Episode 404: Agency Tools With Ryan Waterbury

Show Summary

Rob Cairns talks to Ryan Waterbury about what tools your agency should use.

Show Highlights:

1. What tools should your agency use?

2. Processes matter more than tools.

3. A discussion around Project Management tools.

Show Notes

 Hey everybody. Rob Cairns here. And today I’m here with my monthly co-host, Mr. Ryan Waterbury. How are you, Ryan?

Cold, wet and getting cold snow.

You know what? You know what I was thinking? This is the first interview show I’ve done since I had the little health episode. So good to have you back. As on.

Yeah, it’s it’s good to be back. Great, great. Quiet day for podcasting in the home studio.

Yeah. What? What is a quiet day around here? I don’t know. But today we talked. We talked a little bit about agency tools and talking about spring cleanups. So one of the biggest things I find and agencies this could even apply to a a brick and mortar business companies need to audit their. Tools. So I went into a company recently about a couple of months ago I did an audit and they had no word of like 15 charges on their credit card and they were using five of them. What’s your feeling about keeping track of tools and how and wire them?

Yeah, that’s kind of interesting. I have my tools in in the Google sheet and I chuckle because the founder of Padley said he he had a a tweet and and also posted in their Facebook group. I’m finding that Google Sheets is the most used CRM. SEO tool and you name it it. It’s one of those tools and I use it for a lot of those things, I’ll be honest. But keeping track of tools for a long time, I’ve got a Google sheet and you know a reminder on you know what? What day of the year they renew? Or if they’re. A an Ltd. But something interesting that main WP just came out with was the the cost tracker and that’s that’s a really neat upgrade and I want to take a second just to talk about how I’m starting to shift there because that’s part of my spring cleanup. I said, who’s using what tool am I spending too much?


Well, the cost tracker allows you to see what sites are using a tool and what the cost per site is to actually maintain. And that’s something that I really I’ve tried to do before, but there really wasn’t a good tool to do it. And so that’s that’s been a boon. So good job being WP, yeah.

And what I would say. Yeah. Is like you got what I do is one of the tips I have is and you know what happens? You jump on a site, SCM rush, you put a credit card in. Ohh we won’t charge you for 14 days and then you get busy and you forget about it. And it’s just this tools, it’s anything digital. People forget about subscriptions. Right. So the way I. Role is I put a reminder in my calendar at 5:00 AM seven days before. Three days before and the day of and then. That way I don’t forget about renewals and when they come up and then I’m I’m being constantly badgered it. And by the way, I do the same thing with domain names too. Well, I never forget stuff. And you know why 5:00 AM? Because at 5:00 AM I better have the head on the pillow so. It’s like, but if you if you use some other tools to remind you, then life gets a little easier, don’t you think?

I absolutely and you hit it right on the head with subscription. They’re, I mean, they’re out of control. And yeah, it was. What was it, 5-6, seven years ago? We were into the. We’ve been in the Netflix era and, you know, I was talking about Web care and, you know, somebody said keep it monthly. Nobody. Nobody even thinks to look because you know, as you’re subscribed to Netflix. Now Amazon Prime and you know the list has gotten pretty big of what you subscribed to monthly.

It’s still the zone, and it goes on. It goes on and Spotify and it goes on.

Right, alright. And you know they’re all billed monthly and you know you mentioned Spotify. I I have. I’m happy to pay for it. I use it all the time and. And honestly, it’s it’s been a good tool to help me out, but it’s to all paid for monthly since 2012. That’s a lot of money. It, you know, was $9 a month. Then I think it’s now $12.00 a month. Is it worth it for me? Sure. It’s like buying a new album every month. I used to do that. I don’t anymore. Because of the. But you know that’s that’s how easy it is for subscriptions to go on and take a lot of money. I mean, you take 12 years at an average of roughly $10 a month. That’s a good chunk of cheese that I’ve spent on one tool. Do I use it all the time? No. Is it worth 10? Dollars. It’s at when you look at the total time I’ve been using it, maybe, maybe not. So those are the kind of things that when we look at tools that we’re using. Am I getting value out of it? Is it still subscription that’s worthwhile to keep and does it help me save either time or money or general frustration? Those are the the kind of that. Those are the three things that I think about when I look at subscriptions and tools when I’ve been going through my. Spring cleaning.

