What to do when a top employee takes leave

It’s going to happen one way or another.

Maybe it’s because she gets pregnant. Maybe it’s because she gets sick. Maybe he takes a sabbatical or finds a new job. Whatever the reason, one day your top employee is going to tell you they need extended time off.

And in that moment, if you don’t read this article, you’re totally screwed.

The good news is, you’re reading this article, so there’s hope for you yet, youngblood.

You see, here’s what most people do when their top employee leaves:

Freak out and have a nuclear meltdown.

Take on all the work themselves, pretending like everything is fine.

Dump it on some poor, helpless, unsuspecting employee.

Panic, hire someone random and hope they can figure it out.

No, no, no!

What you need to do is create a plan NOW, so that you’re prepared for this moment when it comes. When you prepare, you’ll be able to absorb the shock of the impact without much damage to the business. If you don’t prepare, well, see “freak out and have a meltdown.”

Today I want to share three ways you can prepare for the inevitable loss of your top employee, whether it’s temporary or permanent.

Step #1: Find the docs

One of the biggest challenges owners face when an employee leaves is figuring out where everything the employee was working on is. Is it on their desktop in some folder? Some dungeon drive that hasn’t seen the light of day in years? Even worse, is it in their head, physically inaccessible to anyone besides your employee (at least until Elon Musk creates his brain linking company)?

Before it’s too late, build a clear structure for documentation that all of your employees understand and follow, and create a consistent naming structure so that documents are easily searchable.

Step #2: Track progress

Ah yes, the age-old question: Is my employee almost done with that client deliverable or have they yet to start?

If you don’t have clear insight into your employee’s progress on client work, you might as well be working alone. As the owner of your business, you need to be steering the ship in the right direction, but the only way you can do that is if your employees are rowing.

To solve this issue, implement a project management system with clear workflows, so you always know where any project is. This allows you to easily handoff work to different employees when another one has delays or roadblocks.

Do this and you’ve suddenly got a ship full of vikings, all rowing together towards Valhalla ($$$).

Step 3: Handoffs

Oh damn! Did I just say handoffs?

Why yes, yes I did.

When you’re employee says they’re going to take leave, who is going to handle their workload? Plan this out BEFORE they leave.

Can you shift their workload to one or two other people on the team? If this is your plan, do those employees have the capacity? You don’t want to shift the workload to people who can’t handle it.

Will you hire a temporary employee who will fill the gap while they’re gone? If so, how will you get them up to speed?

Will you promote another employee to take on the workload and then hire a new employee to fill that employee’s space?

Or will you hire someone new who will continue working with you when your #1 returns? If so, where will you find them?

These are all critical questions to ask before they’re necessary to answer.

So there you have it…

When you’re adequately prepared for your employees to leave, you can actually mean it when you congratulate your #1 employee when she tells she’s pregnant. 

ScaleTime Tips:

  1. Make sure everyone on the team has access to documents and client progress
  2. Make sure you have access to progress
  3. Make sure you can easily hand off their work

Have you ever lost your top employee before? If so, how did you handle it? 

Performance Evaluations

What type of student were you back in the day?

When it was time for report cards, were you rushing to show your parents your grades?

Or were you rushing to trash the report card before they could ever see them?

Great entrepreneurs are cut from both cloths.

But one thing few entrepreneurs realize is that report cards are a crucial part of growing your business.

The only difference is that they’re not called report cards, they’re called performance evaluations.

A lot of people recoil at this idea, but it’s not as cringeworthy as you think…

… and it could be the key you’ve been looking for to retain and develop good talent.

Think about it.

When you knew you had a killer report card, how did you feel? Were you nervous, or ashamed? No! You were on top of the world and you wanted everyone to know.

A lot of business owners feel weird “grading” their employees. But from your perspective, nothing could make more sense than a regular performance review.

First of all, it pushes you to keep track of your employee’s performance. Your money is going into their pockets, so I’d say it’s pretty damn important to know if that investment is paying off. You want to see if they’re delivering on expectations you set when they started off, or if they’re over or under delivering.

