June 21st, 2022
Scaling a Service Based Business
With Mandi Ellefson, the creator of the Scale to Freedom Scalable Service Growth™ model, and a published author and host of The Hands-Off CEO Podcast. Mandi leads consulting agency owners to have lives with greater freedom and success, and has consulted with over a hundred consulting agency CEOs. She has also helped them immediately free up to 20-50% of their work week to focus on accelerating profits.
Her clients have grown five figures of net profit every month, added millions of dollars in sales, and have exited the day-to-day to scale growth. Some owners now passively manage their business, or have sold it.
On a personal note, Mandi is a mother of two, enjoys travel, mountain biking and exploring the outdoors with her husband. Finally, as a committed Freedom Fighter, a percentage of her business profits go to rescuing enslaved victims of child sex trafficking.
Join us for our awe-inspiring conversation as Mandi discusses some tips and strategies to free up your time and hire people who’s efficient and effective in such a short amount of time that would lead your business to a higher income without wasting much money. We also talked about how we can set our mind to in order for us to succeed in life and business.
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Biggest takeaways (or quotes) you don’t want to miss:
- “Scientific thinking has really driven the way that I see business and the way that I break it down into components. And how to understand the mechanisms that drive change, so that you can standardize that down into a repeatable process that ..we could.. install in hundreds and thousands of businesses.”
- “I had a different vision for what was going to make things work for me.”
- Why are we considered the “secret sauce” in our business?
- “No matter who you hire, you’re going to have to train and develop them.”
- “To be able to scale, you need to remove the bottleneck.”
“Expand your vision of what’s possible… if you can imagine it in your mind, you can do it.”-Mandi Ellefson
Check out these highlights:
- 03:56 Mandi shares her entrepreneurial journey from her first business to being a consultant.
- 09:09 How Mandi relates her love for geology to the way she sees business.
- 20:23 How to expand the results of your business as you continue to scale it.
- 28:04 Mandi shares how we can hire staff who are going to be efficient and effective at the same time.
- 36:27 “What I’ve seen over the years coming from most operations, is people don’t really get what the real problem is and try to solve things with systems and people, leading them to have a giant blind spot.” Listen as Mandi shares a common mistake that CEOs make in their business.
How to get in touch with Mandi:
On social media:
Learn more about Mandi, by visiting her website here.
Imperfect Show Notes
We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below.
GGGB Intro 00:00
Coming up today on Guts, Grit and Great Business™…
Mandi Ellefson 00:04
Service based companies think, “okay, I need a CFO.” It’s like, yes, maybe you do. But not until like 3 to 5 million, you really don’t need one before that. So how do you be able to get in place an operations manager that’s going to be like a mini CFO that’s going to be able to grow with your company. And oftentimes, you don’t even need to hire an operations manager. A lot of times, it’s an account manager or project manager. We’ve seen many companies within our tribe successfully hire and develop an executive assistant. We’ve even done it in our own company, and it’s exceptional. So here’s the thing is, no matter who you hire, you’re going to have to train and develop them. So you might as well get someone who’s really hungry. And that’s going to see the opportunity for the growth and their ability to jump 510 years ahead of their career, and they will be just fiercely committed to your brand. And then that’s how you have people that are just that are willing to do anything to be able to support the business.
GGGB Intro 01:01
The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:33
Alrighty, welcome. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based here in Seattle, Washington, serving entrepreneurs throughout the US and the world. I’m super excited to have Mandi Ellefson with us today to talk about scaling service based businesses. Welcome, Mandi.
Mandi Ellefson 01:52
Thanks so much for having me.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:54
Yeah, we’re gonna have a great conversation. First of all, Mandi and I are in a mastermind group together. And we’ve been trying to connect for some time, but I’ve heard just fabulous things, Mandi about your work from other people that we have in common in our network. So I’m super excited about this conversation.
Mandi Ellefson 02:14
Yes, good to see you too, Heather. I’m glad we finally got this on the calendar. I know it took a little while between two busy working moms. And it’s usually my children schedules that end up causing problems, but I’m glad to make this happen.
Heather Pearce Campbell 03:43
So Mandi, I always love hearing about the start of someone’s journey into business. Can you share with us a little bit about your early days in business?
