'Odd' work culture risky but rewarding
Creating a non-traditional working environment has been key to a decade of success for Clicky founder Oli Yeates, but this may not suit all customers.
The Cheshire-based digital agency celebrated its ten-year anniversary at the end of July with a party at Chester Zoo.
When he started the agency, Yeates decided that culture would be part of the foundations of the business, something which has meant giving up on a more traditional model.
“I thought if I could create something that was fun and that people would want to be part of then I’d get the loyalty that I was going to need,” he told BusinessCloud.
“Then you’ve just got to accept that if you’re going to create an enjoyable atmosphere it can’t be a traditional working environment where everyone’s got their heads down. Some clients love that and it may not suit others.
“When clients come on board we get them into the office and involve them so we become an extension of their business.
“It suits almost all of our clients but I’m sure there are agencies out there that would find the way we work quite odd.”
Yeates says that a lot of Clicky’s clients initially spot them from a cultural perspective, which then sparks interest in working with them.
However this doesn’t necessarily mean that all the agency’s clients have a similar culture.
“Often that’s quite a welcome thing from their perspective,” he said. “They get a different type of working environment here and it’s more based around creativity and ideas which is usually what they’re coming to us for anyway.”
The other key to Clicky’s success over the last ten years, says Yeates, has – somewhat paradoxically – been to take a more cautious approach.
“We’re really careful about our aims,” he said. “Lots of clients work with us for a long time and it’s about not promising the earth and achieving deliverable things which match their objectives.
“We only really exist because of our clients so if we don’t maintain relationships with them the agency doesn’t exist either.”
This has also been a crucial part of the company’s success internally, and one of the reasons Yeates believes the company has lasted so long in a market which has seen a huge influx of agencies.
“I’ve always been pretty carful about jobs and the people I support in the company and my own personal security,” he said.
“I’m fairly risk averse even now. When I hire a new person or open a new office I endlessly calculate whether we can afford it.”
He has also found that making the team feel part of the success creates an entrepreneurial spirit.
“If we have a good month everyone knows about it,” he said. “It’s a very organic business. We haven’t borrowed money or got investors so we don’t have anyone to please other than those in the company itself.
“It creates a willingness for everyone to want to push and pull together and achieve the right things.”
Having a team that pulls together is at the heart of a company which prides itself on offering customers the full package.
This ‘holistic approach’ is going to be vital as agencies set themselves apart in a crowded industry, says Yeates.
“We’ve got around 43 in the company at the moment and we can do pretty much everything from building a site to designing a marketing campaign to an SEO campaign,” he said.
“I hate the term ‘one-stop shop’, but lots of our clients use us for more than one thing.”