By doing it regularly, you get the chance to quickly course correct if things are going off the rails and address the cause of the issue.

If you’ve got an employee who’s crushing it, they’re going to be excited to get the evaluation, and you’re going to be happy to deliver it. It gives you a structured way to provide positive feedback, while providing an easy environment to deliver constructive feedback.

If you have an employee who isn’t performing no matter what, the evaluations are a way to let them know there’s an issue, and even let them go, in a way that is fair and objective.

In addition, performance evaluations are perfect times to set new goals with your employees. These goals should be a mix of goals for the business, but also development goals that are personally important to your employees. By helping your employees develop where they want to grow, you’re not only empowering them and building a deeper connection to the business, but you are also creating more skilled employees.

I understand the gut reaction against performance evaluations, but if you’re running a business, you know what needs to be done is rarely easy.

As Tim Ferriss says, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

If you’re ready to get started with performance evaluations for your employees, then you should check out my free template that gives you everything you need to get started.

Check out the performance evaluation template here.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. It may feel awkward the first few times you do it, but it will become easier with each one, and your business will be better off.

This hiring hack can save you 20+ hours

Putting a job posting up on a job site like Indeed is like throwing a grenade on top of a mountain and waiting for it to explode.

If you’ve created the right posting, you’re about to get an avalanche of resumes (one posting on Indeed can easily generate over 100 applications).

Few business owners have any reliable way for sorting through them.

Maybe you’re one of those people who spends 15 minutes on every single one, throwing away days in the process.

Or maybe you only review a certain number of resumes, and ignore the rest, potentially passing over the best candidate.

Either ways, after just a few reviews all resumes start to look the same.

Then you start second-guessing yourself.

And then the overwhelm takes over.

There’s a much, much better way.

After hiring hundreds employees of my own, and helping hundreds of clients do the same, I’ve developed a streamlined process that helps you quickly review the resumes you receive, while maintaining high standards to make sure you get the right candidate.

The process involves sorting employees into different buckets as quickly as possible. The Yes’s, maybes, hell nos, and people that might be good for something else. Each resume should take 30 seconds to review.

There are 4 key points you want to look for when you’re sorting through resumes.

        1.  Basic standards

There are a few questions we want to ask before we move on to the content of the resume:

  1. Is the person real? Yes, you might get spam resumes
  2. Is this resume formatted with any degree of professionalism?
  3. Are they based in a suitable location for the job?

       2.  Dependability

Here we’re looking to see if they’ve kept down a job for a year or longer, or if they have any big gaps in their resume. Although this doesn’t tell the full story, if a resume is filled with 3 and 6 month jobs, that’s a big red flag. Another red flag is if there are gaps in employment of more than a few months. Sure they could explain these issues, but we don’t have time to get everyone’s story here.

        3.  Experience

Looking at their job titles, do they have experience doing what you’ll need them to do? When we do this scan, we aren’t looking for someone with a perfect experience match (although that would be nice). What we’re looking for are job positions that are related to what we’re asking them to do, or ones that require similar skill sets.

        4.  Specific requirements

Are there any deal breakers or standards they must meet? Now is when you look for them. Certificates, degrees, or anything else that they must have.

At first this may take a minute or two, but believe me, after looking through a few resumes, you’ll be a pro.

Having too many resumes to review is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Following this process is an easy way to save time and money, while increasing your chances of finding the perfect hire for your company.

The Real Cost Of A New Team Member

Hiring an employee is one hell of an experience for entrepreneurs.

So many emotions bundled up into one decision.

One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how much an employee is going to cost.

I’m sure the first time you hired, you significantly underestimated how much it was going to cost.

Everyone does.

In fact, I find that most business owners often underestimate costs by 25%.

I’m gonna be real – that’s unacceptable, but it’s not too late.

Today I’ve got a few tips on how to budget for hiring, plus a handy hiring cost calculator that will help you get an accurate idea of how much it will actually cost.

To get started, there are few questions you need to ask yourself.