Mandi Ellefson 03:54
Sure. I started my entrepreneurial journey a little bit differently than I think a lot of other business owners. So my first business if you don’t count my lawn mowing business when I was 12 was a graphic and web design, you know, which became a branding company and I had taken a little bit of design classes in college. I was actually going to be a geologist was has nothing to do with graphic design and also has nothing to do with business consulting. Yeah, this is how we got here, right? But um, I had a year old baby at the time and I just had planned on being a stay at home mom, I just like I just couldn’t do it. It just was not for me. So I’m like I need to have something for myself and my current good friend and college roommate actually, we are still friends to this day. She had a consulting company and liked this accelerator and she’s like, come on, come into this with me. You know, you do this thing for me, come to my accelerator. I’m like, Okay, I guess so she just kind of pushed me into this a little bit, I’m very willingly. So that was just my start and, and I really had fun with that. And then I got to a point where I grew the company and it was really successful. I mean, as more successful as that had become up to that point, and I was also about eight, nine months pregnant, where all these demands were just like stacking up. And I had a team that was just kind of falling off the face of the earth, who I was counting on to help me be able to get everything wrapped up before I was leaving for maternity leave. And basically, the whole thing just was kind of collapsing. Everything that I had worked so hard for, and I had, you know, a four year old and I had, I was, you know, this baby, right ready to come, we had just moved across the country for my husband’s very demanding medical training. And here I was, I could really have used the income, but I had to just shut everything down. And we just made do and I, I got totally burnt out physically, mentally Ebru brought on chronic pain issues, all of these things that sometimes we can find as we run ourselves into the ground as business owners. And I had, I had hit that point. And it was really challenging for me, because I had been a business manager before. And that was part of what I had liked, had I loved business. And I loved being able to find ways to streamline profits and to be able to make things efficient, because I had done that as a business manager. And then I bought some of the marketing and sales aspects to it too. And so I’m like, Oh, I’m just going to go start a business doing this. And it was just different. It was different when it was my own company. So I have this vision of being able to be building these business assets that could actually run without me that I could pour into, but it’s going to give me that income freedom for me to be able to do whatever I want with my family. And I didn’t have it, I could see the vision. But it was just so far from reality. So what happened at this point is I said, You know what, I’m going to go and figure out how this is done. Other people have successfully done this. So what I went through, and I really couldn’t find this in a book. I looked for it, and I just figured that if I could solve it, if I could help other people, if I could do some interviews with other people about the challenges they have, I could help them solve it. And then I would be able to solve it for myself. That was my reasoning going into this. So I started doing that. And then I was able to help people as I did this, I just started to do this for free, because I just wanted to understand this. And then before I knew what people were paying me to do it and I’m like, I have this other. I have this other company here. So at this point, I took my web design and branding company, I sold it to a person on my team. And she’s still running that today. How many years later is that? It’s like 10 years later, now she’s still running that. And it was such a blessing for her to get her started because she wasn’t as much of an entrepreneurial startup person, but having that to go it’s really been a blessing for her life. So that’s what started what is now Hands Off CEO. And that’s how I got started in the business world. Maybe maybe more than you wanted to hear.
Heather Pearce Campbell 08:29
No, it’s good. I mean, I’m curious about a couple of things, right? Geology to business feels like a leap. What was it about geology that interested you?
Mandi Ellefson 08:39
Oh, I love geology. And we’re, as we were talking about before we got started, I live in St. George Utah, which is just right now next door to Zion National Park about an hour north of the Grand Canyon. So the geology around here is absolutely spectacular. There’s red rocks everywhere. It just fills my soul. Like I love rocks, I love mountain biking, I love climbing around on rocks. And it’s just there’s something about it. That’s really fun. And I started going down that path and learning about how the earth systems work and how I love understanding the core mechanisms around what really works. And that thinking that scientific thinking has really driven the way that I see business and the way that I break it down into components and understand what are the root causes? And then how do we be able to understand that the mechanisms that drive change, so that you can standardize that down into a repeatable process that other than we could take this in and install this in hundreds and 1000s of businesses. And then that can expand beyond me. That impact that goes way beyond the number of hours that I can work and I’m also an artist. So I love art and I have a ceramic studio in my house so I actually love it…
Heather Pearce Campbell 09:59
Oh, I love that.
