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Scaling a Service Business & Hiring a Coach

tonyf7

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With so much focus on internet companies these days I'm finding it less common to find good information out there on how to systemize and scale a local business. I own an appliance repair company and if I don't work tomorrow, I will not make money. I need to get past this stage. I posted something about this a while ago and I still find myself stuck in the same situation.

How do I create a company that can thrive without me? A business that has systems in place for its employees to follow so that it can operate without the owner needing to be present every single day?

Currently I am the only employee and I find it daunting to think about how to get my business from where I am now, to where it has the potential to be. How do you go from building computers in your garage to owning Apple?

How did they set up these systems to create these massively successful companies? I'm not even trying to be the next Apple or Tesla of the appliance repair industry. I'd be happy with a scalable business that can expand regionally.

The more books I read the more questions I have. The more research I do, the more "solutions" are presented to me and the less confident I feel about taking any one particular path.

I know and understand that there is no magic list as MJ calls it in Unscripted .

But I'm at a point where I feel like I need some kind of guidance or coaching. Have any of you ever worked with a business coach, particularly for a brick-and-mortar business? If so, what has been your experience and are you still working with that coach? Do you have any coaches that you would recommend, specifically in the service industry?

My research online has taken me to several business coaching programs and Michael Gerber's E-myth business coaching program claims to get results and help entrepreneurs systemize their businesses. It does cost a pretty penny at $1,500 per month for 18 months. That's a lot of money to spend on something that I don't know will even work. I don't even know if their "coaches" have ever owned their own businesses or if they've just been trained on some set of guiding principals that the author outlined in his book.

I know there is no magic program that will do the work for me. I am willing to put in the work and commit. I just don't know where to even start. If I'm going to pay for coaching and guidance and advice, then I want it to be valuable coaching, guidance and advice that is tailored to my specific needs. Not just some generic set of principals to guide and motivate me.

I was honestly almost giving up on my business until I was listening to Unscripted again, and MJ talks about one of the mistakes entrepreneurs make is turning down a business idea simply because it's an "old fashioned" brick and mortar business and isn't as easily scalable as an online one. Then he said that most of his more recent business ideas have been of brick and mortar business.

Any and all ideas and feedback are welcome.

Thank you.

PS: @MJ DeMarco Have you ever used a business coach? What are your thoughts?
 

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Grinder20

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With so much focus on internet companies these days I'm finding it less common to find good information out there on how to systemize and scale a local business. I own an appliance repair company and if I don't work tomorrow, I will not make money. I need to get past this stage. I posted something about this a while ago and I still find myself stuck in the same situation.

How do I create a company that can thrive without me? A business that has systems in place for its employees to follow so that it can operate without the owner needing to be present every single day?

Currently I am the only employee and I find it daunting to think about how to get my business from where I am now, to where it has the potential to be. How do you go from building computers in your garage to owning Apple?

How did they set up these systems to create these massively successful companies? I'm not even trying to be the next Apple or Tesla of the appliance repair industry. I'd be happy with a scalable business that can expand regionally.

The more books I read the more questions I have. The more research I do, the more "solutions" are presented to me and the less confident I feel about taking any one particular path.

I know and understand that there is no magic list as MJ calls it in Unscripted .

But I'm at a point where I feel like I need some kind of guidance or coaching. Have any of you ever worked with a business coach, particularly for a brick-and-mortar business? If so, what has been your experience and are you still working with that coach? Do you have any coaches that you would recommend, specifically in the service industry?

My research online has taken me to several business coaching programs and Michael Gerber's E-myth business coaching program claims to get results and help entrepreneurs systemize their businesses. It does cost a pretty penny at $1,500 per month for 18 months. That's a lot of money to spend on something that I don't know will even work. I don't even know if their "coaches" have ever owned their own businesses or if they've just been trained on some set of guiding principals that the author outlined in his book.

I know there is no magic program that will do the work for me. I am willing to put in the work and commit. I just don't know where to even start. If I'm going to pay for coaching and guidance and advice, then I want it to be valuable coaching, guidance and advice that is tailored to my specific needs. Not just some generic set of principals to guide and motivate me.

I was honestly almost giving up on my business until I was listening to Unscripted again, and MJ talks about one of the mistakes entrepreneurs make is turning down a business idea simply because it's an "old fashioned" brick and mortar business and isn't as easily scalable as an online one. Then he said that most of his more recent business ideas have been of brick and mortar business.

Any and all ideas and feedback are welcome.

Thank you.

PS: @MJ DeMarco Have you ever used a business coach? What are your thoughts?

@tonyf7, I know the exact feeling you are at right now and it completely sucks because you feel helpless, I get it, but keep your head up and do NOT give up!!!