Once those are answered, head on over to the ScaleTime Hiring Calculator to get a clear budget prepared.

Pitfall#1 – Hiring a full time employee when all you need is a VA or freelancer

A lot of business owners who feel overwhelmed look to hire someone full time, so that they can “really focus on what’s important.” The challenge is sometimes the amount of overwhelm you feel is not directly correlated to how much work you have. Offloading a few tasks to a VA or freelancer will often clear enough off your plate, or the plate of your employees, to put you back in the driver’s seat.

Pitfall#2 Hiring (an expensive) senior team member because you don’t want to handhold

I see this all the time. In some cases, a business owner wants to find a team member who has experience doing exactly what you need them to do. In other cases, an employee is begging you to hire someone more experienced to handle tasks they aren’t equipped for.

Either way, your goal is to get someone who can hit the ground running. You don’t want to have to spend time training someone, hand-holding them through every aspect of their job.

It makes complete sense, but for most biz owners, it doesn’t work out. And the reason is because they don’t have the proper systems, documents, or training in place to help a new hire get up to speed. Without them, you could hire a college intern for 1/10th the price, and they’d only be slightly less effective. Even the most qualified employees still need to learn the ins and outs of your business before they’re ready to hit the ground running. Implementing proper hiring systems, and then hiring junior employees is often much easier and effective (you can mold them to your business because they haven’t had time to develop too many bad habits yet).

Pitfall#3 Underestimating costs

A lot of my clients say they want to hire someone worth 30K or 50K a year, and then go out looking for that person. The thing they don’t think about is that salary is just one part of the equation. Many other costs go into hiring, including:

  • Your time spent searching for candidates
  • Onboarding costs
  • Tax and benefits

The good news is – if you can avoid the first two pitfalls on your own, I can help you avoid the third. My Hiring Calculator helps you quickly estimate the true cost of that new hire. While most biz owners stick their finger in the air and hope things work out, you’ll begin the process bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Access the calculator here

Try it out and let me know what you think. If you were planning on hiring, how good were your estimates on how much it would cost vs. what you found using this calculator?

How a Copywriting Agency 7x Her Recurring Revenue

How a Copywriting Agency Increased Recurring Revenue By 7-Fold

cash
… and never had to worry about feast or famine again.


Cha-Ching! Isn’t that the dream, guys?

First, I want you to meet Jean Tang. Jean had run a successful copywriting business called MarketSmiths for several years, and was earning just under $1 million in annual revenue. She had three employees and some freelancers to help tackle the workload. Not too shabby, right?

Wrong!

Jean was tired of working with agencies that white labeled her services, passing off her work as their own. Sure, her revenue was increasing – slowly, painfully – but she was tired of hustling, week after grueling week, always stuck on the feast or famine rollercoaster.

Jean came to ScaleTime because she wanted 1 thing: to optimize her systems

Table of Contents: For those of you who love to skim

  • ScaleTime Diagnosis
  • The Scaling Bottleneck
  • Identify your most successful service offering
  • See where your money is coming from
  • Identify the biggest pain points your clients have AFTER solving their initial problem
  • Create your offering
  • Set your monthly revenue goal
  • Results
  • Simple template

The ScaleTime Diagnosis

diagnoses
Tools

  • Client Relationship Manager – Jean was a hustler and she (wisely) kept all that juicy lead-generation info in a spreadsheet, along with a record of all her closed deals and client info. She needed a  Client Relationship Manager to be able to keep track of all her deal flow and know how much money she had in the pipeline.
  • Project Manager –  MarketSmiths are obsessed with quality. Jean created a 3-point quality checklist for writing all content that her staff of 35 used to make sure that each piece was on point. Jean needed a project manager to have workflows that easily tracked where employees were when she was out of the office.

Documentation

  • Jean had a bunch of Google docs packed with processes, instructions, and best practices to ensure she could delegate tasks and train new people quickly. She needed the team regularly update them.

Team Members

  • Jean had a group of good people, working on the company’s secret sauce: content. But she was still the one and only sales person.

