Is one of your goals for this year taking more time off in your business (without it burning down?!) If so, you’re not alone! Most service providers and Agency Owners are way past due when it comes to taking some much needed time away from their business.
But how do we do this in a way that will still support our clients, team and ourselves too? The answer is: streamlining your operations! In this episode, I share the top three things you can do to make your business run more efficiently without you. The great side effect of implementing this advice for vacation is that it typically continues working for you even after vacation!
Accelerator Program – open now! Setup your agency operations to delegate 50 – 90% of client work.
Agency Program – Delegate 50 – 90% of client work in 12 months or less.
Hey everyone. Nicole here and welcome back to the show. Today we’re going to be talking about how to streamline your operations so that you can take time off. Taking time off is something that I hear is a goal for a lot of service providers and agency owners.
Any business that offers done for you services can sometimes struggle when it comes to stepping away from the business. And so I love love, love helping business owners learn how they can revamp their agency operations to be able to take time off because it’s less about taking time off, even though I know that is obviously something that is required, right, for us to be able to continue to perform well to have healthy relationships inside of our business, inside of our personal life, like we have to be able to rest.
But what excites me most about helping somebody to prepare for this is the change that happens inside of the business that ends up lasting way longer than the amount of time that they took off.
Because what is required in order to take time off is not just going to help you take maybe that week or two off. It’s also going to help you continue to streamline your operations, which will help you be able to continue to grow and continue to be able to have time to run your agency and really be able to serve in a way that you wanna serve inside of your business.
So let’s talk about three ways. That you can streamline your operations in order to be able to take time off. Now, I will say that there may be other things that you need to do based on your unique situation, and if you’re interested in this, I highly recommend that you check out my 60 day Accelerator program.
I am currently pre-selling it. We have some bonuses if you sign up now for our April round, and you can head over to. Nicole Jackson miller.com/accelerate to learn more. So there might be some other things that you need to do, but these are three three options for you to consider as you’re looking to streamline your agency operations so that you can be able to take time off and to be able to step away from your computer and still.
Make sure that your clients are being served and that the quality of your work is at a level that you expect. So the first way that I would re recommend you do this is to audit each phase of your delivery process and ask yourself, and you can have your team do this with you, answer these questions with you.
So where do we need more? , where do we need more here to be able to deliver in a better way and where do we need less? Okay, where can we reduce what we’re doing and still maintain the level of quality that we expect from this agency? And maybe it’s just not the same level of quality, but it might be even better.
So what do we need more of? What do we need less of? And you can look at the data. And so sometimes this looks like connection with your clients. So I’ll give you an example. I had a client that knew that she needed to streamline her onboarding process, and so her onboarding process it, it was complicated. It involved a lot of different steps that really had to happen in order for her agency to be able to deliver for their clients based on the nature of their work. And so at first it was a very hands-on approach where they were offering one-on-one calls several times a week to get their clients set up, and then she shifted to not having any calls, but doing a series of emails that would share with her clients what they needed to do on their side in order to give her agency and her team the information they needed to be able to onboard and do their.
Now what they found after doing this is that a lot of people were getting stuck in the onboarding process , what she had to figure out is, how can I make this a win for my clients? How can I make this a win for my company? Because it didn’t make sense for her team to have several one-on-one calls with her new clients e every time they started like several times a week in one week.
Didn’t make sense for her company, but it also didn’t make sense for her company or for the clients to not have any connection because it wasn’t working. So what she actually decided to do was a combination where she would share and they would, they started seeding this from the sales conversation. Onward to the emails that went out with the contracts and everything that needed to happen.
So they ended up seeding this through some of those conversations, through some of those emails, they would provide their clients with a list of what was needed, and then they added one onboarding call, which saved them a ton of time because then when they removed, Calls, it actually took more time for her and her team to get her clients onboarded, so it wasn’t working for either of them.
So when I say. What do we need more of? What do we need less of? A lot of times when we think about streamlining operations, we think of removing things from the process, like calls, like additional emails, additional support. It’s not always about removing things. Sometimes it’s about adding something in a 30 minute phone call, which saves your team and your clients hours of work by not connecting. So that’s why it’s important for you to look at what’s going on in your business right now to see what are some of the things that we can do or implement to be able to experiment with streamlining this approach.
So this could also work for other parts of your delivery process, not just the onboarding. It could work for strategy. So if you are a business that offers your clients strategy, that then your team implements. Thinking about how you can streamline the strategy piece of it. So are there pieces of information that you could collect before you have a call with your clients to be able to put together that strategy ahead of time, which then could more easily be handed over to a team member?