Mandi Ellefson 10:00
Love that. So the art side of is the creativity and the really understanding like, I like seeing a really big vision for what’s possible. Just kind of like I’m like I saw a huge vision, what was possible that was so different from what it looked like when I was starting my company, I knew that this that I could have, that could have multimillion dollar companies that could run without me that I could be orchestrating that can make a huge difference in the world. I knew this was possible. I didn’t know how. But that’s like the artists mind of like, being able to see things that aren’t yet there. And creatively push the limits. Yeah.
Heather Pearce Campbell 10:37
Yeah. I’m also curious about what you learned when your friend said “Hey, come go through my accelerator program.” What it was about that program where you thought, oh, yeah, this is a fit. I can do this. Tell us a little bit about that early training?
Mandi Ellefson 10:55
Yeah, yes. So she worked with a lot of tech startups and the tech startup world. And I and I, my first what I actually started doing, for the company that I worked for, I designed a website, but it wasn’t just designing a website, it was understanding their brand, it was understanding, you know, how we be? How do we be able to market against the competition now, when I ran this property company, and this was during 2008, when the real estate was really challenging. So this was a very challenging industry. And also in this industry, you managers will just be there all the time. I didn’t like that at all. That was not what I wanted. I wanted to be able to travel whenever I wanted. And I did this while I was also a student, too. So I had a different vision for what, what that was, it was going to make things work for me. So my thought was that if I just like jacked up the profitability, and always kept it full, then my boss would let me do whatever I wanted. And that’s exactly what happened. So I just looked at, well, what would it take for us to, to at least everything before way before they even come up? So what I would what I what I would do is I thought how can we be able to connect with our most ideal people, so not the people who are going to be turning over every year, we want the medical and dental students that are going to stay there, the dental specifically said stay there for years. And with that, what that meant then is that I didn’t have to do nearly as much work. And so what I would do is I’d advertise the apartments months before they would even come available. So I have the least sight unseen from across the country. This was back before websites, there were not very many websites that were available. They were not like this was very new to be able to do this at the time. But I saw that I could do it, it was just possible. And I would talk people into it before they even saw these apartments. The website really helped how I was positioning it. And so I would, I would pre lease all of these. I streamlined everything in it. And I feel like I’m going off on a tangent here. So stop me if. But that’s what taught me how to be able to, you know, keep pushing the profitability, keep pushing the revenue, so I drive up the rents. And because I would I would fill those sight unseen ways before we even needed them done and made the company I just was squeezing money out of this company left and right. But it was in a way that really served our customer base too. So…
Heather Pearce Campbell 13:42
So this sounds like that. I mean, that experience was an early introduction into your business path and understanding some of the fundamentals of business. At what point did you intersect with because then you you said you became a mom, right? You were going to be a stay at home mom. And then you your friend invited you into this accelerator course and you were like, Oh, wait, I’m not. I’m not doing the stay at home mom thing. Right?
Mandi Ellefson 14:07
So it was just fun. It was exciting. And it was a way that I could connect with other people. And I really, I knew I had a knack for it. I came from a family of entrepreneurs. Like I said, I started mowing lawns. When I was 12, I was always looking for ways to be able to make more money, not because I was really stuck on the money as much as like I just wanted to have freedom to do whatever I wanted. I wanted to buy what I wanted. I wanted to go and I came from a big family where my parents weren’t just handing us out money left and right. I mean, we didn’t go hungry or anything. We had fun, but it was like I had to work for what I wanted. So from a very young age, I did that and I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur. So even when I went I studied those, the different areas in college and what I didn’t know. I didn’t know how it was all going to connect together. I just knew someday I would have a business. I thought it would be later when my kids were older.
Heather Pearce Campbell 14:58
Mandi Ellefson 15:00
And I went into that business accelerator and it just, it helped me get things started and get more than anything just like developing the courage just to just to make it happen and to know that I could do it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 15:14
I love that gift from your friend. So you then go on to build your first business, which you said kind of imploded, right? You burned yourself out, like everything – you were just done with all of it, right? I imagine you are now serving people who are either in that position or who have been where you were in that part of your journey. And you’re now helping them see, you don’t have to do it that way. Look over here, right, here’s how you can really do it. So talk to us about how like the pieces that you put together because it set you on a new path of sorting out really, how do you do that? Right? How? How do you become the hands-off CEO? Talk to us about that part of your journey, what you learned and how you started implementing that in your own business and life?