If you haven't read my post below, please do so:


Long of the short, you need to set up systems and small steps (don't try to swallow everything at once or spread yourself too thin) to set yourself free from your business. Start by bringing on one employee and have them ride along with you to the jobs. Get them involved in your operations to the point that they are trusted to go execute the smaller simple common jobs by themselves (free up some of your time) and you can chase down the bigger more complex jobs. Then once you feel confident in their abilities, bring them along with you to the big jobs. Once you feel they have mastered that (possibly years from now), bring on someone new to handle the smaller jobs and promote your A1 Repairman and have them train them. Now you have more time and more cash to increase your marketing efforts and to build your infrastructure making your life more manageable, as the model becomes perpetual and expansion is more than possible. It won't be full proof, you will have to put out fires here and there, but at least you will be able to step away or take a vacation knowing that you can trust your people to take care of your business while you're gone.

Hopefully this helps.
 

tonyf7

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@tonyf7, I know the exact feeling you are at right now and it completely sucks because you feel helpless, I get it, but keep your head up and do NOT give up!!!

If you haven't read my post below, please do so:


Long of the short, you need to set up systems and small steps (don't try to swallow everything at once or spread yourself too thin) to set yourself free from your business. Start by bringing on one employee and have them ride along with you to the jobs. Get them involved in your operations to the point that they are trusted to go execute the smaller simple common jobs by themselves (free up some of your time) and you can chase down the bigger more complex jobs. Then once you feel confident in their abilities, bring them along with you to the big jobs. Once you feel they have mastered that (possibly years from now), bring on someone new to handle the smaller jobs and promote your A1 Repairman and have them train them. Now you have more time and more cash to increase your marketing efforts and to build your infrastructure making your life more manageable, as the model becomes perpetual and expansion is more than possible. It won't be full proof, you will have to put out fires here and there, but at least you will be able to step away or take a vacation knowing that you can trust your people to take care of your business while you're gone.

Hopefully this helps.
Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. Feels good to hear from someone who has actually been in my shoes.

Before I can hire anyone, I assume I need to make more revenue so I can afford to pay them. Especially if I hire someone with no experience, it's going to take a while before they become profitable.

We have some savings that I've considered using to hire and train our first employee. Just would hate to get them trained and ready for action with not enough customers to serve.

It just dawned on me that that's maybe where I need to start. In marketing and getting more customers. (Duh, right?) So that way I can 1) make enough money to hire someone and 2) keep that person busy so they become profitable. Ive known this for a long time now but I think I was trying to, as you said, swallow everything at once.

Finding good appliance repair techs isn't easy, especially in more rural towns like the one I'm in. They basically have to be trained up from scratch.

Thank you for your input. I'll give your post a read here shortly.
 

Grinder20

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Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. Feels good to hear from someone who has actually been in my shoes.

Before I can hire anyone, I assume I need to make more revenue so I can afford to pay them. Especially if I hire someone with no experience, it's going to take a while before they become profitable.

We have some savings that I've considered using to hire and train our first employee. Just would hate to get them trained and ready for action with not enough customers to serve.

It just dawned on me that that's maybe where I need to start. In marketing and getting more customers. (Duh, right?) So that way I can 1) make enough money to hire someone and 2) keep that person busy so they become profitable. Ive known this for a long time now but I think I was trying to, as you said, swallow everything at once.

Finding good appliance repair techs isn't easy, especially in more rural towns like the one I'm in. They basically have to be trained up from scratch.

Thank you for your input. I'll give your post a read here shortly.
@tonyf7, you're welcome, glad I can help.

Yes, since you don't have reoccurring clients (assuming you're servicing the residential market) that you service daily, weekly, or monthly (would be essentially commercial clients, AKA, "the bigger jobs"), you will have to advertise to attract new customers at least initially. You're reliable, excellent work, and customer service will seal your reputation and garner repeat customers over time. It will not take long though because washers and dryers break down and have to be replaced all the time. Not to mention there is a serious void of competent customer service oriented repairman. I can't tell you how many don't call back, but that's a topic for another day. In other words, provide great reliable service and you will be the top-of-mind go-to repair company.

I don't know what kind of hours you're currently working, but you'll know when you need to hire someone because you will be at the point that you're working into the evening and still have to turn down business. If not, you will need to either ramp up or start marketing and/or be more patient for your reputation to proceed you to the point where you are now getting repeat customers.

I don't buy into the rural area no market or good workers. It is true you may have to drive more for business or cover a larger service area. However, all the good techs (not all) are usually from rural areas anyways.

Let me know after you read my post if that helped you or you have any more questions.

Additionally, after you start writing a job description for your first employee, it's amazing how things will begin to click, as you are basically beginning to write out your operating procedures; your first system.
 

Grinder20

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I got recommended E-Myth Revisited by @ZCP.

I almost finished it and I promise you that it will make you confident about what your next step is.

At least read the book before you spend such a heavy amount of money on coaching.

Good luck!
I recommend reading E-Myth as well.
 

Dan_Cardone

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So I'm actually a consultant that specializes in scaling up small businesses and improving their profitability.

(No worries, no sales pitch! I'm booked for a good while)

The E-Myth is a decent book for sure though I do believe it to be a bit overrated.