The Scaling Bottleneck


traffic

After all the assessment we realized pricing and capacity were keeping Jean from scaling


Like many of our digital agency clients, we realized her pricing model was off. Jean took on a lot of project work. And she was damn proud of it because that’s what generated her biggest revenue margins.

It was tough to burst her bubble seeing how proud she was. But we were there to help, and sometimes that calls for tough truths. Projects were not her most efficient source of revenue. Once you calculated the hours that it took for her employees to produce certain articles and factored in the time and effort Jean had to expend to create proposals and onboard each client, it became clear that Jean was reinventing the wheel every time she brought on a new customer instead of just driving the car.

It was the project work that had Jean feeling like she was treading water – and her staff feeling too exhausted to actually spend time on activities that would grow the business. Delivering the product was too exhausting already.

So how did we solve this doozy of a dilemma? We had Jean follow these 5 simple steps:

Step 1: Identify your most successful service offering


Ask yourself what currently makes you the most money. Stop wasting time and energy tinkering with unproven offerings. That will cost you. This simple truth is the key to quickly bettering your business. Jean had been extremely proud that it was website copy that generated the most profit margin, but she eventually realized what it was costing her.


She described her epiphany in this Forbes column:  
[Juliana from ScaleTime] leaned forward. “I get that you close like a mo’ fo’. Sounds like you have to. But what you’re telling me is that’s a good thing?”

But in that instant, I suddenly realized how exhausted this had left me as MarketSmiths’ sole salesperson—and how depleted it may have left my staff.
“Imagine if you could cover your overhead with recurring business volume,” [Juliana] said. I thought about every sleepless night I’ve ever had—and became a believer.”

Step 2: See where your money is coming from


It is important to understand where sales originate because, when you do, you’ll start to see patterns. Those patterns eventually become your sales funnel. To uncover this, ask yourself questions like these and dig like hell for the answers:

How much am I making from referrals?
How much am I making from networking?
How much am I making from white labeling?
How much am I making from organic traffic?

Jean realized that many leads were coming from agencies. Yet they weren’t really quality leads that produced good revenue for the company. They weren’t even the relationships that she wanted to create. She wanted less white labeling, not more.  So she streamlined the sales process by weeding out clients that were white labeling her in favor of selling recurring services to her existing clients. She was only able to do this because she had a huge list of clients. Genius!

Setting your priorities looks like this (I know this might be hard to read. Access the nicer template version here):


Step 3: Identify the biggest pain points your clients have AFTER solving their initial problem

This is the one thing most people don’t even know they should think about; it’s a little tricky like that (and that’s why we love it). You’re already solving a problem for your client, but that doesn’t mean all of their pain is gone. Focus on what’s still there after you solve the initial problem and pick the pain point that is most lucrative for your business.

Jean figured out that after writing copy for her client’s websites, which was a foundational service that just got them a site on the web, those same clients still needed to drive traffic to their site. (The whole point of creating a site, right?) And what drove more traffic to her client’s websites? That’s right! More content. So, Jean focused on upselling ongoing blog writing services to the companies that came to her for website copy.

Now THAT’S how you address a pain point (and get yourself some sweet MRR).

Step 4: Create your offering

Again, it comes back to asking the right questions. Like these babies:

How long does it take to solve the problem?
How long does it make sense to offer a service?
Are you dealing with a 3- or 12-month cycle?

Find a monthly service offering, determine the cost per month, and then test that sucker ‘til you find your sweet spot.

We knew that it took 6 months of blogging to really create inbound traffic results for a business. Thus, the offering Jean created centered around a monthly package of blogs for a total of 6 months.

While you don’t want to waste time on product offerings you’re not sure of, once you know you’re addressing a real pain point, you definitely want to experiment a little here ‘til you find what works best. TEST THE MARKET.

ScaleTime Reminder: The offering you create has to work for your clients. Check in often to see where they’re at. Is it working for them? If not, there won’t be any recurring revenue.

