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At a time when marketing agencies are increasingly reliant on technology to improve operations and enhance service delivery, a recent industry webinar hosted by Ignition, explored the transformative impact of automated payment and billing software.

The panel discussion, led by Harry Solomon, Ignition’s Global Head of Marketing – Demand Generation, and Brad Weiler, Product Expert at Ignition, offered a platform for agency leaders to share their experiences.

Ignition customers Laurianne Lachapelle, Director of Finance, Talent, and Culture at Montreal-based Code Marketing, and Viraaj Solanki, Founder of Digital Tank Marketing Agency (DTMA) based in Sacramento, California, shared their experiences of using automation software to improve their agency’s billing and payment processes. The webinar offered insights into how these two agency professionals have leveraged technology to improve efficiency and client interactions.

Overcoming challenges in billing with automation

Viraaj Solanki offered a candid account of the challenges he faced using a traditional billing process. "The old school way I was running [invoices] was creating [these] through QuickBooks, customizing invoice numbers, and then emailing out to each client," he said, highlighting the manual process that he went through every month.

He described how the cycle of issuing invoices, tracking payments, and chasing unpaid bills consumed a significant amount of time. "As we all know – running a business or doing anything in the jobs we do – time is valuable. We’ve got to maximize our time," he said, emphasizing his drive for efficiency and integration.

His pursuit of streamlining his agency operations led him to look for a platform that met all his requirements, including enhancing the client experience and improving cash flow. He stressed the importance for marketing agencies to provide exceptional experiences, whether in creative endeavors, billing processes, or overall communication. He pointed out that Ignition's customization capabilities allowed him to “check all these boxes” and deliver a seamless experience to his clients.

Laurianne Lachapelle said for Code Marketing, Ignition was also pivotal in helping the agency to fulfill its promise of delivering top-tier services and prioritizing client success. “[Ignition’s] proposal [functionality] helped us in many ways… one thing is the option that we have to add a brochure; to add a video; to add personalized elements, such as a personalized message at the beginning and also at the end of the proposal. These were some things that were very useful for us – to just have those little details that will really make an impact on our client,” she said.

Automation: Enhancing client experiences and streamlining payments

Laurianne Lachapelle echoed his sentiments. She said Code Marketing had been looking for a proposal tool and a pre-authorized payment system, highlighting their need for more advanced solutions. She shared her own experience of grappling with proposal tools that didn’t reflect the high-quality service and dedication that her agency stood for. "We were looking for something that will impress; that will feel professional; that will have this feeling [where] you say, 'Wow, I have confidence in the agency I'm in front of for the potential customer’,” she said.

The search was on for Code Marketing to also find a pre-authorized payment system, not only to streamline their operations but to also offer their clients – especially small businesses – an easier way to manage payments. "The fact that we have this option for those types of businesses, it's something that we were looking forward to [offering as] an option to those busy businesses that won't have this administrative time," she said, pointing out the need for Ignition and showcasing the agency’s commitment to providing client-centric solutions.

Both industry leaders said the advent of automation software like Ignition – that could help them manage proposals, agreements, billing and payment collection all in one place – has been a groundbreaking development. The use of automation has drastically reduced Viraaj Solanki’s billing-related workload to just two hours per month, he explained.

He said the software also streamlined the proposal process, noting the most significant transformation was in client interactions, which shifted from payments to, "growth strategies and service improvement".

He said Ignition had also streamlined the proposal process, because he could look on its Business Intelligence Dashboard and get an instant overview of his sales pipeline. “As you’re… having all these sales calls, you're drafting proposals, shipping it out…, just being able to see in a snapshot of what is still outstanding, of who you need to follow up with, that's a win,” he said. “I've saved a lot of hours,” he said. “I'm less stressed and I'm able to focus on my team,” he added.

'I've saved a lot of hours. I'm less stressed and I'm able to focus on my team.'

- Viraaj Solanki, Founder of Digital Tank Marketing Agency (DTMA)

Viraaj Solanki said one of the most significant transformations Ignition had enabled was in client interactions, which had shifted from payments to growth strategies and service improvement.

Effective software implementation: The role of customer support

Viraaj Solanki said when he’s looking for software, the goal is to find a tool that aligns with his agency's processes and enhances automation. "As a business owner [and] as a marketing agency, you're constantly looking for platforms," he explained. "Implementing Ignition...I did my research. I went through it firsthand with my own CPA, but then onboarding with [Ignition], it was great."

Both Viraaj Solanki and Laurianne Lachapelle said they were up and running in Ignition after about a week of onboarding. Viraaj Solanki said the whole onboarding process was flexible, allowing him to take his time or speed up the implementation according to his needs. “Honestly, the outcome has been like, ‘Well, why didn't I do it sooner?’ to be completely frank."

'Honestly, the outcomes has been like, "Well, why didn't I do it sooner?" to be completely frank.'

- Viraaj Solanki, Founder of Digital Tank Marketing Agency (DTMA)

“I love the fact that [Ignition] integrates with QuickBooks, so that it makes it easier for my CPA to reconcile every month – so that I know what [are the] real time numbers each month,” he said.

Viraaj Solanki’s sentiments about the ease of the onboarding process were echoed by Laurianne Lachapelle. She noted the strong customer support provided throughout the implementation process, emphasizing that Ignition's clients are not left to navigate the process on their own. "Something very good about the implementation process… for us was that you're not led by yourself. You have an implementation specialist with you," she said.

A major plus point for Laurianne Lachapelle was Ignition's user-friendliness and flexibility, which made it easy to teach and implement across their team of 20 to 25 people. "The application itself is very user-friendly and flexible... it's easy for everyone to understand how to manipulate the tool and be familiar with [it]," she said.

Automation: A tool for streamlining account receivables

Both Laurianne Lachapelle and Viraaj Solanki said automation has had a transformative effect on account receivables. They highlighted how Ignition’s seamless integration with their respective accounting platforms was a game-changer in tracking collections.

Viraaj Solanki said it gave him much better clarity over his incoming cash flow, significantly improving budgeting and financial management. “Honestly, when you go into QuickBooks and you see what you collected by day five, day six, you're just like, ‘Great. Awesome, thank you’. So yeah, definitely, I've seen a difference – a massive difference.”

The platform has made a difference to account receivables for Code Marketing as well. “We can also budget better… it's very easy to see the cash flow coming in when you use Ignition for most of your clients. So, that's helped us a lot with the financial management of the organization as well,” Laurianne Lachapelles said.

“[Ignition really does] offer ease of purpose – something that's going to automatically raise your invoices in QuickBooks; automatically collect the payment on the day that it's due and then automatically reconcile,” added Brad Weiler. “Being able to forecast better for your particular business and knowing that these automated payments [are scheduled]… is so beneficial for forecasting,” he said.

Having the Business Intelligence Dashboard view with the revenue right there in front of you, allows for trackability on a month by month basis, “so that can eliminate the need to go and try to find these numbers for your Friday or Monday meetings or for senior leadership teams or anything along those lines,” he said.

By simplifying proposals, billing and payment processes, all-in-one automation software like Ignition has not only boosted operational efficiency for marketing agencies such as Digital Tank Marketing Agency and Code Marketing, but also enhanced client interactions by shifting the focus from chasing payments to delivering value for clients. You can find out how Ignition can help your marketing agency by watching the online demo.

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Angela Gosnell
Angela Gosnell

Global Content Marketing Lead 

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Published 24 May 2023 Last updated 19 Mar 2024