Right now your business is in what I call "Phase one."

As the only employee you don't really have a business, you have a job. If you want to scale up and have financial freedom you need to move out of Phase one as quickly as possible. This will allow you to go from working IN the business to working ON the business.

To accomplish this you will need to hire other employees.

As you hire employees you will delegate more and more work to them until the majority of your time is spent working on High Value Task. These HVTs are what "moves the needle" in your business the most and will allow you to actually be the business owner and not just another employee who must show up to work every day.

In order to hire a new employee you will need to increase your revenue. Right now I suggest you place a big focus on marketing so that you can get more clients.

Book Recommendation: One Page Marketing Plan

As soon as you start pulling in more money you should begin looking to add a new employee as soon as possible.

Whatever you want to train him to do, begin by developing an operations manual that uses Check list and flow charts. These two items, along with in person training from you, should really help get them up to speed. If they have problems and you aren't around, the check list and flow charts should be able to guide him. It helps to make this digital so this person will always have a copy on their phone.

Book Recommendation: Clock Work - Design A Business To Run Itself

You want to slowly transition away from being an employee towards being a manager.

You want to focus more and more of your time on getting clients. You are going to need clients and their money to continue scaling the business.

Hire a second employee as soon as possible and begin by delegating even more work to him.

Now you will be entering into Phase Two where you start playing the role of Manager and Owner.

Now that you have more business and money coming in, you want to be sure you are managing your business correctly on a financial front.

Book Recommendation: The Blueprint For An Extremely Successful Business

That book will teach you how to interpret financial statements along with improving your profits and cash flow. It will also introduce you to management concepts such as Key Performance Indicators and Critical Drivers.

Keep scaling and adding more employees as work permits.

Book Recommendation: No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits: No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Really Getting Rich

Book Recommendation: Pulling Profits Out Of A Hat

After a while you are going to want to have someone else manage employees (mostly so it will free up your time to work on HVT and also because managing employees is a shitty job). Hiring your first manger gets you into Phase Three.

Be careful who you hire as a manager, he will have a huge effect on how productive your employees are.

Now that the manger and the employees are taking care of more and more of the task you can start to transition over to being the Owner and finally doing the Owner HVT.

Note: At this point I strongly suggest you start to outsource many things as well, especially the HR function. You may even consider outsourcing the marketing to someone else as well.

What are the HVT in phase three?
  1. Developing the vision, strategy, and goals
  2. Managing resources
  3. Shaping the company culture
  4. Leading/Coaching and Managing employees
  5. Foreseeing future risk and enhancing company sustainability
Book Recommendation: The Road Less Stupid

Book Recommendation: Traction (the one by Gino Wickman)

Book Recommendation: Principals

Hope this helps somewhat. I'd type more but I'm short on time for now.
 

tonyf7

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@tonyf7, you're welcome, glad I can help.

Yes, since you don't have reoccurring clients (assuming you're servicing the residential market) that you service daily, weekly, or monthly (would be essentially commercial clients, AKA, "the bigger jobs"), you will have to advertise to attract new customers at least initially. You're reliable, excellent work, and customer service will seal your reputation and garner repeat customers over time. It will not take long though because washers and dryers break down and have to be replaced all the time. Not to mention there is a serious void of competent customer service oriented repairman. I can't tell you how many don't call back, but that's a topic for another day. In other words, provide great reliable service and you will be the top-of-mind go-to repair company.

I don't know what kind of hours you're currently working, but you'll know when you need to hire someone because you will be at the point that you're working into the evening and still have to turn down business. If not, you will need to either ramp up or start marketing and/or be more patient for your reputation to proceed you to the point where you are now getting repeat customers.

I don't buy into the rural area no market or good workers. It is true you may have to drive more for business or cover a larger service area. However, all the good techs (not all) are usually from rural areas anyways.

Let me know after you read my post if that helped you or you have any more questions.

Additionally, after you start writing a job description for your first employee, it's amazing how things will begin to click, as you are basically beginning to write out your operating procedures; your first system.

I'm definitely looking forward to writing my first job description. I bet It feels like a mix of relief and terror.

We definitely do get some referrals and repeat business. Our name is getting out there even without advertising. We also do a lot of warranty work so we leave our information behind at every house we visit. It's just a slow progress, especially since I run calls with my uncle-in-law who is my business partner. He's up there in age and I do most of the physical work while he provides guidance and experience with the actual repairs.

So you can imagine that financially we are at a disadvantage in the sense that we are using two people to do the work that one person could do.

I appreciate your input. You're giving me some good strategies to use and I think that with a little more marketing we should be able to reach critical mass and afford to hire someone.

I just have to find an effective marketing strategy.
 

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tonyf7

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Holy crap @Dan_Cardone ! If there is a "magic list" out there I think you just created it! I feel like I owe you money for all the value you just provided!

Seriously, thank you.

I'm the kind of person that really enjoys having a plan, or at the very least an outline of a process that I can follow in order to take purposeful action.