Step 5: Set your monthly revenue goal

So, how much money do you want to make from this service every month? When in doubt, set your monthly breakeven point as your target. Pick the target, go to the existing list of clients, and just start selling—like the coffee-swilling closers in Glengarry Glen Ross.

Jean took the client list she built over years of hustling and identified how many people she needed to start selling.

And guess what else? Jean hit her goal within 12 weeks of working with us.

Mind. Blown.

Give it to me straight: What Happened?

placeit-1

The result: Jean got off the feast and famine roller coaster for good

MarketSmiths’ employees were being paid by recurring revenue from Jean’s new blog offering. Woot-woot! And Jean no longer wondered how much she was going to make next month or how close to payroll she was going cut it. Sayonara, stress!

Free Time: Forbes Column  

Jean fell in love with her business again. She was able to delegate the review process to her #2, who she likes calling her ‘lieutenant.’ She now has the bandwidth to grow the business and concentrate on things she loves, like her Forbes column. Which, by the way, helps to grow her business, too. (Such a smart cookie).

Delegate to scale

MarketSmiths made their first sales hire after creating a sales process, which took a huge, time-sucking weight off of Jean’s shoulders while fostering the continued growth of her business.

If you are struggling through the feast and famine cycle, I encourage you to explore the answers to these questions:

ScaleTime Questions to Remove Feast and Famine

  • Do you know your revenue for next month?
  • What is currently my most successful offering?
  • Where is my revenue coming from?                                                            
  • How long does it take to see results from your offering?
  • What is the single biggest problem my clients have after I solve their initial one?
  • What will I price my offer? How long will it take to deliver?
  • Which clients will see immediate benefit from this offer?



Want to figure out what’s bottlenecking your growth and what will increase your revenue? Have questions or need help? We are here to answer them. Schedule a 30-minute call with us now.



 

How do I prevent unreasonable, ridiculous client requests?

You were doing the happy dance after landing that new client. Wooot woot.

But it’s been a couple of weeks and the emails, the texts, the voicemails and questions at ungodly hours just keep pouring in. You’re starting to wonder if that additional $$$ is worth all the time they’re sucking out of you.

Juliana “I’m going batshit. How do I deal with all these ridiculous, requests that leave me frustrated and annoyed?”

BUT, have you ever thought your time isn’t being sucked dry by your engagement, but actually by your onboarding?

Onboarding Clients

>>> Click here to download the easy Onboarding Checklist if you know you have issues with crazy client requests.

Breaking out of the “request” trap: a quick story…

Armando is a client of mine who does digital marketing. He came to me because he felt like he was at capacity.

He had no weekends, no time for his partner and started to see the signs of an intsy bit of muffin top because the treadmill was collecting dust.

Every day he crossed his fingers that a client didn’t call him because he just didn’t have the time, energy or even the patience to even deal with them. His saying was, “If they are not calling it means everything is great.” They were constantly asking him to make changes and do reporting he was never getting paid for. (Sound familiar?)

So we took a look at his client engagements to assess what was affecting his ability to produce results.

And the discoveries were surprising … well, for him at least.

We realized that many of his client issues had very little to do with capacity and almost everything to do with onboarding — not setting up boundaries and expectations, or even knowing what the clients’ digital marketing starting point was in the first place.

I told Armando…

Your clients are trying to board a plane to an amazing destination, but if you want to take on a great volume of clients, you are going to have to go TSA on their ass and make sure they know the rules before boarding”.

We all hate the TSA strip search, the 100ml bottle restrictions, no shoes, no sweater, taking out your laptop — we hate it, BUT we comply anyway. There’s a process — if you travel you are made aware and get conditioned to it. There is simply no wiggle room.

The same needs to happen with your service. Then plenty of people can happily board for your destination.

So we set up his onboarding process, created an actionable workflow in his project manager, saved 20 hours a month and were then able to increase his revenue by 45% in the next three months.

The best part was that he had now his whole process documented and hired a client success manager to take care of onboarding and client service. Whhhhhaaat!?

Love to get the same results?

