Today I am launching the Hands off CEO Podcast – and every Thursday I’ll be sharing a new interview or episode getting into the nitty-gritty of scaling a service business.
Because it’s launch day, and everyone loves a good binge listen, I’ve released 3 episodes for you. You can listen to them on this page by using the embedded players – but if you like what you’re hearing, and want to stay in the loop, head over to Apple Podcasts or search for “Hands-Off CEO Podcast” in your favorite podcast player, and subscribe to stay up to date.
Episode 2: The Four Stages of Scaling a Service Business.
As you know, this podcast is about scaling a custom service business, one of the more challenging things to do. You’ve probably put blood, sweat, and tears into building your company, and now that it’s time to grow, there are obstacles you never saw coming. Today, Mandi talks about the 4 stages of growth you’re likely to experience as you scale. More importantly, she reveals how to move from one stage to the next.
Listen to the Episode:
As a stage 1 CEO, you’re only doing about 20% of the service delivery, and you’re still doing most or all of the marketing. This can be difficult if the services have all come from you in the past, especially if the services you offer are highly customized. You’re solving too many problems for too many people in too many different ways. You’re very much like a freelancer – what you offer is high value and that’s why people buy from you. It’s your skillset and your brains.
At stage 2, you’ve trimmed down your service delivery to about 5% and you’re doing about half of the marketing. You’ll set the criteria for how projects need to be happening and communicate what success looks like for each project before handing it off to your team. When you’re pulled in, it’s for higher-level, strategic reasons. With that extra time, you can focus on growing the company through some of the marketing and all of the sales.
When you hit stage 3, you’re still about 5% of service delivery and doing half the marketing, but you’ve turned over about half the sales as well. If you’ve been doing the work in stage 2, you’ve already got great processes in place for marketing and the sales you’ve been doing exclusively until now. Your next step is to decide what parts of the process need you and what parts you can delegate. (A side note: if you have a low-ticket product or service, you might have already delegated sales, which is great! The higher-ticket your product, the later you’ll hand off the sales portion of your business.)
Finally, at stage 4, you almost completely out of service delivery, marketing, and sales. For all intents and purposes, you fill the CEO role in your company. To put it simply, you provide the ‘what’ and ‘why,’ and your team provides the ‘how.’ We can’t stress enough that you can’t get to this point without spending the first three stages streamlining your business and getting very clear on who you serve, and why.
(If you listen to the episode, you’ll find out exactly how to get from one stage to the next!)
Episode 3: The Real Cost of Bad Onboarding with Kristen Gallagher
When you’re trying to scale, one of the biggest challenges you face is bringing on new team members. Chances are you’ll face a high turnover rate as you figure out what roles you need to fill and the type of person who should fill it. But what if it’s YOUR fault that a new hire isn’t living up to your expectations? Today, Mandi and Kristen talk about the real cost of bad onboarding and how to do it better.
Listen to the Episode:
- Transparency is something leaders and managers want, but too much transparency, especially without context, is a huge problem. Your employees might not understand or might get the wrong message when they don’t have the context with which to process the information you give them about the company, strategy, and actions.
- A great example is when a CEO talks to a low-level employee about spending thousands of dollars on a webinar or piece of equipment. That dollar amount could be a sizable portion of their salary, so it can cause resentment. The employee doesn’t see the bigger picture in the same was a CEO does.
- Poor onboarding can cause issues before an employee even gets started, and this is a strong bias for Kristen. New team members need education, information, and time to get to know the people and the organization. What does your onboarding look like? According to Kristen, it should look like a 3-layer cake.
- The top of the cake is company onboarding. It’s the typical thing you’d think of: welcome to the company, here’s your desk, the programs you use, etc. It’s all very basic stuff – important, but not enough to do the job well. The second layer of the cake is understanding teams or departments, and how they work together. And the third layer is projects or sub-divisions within teams.