Yeah, no, no question. I mean the big the biggest problem is and I don’t like to use tools that replicate other tools. So you know, it’s funny we we all do video meetings. I think you’re doing most of yours on Google meet these days. I know for example on a video meeting. Anything under 40 minutes, I’ll go to the free zoom, but I’m not paying for. Mm-hmm. Because I already own this platform streamer, so the reality is if somebody wants a recorded meeting, I’ll just go to stream there and record it locally and just not broadcast it and put the video somewhere. I mean the point is I’m not paying for duplicate tools that do the same thing every day. All that, it’s just not.

Exactly. I had a client who complained and said I won’t do Google meet. You know, they’re, you know, why don’t you do zoom? And I said, you do realize zoom is doing the same thing. The worse with collecting your private data. So as we look at all these tools I’ve been you, you have to look at some of the the privacy things now, and especially if there’s overlap in tools. Why there’s no reason for me to pay for zoom, I pay for Google. I mentioned using Google. Needs the workspace is. Is one of the best, the best values out in the industry, in my opinion. Still for, you know, a solopreneur and an office suite. You get video conferencing. The full office tools spreadsheets you know, documents to write things and storage space, plus domain e-mail. There’s more, but those are the main ones that I use and it’s useful. I am happy to continue to pay for that. In fact I. Just upped my subscription for more storage space.

So my biggest complaint with Workspaces is I hate to say this is the Google Gmail app. You cannot make rules on the Gmail app and that’s you have to do it on the web browser and that drop is insane. And that actually caused me to take my e-mail and move it to a company.


How fast mail? Because fast mail I can make rules on the mobile app and I live on mobile so but that said, I haven’t given up on workspaces. As you know I use those spaces for photos for personal. It’s still the best photo app out there with a. Why storage is cheap? I pay for. What am I paying for 200 gigabytes of storage space cost me 299 Canadian a month. Like that’s a price of a cup of coffee. That’s not even we’re talking about, Ryan. So you know. Things like that’s.

Oh, is that? That’s that’s not even the cost of coffee anymore.

So I’m going to open a. Can of worms the? Word, PM Tools, project management. There is 50. You knew I was going to go here too, you know.

Ohh man yeah I have words.

Well, so do I. And when I worked in enterprise, when I worked in healthcare.


Healthcare banks, they’re all Microsoft project shops because enterprise is all Microsoft shop and Project, I’ll tell you, is the worst PM package out there these days. I use notion to manage my projects. I think you’re using click copy. And you and I have. They both tried everything under the sun up and down. What’s your take on PM tools?

It’s a love hate relationship because none of them do exactly what you want them to do and.


You know, that’s something that click up got bashed for early on and they’ve they’ve gotten better and they’ve really started to focus on, you know, being more modular with you know how you can use parts of the tools that you need and hide the other ones but. That’s the thing. No, no project management tool and even the ones in the niche that are very niche specific. Give you 100% of what you want and that’s it’s the same with CRM’s. You know RPM’s. There’s a lot of overlap in some of those tools and the fact is you have to, you have to come to the table to be ready to be disappointed and not get everything.


And if you get 80%. Of what you want. That’s fantastic. And then the thing that I’ve learned that last 20%, it’s forced me to look at my internal processes and say it, hey, do I really need to do this this way or is the way that the tools presenting a little bit better way? So sometimes it’s been a plus and A minus. You know, as I’ve gone through different. Tools. It was for a while there. It was like changing PM to tools like a a fresh pair of clothes every day because there were so many that were on appsumo. And I went through the the Ltd craze and you know that’s even worse with, you know, apps. Those raise the rate, so if you’re buying tools at the top tier and spending a few $100 every time a new old tool comes out, that’s just some cost that you’ll never get back. And I learned my lesson that. Don’t buy every shiny new object out there. There’s always, you know, a PM tool that will come out that solves that, that next percent of your problems. You don’t need to change, especially if you have people that like your tool that know it, work with it and the best one to use is the one that you use. I don’t use. Click up the right way I I find myself constantly frustrated with with especially daily task management, but long term project management as a project. Management tool. It’s worked the best for me. I’m still. I’m still looking for that daily organization tool that I just have not found one or a way to organize my day where it works well and yeah, and.

