Susan Boles is a CFO, a Growth Architect a Data Geek a SaaS Whisperer and an all-around business operations expert.
She takes agencies & consultants from digital duct-tape and WD40 to smoother-than-a-Mercedes-Benz operations using a custom blend of process plus tech plus financial know-how.
Systems and automation are her thing and we find out much about them in this weeks episode.
Susan’s philosophy is finding better ways to manage and run your company. Not just hiring more hands to help juggle the pieces.
“Growth is only hard when your business isn’t built for it. So let’s build something that is.”
- Processes! – The client onboarding process. That’s where the impressions are set.
- Results from having a weekend away from work where you do intensive work on a single project, but including time for warm cookies and a spa.
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Tony Winyard 0:00
Exceeding expectations Episode 74. In this week’s episode, we speak with Susan Boles who tells us about how implementing processes, you can actually exceed customers exceed customers expectations, if you implement them in the right way and make it much easier for customers to know exactly what they’re going to get. And then obviously, you can add some extra things. This is the podcast where we aim to give you ideas for how you can exceed your customers expectations. In order to to have a better customer relationship, get more money, get better referrals, testimonials, and so on. If you enjoyed this week’s episode, why not share it with someone who you feel would also get some value from it, and go online, subscribe, leave a review that would be greatly appreciated. This week’s episode right now with Susan Boles
Exceeding expectations. My guest today Susan Boles. How are you, Susan?
Susan Boles 1:05
Great. Thanks for having me.
Tony Winyard 1:07
And you are in Arkansas?
Susan Boles 1:10
I am in Arkansas.
Tony Winyard 1:12
How is it there today?
Susan Boles 1:14
stormy day today
Tony Winyard 1:16
Is that kind of normal for where you are?
Susan Boles 1:19
Not at all, normally winter is pretty mild here. And it was like 60 yesterday. So hopefully it’ll it’ll clear up this afternoon. We can get some nice sunshine.
Tony Winyard 1:33
You mentioned to me before we started recording, you’ve moved around a bit, but where is it you grew up? Where are you from?
Susan Boles 1:38
I grew up in Denver in Colorado. So Arkansas is relatively new to me. We’ve only been here about three years. So yeah, I grew up in in Denver in the sunshine.
Tony Winyard 1:50
Okay, and what is it you do for work Susan,
Susan Boles 1:53
I am a virtual CFO and growth architect for agencies and consultants, which means I kind of do a little Bit of your typical CFO type work, but also software consulting and basically operations consulting with a little bit of business design built in.
Tony Winyard 2:10
And what sort of people are you working with what sort of clients?
Susan Boles 2:15
So all agencies, all consultants, service business owners primarily? Usually, in the revenue numbers aren’t great because it’s more about organisational complexity. So a lot of the folks that I work with are kind of a usually remote type agencies, and they’ve got one or two founders and then either a staff of, you know, eight to 10 people or they work with a whole bunch of freelancers or other consultants as part of their team.
Tony Winyard 2:44
And is that locally or is it international?
Susan Boles 2:48
It is, I guess it is international. Actually. I’ve worked with clients in the UK and in Canada, but mostly I work with clients in the US, but not necessarily locally.
Tony Winyard 3:02
What was it that led you into that?