As much as I believe in the "jump first and figure out how to swim later" approach, I like to at least have an idea of how to swim before jumping.

As I read your outline I felt a sense of relief overcome me because your process just makes sense. Why I couldn't figure that out on my own is beyond me. It's so logical and common sense, but for some reason I wasn't able to formulate those ideas in such a clear and concise manner. Now that I've seen it, I feel much more confident about the direction I need to head towards and the actions I need to take next.

(No worries, no sales pitch! I'm booked for a good while)

I can see why you're booked up! How far out are we talking here? Can you send me details for future reference if now isn't an option?

Book Recommendation: The Blueprint For An Extremely Successful Business

I can't find this exact title. Would it happen to be The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business by Keith J. Cunningham?

Hope this helps somewhat.

Somewhat?! You just made my day!

I don't post in this forum often but when I do I'm always amazed by the value people are willing to offer for free. I really needed this boost. Thank you.
 

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tonyf7

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@Dan_Cardone has given you some very astute advice, particularly in relation to writing an operations manual.

For rapid scaling I believe franchising your business very hard to beat.

See: Rapid Scaling a business by franchising

Walter

Yes, I agree. A true goldmine of valuable advice.

Franchising is something I have always day dreamt about, but from where I am now in my business, it has always felt like an impossible dream. I'm not afraid of hard work as long as I can see the path somewhat clearly. Thank you for the book recommendation.

Scaling on Steroids is something I would very much be interested in!
 

Rabby

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Another scaling book I like is is Scale, by Hoffman and Finkle. You can even get good scaling ideas by reading The Four Hour Work Week. Then again, you're getting caught up in analysis when you read about this stuff, so maybe you need to experiment a bit in real life.

I like @Dan_Cardone 's advice. I'll also give you some other things to think about (and perhaps act upon), in case it helps.

First, with employees, hiring the first one is a big emotional leap from just being self employed. What if you have to pay them the same amount as you pay yourself, and therefore you make no money? What if they're terrible at their job and it takes you a month to figure that out? What if they start their own one-man repair business? I know these ruminations will strike at some point. You can overcome them.

One things that I think helps is dipping your toe in the water, so to speak. Start by hiring or outsourcing something easy and cheap. Free up the time you spend on those things, and spend less money than you would spend hiring for the hard things. Once you hire/outsource some small things, you'll be used to it, and it will make big hires easier.

Do you spend time searching for parts? Send someone a daily/weekly parts list and pay them $10/hour to search for parts. Spend time searching classifieds for "as is" washers to salvage. Same thing. Get some help.

Do you spend time taking calls while you're fixing a washing machine, and checking your calendar to see when you can go out to the next house? Get an answering service ($20/mo + a few bucks a minute, and they'll text you a message about the next appointment) or virtual assistant. They'll spend the time, you'll never miss a call, and you won't be distracted.

These are just examples. You might find similar things just by watching for easy-but-time-consuming work.

Another point about these small things. Sometimes you have jobs that are too small to justify hiring someone, even part time. Business owners sometimes keep all these little jobs because "it's not worth it." Or they give them all to the secretary, who ends up having too many jobs he/she isn't good at. You don't always have to create a "job."

Example: I pay someone $500/mo to do computer support "as needed" so I never have to worry about it. We get maybe 5-10 calls a month for this, but I need someone technical to do it, otherwise I would have to do it. Am I overpaying "per call"? Probably, I hope so. Because not being interrupted, and having to mentally shift gears, is valuable. It's worth $500/mo in this case, but it wouldn't be worth hiring someone full time. The person doing it is just supplementing his income - it's a verbal agreement. That's it, that's how easily you can hire someone; convince them to do something "as needed" for $500/mo, cancel any time, and tell them to let you know if the work increases to the point that 500 isn't enough anymore.

Ok, now operations. Once a quarter, if you're still working IN the business, look at what you're actually doing. Write down what you do on a normal day, and on average across a month, and about how long the things take. Then, write down where your money comes from.

Here is what you're going to find. There is usually something you THINK you have to do, because "that's how it's done." Maybe you're doing free quotes for people who don't buy your services. Maybe you're offering a service that's 75% LESS profitable than your other service. Or even one you lose money on, without quantifiably gaining customers (I promise, people do this).

I won't say "stop doing these things" absolutely. But you should consider whether the activities are actually necessary to your business, when you identify them. And if cutting an unnecessary activity will simplify your business, you should strongly consider cutting it. A lot of people spend their time on work that the market is just not as willing to pay for... spend your time on things that the market really wants instead.

A side benefit to logging your operations like this is that it will be easy to write SOPs and job descriptions later. You'll already know what you've been spending the time on.

PS: I do retain a business coach who I pay monthly. I get a lot out of it. Most coaches will meet and talk with you to help you (and them) find out if there is a reason to work together. I asked questions about things I wanted perspective on, and understood how I could apply his answers; therefore I hired the coach. In my case, I wanted someone who had "enterprise" experience, managing larger organizations.
 

tonyf7

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Another scaling book I like is is Scale, by Hoffman and Finkle. You can even get good scaling ideas by reading The Four Hour Work Week. Then again, you're getting caught up in analysis when you read about this stuff, so maybe you need to experiment a bit in real life.

