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!