Susan Boles 3:04
A long, long and winding path I started actually so but skill spark is business number four for me. I started out as a professional organiser back in like oh six, when you could just put a website up and, you know, have clients they just showed up, because that’s how you got business. And we moved a lot with my husband who was active duty Air Force for a very long time. And it was really difficult to have your own business, particularly one at that point in time, like remote businesses weren’t really a thing. So it was a completely local business. And when we moved I basically had to either decide to try and restart it in our new when we moved or just kind of give it up for a while and so I gave it up and we moved around a whole bunch of times and ended up when we got back to Colorado after having been in England for about four years. We came And decided to buy a Guest Ranch sort of on a whim. And so that was kind of our first really big business. And we owned that for a few years and realised that wasn’t actually the business we wanted to run. My son was one at the time. And we were running essentially a b&b with a bar and activities. And it was just, it was a lot. So we ended up selling that and opening a specialty running store, brick and mortar store. And on that for a few years and sold out to our partner a couple of years ago. And kind of through that whole process, I was doing all of the operations like I was doing all of the backend, all of the financials, setting up all of the systems, evaluating software, all of those pieces was really my responsibility of the business. And kind of throughout this process, I ended up getting my MBA and worked as an outsourced CFO for a while for a virtual accounting firm, that I was like the tech person. So I was the person when they said hey, we’re going to implement the software. I was personally came to So my area of expertise was really in data and technology. And I started recognising that a lot of the solutions that we were recommending weren’t really the best choice. You know, when it comes to software. There’s a lot of, I guess, finer details about how why you would pick one, similar software over another. There’s a lot of nitty gritty in terms of how it works, and what is really the best choice. And I couldn’t really get early enough into the sales process to help make the decision about what we should implement to solve a client’s problem. And so it was really frustrated because I was doing all of these implementations knowing that it really wasn’t going to solve the problem for the client. It wasn’t going to solve the problem they actually had, and in some cases, was creating more problems. And so that was really frustrating. And eventually, I just decided, Hey, you know what, there’s actually there’s a legitimate need here. I’m just going to create my own company, where this is what I do when I help clients Evaluate software to make sure that it’s the best choice for the specific problems that they have. And all do that as a business. And so that’s kind of really where scale spark came about. And in the last, I guess, year and a half or so, it’s kind of involved to bring back into my CFO roots and focus a little bit more on the financial system as the hub of the rest of the software system. So I’m a little bit unique in terms of the CFO advisory piece because it really brings in the whole end to end back end operations for a client.
Tony Winyard 6:40
So how similar or dissimilar would this be from say, like a CRM.
Susan Boles 6:45
So is not usually focused on CRM, sometimes that’s a piece of you know, the puzzle, but for a lot of service businesses, you know, they’re not really operating in a vault. That’s high enough that a CRM is really a requirement, you know, a lot of them can get by on smaller, less robust systems, they don’t really need a CRM when you only have, you know, one or two leads coming in a month, you can pretty much keep track of those where CRM really you know, when you have lots of leads, like, if you think about a software company, where they’re, you know, they’re talking to so many leads, they really do need a system to keep track of all of that and all of those contacts and to manage a team, but the folks that I work with, you know, they’re, they’re just not necessarily operating in that volume. So the CRM is really one of the last systems that we look at in terms of operations. Normally, where I’m focusing is on the financials of the accounting system and making sure that the data in the financial system is organised in a way that we can answer questions about the business. So a lot of that entails looking at Pick your chart of accounts to make sure that we’re tracking your finances the way that we need to be tracking them or breaking them out into different revenue streams. So you have, you know, a speaking, you do speaking and you also do consulting, and maybe you sell a book or a course, and being able to break out all of those different revenue streams to analyse them individually, and make sure that each area that you’re focusing on is profitable and make sense to continue doing in its own right. So we’ll focus a lot on the financial systems and organising that data. So that then we can start using that data to make better decisions. And that kind of flows into sometimes client onboarding, because that’s an important piece of, you know, invoicing and payments and how you’re going to do that whole process is actually you know, the first part of getting getting the money into the financial system, and things like project management tools and how you actually manage your end to end client process. And what tools might be involved in that, and that’s, you know, a little bit different for every service business. But that’s really where I’m focusing is making sure that you know, from the first touch point with the client, to the end point that it is smooth, they get a good experience, they get a consistent experience. And that from an internal standpoint, you know, as the founder or as the person running the business, that it doesn’t take you forever to the point is really to become efficient so that we can work less.
Tony Winyard 9:33
And so how would clients and usually find out about you?