That’s why let me share with you something. So one of the things I do and I think you and I have talked about. On this podcast and in our mastermind Chad. And one-on-one I color code my calendar so I can and I still use Google Calendar religiously. So here I am moving away but I still use Google Calendar and the nice cool thing is fast mail actually loads your Google Calendar and and I can take calendar invites and say move it from this calendar to that calendar and I move stuff out of fast. Those calendar into Google Calendar all the time because that’s kind of my go to. So I color code my Google Calendar so that helps. But my problem has been To Do List managers. There’s fifty freaking million. I can say freaking on this podcast. I think it’s mine, but there’s 50 million test launches out there. For a long time I used Todoist and Todoist is like a well known Todoist manager. You know what I’m using now, Ryan? Google task manager. They have now implemented A Kanban style board and that ended that.

Ohh interesting. Yeah, that’s.

And it’s. Who did your Gmail?

Yeah. And it’s I I just consulted on on you know that with a a new client and you know give him some advice, have a have a great industry specific tool for their projects and estimates and a CRM and they love it. But daily task management. Was missing, I said. He wanted to do Google Workspace just for the task, except he liked his other e-mail that they already had. And I said you don’t need Google Workspace. I said why don’t you try Trello and just throw your task on a board and have a reminder and you know try it out and see if it works. So chances are it’s either going to work for you or not and. If it doesn’t, then that style with the boards doesn’t work for you. Maybe you need a checklist and you don’t. You don’t really know until you try them out. And. That’s the other the other part of it, I I’ve been trying to be more disciplined about. Processes and not just tools, but you know the processes around the tools. Tools are great, but if you can’t follow the processes to to work within the tools, it doesn’t matter what tool you’re using, so that’s.

And it doesn’t. If you don’t update your tool. So a lot of people start with the tools. I mean, CRM’s are like that customer relationship managers, a lot of people have CRM’s and then you look at the.


Ada and it’s garbage and it’s like to make your CRM working out here, refusing hotspot using Zoho, you’re using anything built in the WordPress not built in in the WordPress. If you don’t use the tool you are done and you need to keep it up to date.

Exactly. And uh, you know, things change and you know that’s just a reality of life in the in the world, period, not just the world we live in. It’s it’s just faster these days, especially in the digital realm and, you know. Some of these things that we go through aren’t going to change. You have a task to do, you’re doing it. You got to review it and then it’s done.


How you present that information might change over time. You know, I started becoming fond of Gantt charts, especially when I’m working with other colleagues on a project, because then we can see who’s working on things in parallel. Where you don’t always get that with your can band view with your your card view that you’re dragging from station to station and so when you look at tools you, you know I’ve talked about the checklist where sometimes that’s just, you know reordering your tasks on the list and.

That’s true.

You know it. It’s not only the tool, but the way that it presents the information to you and how you work with it. Because we’re all doing the same things, you have a task it it needs to get done and it needs to get done on this day and time and it. Takes this much time, that’s. Normal for everything doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, the tool that presents that information. Might be different and might interface with different systems. Slack you know for us in in particular is is big in our industry, that’s another tool, a communication tool. But yeah, PM tools, I still have a love hit. I don’t love click up. I’m going to try another one. When it’s released. Because it integrates with some other tools. If it works, great, if it doesn’t.


There’s there’s, you know, other ones.

Yeah, I would. I would say the biggest problem with tools is how you organize it in the processes. I agree with you like more I think about that. The more I say. It’s the organizational flow. To me that’s more important. Most tools are pretty similar, though I’ll do the job, but it’s a PM tool, whether it’s an e-mail tool, they all have their nuances. I mean, you know, we all we don’t. For example, the office crew has woken up like this, yeah.

