You might be out to dinner. Or booking a bathroom remodel. Or shopping for a car. Sooner or later, something inspires those six little words: Can I talk to the owner?

You know they have a personal stake in your satisfaction as a customer. You know how much they want your business. And how much they want you to love your dinner. Or your bathtub. Or your new ride.

Now imagine every person at the company you’re hiring is a business owner.

Think they’ll hustle a little more to keep you smiling? You bet. Which is how things are at Butler/Till. In August 2011, our agency converted to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP. Today, our company is 100% employee owned.

So, what’s all this ESOP stuff? Sure, it’s good for Butler/Till. But how is it good for our clients?

Let’s have a look.

1. We’re more accountable to you.

When everyone owns a piece of the company, they think of every project as personally as their own signature. Which makes each of us more innovative. More productive. More responsive. Which might be why our clients continue to stay with us.

FACT: Our average client tenure is 8.9 years. Today, the average client-agency tenure in advertising is thought to be less than three years (Bedford Group Consulting).

2. We empower people to make things happen.

Sometimes, decisions can disappear into a company food chain and nothing gets done. When everyone’s an owner, more employees have more personal decision-making power so they can react to your needs faster. (That same empowerment also tends to make every employee a better steward of your budget.)

FACT: Every employee here benefits from a continuous investment in his or her own professional development—a reasonable thing to expect of a company where you’re part owner!

3. Happier employees serve you better and smarter.

When you love your job, it shows. Long before Butler/Till converted to an ESOP, we were known for our warm, genuine company culture. The past three years, it’s only been made stronger with a culture of true ownership. Everyone here is passionate about our clients’ business. We’re more curious. More engaged. More excited to help you succeed. And we stick around longer—which means the knowledge base we build about your business is more enduring.

FACT: Butler/Till employee turnover in 2014 was 11%, while advertising agencies industrywide average 25% (Ad Age).

4. Our workstyle is fast and lean.

When you have a stake in the business where you work, you’re more aware of waste. Our staff is efficiency-minded, which keeps client projects moving, too. We’ve taken steps in recent years to be even more agile and less wasteful. Our Level Up! Program tracks improvements we make around the office and measures how they’re working—from new software to new time-saving practices. Plus, ESOPs tend to invest in technology that gives employees more time to think strategically—and spend less time on drudgery. It leads to greater problem-solving power for you.

FACT: In 2014, we saved 4,646 hours through process improvement implementation. Teams are encouraged to look for opportunity to improve processes at B/T and apply for time savings through our Level UP! Initiative.

5. We think about our clients’ future as if it were our own.

Because each of us recognizes the direct link to your future and ours. We have regular, company-wide business meetings where we talk about the state of our business, our industry, and our clients’ industries. We follow your story. Attend your industry events. Think about your challenges. And watch your competition. It keeps us all engaged as owners—and invested in the growth of our clients. Thinking about our linked futures keeps everyone excited about our own business and yours. It also attracts curious, thoughtful new talent.

FACT: Since 2010, our number of employees has grown 57%.

The bottom line

Becoming an ESOP has been one of the best moves we’ve ever made. Our employees are excited. Our clients are happy. In fact, our 2014 client net promoter score stands at 69.23. (Right up there with Apple and Target by the way)

One of the biggest factors in our success is our ownership mentality. When employees are owners, they practice empowerment. Innovation. Collaboration. They’re laser-focused. They’re simply relentless.

Look at it this way: which car would you wash and wax more often? The one you buy or the one you rent? Ownership makes a difference. And when everyone at your agency has a stake in the business, they work harder to keep your brand shining.

Author
Amanda DeVito
Amanda DeVito

VP of Engagement

adevito@butlertill.com
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