adopt this approach.”
“Our entire differentiator as a B2B marketing agency is built on our Cognitive Marketing approach and the fact that we extensively research what kinds of content and conversations our clients’ customers will react best to before we actually produce any of it,” Miriam explains. “This can be a really complex and exacting workflow. Therefore, the quicker and easier we can manage the inputs, analyse them, and tie them to a financial return, the less time we have to spend on manual tasks that get in the way of delivery. In this way, the contribution each client makes to the business becomes more transparent and any under or over-servicing on our part also becomes clear.”
One of the team, whenever needed
In addition to the Finance and broader commercial expertise that Tony brings to the party, he also “gets” the business in many other critical ways – its people, its day-to-day challenges, its occasional urgencies, its organisational personality – and has become, as Miriam says, “A BCM-er.”
“Tony has totally bought into the business culture,” Miriam says. “He understands my priorities as a business owner, and he’s there for all the important conversations at critical times in the business’s growth. He has become the go-to voice of reason. But he’s also flexible enough to be reactive day-to-day when needed and is super responsive if we need certain figures or advice urgently.”
Business performance: the proof of the pudding
The numbers don’t lie, goes the saying, and in under two years since working with EFM and Tony, BCM Agency has gone from strength to strength, with a 300% client base increase, 166% increase in turnover, 127% increase in profitability, and 100% staff retention rate.
“I’m delighted to be such an integral part of BCM’s continuing success story,” says Tony, “and to be considered, in all respects, a part of the team. It’s great working with a company that has so much passion and ambition, and that are ultimately looking to do things the right way.”
“EFM’s model enables small and medium businesses to flexibly, and affordably, access Finance advice and support whenever they need it – not just at year-end – without the expense of a full-time Financial Director. That ongoing relationship forms the strongest possible foundations for talented teams to focus on ‘doing their thing’ and on delivering outstanding performance.”
For more information on how EFM’s associates can help your SME business grow, get in touch.