Yeah, unfortunately.


The I work at e-mail tools and you know I don’t like to check my e-mail via the web interface that you use or use the mobile app or an e-mail client and I’m not one to skip around and and jump tools like I tend to use the same ones every day, all day, all over the place. Speaking of tools, just because it’s hard off the press as we record, the biggest buy happened yesterday and Adobe, who owns Canva, bought a company called Affinity. And and they are my photo editing tool of choice and I just cringed when I saw it.

Wait, what?

I haven’t even seen that news yet. Wow, that’s.


I you know, I would be. I don’t know. I’m. I’m kind of interested to see if that goes through the. Figma acquisition was squashed. You know, for antitrust and monopoly, so we’ll see if that goes through, if it’s allowed to go through, it would be unfortunate if it did because the affinity suite I tried it and. What it came down to is I I didn’t do the next upgrade. I went back and got creative suite. Why? Because I looked at my tools and what I do and I’m doing more PPC marketing including video composition and hands down. I know Final Cut Pro, I know express. I it got to the same expense of buying the whole creative suite and I know Photoshop and illustrator much better than the affinity projects products. So for me it my tool choice was ease of use. I’m willing to pay a little bit more because I’m a lot faster with those tools. I’ve been using Photoshop since the early 90s. Like 9192, right when it came out, I had a copy. And so that’s that’s a long time with the tool and it’s hard for me to switch. I’m not a young a young cat anymore, so.


That comes into the.

I agree with that. I actually switched to affinity about four years ago. And I’m kind of torn. And the reason I’m torn is you can just see the affinity suite going to a subscription model, which Adobe, right? So that concerns me, but I’m also a canvas page user and I could see. And taking affinity and integrating it in the camera, I can see that coming so. You see what I’m told?

Yeah, it.


I’ve been using Adobe Express more and more, which is, you know, Adobe’s it’s. And there’s a free tier. It’s freemium. It’s their answer to Canada to do a quick mock ups, you know, for social media and you know, other things. Canvas. You know, kind of the opposite direction. They’ve been expanding their not quick tools, but they’re heavier publishing tools and you know with that with that sweet purchase makes sense. So you know it all comes down to I. Canva works for me and I you know it’s it’s handy. But Adobe Express works better for me because I get the same tool set, but I get access to all my other Adobe assets. So I look for, you know, when I look at tools and now I’m going to veer into the the WordPress realm a little bit when we talk. Tools. Does it integrate or work with the other tools that I already work with? That’s a really big thing, because if it doesn’t work with the other tools and that’s the.


One of the other ones, Adobe Express, has a free integration with Google Drive where I have all my assets. So for me it works with what I’m already using and it already works in my workflow. So I I take, I take that you know into consideration doesn’t work with my other tools. Now in addition to working with my other tools, if it doesn’t there’s cost to make it work either in my time figuring it out and developing a solution or, you know Zapier, Pablo. Flow matic. You know, one of the other tool connectors make. Yeah. Yep. Make uniformly integral. Integrally. There’s.


Uh, there’s so many out there and you know these no code connectors and are are fantastic and I I think they help a lot to bridge the gap between tools. But when we started talking about WordPress tools I had a little bit of a rant in my last newsletter and I’ve been using. WooCommerce subscriptions to manage my. Recurring revenue and billing. It gives my clients a. It gives my clients a portal on my website to update their card info. I you know I’ve had long term clients long enough where their cards have expired, they’ve had to update it. It was easy and convenient. Some have switched subscriptions signed up automatically. And it’s been nice. And when I signed on, it had just gone up to $99.00 and a year and automatic woo commerce purchased the external. Plug in and made it part of their extension suite so it’s gone up a couple of times over the years and now it’s almost 300 bucks a year. So from when I started using it and switched in 2021 fully to now, that’s a 300% increase in a. Couple of years. Now a few 100 bucks isn’t bad, but I also use it on a bunch of client sites and they took away the agency licensing in 2020 and said, ah, you’re gonna have to buy a license for each site. This morning I just read the e-mail that they are going to require you to sign into your woocommerce.com account, your wordpress.org account, and do your updates through their portal for the WooCommerce extensions. Now that you can’t download and and manually upload like you could with any other plug-in. They’re doing this to make two and four so that you buy a license for each site. So now it comes into, you know, we’ve been talking about what tools work for you. Now we look at and we started out with cost now. Is it still worth it? Well, if I’ve got 10 sites that use that do the math real quick and tell me what the cost is on that.

