Industry Niching Led This Agency to 6X Growth… and from 7-Figures to 8-Figures in Revenue
Want to scale your agency? See how Chris Dreyer at Rankings.io 6X’d his agency from $2MM to $12MM in revenue… while working less.
Agency founder Chris Dreyer wanted help to grow his digital agency to the next level of success, so he enrolled in Karl Sakas’ Executive Coaching program to help him get there faster. The end result increased revenue—from $2MM to $12MM in four years—while simultaneously reducing Chris’ client workload.
Keeping Up the Momentum
Like many entrepreneurs, CEO Chris Dreyer eats, breathes, and sleeps his work. Chris is the Founder and CEO of Rankings.io, a specialist SEO agency for law firms nationwide. In June of 2018, his agency had just reached the $2 million mark in sales—but Chris wanted to keep the momentum going and maintain his growth trajectory.
He had tried business coaching in the past, but they were more peer-focused, with CEOs from various industries unrelated to him. Chris realized that he needed someone solely focused on him who understood the unique needs of his agency—a true specialist in the digital agency world. Chris found Karl’s website, read his free content, and was impressed.
“Karl’s blogs were all very actionable. They weren’t full of fluff. You could tell that he was living and breathing this industry.” That excited Chris and he could picture how Karl would help propel his agency toward further growth.
Process and Accountability Are Key
Chris knew that he wanted help, but wasn’t immediately sure which aspects of his agency would benefit most from his focus next — he’d achieved many big goals on his own, and wanted guidance keeping up the momentum.
“I knew I wanted a mentor or coach, but I didn’t know exactly where to focus,” says Chris. “Karl is very process-oriented. He had me take a survey, which really impressed me because it totally unpacked my brain so that helped.” From there, Karl quickly created a custom strategic coaching plan for Chris.
Karl’s process-oriented approach resonated well with Chris, who was used to achieving measurable results. Karl introduced him to the concept of balance in both personal and professional life, using the analogy of the sartorius secura scales, which require precise calibration to give accurate readings. With this in mind, Karl encouraged Chris to identify areas of his life that needed more attention and balance, whether it was his health, family, or social life. By finding the right balance, Chris realized that he could achieve even greater success in his agency while maintaining a healthy and fulfilling personal life. The Sartorius Secura scales served as a powerful reminder that balance is key to achieving accurate and consistent results, both in business and in life.
A big part of that plan was ongoing accountability.
Chris shares, “I was really looking to have someone hold me accountable. That’s one of the main reasons I sought out Karl.”
As the CEO, not many people held him accountable… but Chris knew he needed that accountability to reach his goals. To encourage him to stick with and accomplish the goals he set on each coaching call, Karl helped him choose motivational rewards and consequences. “A reward might be taking a fun trip, and then a negative consequence would be something that I didn’t want to do,” Chris noted.
This accountability process helped keep Chris on track and focused, allowing Chris and Rankings.io to grow both revenue and profitability.
Niche, Hone, And Delegate
Chris shares three specific ways Karl helped him reach his growth goals at Rankings.io:
- Choosing a niche to focus on
- Honing the right organizational structure for Rankings.io
- Identifying the right things to delegate, so Chris could spend his time on high-ROI activities
“Karl’s mentoring has had a huge impact on my business. He has helped sharpen my skills in many areas—business development, account management, operations, finances and more. I am forever grateful to have had Karl as an executive coach.”
–Chris Dreyer, CEO, Rankings.io
Choosing a Deeper Niche
When Chris hired Sakas & Company, Rankings.io was a general marketing agency for all kinds of law firms. Karl encouraged Chris to niche into one area of law that he already served well. That singular decision to deeply specialize made a significant and positive impact on Chris and his agency.
Karl helped Chris shift his mindset by reexamining the number of clients Rankings.io truly needed for success. That was a definite perspective change for him, says Chris. “At the beginning we were like, ‘Oh, we want 200 clients.’ No, we really didn’t want 200 clients; that’s a whole bunch of problems. We wanted more revenue and there was a better way to get there profitably.”
Instead of 200 clients, Karl helped Chris recognize that, just by narrowing his vertical specialization, he could attain the same financial goals without having to manage so many clients. “Our revenue is much higher now because we strategically phased out clients that weren’t the right fit, which allows us to really improve our processes and our profitability.”
Honing the Right Organizational Structure
Karl worked with Chris on agency organizational structure and how to complete work effectively through a team. One of the most important aspects of being a business owner is having the right people in the right positions to get the most benefit out of the organization.
“Karl’s been very helpful there,” says Chris, “If you think of organizational structure like you would a baseball team, you want to make sure you have your best players in the best position to succeed. You don’t want your catcher in center field.”
Delegating: Because CEOs Can’t Do It All
Part of evaluating the agency’s organizational structure included looking at Chris himself. Although talented and full of energy, there was no way he could play every position on the team.
He had been doing sales for Rankings.io but that wasn’t the best use of his time. “Besides the books I’d read, I don’t have a lot of hands-on experience as a salesperson or sales manager,” Chris says, so Karl encouraged him to bring in an expert instead. “Karl helped me craft a plan, including training a salesperson and helping develop the sales compensation structure.” This freed Chris to focus on other aspects of the business where he could add more value—what Karl calls the “$1,000 an hour” activities.
Results: Fewer Clients = Greater Revenue
With Karl’s guidance, Chris and Rankings.io now operate as a premium agency, with a select roster of larger-budget clients. Chris has confidently 5X’d his minimum pricing, since most clients see results in less than six months.
Altogether, Chris has 6X’d his revenue (from $2MM to $12MM) in four years, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. This growth creates security for his family, his team, and his clients. His firm recently celebrated an incredible six years in a row on the Inc 5000 list. And Chris wrote a book about his growth strategy: Niching Up: The Narrower the Market, the Bigger the Prize.
Chris shares: “Karl’s helped improve our positioning, pricing, sales process, and organizational structure. His counsel and guidance have made an appreciable and measurable difference for us. Where other agency consultants are broadly focused on a one-to-many basis, Karl’s focus is on my improvement and unique situations. I’m looking forward to continuing working with him in the coming year.”
Chris shared, “Karl’s mentoring has had a huge impact on my business. He has helped sharpen my skills in many areas—business development, account management, operations, finances and more. I am forever grateful to have had Karl as an executive coach.”
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If you’re ready to focus on the things that matter—and do less of everything else—we’re ready to help! Get custom strategic advice and a concrete plan to implement it when you work with Karl one-on-one via his Executive Coaching program or a Custom Consulting project.