>>> Click here to download my Client Onboarding Checklist if you want to see what we used for Armando’s onboarding.

Bonus Tip: Establishing ground rules is going to create the biggest 80/20 impact for your onboarding. Think about:

  • When do you want them to reach you?
  • What’s the rule for scheduling — i.e. 48 hours, 24? (And is there a consequence to this?)
  • How many points of contact will there be for you? Which team members are you engaging with?
  • If you have a tangible deliverable: How many edits or iterations are you allowing in the scope of work before there is a change order?

Disclaimer: Don’t tell your clients about how they are hijacking your session or project!

Now most of you will take action, BUT…

…for those of you who’d love some ideas that are more specific to your business, I’m super happy to hop on a quick call to chat about what you need to have a headache free client relationship. I take the first three inquiries every week, so click here to schedule yours now!

10 Reasons Your Employees Will *Never, Ever* Leave You

1. You are the bottleneck and everything needs to get approved by you

 

2. You are not accessible … so naturally, nothing gets approved

 

3. You complain that your employees don’t meet deadlines

 

4. You never give your employees feedback, well sometimes, kinda — you know it’s usually super vague

>> Download our easy Progress Review template and see how you can improve the performance of your staff.

5. You wonder why your employees don’t come into work happy

 

6. You never give them any structured reviews or progress — instead, you give them more work

 

7. You constantly ask your employees for SUPER-long meetings with no agenda

 

8. Most of your decisions are made from pure emotion and you are in reaction-mode most of the time

 

9. When you have a small team and one decides to take a vacation — you panic and, of course, pile on MORE work

 

The biggest reason they will never leave you is because…

10. You are an AMAZE-BALLS micro-manager

 

Does any of this sound like you?

If it does, here are some useful questions to ask yourself that will help make retaining talent much easier:  

  • When was the last time you gave them autonomy over a project?
  • When was the last time you gave a review?
  • When was the last time you touched any of your business systems?
  • When was the last time you rewarded them for good work?

 

Ready for the first step?

Let’s drop the doom and gloom and here’s a PDF to get you started on progress reviews…

>> Download our awesome Progress Review template and see how you can help your staff kick more ass!!!

What Choosing Your Systems has to Do with Dating

Let’s skip the small-talk… And no, this is not the speed-dating circuit. Grab a seat here at the bar, settle in, order a drink and I’ll jump right into sharing some of my secrets… Ready?? OK, great, let’s get started…

Whether it’s a project management system or a client relationship manager (CRM),

there comes a point where you realize you need a system to download your brain, track and keep up with your workload, you need to update your system or you need to switch to a new one.

“Juliana,  there’s so many systems out there; what’s the best system?”

Well… the app store comes out with a shiny new, friendly funded startup app for systems almost monthly, if not daily!

It’s overwhelming.

Of course it’s part of my gig to be playing with these new systems all the time — so I do have many thoughts, opinions and complaints on the matter.

But that’s not answering the question.

So let’s rephrase — What is the best system for YOU, Right NOW?

Tweet This: Here’s the kicker: what’s a great system right now, guaranteed, will not be a good system 5 years, or even 1 year from now. Annoying, right?

So, I like to think of the process of picking a system like dating.

“Whhaaaaat?!?”

Lesson 1 — Don’t get too attached and align with your values. (Ughhh I know — here come those attachment issues).

Lesson 2 — Play the field! You are going to want to date a few systems before you commit and see which one fits you and your team the best. (Did someone say poly?)

Lesson 3 — Your systems are like looking for Mr or Mrs right nownot Mr/Mrs future. You are not marrying it, you are just going to have a very adventurous short term relationship with it (ouch!).

>>>Want to make sure you’ve got the most crucial systems in play? Download this systems check to find out.

Here are some things to look for when you are in the dating phase of your systems search…

Think of this as your ScaleTime Systems Value Set:

#1. Is it user-friendly?

How is the user experience? Is it easy to navigate?

Better yet, is it easy to train your staff on it? (This will save time, money and headache).