Susan Boles 9:37
Usually, so I do have a podcast and some of them come to me from the podcast, we talk about, you know, particularly operations for specifically service businesses, which is really a unique, it’s a unique kind of workflow. It’s not really the same as, say, a software business or a product business. There’s a lot that goes into running a client focused business that I think sometimes we don’t talk about. So there’s the podcast. Often it’s referrals. You know, somebody knows me and knows, kind of the unique conglomeration of skills that I have. And they’ll send folks my way. So usually, I would say, usually it’s referrals. Or me having gone on somebody else’s podcast or somebody listening to my podcast, or I’m in a lot of virtual communities, so I participate pretty heavily there. And that’s always a good referral source as well.
Tony Winyard 10:35
What is your podcast called?
Susan Boles 10:37
It’s called Breaking the ceiling.
Tony Winyard 10:40
How long have you been doing that?
Susan Boles 10:42
So that launched in September, so I guess we’re closing in on about six months. And so relatively short, but we just switched to weekly episodes, and it’s been, it’s been just such a fun project creatively for me in a way that writing never really I never really connected with writing that way, you know, I can write. But podcasting has been something that is really just fun creatively. But it’s also been really interesting to talk to other business owners and what they’re doing. So we talk a lot about, you know, I like to call it unconventional strategies for running operations. So a lot of what we’re doing is dispelling the ways, I guess the standards that are kind of out there in terms of how you run a service business. And what’s interesting about agencies and consultants, particularly as there’s a lot of this is how we do it in the industry. And so a lot of what we talked about on the podcast is alternatives stuff for you to consider, that maybe aren’t your traditional way of running an agency, but are choices that you could make about your business that would make it easier to run or easier for you to grow sustainably.
Tony Winyard 11:59
Where’s your typical audience or your ideal listener? Agents and consultancies?
Susan Boles 12:05
Yep, it’s pretty much all agencies and consultants. And then kind of the larger header of service businesses that maybe don’t consider themselves agencies or consultants.
Tony Winyard 12:18
Initially, when you first had the idea to start the podcast, what was your intention for it?
Susan Boles 12:26
Completely different actually, than what it ended up being it took me probably so I started working on kind of the concept for it at the beginning of 2019. So it took about eight months of hemming and hawing and trying to figure out what this was going to be. And originally it was actually talking about being creative in non traditional creative kinds of ways. So, for me, the way that I am very creative is in really, business operations. Like that’s the way that I am creative as seeing connections where a lot of people Other people wouldn’t necessarily see those connections, and being able to kind of create this ecosystem for someone’s business in a way that just makes it easier for them to run. But also, it’s just simpler. There’s a lot of a lot of what I do is simplifying systems that are very complicated or complex, and they don’t necessarily need to be. So originally, my idea for the podcast was actually to kind of delve into that, being creative in spaces where people aren’t really thinking about it as creativity, you know, in the same way that we think about painting or music or writing as being a very creative thing. Things like business or coding or those sorts of things are actually very, very creative areas. But we don’t really think about them that way. So that’s actually what the podcast was originally intended to be. And then when I started really thinking about What I really wanted to talk about and how it ties into my work with clients. That’s where it kind of evolved into this really operations, business design kind of thing where we talk, oftentimes really in depth about tactical, very specific things or choices that you can make about your business.
Tony Winyard 14:22
Was it more or less difficult than you thought it would be the whole kind of starting up the podcast process.