If you are the person who’s still doing those strategy calls, is there a way for you to streamline those calls so that they happen during a certain week of the month or a certain day of the month so that, That those are the days or weeks where you have to be available, but that there’s other weeks during the month where you don’t have to be as available.
Can your team attend the calls or, another thing too is that you could have. As you go through the strategy call, you could have a form that you fill out as a strategist, which answers very specific questions for your team that can review the form so that they know what they need to implement moving forward.
Again, what are some ways to streamline this through what you’re adding, what you’re removing, and even any systems that you’re creating for. Delivery process. Same thing with implementation. And if right now you have a team that implements for you, ask them, where could we be more efficient? Where are you spending a lot of time?
Which clients are you spending a lot of time on? So one thing that’s important to do, especially if you have ongoing retainer packages, is asking your team, How many hours they’re spending on each of the clients that they’re working with. And if you notice that you have two clients that are in the same package and one of those clients is taking up 20 hours of your team’s time, and the other is taking up eight to dig in and figure out why is this happening? What’s going on with this particular client that requires 20 hours, where for another client it takes eight? Is there a problem with either the client that’s taking up 20 hours, or even the client that’s taking up eight, are they participating?
Let’s say you have a package where you estimate your team’s gonna take about 10 hours, but they’re only using two. It’s like, is this client being responsive? Is this a clue that maybe they might cancel? What’s going on here? Right? So using this information as data to be able to help streamline and help you make decisions ahead of.
And then the same thing goes for wrap up. So if you work on a project based with your clients, what does that wrap up process look like? Similar to the onboarding process or if you work on a monthly retainer with your clients, what does that continuation cycle look like? So for example, if you do accounting, What do you do each month with those clients to figure out like what the strategy is for the month, what’s going on with the numbers, maybe any reports?
If you do marketing for clients, what does that continuation process look like of creating new strategy and implementing new strategy? Throughout every month of the year. And figuring out where you can streamline. The next piece of this is what I call your level two processes. So you have your delivery process, which is typically the different stages of delivery.
So onboarding, strategy, implementation wrap up or continuation. And that is very much like a step-by-step approach of, first we do this, then we do this, and then we do this, and this is what this looks like. And here are templates, right? But then you have what I call level two processes. So level two processes are typically more for.
Managers inside of your business who make decisions, strategists inside of your business who make decisions, but they could also be for anyone in your business having to make any sort of decision when it comes to the work that you do. So for managers, what the point of level two processes is starting to remove yourself.
From being needed inside of your business for higher level decision making. And so what are some of the things, if you can audit your time and okay, I wanna take like a few weeks off. Where’s my time going? Where am I still involved? What questions are my managers coming to me with? What questions are.
The quality control, approval or approvers. Whoever has that level of responsibility within in your business to make sure that they’re reviewing your team’s work. Like what questions are they coming to me with and how can I provide them information on how to make these decisions for themselves?
For example, any difficult situations that might come up with your manager, explaining to them how you think through each of those types of decisions, like what matters, what doesn’t matter to you, and really giving them some of those guidelines. And that may change over time as well. And so it can be a living and breathing document, just like all of your processes, but enco and providing them with the information that they need to be able to.
Have the agency to make some of these decisions on their own. Same thing with creative decisions. So if you have a strategist on your team, Or you have an approver on your team that approves your team’s work, what matters, what doesn’t, and how can you help them make executive decisions inside of your business?
Because that is something that if you are looking to take time off and you’re the only person making executive decisions, that is something that we’ll need to be handed it off. And the more that you can equip your team with the information to make those decisions while you’re out, the better. So even thinking through what are all of the things that could pop up while I’m out, where I might be needed, and how, what can I provide to my team in advance to help them address each of these issues?
And if it could be more generalized for your business, it could also. A little bit more client specific. If you know that you have certain clients working on certain time sensitive projects, thinking through, okay, what might come up, how can I provide direction now so that my team has that while I’m away?
Okay, so the next area that you can audit so that you are able to streamline your operations is your current team configuration. So your current team configuration… what I mean by that is the current roles and responsibilities of the people who are on your team. Is your team doing the things that need to be done for you to be able to step away.
And then second to that, do you have the right people in those seats to allow you to be able to step away? Okay, so a great question to ask yourself. If you already have a manager and you’ve delegated implementation, but you can’t step away, to ask yourself why? What’s coming up? What are you still involved in when it comes to management and implementation? How can you hand it off? Questions about team members? Are there questions about finances? Are there questions about strategy? And this kind of goes into. A bit of those level two processes I was just talking about.