You know it goes.

Out gets. It goes up pretty quick and you know, as an agency, I I always complain, you know, I’m very vocal about it. I got myself into a nice ex discuss. And again complaining about automatic and and this this one is, you know WooCommerce good for them. I I think you know a lot of the plug in prices when we look at SaaS tools, ridiculously cheap, 300 bucks a year you know 279 is still really cheap. For an individual user, when we consider that you know other tools are, you know per user based or you know on a monthly basis like click up you know we look at SAS tools, our 9 bucks a month Subs. Exception versus annual. But now we have to look at. I’m an agency owner and I provide you know, agency tools to my clients on care. So my spring cleaning is different from you know an individual business. When I look at tools because I provide tools to clients. And cost is starting to become a factor. We’ve been relatively insulated in the the tech industry. I think with cost, you know and inflation hasn’t hit us as hard, it’s been incremental and small, but now we’re seeing big jumps and that that to me is starting to be concerning and a little bit scary because. I think we’ve been holding it off as long as we could and there’s going to be a little bit of a a floodgate opening with price increases on SaaS tools and, you know, other tools that we use.

Yeah, I agree with this. It’s an ongoing issue and it’s getting to be like really, really silly to be honest with you, the pricing and we got to factor in. And then when when you raise your rate, your coins, OK, and you say why are your rates going up? Well because my cost is going up. So that’s a big issue. What else you’re working on with spring cleaning going on?

I you know, spring cleaning, that’s. But that’s one thing where I shot a lot of video for a client. For some some new ad campaigns that we’re going to run and all of a sudden Google Drive said you’re running out of space. And I said Ohh shoot, I should probably clean up that stuff from 2017 that doesn’t need to be there. Anymore. And you know it. It’s to it’s. It’s gotten me to look at. What do I hang on to you? Is this client that I did work for in 2017 that I haven’t done any more work for? Do I need to keep their assets? Probably not, and not even archive worthy at this point. It’s, you know, if they need it. It’s time to do something. New so fire. Cleaning is is a big one for me right now and I’m going through that. Not as meticulously as I would like, but there’s stuff that I’ve got that I’ve kept for too long and it’s just cluttering. I also look at organizational structure on how I’m keeping things. You know, and even in in my office and my desk, files are getting cleaned out the same way. That’s kind of give me another reminder that, hey, you’re starting to get full on a couple of these drawers with papers. Just like the files on Google Drive, I I need to move them out. And you know, Createspace for the next year. So just general general tidiness that. But you should probably do once a year. I have been doing as well as I should have and I didn’t think about it until I got the nudge from Google that said, hey, you need more space.

Yeah, it’s so true. And and file Cleanup’s a big one that clean up’s a big one. If you got external hard drives like I do, I have a few as you know that’s a big one. Looking at those, it’s easy just to storage is so cheap just to say ohh I’ll buy another hurdle. Ohh I’ll put my credit card in Amazon and send me one more you know. And that’s not that hard these days. So there’s a lot of big ones. Is there anything else that you should look out with your spring put you’re looking out with spring cleaning room?

I the other thing that I used to do January for a long time was, you know, pretty slow and you know, just I did retail and hospitality and you know, after that big holiday rush it got quiet for a month or two. And I had the. The leisure time to update my website, redesign it if I wanted to, and I’m talking full redesign for a couple of years and I I have been taking the time again to revamp my my marketing funnels and I’ve been taught that’s my newsletter focus and talking about. Changing processes because it’s been a few years since I’ve looked at them. And what? What I’m. I’m coming back to is finding things that that worked five years ago don’t work today. Some do, some are working again and it’s it’s rediscovering processes and kind of taking a a real look at you know where do I spend my time. And.