I like @Dan_Cardone 's advice. I'll also give you some other things to think about (and perhaps act upon), in case it helps.

First, with employees, hiring the first one is a big emotional leap from just being self employed. What if you have to pay them the same amount as you pay yourself, and therefore you make no money? What if they're terrible at their job and it takes you a month to figure that out? What if they start their own one-man repair business? I know these ruminations will strike at some point. You can overcome them.

One things that I think helps is dipping your toe in the water, so to speak. Start by hiring or outsourcing something easy and cheap. Free up the time you spend on those things, and spend less money than you would spend hiring for the hard things. Once you hire/outsource some small things, you'll be used to it, and it will make big hires easier.

Do you spend time searching for parts? Send someone a daily/weekly parts list and pay them $10/hour to search for parts. Spend time searching classifieds for "as is" washers to salvage. Same thing. Get some help.

Do you spend time taking calls while you're fixing a washing machine, and checking your calendar to see when you can go out to the next house? Get an answering service ($20/mo + a few bucks a minute, and they'll text you a message about the next appointment) or virtual assistant. They'll spend the time, you'll never miss a call, and you won't be distracted.

These are just examples. You might find similar things just by watching for easy-but-time-consuming work.

Another point about these small things. Sometimes you have jobs that are too small to justify hiring someone, even part time. Business owners sometimes keep all these little jobs because "it's not worth it." Or they give them all to the secretary, who ends up having too many jobs he/she isn't good at. You don't always have to create a "job."

Example: I pay someone $500/mo to do computer support "as needed" so I never have to worry about it. We get maybe 5-10 calls a month for this, but I need someone technical to do it, otherwise I would have to do it. Am I overpaying "per call"? Probably, I hope so. Because not being interrupted, and having to mentally shift gears, is valuable. It's worth $500/mo in this case, but it wouldn't be worth hiring someone full time. The person doing it is just supplementing his income - it's a verbal agreement. That's it, that's how easily you can hire someone; convince them to do something "as needed" for $500/mo, cancel any time, and tell them to let you know if the work increases to the point that 500 isn't enough anymore.

Ok, now operations. Once a quarter, if you're still working IN the business, look at what you're actually doing. Write down what you do on a normal day, and on average across a month, and about how long the things take. Then, write down where your money comes from.

Here is what you're going to find. There is usually something you THINK you have to do, because "that's how it's done." Maybe you're doing free quotes for people who don't buy your services. Maybe you're offering a service that's 75% LESS profitable than your other service. Or even one you lose money on, without quantifiably gaining customers (I promise, people do this).

I won't say "stop doing these things" absolutely. But you should consider whether the activities are actually necessary to your business, when you identify them. And if cutting an unnecessary activity will simplify your business, you should strongly consider cutting it. A lot of people spend their time on work that the market is just not as willing to pay for... spend your time on things that the market really wants instead.

A side benefit to logging your operations like this is that it will be easy to write SOPs and job descriptions later. You'll already know what you've been spending the time on.

PS: I do retain a business coach who I pay monthly. I get a lot out of it. Most coaches will meet and talk with you to help you (and them) find out if there is a reason to work together. I asked questions about things I wanted perspective on, and understood how I could apply his answers; therefore I hired the coach. In my case, I wanted someone who had "enterprise" experience, managing larger organizations.
I really like your suggestion of starting small with the hiring stuff. Not sure if this would count, but I just hired a teen family member to go deliver door hangers to local residents!

My family and I delivered the first 200 ourselves and as much as I enjoyed the walking and family time, I don't want to do that again.

The answering service idea would be great as well since I get interrupted in the middle of jobs often. I'm sure this is normal for entrepreneurs who are in my shoes, but I find it hard to let someone else do something as important as answering calls and setting appointments for me. Will they handle my customers with the care and attentiveness that I do? Will they give my business a bad rep? Will they schedule appointments correctly?

As much as I want to automate and systemize, I'm now seeing that giving up control of certain aspects of the business will feel weird at first.

But I can adapt.

As far as eliminating things that I do that may not be worth it, it would be accepting jobs that are too far away. Travel time just eats away at my profits.

Thank you for the useful suggestions!
 

Andy Black

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I really like your suggestion of starting small with the hiring stuff. Not sure if this would count, but I just hired a teen family member to go deliver door hangers to local residents!

My family and I delivered the first 200 ourselves and as much as I enjoyed the walking and family time, I don't want to do that again.

The answering service idea would be great as well since I get interrupted in the middle of jobs often. I'm sure this is normal for entrepreneurs who are in my shoes, but I find it hard to let someone else do something as important as answering calls and setting appointments for me. Will they handle my customers with the care and attentiveness that I do? Will they give my business a bad rep? Will they schedule appointments correctly?