Susan Boles 14:29
So probably both the hemming and hawing and the creativity part of the, you know, actually coming up with what the show was, and how I was going to, you know, what were my episode formats going to be and was I going to have a theme was I going to go weekly, was I going to go bi weekly, what what that structure looks like, took so much longer than I expected it to, primarily because it was really important to me that it was going to start out being so thing of quality with real value delivered. You know, I didn’t want to put out just another business podcast where we talk about, you know, generic business stuff. I wanted it to be something very specific, and something actionable that folks could take and really integrate in their business or would prompt questions to make them think about how they were running their business differently. So that part took so much longer than I expected. And I think some of that was a little bit of productive procrastination, as I like to call it, it was it was nerve wracking to be able to, to start thinking about putting stuff out in the world in this way. So that was really difficult and but really, it came down to I had set a launch date of September 10. And when you know, the middle of August rolled around and all that, Oh, no, I haven’t actually done anything like I’ve booked guests. I you know, I’ve been iterating on this idea. But once it actually once I actually pulled the trigger and started booking guests. That part was so much easier than I expected it to be. You know, so much of it was me dealing with my internal issues about being okay with putting my voice and my ideas out into the world. The actual, you know, booking of the guests part, and talking to people was just flowed so much easier than I expected. And, you know, to be fair, I have a producer, I’ve had a producer the whole time. They’re amazing. And that was something that I never really understood up front how much logistical stuff goes on behind the scenes to actually put out in a podcast and particularly like a weekly podcast, there’s a lot that happens that you need to you know, a lot of steps to get that episode helped. And I knew that going into it and really wanted to make sure that I could create systems for myself to make sure that I could sustain that which is why I started with episodes every other week, because I wanted to make sure that I understood the workflow and how I could work with my producers. And what that actually entailed to make sure that I could handle the workload of doing it weekly. To be consistent, being consistent was really my biggest priority was me going in knowing that I was going to be able to have systems and processes in place to allow me to actually continue to produce the podcast weekly.
Tony Winyard 17:22
Before we started speaking, you mentioned; on this subject of exceeding expectations, about your process, your client onboarding process.
Susan Boles 17:31
Yeah. So one of the things that really is a fundamental piece for me is that being able to exceed client expectations is actually about process. And I think this is a little bit unusual, in terms of that perspective. But I really believe that process can be both a differentiator in terms of I’ve actually hired people that had a very clear process. Over competitors that I wasn’t really sure they were going to deliver on a deadline. Being able to have a clear process and put that out there is a differentiator in terms of client experience. And if you think about it, having a step by step process of client, not just client onboarding, but really delivery. So your whole client delivery process, knowing what that looks like, knowing every step, knowing who is going to take care of each piece is really a key piece of delivering exceptional client service. Because if you think about it, you know, if you come up with really creative and innovative ways to delight clients, but only one out of maybe five clients actually get that experience because you’re, you know, you don’t necessarily do every step every time or, you know, you’re not doing it the same way every time. Then, you know, you might get somebody who’s says, Oh, this person was great. You should actually Go work with them. And then when you know that referral comes in, if they don’t have that same kind of experience, because you don’t have a consistent process to deliver that experience, then they’re going to be even more disappointed than they would have been had. They just come to you. Because somebody, you know, somebody raved about the work that you did. So for me, being able to have a clear and consistent repeatable process, from end to end from the first touch to the last touch, being very clear about how your process works, and where the client touch points are going to be and how you’re going to communicate with them and when they can expect to hear you know, how the project is going. Communicating all of those in a step by step process that you can then turn into a repeatable process. So one of those things that I always like to suggest is using you know, most people have email marketing systems, right. You know, you’re consistently emailing your list, you’re developing your list, but You can use those systems that you already have to actually onboard a client. You know, once you figure out what, how are you going to communicate? You know, what do you need to say? What do you need to tell them when they come on board, things like project timeline, or who’s on the team, or those sorts of things, you can actually use a sequence in your email marketing system, to onboard everybody. And then everybody gets the same information, they get the same links, they get the same, you know, every piece that you’ve decided is a critical part of your process, those unique things that you’ve decided on, you’re basically turning that into something that’s repeatable and consistent so that everybody gets the same information at the same point in time. Another really unique way that I worked with one client was they actually had as part of their onboarding sequence, they had some training what they did, to make sure that all of their clients knew how How to use their services the best way, or to really get the most value out of working with them. And what they did is they took that training that was semi, you know, they had it. Sometimes they did it with clients, sometimes they didn’t, when they actually took that and turn that into an email sequence that started basically, as they were onboarding and sent, like, Hey, here’s some training to watch this week, based off of you know, how their project flow was going. They had a video, they had some additional training that made sure that, you know, every client that came on, got the same kind of training at the same points and it really allowed them to deliver so much more value than they would have for clients that only got that one or two times.