Mandi Ellefson 16:08
All right, there’s like five different questions. And that was a big one.
Heather Pearce Campbell 16:12
Okay, yes! That’s true.
Mandi Ellefson 16:13
Let me think about how I want to answer this one. So yes, a lot of the clients that we work with have that kind of challenge in some aspect, right? They’ve become a victim of their own success. Yes. And they’ve gotten past that early stage in the business where you just put your head down, and you just like to make it happen, but you get to a point where like, sales aren’t really a challenge anymore. But at the same time, you’re kind of stuck in this place where you need to, you want to generate more business, but to generate more business, you need more team to be able to staff that business and be able to stop to hire those people, you need a little bit more business. So it’s like this vicious cycle that like, how do you get out of that cycle? That was exactly the cycle that I was in. When at that point in, in my company. And we’ve seen that cycle over and over and over again. And it’s just so easy to get trapped in it. Especially for service based businesses.
Heather Pearce Campbell 17:15
And not being able to remove yourself from the cycle, right?
Mandi Ellefson 17:19
Right. Well, yeah, it’s not being able to remove yourself from a cycle. That’s exactly it. And then here’s the thing is you can kind of see what’s going on, you see what you need to do. But you actually, like, can’t do it even here, but you could read books, and here are the steps. But how do you break free from that cycle to be able to do that. And some people, what they’ll, what they’ll do is they’ll just work more and more and more hours thinking that’s going to break the cycle. And then what happens is that never what happens is more growth, more growth continues. But it’s at the cost of them becoming even more trapped in the company. So I’ll give you a story. I’ll give you an example of Tom, Tom Shapiro, he’s been on our podcast a couple times. And he was at this point in his company, where he was a victim of his own success really, and had no problem bringing in new business that really had exceptional service. So a lot of people wanted their work. But what happened whenever he would step back from having his hands in the projects, this is a marketing company, specifically a marketing agency, then the clients were just they just could get mediocre results. And it wasn’t like these devastating things. But he was just like, this isn’t worth it. This is not why I started this. So they just stopped getting these raving testimonials. And he was like, This is not what I want. This is not what I want. So what he did is he ended up scaling back. And he was hoping, you know, I’ll get more time back, I’ll get my life back what ended up happening and that that wasn’t the case. So he has scaled back his income, and still was just as stressed as ever. So that was the point where we had connected. And he had, he didn’t really even know if there would be if it would even be possible because he was so stuck in that cycle and didn’t even see it would be it’d be possible in the here’s the thing is a lot of people look at as consulting services and they’re saying, Well, you know what, it’s a dead end, it’s not scalable. And it works fine if you’re just doing kind of a solo with, you know, a couple people supporting you, but it’s a one man band type kind of business. So that’s kind of the frame of thinking that he was in and you know, with his extreme commitment to the kind of client results that they generate.
Heather Pearce Campbell 19:35
All right, you would start to think like I’m the special sauce and if I can’t duplicate myself, right, how do I continue? How do I scale and continue to get amazing client results?
Mandi Ellefson 19:48
So here’s the thing is, is that we start the business with our expertise. We are the secret sauce, that’s the reality. It’s like we are the secret sauce. And if for Tom it was looking Again, how do we be able to take the secret sauce? And how do we be able to package the secret sauce in a way that does not diminish the results, but actually expands the results? How do we package this in a way that then you can really transfer this over and then to other experts, and in some, in some cases, have experts that are much better at it than you. So what this looks like is you can really expand the quality of the business as you’re continuing to scale it. And that’s, that’s what Tom found, and even within, so he was stuck. He has three years of stagnant growth, because he had been in that cycle step back from it. And within seven months, he had doubled his business. Yeah, so to me really incredible what’s possible, when you just take the right steps in the right order. But one of the challenges with that as well, is it’s easy enough just to hire people and just remove yourself from it. But how do you actually financially do that, so you’re not losing money. And that’s one of the biggest challenges that people come to us with. And they also are looking at some of these other solutions out there for them because they know they need to be building systems, they need to hire people. So there’s a lot of these other popular scaling models out there. And they’re looking at them. And they’re just there’s something quite a little bit off. And some of them have implemented these different systems and these operating systems into their business. And they’re great operating systems. But there’s something that’s missing here for highly customized consulting services.
