How Using MoonClerk To Charge A Monthly Retainer Helps Brown Box Branding Focus On Client Work

Posted by Dodd Caldwell · Aug 24, 2016

Jeff Bickley, founder of Brown Box Branding, talks with us about how using MoonClerk to bill all of his monthly retainer clients frees him up to focus on his client work rather than the invoicing process.

jeff-brown-box-branding testimonial for moonclerk recurring payments

Can you tell us a little about your business?

Brown Box Branding was created out of a desire to take top-shelf marketing strategies and put them within reach of everyone. We create extraordinary results for our clients while keeping costs affordable. Whether designing engaging websites, creating relevant content for social media, or leveraging powerful SEO to dominate the search engine rankings, Brown Box Branding has the tools our clients need to help elevate their brands.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I oversee operations for our Detroit offices and provide strategic guidance and support to our Seattle and Dallas offices.

How did your organization get its start?

The business actually started as an accident. I was working in the financial services industry and spending a fortune purchasing leads from a third-party. I began wondering what would be involved with creating a website and generating these leads for myself. After spending about 6 months trying to figure out how to build a site, and drive traffic, it was finally working. A short while later, I was having lunch with a friend who owns a local business, and began telling him what I was up to. His interest was piqued, and he asked what I would charge to do the same thing for him. I literally pulled a number out of the air, and to my surprise, he pulled out his checkbook, signed a check, and asked when I could get it done. That’s when the lightbulb went off for me. I realized that it had taken me 6 months of staying up all night trying to figure this stuff out, while I was also running my business during the day. Web design, and particularly SEO can be incredibly confusing, which caused me to almost give up numerous times. I began thinking about how many business owners were facing the same struggles.

That weekend, I put together a quick website and threw an ad up on Craigslist. Within a coupe days I had my first client. Other jobs began coming so quickly that within a couple weeks, I had to turn my book of financial clients over to my partner so I could focus on Brown Box Branding exclusively. Soon it became clear that I was unable to meet all the demand, so I began seeking out qualified team members to diversify the work load. That was 3 years ago, and the company has been growing each month since. Although we still mostly focus on small businesses and start-ups, we’ve worked with global giants as well. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m excited to see where the journey leads.

What have been some key factors in your business’s growth?

The web design & SEO industry is like the wild west. You basically have 3 categories of providers out there. First, you have freelancers. These are typically one-man teams working from home. Nothing wrong with that. That’s how Brown Box Branding got its start. However, freelancers don’t have the depth of a team. So you either end up with a site that has strong design, or strong development functionality. Rarely do you get both, since these are completely different skill sets honed by different personality types. On the other end of the spectrum, you have traditional ad agencies. Although these agencies have the depth of a team, they are generally very expensive, which puts them out of range for smaller businesses or startups. Finally, you have overseas firms – typically from India. You can get work done for very cheap. Although there’s a small chance you can get quality work done, often the communication breakdown, time difference, and subsequent project timeline delays make this an option that most businesses want to avoid.

Brown Box Branding has been successful because of our streamlined systems and processes that allow us to work very efficiently through projects, while maintaining a very high quality end result. Since we have the depth of a team that works together in unison on our projects, we’re able to provide the same level of quality you’d expect from a traditional agency, but at a fraction of the cost you’d expect to pay. The market in Detroit was so responsive to our approach & model, that we began looking into other markets, and opened our Seattle and Dallas operations in 2015.

What do you use MoonClerk for?

We use MoonClerk to process subscription payments for our monthly retainer clients.

Before MoonClerk, did you use another payment system?

Yes, we previously used PayPal for this. The problem we had was allowing our clients to use the subscription service without having a PayPal account. This was frustrating to many of our clients and didn’t feel like a professional solution from a website development firm.

We lost a lot of man-hours trying to sort out payment subscription issues. When clients chose not to set up a PayPal account, we then had no choice but to invoice monthly. That caused delays in payments and impacted campaign performance.

What made you decide to use MoonClerk?

MoonClerk was the best option for monthly automatic billing, without all the headaches and delays of lengthy approval and integration processes required by other providers.

What was your experience when switching and getting started with MoonClerk?

It was quick and easy. We had our first retainer client set up within minutes of launching our account.

What do you like about MoonClerk?

Ease of use. MoonClerk is a seamless system that handles everything for you. The integrations are straight-forward and can be set up in minutes.

How has MoonClerk improved or helped your business?

With MooonClerk, we’ve saved dozens of hours chasing down invoices. Instead of worrying about the billing process, we’re able to focus on our clients’ campaigns. This obviously allows for better campaign performance, which leads to higher client satisfaction and retention.

Any advice for others who are in similar industries?

Do the right things every day – both for your business and for your clients. Success will follow. Don’t get discouraged by the day-to-day struggles, just know that if you keep doing the right things day in and day out, you’ll get where you’re going. Follow that up by leveraging technology and streamlined systems to reduce man-hour expenditures and waste.


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