Tony Winyard 21:48
I did something like that similar in something I was doing a few years ago. And one of the good things about having those kind of processes in as you think of new things or new information you can give to a client you can just an additional email or…
Susan Boles 22:01
Yes, just add it, you know? Yeah, just because you have a defined process does that mean it has to stay that way forever? You know, I like to talk about make a decision once and then use that decision. And that’s really what we’re talking about here is you’ve made a decision about how clients are going to come on board or how you’re going to deliver your service. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t go back and improve it. But instead of, you know, repeating the same piece over again, you’re actually taking it to the next level, you’re taking another step to make it even better than it is. So you’re really getting some you’re getting the efficiency of having had that process. And instead of, you know, doing that beginning part again, you can just add another step.
Tony Winyard 22:45
And do you get any feedback from your clients about that whole process?
Susan Boles 22:48
Yeah, I mean, yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that I focused with them about is making their business easier to run. That’s really what we’re focusing on the end. result is their clients get much better customer service. Because, you know, once you have your own internal stuff, figure it out, that’s when you can really start just creating exponentially more value. So that’s what we focus on initially. Usually there’s like a ramp up period where we’re really defining these kinds of systems and thinking strategically about what do we want to include? What should be what actually should be in this process? And also, what can we eliminate from this process? You know, what, what is there that doesn’t need to be? Where are we giving them information that might be confusing or not useful or should be delivered later on in the process. So we kind of work from from beginning to end, looking at every touch points, even ones that a lot of people don’t think about as touch points, like when you invoice clients. That’s a touch point. When they get when they pay you, that’s also a touch point, and looking for opportunities there to really just make the experience more personal. And a lot of the times it’s, you know, making it more fun.
Tony Winyard 24:19
And you mentioned you were on the receiving end of something similar?
Susan Boles 24:22
Yeah. So I actually, when I was looking to redo my brand, you know, I needed to do a new visual brand, I actually needed to rename the company. And so I was looking for a branding agency, which, you know, there’s a bajillion branding agencies and how do you decide which one is actually going to be the right fit for you? How do you pick that? And for me, it came down to the agency that I picked had a very explicit process. They said, here’s, here’s how we do naming. Here’s how we do visual branding. Here’s how long it takes. Here’s the Exact times when you’ll expect to see versions, here’s how the feedback process works. And it was a very well defined really, from the beginning touchpoint it was on their website, you know, they had, here’s the package, here’s how it works. And so there was a lot of information. And yes, I also had referrals from other, you know, from previous clients for them about their actual design work being good. But for me, what was really the, the critical piece for me was seeing that they had this defined process, you know, with a lot of creative type agencies, you know, they get a bad rap because you’re like, well, you never know when you’re going to get it and, you know, then they just don’t have really good processes and, and that sort of thing. And this was they really set themselves apart in terms of being very explicit about what that process and delivery looked like. And so that was a real reason why I chose them. And also a reason I was so thrilled with our work because they delivered on time they delivered according to the process, I set my expectations really early on, and then did what they said they were going to do. And it was, for me kind of unusual in terms of working with other agencies because you don’t, you know, you, you don’t really know what it’s like to work with somebody until you actually work with them. And, you know, despite the fact that they did fabulous design work, and I loved all of the visual pieces of my, you know, eventual brand, which is part of it, you can’t, you know, process isn’t gonna make up for not doing good work. But I think having a clear process and being very explicit about what that looks like, can ultimately allow you to deliver consistent service that does exceed expectations. You know, our sometimes our expectations are so low in terms of what that delivery process is going to look like that being somebody who has a clear process set you apart as being kind of an expert in your own business. And I think a lot of the times we don’t, we don’t really think about how the information that we communicate to clients really can set us apart. And this was this was an example where that really, that really did that was the deciding factor. For me, choosing them over somebody else.