Heather Pearce Campbell 21:38
Yeah. So, you know, I, I imagine, well, first of all, let me ask you, what did you help in those early days, when you took Tom from, you know, stagnant for three years to doubling revenue in seven months? What were some of the earliest changes you helped him make in his business?
Mandi Ellefson 21:59
Right. We’ll talk about the earliest changes, I also want to talk about what what is missing from this from, from the typical scaling models, specific to consulting services, because this is something that’s, that’s very important that, why why all those other models don’t quite fit, they’ll help and they’re useful. But it’s not going to get you all the way across the line, it’s not going to actually fundamentally change the model in a way that it can scale. So some of the some of the first changes we made with Tom and in with some with the other companies that we work with is, is we first look at, we identify where the bottlenecks are in their company. And these bottlenecks can be oftentimes their people. And in this case, the CEO is always a bottleneck. Right? Right. And there could be other bottlenecks in the company too. But when you look at the amount of work that can get done in a company, it’s like it’s all bottlenecks, right to this to this one person, this one source. So if everything goes through that point, then it dramatically diminishes that. So what we do is we look at how do we be able to remove a lot of those pieces at the bottleneck that we can immediately free up some capacity. And oftentimes, what we see is just a few tweaks, we’ll be able to generate an extra 1020 hours per week, though, that will free up the CEO, and I mean, we see this over and over again. And we used to with every client we used to, to be tracking the number of hours. And we actually guarantee a minimum of 10 extra hours per week for the CEO. But I mean, it’s gotten, maybe I’m maybe I’ve just gotten bored of talking about this. Because it’s like, it’s consistently I mean, we’ve stopped counting, it’s just consistently like, right off the bat, how much time it freezes. It’s really incredible what’s possible. Yeah. In such a short amount of time when you can just take a look at this and find some ways to free up. And oftentimes, they’re there in things that they’re always in, it always feels really good. It’s a huge relief.
Heather Pearce Campbell 24:10
I’m gonna say anybody listening who’s like, oh, my gosh, 10 to 20 hours back in my week, like, they’re probably freaking out, like, is that possible? I don’t think that’s possible. Right? Because when you are in that position of doing too many things, it can be really hard to know where to start to clear things off your plate.
Mandi Ellefson 24:28
Well, and you’re doing those things because you have to, right? So that’s the thing is we take a look and say why do you have to do that? And what are the things that we need to put in place, so you no longer have to do that. And you can safely let go of them. And so it’s not about just like throwing off a bunch of things to other people. You have to safely be able to do this. The whole reason why they’re stuck in this because they care. That’s the reason here’s the thing is that they don’t care. You can throw things left and right. It’s no problem at all right? So that’s when we see these companies that are scaling. I mean, we all have seen these companies in the industry where they’re scaling. We have a cost of quality. So you see the CEO having this great time, but I don’t know, it’s always a great time because what ends up happening is in there dealing with a lot of client churn there. There are stration frustrations. And, you know, our industry is just, it’s just completely taken over with lots of chargebacks. Lots of Yes, promises that are not made.
Heather Pearce Campbell 25:25
Yeah. So well, and ultimately, I would think that comes back to make the team really frustrated, right? Yeah. Because then your team is going to fall apart, there’s that’s not sustainable, that path is not sustainable.
Mandi Ellefson 25:40
It’s really not. And that’s a great point that you bring up too, because in this industry, right now, we’re not in this, I mean, just in the market, we have a huge challenge with staffing, right. So to be able to have, and let’s just be honest to that we have, we have really experienced people who have the opportunity to work anywhere they want. And then we have a lot of younger folks that have a little bit different way that they work. And it can be pretty challenging. As they’re coming into this industry, and we’re how do we be able to get them to work in a way that’s going to be efficient and effective at the same time, labor costs just driving up. So you have less effective staff, you have the cost of staff going up, you have the mobility of staff of just popping back and forth and not sticking around. Yeah. And, and you have to be able to have a company that’s very sticky, and dealing with those kinds of frustrations with their clients, although you’re not going to be able to retain and just like you were saying.
