Stronger Employee Retention, Happier Clients, and Higher Owner Satisfaction
Agency owner Mike Belasco founded Inflow in 2007 to leverage his digital marketing expertise. His agency specializes in growing eCommerce brands through SEO, paid search, and conversion rate optimization (CRO). Mike has faced several challenges over more than a decade of running the business—but he’s overcome them each time.
In 2015, Mike wasn’t actively looking to hire an agency consultant—but he was looking for new resources. Mike attended Karl’s “Scale Your Agency” talk at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference… and happened to sit next to one of Karl’s clients. She shared how much Karl had helped her and her agency, and Mike was intrigued.
Mike shared: “I’ve always had a support system behind me, whether working with a professional coach, a peer group, or both. But I realized I needed something more hands-on—digging in deeper, working on projects together. I liked that Karl had experience helping multiple agencies, not just one type of agency.”
The Game-Changing Question: What Kind of Agency Do You Want to Be?
After Karl’s talk, Mike couldn’t stop thinking about a key question Karl raised: Did he want to run a lifestyle agency or a high-growth (equity) agency?
The answer held the key to Mike’s future.
“After reflecting, I realized, ‘Whoa, this is a spectrum. You mean, I don’t have to choose just one?’ It really intrigued me to try to understand where I fit and how I should be managing the agency differently towards one side of the [equity vs. lifestyle] spectrum or the other.”
“What I like about Karl is that he paints a realistic picture. Karl doesn’t hold back, and his advice is clear and very specific. He’s helped me make several difficult decisions. They weren’t always easy, but things always turned out as Karl predicted.”
–Mike Belasco, President & CEO, Inflow
Culture Reset: Improving Team Satisfaction, and Building Momentum via the “Harmonic Triangle”
Through his initial consulting work with Karl, Mike uncovered that there were two critical components of his agency that needed improvement:
- Agency Culture
- Account Management
Mike shares: “I was unhappy with the way that my agency was doing account management, on both an emotional and personal level. And it was hurting client retention and employee retention.” Indeed, two key employees had recently resigned.
Applying his custom framework, Karl dug into the agency via a strategy consulting project—the Agency Roadmap—including a Culture Survey and follow-up presentation to Inflow’s team. The results of the anonymous Culture Survey showed that Inflow’s employees were positive about the agency’s future—but less positive about their own future at the company. To fix this retention and morale challenge, Karl recommended creating clear career paths—so that employees were clear how they fit into the agency’s future.
With Karl’s input, Mike and his leadership team began implementing necessary culture changes to course-correct—and to help the Inflow team to feel more invested in the agency, their roles, and their work. “Karl’s Culture Survey helped me understand where the company was, especially around morale and attitude,” shares Mike. “We got specific action items to work on, and it inspired our creating a system to monitor employee engagement to help us make better decisions.”
The agency culture changes led to higher employee morale and increased employee retention rates. How much? Employee retention increased 24% between 2015 and 2020—and continues to improve in 2021.
In fact, the Culture Survey was so impactful, Inflow continues to run them internally on a quarterly basis—and promotes the surveys as a perk to potential employees and with prospective clients: “This is how seriously we take our culture,” shares Mike.
With Karl’s help, “We developed the Inflow Harmonic Triangle, which represents our cultural ecosystem and how we balance our three main stakeholders at all times: our team, our clients, and the company as a whole.” says Mike. Having the Inflow Harmonic Triangle simplifies decisionmaking—and has become an employee recruiting tool for the agency.
Account Management Upgrades Improve Client Retention
Karl also helped Mike overhaul account management at Inflow, via a custom consulting project. “The AM project was huge because we created a formal playbook—something we never had before—and trained our employees on account management techniques,” shares Mike. “All of this has led us to where we are today and we continue to grow and improve.”
Client retention increased 19% from 2019 to 2020—and continues to be strong in 2021.
Reaching Higher Owner Satisfaction
Mike values Karl’s role in his life as an owner in many ways, “He’s very logical, calm, cool, and collected. He does his homework. I like the way that he works. I like the way that he thinks.”
“Karl’s coaching has increased my overall happiness and satisfaction as an agency owner, which usually correlates with an increase in revenue and profit as well,” shares Mike. “What I like about Karl is that he paints a realistic picture. Karl doesn’t hold back, and his advice is clear and very specific. He’s helped me make several difficult decisions. They weren’t always easy, but things always turned out as Karl predicted.”
Since his initial Agency Roadmap consulting engagement with Inflow in late 2015, Karl continues to support Mike and his team via Executive Coaching, custom projects, and on-sites in Denver with Mike and his executive team. Most of the work is remote—via phone, Zoom, Google Workspace, and other tools.
With the COVID pandemic, Karl helped Inflow navigate shifting from office-based to 100% virtual. This increased profit margins, while making it easier to recruit top employees nationwide. And going virtual helps Mike unplug from work, including more time with his family.
On the fence?