- How much time should you spend on onboarding? For the first layer, company onboarding, it starts the minute the new hire is official, and 1-2 days intensive when they start. The rest of the onboarding can take up to a year. But the most important part of onboarding is the first 30 days, and Kristen explains why.
- What about distributed teams and contractors? The prevalence of small businesses hiring employees across the country and the world is growing, and remote onboarding presents its own set of challenges. Kristen shares some best practices on how to successfully onboard new team members using virtual tools.
- Kristen shares the story of how one of her recent hires was a total failure, but not because of the person. Kristen realized that she didn’t communicate the things she needed to early on, and she shares exactly what she should have done – and what you should be doing with every new hire.
- Do you want to know the REAL cost of bad onboarding? If a team member is leaving within 12-18 months of being hired, it actually costs you 3.5 times their salary. It’s a shocking number, and Kristen explains why it’s so high, including the hidden costs you haven’t even considered.
- Hiring for a small and a large company is very different. Kristen believes that, for companies of 50 people or less, you’ll even be hiring a different type of person. Consider: a stellar marketer with Nike had a much different support system (copywriters, strategists, designers) than what they would have at a small company.
- If you’ve onboarded properly, but the contractor is still dead weight, a small business absolutely cannot afford to keep them on. Mandi poses the questions: how do you identify when that person needs to go and what is the process to let them know the standard? Kristen shares the story of one of her own contractors who she enjoyed working with and changed her processes for, but who still couldn’t get the job done. Kristen shares her lessons from that experience and the way she handles things differently now.
More Kristen Gallagher
Episode 4: The Biggest Mistakes Scaling to $1M and Beyond
There are plenty of mistakes you can make while scaling your service business while scaling to your first million and beyond. But what’s the single biggest mistake that threatens to stall your growth? Chances are, if you’re having trouble growing, you’re making it.
Listen to the Episode:
- Whether you realize it or not, there’s a distinct landscape we operate in as service businesses. Consumers and clients are used to instant gratification and benefitting from price competition and more choices than ever. Naturally, they expect you to play that game in B2B services as well. But the question is, should you?
- How do you stay ahead of the curve and avoid commoditization? You must have quantifiable results rather than just a process. When you show that they stand to lose more if they don’t hire you, you can attract higher level clients who are happy to pay your fees.
- Many sellers in the marketplace aren’t interested in whether their clients are successful; they care about selling more, more, more – the commodity trap. In order to scale the right way, you should be mindful of whether your clients are succeeding, and if they aren’t, fixing that problem. That way you can stand by your work and prove the quality with a high success rate. In fact, you should be screening your clients and take only those who you can help succeed.
- One very important question to ask yourself is what it takes for you and your client to ‘knock it out of the park.’ Then, identify what potential problem would prevent you from doing that with a client. Mandi explains why your benchmark shouldn’t be your average. It should be your very best client case studies. You want to build your processes, marketing, team – basically everything – around that benchmark. More importantly, you should only accept clients who fit the benchmark, with whom you’re certain you can win.
- When you’ve identified your winning benchmark, you can almost guarantee success – and you should. When you have quantifiable results to draw in clients you can win with, you are in a position to take on some risk yourself, and Mandi reveals how. She also gives you a list of questions to answer honestly to see if you’re where you need to be in your business.
- One of the most helpful thing Mandi has with her own business is the Client Success Map, and with it, she can demonstrate not just the value of her services, but the value of results and outcomes for her clients. She shares what she puts in her Success Map and how you can make something similar for your clients.
- Talking about your process, awards, number of clients, etc., is no longer effective. Consumers are more savvy and they see through this quickly. Instead, you should be showing outcomes and how you deliver solid results through client case studies. The clients you want are willing to pay more when they feel certain you can get them the same results. And THAT will keep you ahead of the commodity curve.
The Hands-OFF CEO Podcast
We hope you enjoyed this episode! Take a little time to rate us and leave a review. It helps more than you know (or maybe you DO know if you’re a podcaster, too!), and download your free Scale to Freedom Roadmap for 180 days to a more profitable business that your team can run without you for weeks at a time.