It’s just a matter of facts — attractive apps get more action.

#2. Is it mobile-friendly?

When you’re running around closing deals and making it rain (oooooh yeah!), can you track what your team is doing?

Will you be able to see if milestones and deadlines are being met? Can you review on-the-go so you don’t become the bottleneck of progress?

A lot of business is done on the go — will you be ready for that or do you want to be called and texted and asked for the 50th time what needs to be done next.

#3. Is it visual?

Is this something that is easily viewed and maneuvered? Can you drag and drop? Or do you feel like you needed to go to a top programming school just to make an edit?

If it’s not easy to set up or edit, chances are you won’t use it and your staff won’t use it. Leaving you with another sad and lonely tool that is shelved and a full email inbox of “how do you do that, again?”

#4. Is it collaborative?

Can your team work on it simultaneously? Does it have templates? Can they share, review, edit and comment on it? Can you?

Teams are becoming more flexible on how they work, where they work and on what devices they work — be prepared to set them for success no matter what.

#5. Does it report?

Can you run quick reports? Can you easily track progress? How do you know if your team is actually performing? How do you know when and  if the business is performing?

Sometimes systems can feel like a data sucking black hole. You just input input and input without any return. It’s important to view what the data is saying so you can see trends, seasonality, hiccups and challenges. Clarity allows us to make better business decisions.

“Everyday is a new day to make better choices”

(—my man Deepak. It just got deep in systems world).

#6. Overall: is it easy?

Running a business is hard; your systems don’t have to be.

Not every system will fit your style or your team; so flirt some and date around.

There’s plenty of apps in the marketplace sea!

Ready for the first step?

>>>Download this Systems Check and if there are any crucial systems your team is missing.

Well, it looks like the bar’s closing for the night. Thanks for the drink! It’s been fun so let’s do this again sometime okay?

Oh, and one last thing before I go… Disclaimer! Don’t actually use this or talk about this for your dating life!! LOL

Pricing; How to Do It & Get Rid of It’s Emotional Baggage

Juliana, how do I price myself?

Let’s not talk about breakeven points and operating models (you can call me for that). It’s truly hard to price a new service or an offering, but, we need to get over the emotions that come with it and start putting it out there.

I hate to say it to the ladies, but we are the worst. It’s the whole socialization of humbling values that have been instilled in you since you were a wee one. Guys, you don’t fall too far behind. You are an entrepreneur now, get over it. Own it. Don’t apologize for being “expensive.”

There’s all this emotional clutter that comes with monetizing your services. It’s like you are putting a price on yourself and for service providers, you are. It’s your discipline, your years of study and or practice. The amount of experience and crap you have to put up with to go out into the world and say, “This is how much MY TIME costs.”

A colleague of mine, Lisa Velazques who is a Love doctor, (I love saying that because it’s true) says that individuals either have a good relationship with money or they don’t. It encapsulates every dollar conversation I have. You have to start having a good relationship with your money, with yourself, and start owning your price point.

Juliana, But seriously how do you price your services?

The same you would a product – test the market.

It is the best way to start and in your field there will be a wide range. Your job is to figure out what components make that range, and then, where you fit in it.

For example: lawyers can get paid between 100 – 1200 an hour, and sometimes more.

Gasp. I know, mine charges me by the tenth of an hour. He is absolutely amazing: so, I pay.

ScaleTime’s Pricing Tactics:

  1. Figure out the market you want to cater to ranging from accessible to affluent.
  2. See what your competitors are charging in that market. There will most likely not be too keen to give out pricing to you, but you can always have a friend or associate ask for pricing on competitive services.
  3. Insert yourself in the market and start putting your price point in the hands of potential clients. If there is no pushback, you are probably pricing too low. If there are no buyers, chances are your price is too high for your offering or market.
  4. If you are not comfortable saying your prices, your leads will know, they will smell blood and they will pounce.

Pick a comfortable price point and stick to it.

You are the one that gets to go out into the world and say, “This is how much MY TIME costs.”