Heather Pearce Campbell 26:50
Yeah, I know. And anytime I mean, anybody who’s ever had a staff member and lost to, you know, the training process of onboarding a new person and getting somebody up to speed and performing at the level that you maybe had a prior person, it’s a real cost to your business?
Mandi Ellefson 27:07
Oh, it really is. And it’s a draining emotional cost as well.
Heather Pearce Campbell 27:13
Mandi Ellefson 27:14
And that’s a lot of the things that we hear, too, is that, you know, they might say, you know, it takes us a good year, two years for someone to get to a point where they can really operate. Well without it. And by that time, they quit. And then they have to start that all over again. So they’re dealing constantly with people that are not performing fast enough. So is looking at like, how do we be able to train up and to train and develop faster in our company? How do we be able to build that training within so that you can have some some senior level people but not everyone’s senior level? Because that’s going to kill your profit margins? How do you be able to get the right senior level people that will then develop junior level people and having those programs within your company that are going to have the rise. And that’s one of the things that we actually do with our operations Academy for that, so we actually help our clients to be able to put in place an operations manager, if they don’t yet have one, they may not have one already. But that’s a really critical hire. Because that’s the b2b, the person who can run the company for you. So what we have is operations Academy, that we walk them through to be able to help them become a really excellent Operations Manager. So a lot of service based companies think, okay, I need a COO, it’s like, yes, maybe you do. But not until like three to 5 million, you really don’t need one before that. So how do you be able to get in place, an operations manager, that’s going to be like a mini coo that’s going to be able to grow with your company. And oftentimes, you don’t even need to hire an operations manager. A lot of times, it’s an account manager, a project manager, we’ve even, we’ve seen many companies within our tribes successfully hire and develop an Executive Assistant, we’ve even done it in our own company. Somebody internal. Yeah, well, it will. So here’s the thing is, no matter who you hire, you’re going to have to train and develop them. Yes. So you might as well get someone who’s really hungry. And that’s going to see the opportunity for the growth and their ability to jump 510 years ahead of their career, and they will be just fiercely committed to your brand. And, and then that’s how you have people that are just that are willing to do anything to be able to support the business.
Heather Pearce Campbell 29:32
Such a powerful point. I mean, the expense to a small business of not finding the right person is significant. They don’t have the budgets to waste, right? They don’t have the budgets to experiment with people. And, you know, it’s the whole concept like in the book, Good to Great moving seats on the bus, right, right. Small businesses don’t have the kind of timeframe and budgets that allow them to do a lot of experimenting that they just don’t. So it sounds like that operations Academy is really a very needed thing for many small businesses, especially in the consulting kind of agency space. Talk to us about what people often get wrong on the path to scaling, right, you talked about there, they usually have a missing piece, because we were talking even before we went live, there’s so much conflicting advice about how to grow in this space.
Mandi Ellefson 30:27
Right? So a lot of the advice that is in this space is, is going to commoditize your company. So to be able to scale you need to be able to so what is the single point of failure? Well as CEO, it’s like, it’s, it’s, so how do we be able to remove the CEO out of this? So they say, Okay, what we’re gonna do, the CEO brings all the strategy, so let’s just remove the strategy. So now you have a commodity, now you’re competing with the entire globe. Yeah. Because, you know, if you’re offering this productized service, everybody loves these productized service things, or we’re going to just put together this course, which brings in a whole lot of other challenges. Now you have a marketing and sales problem, now you have a volume based offer, that you have to sell 100 times the amount of to be able to make the same profit 100 times. Now, I don’t know, when you’re thinking about this, you look at what is selling. Now, the selling systems that are required to be able to go to debt generate a volume type of revenue model is challenging, it takes years and years to develop these kinds of funnels. And it’s not easy,
Heather Pearce Campbell 31:37
And the numbers are significant. Like you have to drive significant numbers into the top of your funnel to make those sales.