As much as I want to automate and systemize, I'm now seeing that giving up control of certain aspects of the business will feel weird at first.

But I can adapt.

As far as eliminating things that I do that may not be worth it, it would be accepting jobs that are too far away. Travel time just eats away at my profits.

Thank you for the useful suggestions!
Maybe have people take a message only, promising that an engineer will ring back shortly? That at least takes the consumer off the market for a small period of time, and allows you to do the follow up.

Have you outsourced simple things like your weekly home cleaning, your book-keeping, etc?

Can you find an experienced person who is maybe near retirement who might answer the phone for you?

I tried outsourcing the sales role for a bit and it didn’t work out. I realise now that it was unfair on my salesman because I didn’t have a specific offer for him to sell. When I chat with a business owner then I’m figuring out what can be done to help them, and it’s very bespoke consulting. If I had a menu and price list then I’d have been more successful delegating the sales role. As it turned out, I had abdicated responsibility for new product development to a salesman, which wasn’t fair on him.

Do you have a menu and price list that someone can quote over the phone? Do you have a checklist they can go through with the consumer and determine whether a fix is possible, and come up with a quote?

What if you figured out the call handling, appointment setting, and quote part? Would that be something other service guys would be interested in?
 

tonyf7

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I can see that being a very valuable service. An answering service that understands the service industry. Excellent idea.

I have not outsourced anything so far but I am considering looking for a book keeper. Not because it's a huge time burden, but because I want to make sure the finances are being done correctly.
 

Andy Black

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I can see that being a very valuable service. An answering service that understands the service industry. Excellent idea.

I have not outsourced anything so far but I am considering looking for a book keeper. Not because it's a huge time burden, but because I want to make sure the finances are being done correctly.
Get a book-keeper. Start with things that are simple to outsource, and get a taste for it.

Even before that why don’t you get a cleaner to come clean your home every week? Pay them a fair to good rate (for a fair to good job). Marvel at how simple that transaction is, at how delighted they are for the recurring work, and at how your life changes knowing your free time isn’t now spent doing a low hourly rate chore.

Keep outsourcing simple things and freeing up time and brain space.

Spend your brain power on things no-one else can do for your business.

Get more revenue so you can outsource more tasks and focus on growing the business. Ideally Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR). I view it as my clients paying for my team, not me.

R+R=Profit

What are you doing to increase Repeat Business?

What are you doing to increase Referrals?

I know you’ve hired marketing consultants. Lean on them. Get their input. Feed back your thoughts. Get the two learning curves to meet in the middle and rise higher than your competitors.
 

Walter Hay

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Can you find an experienced person who is maybe near retirement who might answer the phone for you?
I have used the services of stay at home moms and it has worked very well. They appreciate the little extra income so much that they are exceptionally diligent and do a great job.

Walter
 

Andy Black

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I have used the services of stay at home moms and it has worked very well. They appreciate the little extra income so much that they are exceptionally diligent and do a great job.

Walter
Good point. There's plenty of highly skilled and experienced people who would like a few extra hours of work to fit around their busy schedules.
 

Dereklacrone

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These sound like very relevant and common challenges most local business owners face! There is a book designed specifically to solve these challenges called "The e-Myth Revisited." However, having someone to hold you accountable can be incredibly valuable. The systems are endless and knowing where to start is something a solid coach can do. It usually starts by beginning with the end in mind, or "purpose driven" questions is what I call them with my methodology (I'm an executive coach for businesses over $10M in valuation but also do some coaching with startups and small businesses depending on their desire to take action and change). I've coached in some capacity or another a couple hundred business owners since 2016 and what I know is that there is always a way! :) You are already ahead of the curve because of the fact that you are asking these questions and seeking solutions :) Here's a question for you:

"What is the positive opposite of the challenge(s) you're staring at right now?"
 

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VTK

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So I'm actually a consultant that specializes in scaling up small businesses and improving their profitability.

(No worries, no sales pitch! I'm booked for a good while)

The E-Myth is a decent book for sure though I do believe it to be a bit overrated.

Right now your business is in what I call "Phase one."

As the only employee you don't really have a business, you have a job. If you want to scale up and have financial freedom you need to move out of Phase one as quickly as possible. This will allow you to go from working IN the business to working ON the business.

To accomplish this you will need to hire other employees.

As you hire employees you will delegate more and more work to them until the majority of your time is spent working on High Value Task. These HVTs are what "moves the needle" in your business the most and will allow you to actually be the business owner and not just another employee who must show up to work every day.

In order to hire a new employee you will need to increase your revenue. Right now I suggest you place a big focus on marketing so that you can get more clients.

Book Recommendation: One Page Marketing Plan

As soon as you start pulling in more money you should begin looking to add a new employee as soon as possible.

Whatever you want to train him to do, begin by developing an operations manual that uses Check list and flow charts. These two items, along with in person training from you, should really help get them up to speed. If they have problems and you aren't around, the check list and flow charts should be able to guide him. It helps to make this digital so this person will always have a copy on their phone.