Tony Winyard 27:28
And by doing something like that, that the process that you’ve just mentioned, that they did, from a client perspective, it just gives you so much reassurance right at the beginning, you know exactly what’s going to happen when it’s going to happen. And just takes a lot of worries off of their mind, I guess?
Susan Boles 27:44
Yeah, you know, that they know what they’re doing. You know, they’re not trying to figure it out. As they you know, that that happens where somebody’s like, Oh, yeah, I can definitely do that. And then they’re learning how to do that by virtue of your project. And when you are very explicit about having a process, and it makes it very clear that you’ve done this before, you’ve done it enough times to have figured out a process that works. And whether you’re refining that process consistently or not, like just the fact that you have it. instils confidence in your clients, that you know what you’re doing.
Tony Winyard 28:22
Something you touched upon just now. The word expectations? How, in the time that you’ve been doing this? Do you feel have your clients expectations changed at all? Are people’s expectations higher now than they’ve been before? What’s your findings on that?
Susan Boles 28:40
I don’t think so. I think, you know, when you’re working with, particularly with an agent, an agency or with a consultant, you know, you expect them to be good at what they do. You expect them to know what they’re doing and really when we think about how what we’re expecting We really expect them to deliver the value that they say they’re going to deliver. And I don’t think that’s changed. I don’t think I just don’t I think that’s the way we’ve always expected it And sure, some some companies there’s some bells and whistles and you know, client gifts and you know, warm cookies. But I think when it really comes right down to it, what we expect is that the people that we hire, say do the things that they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do them. Sometimes we make you know, there’s they don’t say those things up front, which makes you you know, as a client a little uncomfortable, it makes you worry about whether or not this is actually going to go the way that you think it’s going to go. But I think you know that expectations always been there and I think it always will be.
Tony Winyard 29:52
Before we started speaking you mentioned about the seminar What a great story about creating worksheets.
Susan Boles 29:57
Haley who was a guest on the podcast in January. I think it’s episode like 1314. She, I was just so amazed. So what she did is we were talking about the the theme of the podcast was actually eliminating client meetings and different alternatives to delivering client communication outside of just your typical meeting and exploring, are there other ways to deliver really valuable touch points without a face to face meeting or zoom call, something that you know, for service business providers, meetings can really easily suck up all your time. And it’s not something that you can easily make more efficient. You know, a meeting takes as long as a meeting is going to take that’s just how they work. So the the premise of the discussion was, how different ways that you can explore eliminating meetings and looking for more, more valuable or more appropriate ways to communicate what you need. Communicate with clients. And Haley did this very creative thing. Basically, she realised that she can only work a couple of days a month. She had a lot of other commitments and that sort of thing. And so she, she really was thinking about how can she do what she needs to do, and a very consolidated period of time. And what she does, what she did was develop these things that she calls work treats, and she’s at brain space, optimise calm, if you want to check out what she’s actually created, but she created work treats, which is basically a weekend where it’s a very intensive kind of workshop view. And you tackle one project, mostly marketing projects, one project in a weekend, beginning to end. So something that would normally take a couple of months, she consolidate it down into a couple of days. And that in itself is kind of innovative. There’s not a lot of folks that are doing that, but what she actually did was She really thought about the person that she works with, which are founders that are busy that are overwhelmed that have a hard time, you know, making time for this sort of thing. So she consolidated it so that they can step away from their daily work really focused on this. And then she thought about how to take care of them how to meet their needs. And by virtue of the work that she’s doing, some of the time, she doesn’t need to be with the client. Sometimes they’re brainstorming and they’re coming up with stuff, but a part of this is actually her executing whatever it is their plans are with with her team. And so she found a way to build in things like spa time. So they’ll come up with a plan to, you know, for what they’re going to do, she has to go execute, she sends the client off to the spa. She does these sessions there in person sessions, but she finds a very relaxing very luxurious kind of space for these to take place and so that it can really feel like a retreat, you know, like a, like you would go to the spa, but it’s kind of a spa for business. And she really thought about how to build that in to every part of that service. And I thought that was so creative and something that even though I didn’t necessarily have a project that I wanted to, you know, that I needed to do in this format. It was so compelling to go to that kind of environment in a way that, you know, you don’t really think she’s a project manager, or you know, you don’t really think about project managers in this nurturing environment. But she really managed to create that and it was so it was just so creative, I thought.