It it’s hard to figure out. You know, time. I mean, time is not an easy thing for us to come by. So when I look at my own stuff, I always treat myself like the the starving Baker. I looked at it. Last. That’s why I’ve been going through some of those revamps because I can’t afford to put my business last anymore. Honestly, it should have been first for a long time. But. It’s hard to find time when you’re, you know, dealing with clients, breaking stuff and you know, or heavy dev projects that take all day and you know to take, you really need to take a step back once in a while and look at your tools, your processes. And you know, just the general health of the business. Well, I’m I’m doing.

No, what?

I’m doing it a little more specific on. I know I need to be healthier on the revenue side, so I’m taking direct aim at my marketing tools.

You know, one of the things I did was after I came out the hospital after my healthcare, I’ve taken a couple of weeks and just kind of looked at that kind of stuff, looked up processes, revamped stuff, and now my next big dive is to finally get into. To that website content that I’ve been trying to update for like 8 months and that’s and I’ve just said it, it has to happen. It has to happen now and it has to happen by the end of the first week, April. So I’m I’m already in that mode and because I’m in this quasi work slash. Else recovery mode I’m not taking on anything new right now. I’m just kind of trying to. Get my house in order and in the long run they’ll be 10 times better off, to be honest with you, so that’s important.

Ohh, absolutely yeah. I mean when? You find a a time that you just need to take the time and you know, I had some health problems last year myself and it wasn’t fun. I was overly booked already and it was not a good time, especially when I had old processes that mostly worked but needed some fine tuning and you know, getting through them. On a downtime, it’s much better than when you’re absolutely packed with with work, but sometimes you can’t avoid it and that you need to schedule time that.

So so.

The best processes, the best tools out there aren’t going to help you if. You. Don’t stick to your processes and aren’t consistent and that’s why I implemented my support ticket system. I know that’s one tool base that that you switched and are updating. I find myself getting LAX when customers e-mail me directly.


And you know the. The best tools, the best processes don’t help you if you don’t follow the process, you’re right back where you were before.

Yeah, I had a client yesterday. Didn’t know. Open a ticket. So being a nice web guy I am. I took a I took a screenshot video and shot a quick video of how to go create an ID, how to open a ticket and sent it back to him and said please follow this and I didn’t offer to open the ticket for them. I told them I showed them. How they do it, but I wasn’t doing it so. That’s it.

Hi. I got one of those late last night and it came in with a through Gmail with the you know, the high priority flag. And I said I’m going to respond to it right now and schedule it for you in the morning and send him a link to the form to fill out support. I don’t want to deal with it. And if I still haven’t gotten the ticket, so it must not be that important. Frankly, I have three other tickets I have to take care of today. So if you if. Clients can’t take the time to to use our systems, and I may be sounding callous and a little bit like. A jerk, but. If your clients can’t give you enough respect to use your systems that they’re paying, you know you to provide services for, then honestly they don’t respect you and your processes so. That’s that was a, you know, it’s one of those things when I talked about following good processes. It’s not just us, it it’s, it’s our clients as well, so. Well, that’s the other part of it. When I look at tools, I always have to keep in my mind. Is this going to be user friendly for my clients? So when we we talk about agency tools, you know that’s another big thing is this is I sure it benefits me and that’s great. But it does this also benefit my clients?

No, I I agree with you. Thanks for the chat. As always we our monthly segments will continue. I think we’ve been at them like a couple of years now. So this. Kind. Of kind of.

It has been, yeah, I think it was 2022. We’ve we’ve started. The monthly chat, which is awesome.

Yeah, it is awesome. I appreciate you. You have a wonderful day, Mr. Waterbury, and make sure you put those two office managers to work because they sound like they’re sleeping again.

No, they are very much not sleeping. They are watching the snow whipping down this nice spring day, ready to go out and run around to play in it. They do not want to work. Today.

Have a good day. Right. Take care of yourself.

Alright, you too.

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