But what I’ve also seen is that there gets, it gets to a certain point at inside of your business where you hit this operational ceiling, where the team that’s got you to a certain point is not going to get you to the next point. And a lot of times this is not necessarily always at the implementation level but more at the managerial level.
So thinking about, if you’re to step away, you really do need to have a strong leader that’s coming in to be able to handle that business while you’re out of the office. And do you have that person on your team right now?
And if you don’t, taking a look at the roles and responsibilities and doing an audit. So let’s say right now you have a systems manager, you have a team manager and you have an assistant. Really taking a look at what are all of the tasks and responsibilities that they have? How long is it taking? And one thing that I’ve been having my clients do lately is to take a look at all of that information. You can also have your team help you with that because you may not even know half of the things that they’re doing and how long it’s taking, but after you’ve collected that information, putting it into three different categories.
So one category is team and client manager. The next is systems and the next is assistant work. And just see where do all of these things fall to know what roles you really need to be focused on and what the capacity is for each of those roles.
So for example, if you have a hundred clients right now, you may need more than one account manager because it might be very hard for one person to manage the account, manage a hundred counts so really taking a look at the tasks and the amount of time that everything takes, it’ll help you divide that up to know if you have somebody. Like an online business manager on your team that’s doing systems, is that a role that’s needed Full-time, part-time or a, on a one-off project basis where they come in, you pay them for a project , and then you hire them in again when you have another project for them to do.
Same thing with the assistant. So if the manager on your team does have a lot on their plate out of their responsibilities. Taking a look at what could go to an assistant that might help support them versus them having to do it on their own. And would that increase the amount of, let’s say it’s an account manager, would adding an assistant in, would it increase the amount of accounts that they could manage while knowing that, a certain amount of those tasks are being handled by somebody else. So really looking at your team configuration and then seeing based on that audit, do I have people on my team right now that are able to do those roles? And you may find that. Yep. They are, the roles just need to be redefined.
You may find that it’s not a fit either from a skills and experience level of your current team or a preference. Maybe your team just doesn’t want to do whatever the modified role is. It could be a financial choice, but really understanding, okay, based on where my business is right now and where we’re going over the next three to six months, what do these rules need to be?
And then, sharing that with team to see if there is a shift, if they’re willing to shift with you or if it’s something that you might need to hire out for so that you’re able to get to like where your business is currently evolving. The next area that you can audit as well are your clients.
This happens. I think sometimes people think that this ideal client exercise is only for when you’re starting your business, but that’s not true. As your agency evolves and up levels. You are going to have to uplevel the operations with it, and that includes your foundations, which are your clients.
And I have supported agencies that have gone from, having a revenue of $20,000 a month to making close to a million dollars per year and. There have been shifts in the types of clients that they’ve served. They’ve gotten more specific with who they served, and there’s also been times where they thought that they didn’t wanna serve a certain group of people, but realized it wasn’t really about that the industry, it was more about the personality of the client and some of the values and preferences of the client.
So this is something that will always be evolving, but if you are working with non-ideal clients, and when I say you, I mean you or your team, they are going to be consuming a certain amount of time. and a certain amount of capacity, and they’re going to be impacting your team, which impacts everything else.
And so if you’re working with non-ideal clients, this is definitely going to have to be a shift that you make in order to be able to stream on your operations, to be able to better serve your ideal clients and then allow you to be able to take time off because things will be running so much better when you have one non-ideal client.
I, I’m sure you’ve probably been here before, but it can be such a drain , and what happens is that you end up spending so much time on this non-ideal client that you’re not spending that time growing your business, or you’re not spending that time on your ideal clients and just things. Get, feel really heavy and it becomes really hard for team, and sometimes you can even lose team members over it.
So if you can really take a look and audit those clients, that can be really important to get your business to a point where it’s running smoothly so that you can step away. Okay, so just to recap, we have auditing each phase of your delivery process and start to create those level two processes. If you’ve already started creating the level two processes, take another look at them and see what needs to be added in auditing your team configuration.
And then the people who are sitting. In those seats to make sure that they’re at, in a place where they can serve your current business and what it will look like over the next six months. And then always auditing your clients. These are the main three areas that I’ve seen make such a tremendous difference when it comes to streamlining operations, having things be more efficient, run more smoothly, so that you are able to make these changes.
We’ll help you take time off, but then also hopefully help you way past the amount of time that you’re taking off too. All right, everyone. Thanks for joining me today, and I will see you next week.