That’s definitely what it’s like for most of the clients that I work with where what it looks like is that they’re doing like completely customized services for each of their clients. So tell me, if somebody comes to you and they typically find you because they’re stressed out and they’re doing either working too many hours or dropping balls, what’s your process look like to start packing them off of or I mean, in your case, a lot of times you have to reengineer some things before you could fix anything, right? So out of this came this process that I call find time now and everyone of my clients, I go through this initial process with them and I help them find … It’s gone through several iterations and at this point now, I guarantee 10 extra hours per week for all of my clients. But I also see a lot of businesses particularly people that had been around for a while that they’re doing a little business over here. They’ve got this thing that they use to do and they’ve got a few clients that are still buying that and so the revenue is kind of okay and the business is kind of okay but they’re really having trouble getting any momentum because it’s a lack of focus on kind of what the business even does. But there are things that you can do to get beyond that. Mandi: So let’s say that I’ll give you an example, I’ll use a marketing campaign for an example. john: Another possible outcome is that they actually add a step that makes it better. Mandi: Then the biggest breakdowns, just kind of fixing them as you go along and then it’s just really more of like this is the easiest thing to delegate then this then this then this and then at the end of the day you’ll be at a point where you can delegate your entire service delivery and then your entire marketing process and then maybe the last thing is your sales process, the actual sales conversations as an example. Mandi: Thanks, John.
john: So what’s your biggest problem? Is it time, is it focus, is it delegation? Those are the things I hear all of the time so that’s why I’m speaking with Mandi Ellefson. She is the CEO of the Hands Off CEO. We talk all about how to find time in your business, how to free up, how to get greater focus. We’re talking about the success map that she creates with her clients so that they’re focused on the right things so that they can be more profitable. Any of that sound interesting? Check it out.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Mandi Ellefson. She’s the founder of the Hands Off CEO. I think her business card says something like she is a scalable freedom strategist. I don’t know if you’re still using that or not but I love it. Mandi, thanks for joining me.
Mandi: It’s my pleasure, John.
john: So when we were talking off air and really leading up to this show, you kind of intrigued me with kind of a different approach that you’ve been working on for sales and running your business. I think you probably apply it to a lot of … A framework you probably apply to a lot of things. But you’re calling it a success map. So you want to go kind of unpack that for us?
Mandi: Yeah, absolutely. So I work with primarily customs service businesses. So marketing, consultancies, just any general type of consultancies, agencies. One of their biggest challenges is is that they have a very difficult time scaling up custom services without either having to dumb it down so much that it becomes a commodity and they have to drop the price or it becomes so intensive for them as the owner that they end up working like 60, 70, 80 hours as they’re growing the company and it just kind of becomes the nightmare for them. So what I found is this alternative way to grow, to scale a custom services so that the quality actually increases as they grow and so that it can actually run without them. This is a framework I call a success map.
john: It’s funny, I was talking to a consultant today and she said that her biggest challenge was that it was really easy for her to get customers. That’s a little counterintuitive but our point was that she just gets slammed and doesn’t know, can’t really, so just kind of that typical rollercoaster, I got business then I lose them because I can’t handle it. So how does this kind of help people smooth that out?
Mandi: Yeah, you’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head with what this common challenge is is that even if you’d have a good marketing and sales process down, you can actually spend time on it because you have no capacity. That’s definitely what it’s like for most of the clients that I work with where what it looks like is that they’re doing like completely customized services for each of their clients. So they’re putting together a marketing campaign and it might take them three months to put this together and it might take 20 to 40 hours of their own time to put this whole campaign together. It’s a double-edged sword. Every time you bring on a new client, if it’s going to take you 20 to 40 extra hours of your time, like where are you going to find that?
So that’s the problem that it solves because … I’ll give you an example where Wally, his company, his web design and a digital marketing company. So he was taking 45 to 60 days of his own time putting together this whole campaign for them. It will take him up to 40 hours of his own time. It was really stressful for him getting all this up because he had to be managing his team at the same time and also staying on top of the sales and marketing. But anyway, when he was looking at what we looked at together is, “Okay, where is the real value here? What is the actual value in what you’re doing?” So we’re looking at what that 20% is that provides 80% of the value.