Book Recommendation: Clock Work - Design A Business To Run Itself

You want to slowly transition away from being an employee towards being a manager.

You want to focus more and more of your time on getting clients. You are going to need clients and their money to continue scaling the business.

Hire a second employee as soon as possible and begin by delegating even more work to him.

Now you will be entering into Phase Two where you start playing the role of Manager and Owner.

Now that you have more business and money coming in, you want to be sure you are managing your business correctly on a financial front.

Book Recommendation: The Blueprint For An Extremely Successful Business

That book will teach you how to interpret financial statements along with improving your profits and cash flow. It will also introduce you to management concepts such as Key Performance Indicators and Critical Drivers.

Keep scaling and adding more employees as work permits.

Book Recommendation: No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits: No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Really Getting Rich

Book Recommendation: Pulling Profits Out Of A Hat

After a while you are going to want to have someone else manage employees (mostly so it will free up your time to work on HVT and also because managing employees is a shitty job). Hiring your first manger gets you into Phase Three.

Be careful who you hire as a manager, he will have a huge effect on how productive your employees are.

Now that the manger and the employees are taking care of more and more of the task you can start to transition over to being the Owner and finally doing the Owner HVT.

Note: At this point I strongly suggest you start to outsource many things as well, especially the HR function. You may even consider outsourcing the marketing to someone else as well.

What are the HVT in phase three?
  1. Developing the vision, strategy, and goals
  2. Managing resources
  3. Shaping the company culture
  4. Leading/Coaching and Managing employees
  5. Foreseeing future risk and enhancing company sustainability
Book Recommendation: The Road Less Stupid

Book Recommendation: Traction (the one by Gino Wickman)

Book Recommendation: Principals

Hope this helps somewhat. I'd type more but I'm short on time for now.

Out of interest have you read Chet Holmes Ultimate Sales Machine and if so what do you think of it? Found it really useful for my business and have been keen since then to find more books on growing and systematizing once you're in the early stages of what you call phrase 3. Already downloaded samples of those you mentioned to Kindle so cheers for the recommendations.
 

Dan_Cardone

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Out of interest have you read Chet Holmes Ultimate Sales Machine and if so what do you think of it? Found it really useful for my business and have been keen since then to find more books on growing and systematizing once you're in the early stages of what you call phrase 3. Already downloaded samples of those you mentioned to Kindle so cheers for the recommendations.
Yep, very good book.

I'm actually surprised its not more popular than it is.
 

Rwill

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With so much focus on internet companies these days I'm finding it less common to find good information out there on how to systemize and scale a local business. I own an appliance repair company and if I don't work tomorrow, I will not make money. I need to get past this stage. I posted something about this a while ago and I still find myself stuck in the same situation.

How do I create a company that can thrive without me? A business that has systems in place for its employees to follow so that it can operate without the owner needing to be present every single day?

Currently I am the only employee and I find it daunting to think about how to get my business from where I am now, to where it has the potential to be. How do you go from building computers in your garage to owning Apple?

How did they set up these systems to create these massively successful companies? I'm not even trying to be the next Apple or Tesla of the appliance repair industry. I'd be happy with a scalable business that can expand regionally.

The more books I read the more questions I have. The more research I do, the more "solutions" are presented to me and the less confident I feel about taking any one particular path.

I know and understand that there is no magic list as MJ calls it in Unscripted .

But I'm at a point where I feel like I need some kind of guidance or coaching. Have any of you ever worked with a business coach, particularly for a brick-and-mortar business? If so, what has been your experience and are you still working with that coach? Do you have any coaches that you would recommend, specifically in the service industry?

My research online has taken me to several business coaching programs and Michael Gerber's E-myth business coaching program claims to get results and help entrepreneurs systemize their businesses. It does cost a pretty penny at $1,500 per month for 18 months. That's a lot of money to spend on something that I don't know will even work. I don't even know if their "coaches" have ever owned their own businesses or if they've just been trained on some set of guiding principals that the author outlined in his book.

I know there is no magic program that will do the work for me. I am willing to put in the work and commit. I just don't know where to even start. If I'm going to pay for coaching and guidance and advice, then I want it to be valuable coaching, guidance and advice that is tailored to my specific needs. Not just some generic set of principals to guide and motivate me.

I was honestly almost giving up on my business until I was listening to Unscripted again, and MJ talks about one of the mistakes entrepreneurs make is turning down a business idea simply because it's an "old fashioned" brick and mortar business and isn't as easily scalable as an online one. Then he said that most of his more recent business ideas have been of brick and mortar business.

Any and all ideas and feedback are welcome.

Thank you.

PS: @MJ DeMarco Have you ever used a business coach? What are your thoughts?