The Ultimate Hack for Improving Client Engagement

Luuuucy… You have some splainin’ to do!!! (Did I just age myself with this reference?)

I’m about to hop on a call with a client that may or may not have done their work for the meeting (ahem).

I ask myself: “Where are they in their business? And what’s on the schedule for today?”

But first, let’s rewind a few months.

I used to track my client engagement on a spreadsheet that I called Actions2Scale (fancy right?) in google drive. It had all the components I needed:

      • Meeting dates
      • What was accomplished during each meeting
      • What the deliverables were
      • Any notes my client or I had

The problem was that as a consultant, there are a lot of tangible worksheets and documents that my clients and I share, and since my average client is with me for about 7 months, this spreadsheet inevitably grew long, confusing and not easily searchable. Not only that, but with the mish-mosh of documents in google drive – we could never find anything quickly!

Since most of my clients are visual thinkers, I thought I would give Trello a shot. And boy am I happy I did! Here’s what it looks like:

ScaleTime Roadmap Trello

1. Creating a Visual Roadmap

The first thing I do with my clients now is create a roadmap with all the modules of our engagement on the first few lists.

Keep in mind that pre-Trello, there was no visual roadmap for the client to know where we were going. No matter how much I listed out the milestones and talked about the direction of the engagement and what we were going to do next, there was NO VISUAL REMINDER.

It was like being on a road trip with my client, who kept innocently asking “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.

In their defense though, it wasn’t their fault!

The problem was they didn’t know what had already been done, and what was still left to do. For the productivity geeks out there – I implemented some kanban-esque methodology. Fortunately, in Trello when we are done with a topic I can change the color (nifty right?). Take a look:

ScaleTime Trello Program

2. Forget About Client Amnesia

Client amnesia is a common condition in which the client can’t seem to remember the amazing work we’ve done together.

Symptoms include saying things like “I love this system – it literally takes me 2 minutes to do a proposal. Oh, was it you that helped me implement this?”

This used to raise my blood pressure and frustrate me to no end. Now, I just point them to the Trello board as I gleefully put my feet on my desk. After all, it’s a great way to show a historical record of everything that was accomplished. All without saying a single word. Not bad if you ask me!

3. When Clients “Hijack”

This doesn’t happen as much in my practice anymore (thank the lord!), but in the past I had clients take over the session with “emergencies” or what they thought were urgent questions. In other words, “Drop everything and help me now!”

Ever since I started using Trello however, clients can see for themselves when a task moves from this month to next month for example. Suddenly the urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

Tweet this: A client’s urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

It’s a beautiful thing, really. The psychology of wanting to see the white cards turn blue ( labeled complete) and knowing that this particular urgency will be covered in a systematic way puts a cease and desist on wasting time. (Can I get an amen!?)

4. Say Goodbye to Inbox Flooding

With Trello, there is simply no flooding of inboxes with back and forth updates, deliverables, homework, pre-work, or any kind of work really. It’s all in a nice checklist where clients can reference their tasks whenever they want, from anywhere in the world.

I’ve actually had clients text me in their PJ’s just to tell me how much they enjoyed checking a few items from their list.

Do NOT underestimate the need to complete things!

5. Delegating Tasks Has Never Been Easier

My clients can now share their board with their staff to strategize or delegate the work, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Nuff said.

6. Get Organized!

Out of all the benefits, one of my favorites is never hearing this question: “Where is that document again?”

Whether your documents are located in dropbox, a company server, or google docs, you can link to them inside the topics in Trello. Everything has context and searchability.

Yeah baby!

To sum up, here are all the benefits of using a project management tool to manage your client engagement:

      • Clients have a visual roadmap
      • Client Amnesia cured
      • No more session hijacking
      • Inbox flooding eliminated
      • Easy to delegate tasks to team members
      • Great way to organize documents

So let me ask you… How are YOU tracking your client engagement, and giving your clients direction in the process?

I recommend Trello (obviously), but I’m also open to learning about other options that would incorporate some or all of the concepts I discussed in this article.

I would love to hear from you either way!