Mandi Ellefson 31:45
It’s mind blowing the way that people’s people work so hard to just take a shortcut that is actually way, way, way harder. And so here’s the thing, is that you have all these extra systems you have to do for marketing, for sales, for lead generation, and then for delivery to be able to serve hundreds of customers that requires more systems than delivering than serving 10 to 20. And to 10 to 20, and a much higher price point with a higher profit margin. So we look at turning that on its head. So instead of decreasing the strategy, how do we be able to standardize the strategy and this one comes down to doing what a lot of people are not comfortable with doing. And that’s focus, it’s focusing is getting really crystal clear on the one client we call superpower, one’s one client, the one painful problem that you’re going to solve for them. And then the one outcome, one big, huge fat promise. Now this big promise is what allows you to jack up your fees, charged double, triple, quadruple 10x. The fees, I mean, we see this over and over and over and double is really on the the base level low end. Now how do you be able to go from like these one off type of projects, which are not scalable, which require way too much of you, which requires even more of you then upsell into the next level, everybody says, we’ll just start with a smaller thing and upsell, it’s just like, No, that’s going to keep you more and more stuck, what you want to do is have a really big bold growth program, that then you can sell a year long retainer, I’ll give you an example of Laura. And she was selling these, these really incredible turnaround projects, for financial turnaround projects in the kind of CFO type of space, but it’s really a very deep level of like, your business is gonna go under unless we do this work immediately. So she would be able to turn these
Heather Pearce Campbell 33:43
Yeah, totally saving is a thinking chip.
Mandi Ellefson 33:46
Really incredible work. But the challenge was, it was so demanding, and she couldn’t bring on more than a few clients doing it this way. So what we looked at is, you know, who was the one client and one painful problem you can solve and then the outcome, and we just tweaked this a little bit. So instead of the sinking ship, we looked at people that had a little more profit that maybe just wanted to make things a lot better, and who is this right market that she can deliver this the outcome for? And then we found out its manufacturing for her. And then what kind of outcomes we kept pushing and pushing to look at what is this outcome we can we can we can generate, and for her it was 100,000 pounds of profit. And she’s in the UK. So adding an extra $100,000 100,000 pounds is extremely enticing for these companies. So how much money are you willing to throw at that for a guaranteed extra 100,000 pounds every year of extra profit. So she was able to triple her price point, she was able to also triple the length of engagement. So you can run the numbers on that as a numbers person you’re already figuring that out. And what this did for her is it gave her so much more cash flow. So for her to be able to afford to hire other people to support her With the service delivery on this, and so much peace of mind. So that’s the foundational piece, you have to have in place a scalable offer, and not just people think scalable offer as like that I can put systems around this. Yes. That’s not just it, though. It’s about sustainable, that’s going to generate enough profit for you to hire the people to do the work and and in a hyperinflationary economy, we do not have the luxury of going down in price in this market, we don’t do it nor have to go up price. So it’s a great opportunity to, because people are open to it now.
Heather Pearce Campbell 35:38
Oh, absolutely. I can imagine it’s what people want, and they just don’t know how to get there. The thing that comes to mind is one, you have to be really, really clear on your vetting process at the front end, like so clear on who it is exactly. That you will accept as a client versus but I mean, that to me sounds like a systems and a process problem like clarifying how that’s going to work, versus the amount of churn and time that that business would normally spend trying to get the average client, right? How many of those conversations do you have to have to put somebody into a service that is not custom, tailored, higher and higher dollar service, right cost your business time and money to get those clients.
Mandi Ellefson 36:27
And what I’ve seen over the years coming from most operations, people don’t really get what the real problem is, they try to solve things with systems and with people. And they have a giant blind spot. And they don’t realize that 80% of challenges are in operations and service delivery, and fulfillment and quality control, and all that are actually created in the sales process in the selling and the marketing of the program, and of the services. So if all of this is not aligned, if you try to put in place all the systems and everything without dealing with the initial inputs, garbage in garbage out,
Heather Pearce Campbell 37:07
yeah, yeah, you’re talking to the wrong people, spending time with the wrong people, not your client, can be a much more challenging process.