When you identify that and you identify the outcome they’re actually trying to create for your clients then it allows you to understand what are the things you need to eliminate, what are the things that we need to do more of. Then you can look at what pieces need to be custom and what pieces need to be streamlined. Go ahead. Sorry, John.
john: No. I absolutely agree with that. I mean, I’ve actually been working on that. That’s the essence of Duct Tape Marketing. If you want to know the truth, it’s that 80% of the people need the same stuff and it’s just figuring out how to tweak and customize and add value to that other 20% so it’s certainly music to my ears.
Mandi: Yeah, absolutely. I think your business is a great example of this because you have, for this to work, you have to narrow in on a common problem for a specific target market because if you don’t do this then that’s where it gets really custom and that’s where it’s really hairy and it kind of starts this way when you’re business is less mature because you’re just taking whatever business you possibly can get.
john: That’s right.
Mandi: That’s how you grow a company. But then as you start to realize, “Okay, this is where our sweet spot it, this is where we’re providing the most value,” then that’s where you know you can focus and that you can provide more value and you can jack up your prices and you can streamline and really increase profitability in a big way.
john: Yeah, the first couple of years are a process of elimination like who don’t I want to work with. But you can’t figure that out till run into a few walls.
Mandi: Absolutely. It’s so funny you said that too. I don’t quite understand how this is just like such a mind blowing concept but all the time I’m showing my clients that worked with for a while too, like my qualification checklist for a client, whether I’m going to work with them and I have very specific criteria where I’m just … I’m going through and I’m qualifying them to see whether I can get an outcome for them or not. I’m training my clients to do the same thing because when you can qualify your client on that level, then you know that if they do X, Y and Z, they’re going to get this outcome. When you have it narrowed down to that extent then you can actually guarantee the outcome and that’s what allows you to really jack up your prices.
john: I hope listeners don’t miss that point I think a lot of the teaching around this idea of qualification and ideal client is really more about is this somebody that has the money, do they have the budget, do they have the resources or are they the right industry so it’s kind of like your qualification but I love that you are inserting in there, “Is this someone I can help, that I know I can help,” because it has the right problem, the right behavior, whatever it is. I think that that’s often often a point that’s missed on people.
Mandi: Yeah, absolutely. Where I tend to find that it’s most useful to start if you don’t have this yet in your business is what I call a hazardous client checklist. I have like the horror, I think of the horror stories that I’ve had in the past and the commonalities they have. Some of them is they talk bad about previous coaches they’ve worked with or previous service providers. If they’re talking bad about somebody, they’re going to talk bad about it and they just kind of have a negative attitude, I just don’t want to work with them. It doesn’t mean you can’t be dissatisfied but there’s a different way that like a higher level person talks about being dissatisfied with the service provider versus someone who’s just like … Who just doesn’t want to do the work and they just want to blame other people for their lack of results.
john: People who take accountability are much better to work for.
Mandi: Yeah, absolutely.
john: So I’ve kind of always for the years kind of had this three levels, it’s like must have, nice to have, ideal to have and that you kind of if you create those because sometimes a must have, somebody who meets a must have or maybe a couple of nice haves and it’s a project you want to do, you might do that but obviously if you’ve got these other must have, nice have, ideal have and you really run across that ideal client, it’s kind of like proceed, go for it. So tell me, if somebody comes to you and they typically find you because they’re stressed out and they’re doing either working too many hours or dropping balls, what’s your process look like to start packing them off of or I mean, in your case, a lot of times you have to reengineer some things before you could fix anything, right?
Mandi: Right. Yeah, definitely. You know what, I learned the hard way that you can’t just jump into a business and just try re-engineering things because while it might make sense to, they have to change, they need to change and the business owner might know that they need to change, there’s some things that need to happen first so that they actually have time to change that. I learned that one the hard way from people saying no to me who really wanted to work with me. So out of this came this process that I call find time now and everyone of my clients, I go through this initial process with them and I help them find … It’s gone through several iterations and at this point now, I guarantee 10 extra hours per week for all of my clients. A lot of them find 20 to 30 extra hours but we guarantee 10.
john: Yeah, because it’s really nice. A lot of these people teach this come in and you just need to set up systems for everything. Well, if you’ve got no times to set up systems, you’re not going to set up systems, right?
Mandi: Well, it’s right. The other thing is is like systems for what? I was just talking to an entrepreneur about an hour ago and he knew that he just needed to set up systems. He also knew that his mindset wasn’t quite in the right place to do that and that he was going to hire someone to do that and I’m like, “Great, that’s perfect because…