I've found that the podcast "Scale up your business " has been a great listen if you have time. Generally while I'm driving.
 

tonyf7

Bronze Contributor
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Oct 27, 2016
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These sound like very relevant and common challenges most local business owners face! There is a book designed specifically to solve these challenges called "The e-Myth Revisited." However, having someone to hold you accountable can be incredibly valuable. The systems are endless and knowing where to start is something a solid coach can do. It usually starts by beginning with the end in mind, or "purpose driven" questions is what I call them with my methodology (I'm an executive coach for businesses over $10M in valuation but also do some coaching with startups and small businesses depending on their desire to take action and change). I've coached in some capacity or another a couple hundred business owners since 2016 and what I know is that there is always a way! :) You are already ahead of the curve because of the fact that you are asking these questions and seeking solutions :) Here's a question for you:

"What is the positive opposite of the challenge(s) you're staring at right now?"

Well, I'd say the "thrill of the hunt" is a positive.

It's exciting to wake up everyday with a problem to figure out. Good problems of course. Not "where am I gonna get money to pay my mortgage" type problems, but more like "how do I create an employee training system for my business" type problems.

I've been absolutely obsessed with working ON my business now.

I've never really committed to putting in that kind of work, partly because I had analysis paralysis and also because I had convinced myself that my particular service business cannot be scaled. That my business was somehow special from the shit ton of other service business that have scaled before me.

This past weekend I buckled down and created a written pricing structure for my business. I had to research a little because I couldn't just pull prices out of my a$$ to charge my customers (which is exactly what I have been doing anyway.) So I learned a lot. I asked a lot of questions from people in the industry that have more experience and they provided answers that exposed me to a whole new world of pricing that I didn't even know existed.

Now I feel that I have at least one small part of my business systemized.

It's exciting.
 

pmaloneus

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Use the $1,500 you were going to spend on the business coach, and instead hire an employee and implement some of the advice you just recieved. If you still can't make it work, then maybe think about hiring a coach.
 

VTK

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Dec 14, 2018
46
58
109
So I'm actually a consultant that specializes in scaling up small businesses and improving their profitability.

(No worries, no sales pitch! I'm booked for a good while)

The E-Myth is a decent book for sure though I do believe it to be a bit overrated.

Right now your business is in what I call "Phase one."

As the only employee you don't really have a business, you have a job. If you want to scale up and have financial freedom you need to move out of Phase one as quickly as possible. This will allow you to go from working IN the business to working ON the business.

To accomplish this you will need to hire other employees.

As you hire employees you will delegate more and more work to them until the majority of your time is spent working on High Value Task. These HVTs are what "moves the needle" in your business the most and will allow you to actually be the business owner and not just another employee who must show up to work every day.

In order to hire a new employee you will need to increase your revenue. Right now I suggest you place a big focus on marketing so that you can get more clients.

Book Recommendation: One Page Marketing Plan

As soon as you start pulling in more money you should begin looking to add a new employee as soon as possible.

Whatever you want to train him to do, begin by developing an operations manual that uses Check list and flow charts. These two items, along with in person training from you, should really help get them up to speed. If they have problems and you aren't around, the check list and flow charts should be able to guide him. It helps to make this digital so this person will always have a copy on their phone.

Book Recommendation: Clock Work - Design A Business To Run Itself

You want to slowly transition away from being an employee towards being a manager.

You want to focus more and more of your time on getting clients. You are going to need clients and their money to continue scaling the business.

Hire a second employee as soon as possible and begin by delegating even more work to him.

Now you will be entering into Phase Two where you start playing the role of Manager and Owner.

Now that you have more business and money coming in, you want to be sure you are managing your business correctly on a financial front.

Book Recommendation: The Blueprint For An Extremely Successful Business

That book will teach you how to interpret financial statements along with improving your profits and cash flow. It will also introduce you to management concepts such as Key Performance Indicators and Critical Drivers.

Keep scaling and adding more employees as work permits.

Book Recommendation: No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits: No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Really Getting Rich

Book Recommendation: Pulling Profits Out Of A Hat

After a while you are going to want to have someone else manage employees (mostly so it will free up your time to work on HVT and also because managing employees is a shitty job). Hiring your first manger gets you into Phase Three.

Be careful who you hire as a manager, he will have a huge effect on how productive your employees are.

Now that the manger and the employees are taking care of more and more of the task you can start to transition over to being the Owner and finally doing the Owner HVT.

Note: At this point I strongly suggest you start to outsource many things as well, especially the HR function. You may even consider outsourcing the marketing to someone else as well.

What are the HVT in phase three?
  1. Developing the vision, strategy, and goals
  2. Managing resources
  3. Shaping the company culture
  4. Leading/Coaching and Managing employees
  5. Foreseeing future risk and enhancing company sustainability
Book Recommendation: The Road Less Stupid

Book Recommendation: Traction (the one by Gino Wickman)

Book Recommendation: Principals

Hope this helps somewhat. I'd type more but I'm short on time for now.

Thanks btw for posting up the recommendations, ended up managing to read Clockwork, No B.S and also The Road Less Stupid. All awesome books.
 

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