Trailblazer: Littlefield

Wow, another day, another HSD (High Satisfaction Day).

For the second day in a row, we learn of another Trailblazer firm that has trashed timesheets.

David Littlefield, president and CEO of Littlefield advertising agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma sent me this progress report today:


With encouragement from you and Ignition Group’s Tim Williams, our agency has been moving more and more in the direction of value pricing the past two years. In an effort to “burn the ships” and move more aggressively in that direction, we symbolically torched a paper time sheet in December at a staff meeting and announced we are no longer keeping detailed time sheets for billing purposes going forward. (High fives all around!)

There are several reasons we have embarked upon this course.

First and foremost, we want to send a strong message to our people that we value their thinking and talent, not the physical hours they take to accomplish a task.

Second, the old, time-based way of billing clients flies in the face of how people normally buy things. Do you really care how much time it took to build the car you want to buy or the perceived value to you of the purchase price? We now scope the work, quote a price, and unless the scope of work changes, we live with our quote.

We bill 1/2 of the quote upon initiation of the job and the balance when the job is completed. Ongoing services, such as brand strategy, PR, media or research, are scoped and quoted as an annual fee. We then bill 1/12 of that number monthly. This approach will greatly simplify billing and make it easier for our clients to reconcile their budgets to our invoicing.

And finally, we believe this approach will force clients to sit down with us to better establish the metrics we will use to define success, which will really help them see the value of the services we are going to provide.

It is too early to measure the success of this effort, but we are committed to this brave new world of value pricing and don’t plan to go back.

Next up? Performance-based compensation—but first things first!

Best regards,

David’s “burn the ships” reference is to Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador who ostensibly burned his ships in dock so his men would have to fight to the death with no chance of retreat. That is the total commitment that is required when you embark on pricing on purpose and getting rid of your timesheets.

Congratulations to the entire group at Littlefield for having a better vision of the future. We look forward to hearing your progress down the road.

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