Tony Winyard 33:49
And I believe there’s a book you quite like, that you recommend to people?
Susan Boles 33:56
Yeah, so one of my very favourite business books. Just enjoy role is called badass your brand by PS Silva. And it is ostensibly a branding book, right? You know, so it’s there about, like how to create a compelling brand. But underneath of it is actually all of these really tactical ways to go about building your services and managing client expectations and looking at ways to optimise that client delivery process. And so it’s one where it’s a short read, it’s easy, but it is, it is one of my absolutely favourite, just business books in general, but really, under the surface and operations and the way to manage client expectations and a real tactical, actionable kind of way.
Tony Winyard 34:48
And it just made me think you were talking about before about the the amazing process that you on the that you received from the from a branding company. And so did you read this book before that or was it after How did the sequence go there?
Susan Boles 35:02
Uh, no. So this was a book that I read relatively early on, I think in kind of running a service business. And the branding company I worked with was actually not PS brand because she’s very expensive. So, what she does from a design standpoint is she actually does one day brands, like she’ll do your whole brand and one day website, logo, all of it in one day. So yeah, the different sequence different people. But yeah, I think I redid my brand, probably a year or two after I read the book. Right. Okay. But a lot of what I was deciding my brand was going to be came from Nokia approaches being a brand Hmm.
Tony Winyard 35:52
What are your thoughts generally on the phrase exceeding expectations?
Susan Boles 35:59
You know, I think For me, it really comes down to there’s kind of a minimum base level of expectations. And you can’t really meet that set of expectations unless you’re really explicit. And a lot of the work that I do with my clients, you know, as they are hiring me, but also talking to them about how they manage their own experiences, both internally and externally, is that there there is a basic level that you have to you have to get to you can’t you can’t exceed expectations until you have a standard level of expectations. And I think a lot of being able to go above and beyond that has to do with being able to clearly set what those expectations are, you know, it shouldn’t be that it is exceeds expectations to clearly state and manage your client expectations. But that’s actually a really big part of being able to exceed them. You know, is being able to level set at the beginning with your clients, here’s what you can expect to receive from me, here’s when you can expect to receive them. Here’s how we’re going to work together. And I think we missed that beginning part of the process. And then you never really know what your clients expectations are, unless you’ve had that kind of initial conversation. So unless you manage your expectations up front, there’s no possible way to exceed them. Hmm.
Tony Winyard 37:30
If people want to find out more about you Susan, where will they go to?
Susan Boles 37:34
So the website is www.ScaleSpark.co or obviously listen to the podcast at “Break the ceiling” and it’s on pretty much all the major podcast players. And then if you want to actually you know, chat with me, I’m on Twitter @TheSusanBoles.
Tony Winyard 37:53
And I believe there is a quotation you quite like?
Susan Boles 37:56
There is it’s my absolute favourite. It’s an Andy Warhol quote. that talks about business being the most fascinating kind of heart. And for me, that ties back into what we’re talking about earlier, where business can be very creative. And thinking about how to either run your business or exceed client expectations. It really comes down to how creative Can you be. And I don’t like the idea that there are that we limit ourselves in terms of what we could do in turn to delight clients or to deliver our services. And so that quote, kind of reminds me that there’s really no limits on particularly service business on what that looks like. You know, really your only limit is how creative Can you be.