Mandi Ellefson 37:15
Here’s the thing is that we, our main thing is how do we be able to help our clients be able to expand the work that they can do in the world to be able to expand this incredible service that they can do, and bring this in the world in a way where they’re not having to work more and more hours? And how do we be able to create multiple million dollar business assets that can run without them? And they can participate in any way that they want? But as we found out over the years, it doesn’t work unless they have a way that they can? They they selling the right offer? Yes, at the right price point. So we have taken this guesswork out of this for our clients to be able to make it much much easier to sell these because a lot of our clients, they’re not sales experts, they’re not. They haven’t gone through all the sales training. So how do we be able to get someone like Laura be able to triple her price point and sell these year long type of engagements? Like what does it take to do that? And to simplify that down? And what was it when we created this client success map? If anyone wants to, I can talk about how you can learn more about that. And I have a whole training that we can have you can your people can have access to for free, oh, that would be amazing. But um, it’s really about how do you be able to make selling really, really easy when your prospects come to you and it doesn’t mean you’re not working to get your message out there. But it’s more about your qualifying people who come to you. And you know, when you have an offer, like we’re going to add 100,000 pounds of extra profit to your business every year, within a certain amount of time, guaranteed. Like they’re picking and choosing who they’re working with.
Heather Pearce Campbell 38:59
Absolutely, yeah. And you have to be so you’re right that, you know, the time spent, which it sounds like you’re an expert at helping them get the offer just right, the offer structure just right, right. How do you package those services? Especially when you’re talking about removing a CEO from all the doing? You know, it’s like putting a puzzle together, right? So for anybody listening, I’d love to be able to share that client success what do you call it
Mandi Ellefson 39:30
Client Success map. The client success map but where they can learn about this I do an executive briefing where I walk through really like what are the five exits to be able to get to an eight figure consulting company, even if you don’t want to get to eight figures. If you just want to get a cup to a couple million, that’s fine as well. But I have to do a whole live presentation on how to actually do that and it’s engaging as a small group that I’m actually the one leading that. So if you go to handsoffceo.com/briefing, then they can sign up for that.
Heather Pearce Campbell 40:03
Excellent. And these are going to be for companies that already have a successful position in the marketplace, right? They’re generating income. They are the folks who talked about the beginning that are trying to figure out how the CEO can remove themselves from all the doing and continue to create a successful client experience.
Mandi Ellefson 40:23
Heather Pearce Campbell 40:24
I love it. So if you’re listening, be sure to pop over to the show notes. We will share access to Mandi’s briefing to her client success map, and anything else she wants us to share at legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Mandi, where do you show up online? Obviously, we’re gonna share links to your website. Where do you like for people? If they want to connect with you? Do you connect online,
Mandi Ellefson 40:47
LinkedIn is the best place to connect. I’m not really on a lot of other social channels, right. But LinkedIn, if you just type in Mandi Ellefson. Mandy with an eye, you might just need to go to the show notes. It’s kind of a mouthful.
Heather Pearce Campbell 40:58
No worries, we’ll share your LinkedIn link as well there. So be sure to pop over and check out Mandi’s resources, Mandi, for those that are listening, what final takeaway would you like to leave them with today?
Mandi Ellefson 41:14
My final thing is to really expand your vision of what’s possible. Don’t let anyone tell you that. That whatever you want to do is not possible because if you can imagine it in your mind, you can do it. Look to look to others to help you expand that vision. And I mean, that’s one of the why people work with. With me and you in our programs we people like us, we help them expand and see what’s possible for them. So keep on expanding what you see as possible. And just don’t give up, don’t give up. But that doesn’t mean you need to work yourself in the ground, find better ways that you can really let go and keep on getting more work done and more product CV done through other people, not from you working more hours.
Heather Pearce Campbell 42:04
I love that. And especially the piece about not letting go of the vision doesn’t mean working harder, but staying committed to the vision and finding alternate paths.
Mandi Ellefson 42:13
Heather Pearce Campbell 42:14
Mandi, thank you so much for your time today. I’d love the chance to have this conversation on the podcast and I hope we get to connect again very soon.
Mandi Ellefson 42:22
Absolutely. Thanks so much, Heather. Absolutely.
GGGB Outro 42:28
Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at www.legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.