Managing for Success

Are you ready for 'The Pitch'?
How Bee-line Communications Inc. got ready for 'The Pitch' with FunctionFox

If you got a call asking you to compete on television for a juicy new advertising account, what would you say? Would you jump at the chance for national exposure or worry that such a huge time commitment would short-change your valuable bread-and-butter clients?

Recently, a long-time FunctionFox customer, Bee-line Communications Inc., had a chance to say a whole-hearted 'yes' to the challenge, when producers of the AMC docu-style series called 'The Pitch' asked them to participate in the show. 'The Pitch' is an unscripted television series that goes behind the scenes to show some of North America's top creative ad agencies pitted against each other in head-to-head competition to win new accounts. Each week, two agencies compete to 'pitch' new creative to a real client, with only a few days to prepare.

Bee-line Communications Inc., is a global strategic marketing communications agency headquartered just outside Chicago. As a woman-owned business, Bee-line is different from many other agencies featured in the series. "We think agility is our key strength," says Stacy McClenathan, company founder and owner, "Our nimbleness lets us respond faster and smarter than larger marketing communications agencies, no matter what size the project is. And for us, 'The Pitch' was huge."

Bee-line was excited about the opportunity that participation in the series presented, and knew - thanks to FunctionFox - that they had the capacity to tackle such an exciting exercise, despite the amount of unbillable hours it would consume.

In the weeks before filming began, Bee-line made sure all team members were on board, then knuckled down to complete work for current clients ahead of schedule - freeing time for the pitch and ensuring that relationships remained strong. Once word got out about the agency's participation in the series, there was a sudden influx of new work, and Bee-line started staffing up to handle it all.

"The reason we knew how many additional staff we would need is because FunctionFox lets us track and predict productivity so accurately," says McClenathan, "It is integral to our staffing and financial planning, and was invaluable in ramping up for 'The Pitch'."

McClenathan says that years of historical data from FunctionFox showed them very clearly how much time would be needed to service existing clients, handle new business and compete on 'The Pitch', including which team members would be completely jammed, where there would be pockets of capacity to take on more work, and how many new staff would be needed.

"I couldn't run my business without FunctionFox," says McClenathan, "It is so easy to use, yet gives me tremendous insight about where and how we are spending our time. We use it to understand our clients' needs better, to keep track of time, for billing back-up, and as foundational information for other business tools, like Basecamp, Pivotal and QuickBooks."

Once the decks were cleared in preparation for 'The Pitch', the Bee-line team knew they could concentrate on the creative challenge ahead, confident that their existing clients and new business opportunities were taken care of.

"To meet a 5-day agency take over challenge like 'The Pitch', we had to scale up very quickly with additional resources so our current clients didn't suffer," says McClenathan, "We were competing against a multicultural agency in Chicago that is much larger than we are. But because we're used to working on accounts of all sizes, and running a tight, effective business - and because we could rely on solid data from FunctionFox - we were confident we could handle it."

Bee-line competes against Chicago agency CommonGround on AMC's 'The Pitch' September 12th at 10pm Central.

To find out more about Bee-line, go to And to find out how FunctionFox can help you be ready for whatever challenges the creative industry throws at you, visit

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