Tony Winyard 38:43
And when did you first come across that quote?
Susan Boles 38:45
Oh, it’s been a few years I think. The I just ran into one of my friends who is a business designer. brought that up. We were talking about creativity and realising that this is, you know, for people like me who designed business And design systems that that is our art.
Tony Winyard 39:04
And so did that shape some of your thoughts and how you’ve gone about things?
Susan Boles 39:08
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m I love it when people come up with a really creative ways to go about solving a problem. One of my most, one of my favourite themes on the podcast was actually this client delivery thing, because there’s so many different ways people are approaching that in a way that, you know, you wouldn’t really think about, but are much more effective than meetings. And that all came out of individuals, creativity, or just deciding to set aside the preconceived notions about how a business should be run, and think about what works best for their clients and for them as a business owner. And it really all came out of, you know, their creativity.
Tony Winyard 39:51
And just before we finish, going back to what you spoke about quite a lot earlier in the podcast about the whole process, and how that ensures clients get the same or every client gets the same thing rather than, you know, being quite haphazard. For someone who maybe isn’t quite so organised or thinks that makes a lot of sense, but is not quite sure how to go about it. What advice would you give to someone who wants to put in place a process but isn’t quite sure.
Susan Boles 40:20
You know, it really doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be automated. You know, that’s kind of an evolution of the process. But really what I would recommend, and this is what I tell most of my clients is when you’re starting to think about something like, you know, a client onboarding process, the best, the first step is just sit down with a piece of paper, and brainstorm all of the pieces that you you know, all the touch points, you can think about where what you currently do, sometimes pieces that you’d like to add in, and then you can kind of evolve that into you know, it could just be a paper checklist, if you’re somebody that that’s how you think or that’s how you work best. And then it can kind of evolve you can use that chat. list and refine it as you go. Maybe it doesn’t work out the way that you thought it did. And you need to edit it a little bit. But it doesn’t have to be this big, all consuming project, it can just be you sitting down with a piece of paper and a pencil for you know, half an hour. It doesn’t it doesn’t actually take that long. But it feels like this very big weighty project when you all let’s talk about creating an onboarding process. But it doesn’t have to be it can be really simple. And so that’s where I always recommend people start is just start with a brainstorm of ideas. And then that’s, that’s a starting place that you can continue to refine or organise or delegate, or automate, but it all starts with, you know, what, brainstorm some steps
Tony Winyard 41:46
and something he can do from that is, as well as putting on a notepad you can put each individual step on a post it note, and then that allows you to move things around and see what order things should be in and so on.
Susan Boles 42:01
Yeah, it’s really all about, you know, how does, how does your brain process information? And how can you best handle this process. So just because I’m saying process that doesn’t mean, really that’s just a word for framework or for your index cards or whatever works best for your brain and how you think it uses information. And for some people, it makes it easier to go into their project management system and start typing out steps. But it doesn’t have to be like that. So really think about how, how do you work best, you know, how are you most creative? What does that look like for you?
Tony Winyard 42:40
Susan, I appreciate your time and thank you for sharing so much information with us.
Susan Boles 42:45
Thank you so much for having me.
Tony Winyard 42:49
Next week is Episode 75. with Brad Cotes who helps health practice owners automate and scale to double their revenue, reduce clinical hours and have complete freedom. Brad is a business coach, a gym clinic owner and also an author. So we’ll find out a lot more about Brad Cote and some interesting stories in next week’s episode. Want to share this episode with someone who you feel may get some really good value from it- Some of the stories that Susan shared, and leave a review for us on iTunes and subscribe that would really help more people get to know about the episode The better we can grow and spread. Hope you have a great week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai