Episode 34: The 12 Wize Tips of Christmas
In this episode of The Wize Guys Podcast, Brenton Ward, Jamie Johns, and Ed Chan get together to give The 12 Wize Tips of Christmas.
These 12 Wize tips revolve around the Wize DRS Model. Find out how you can start to implement these tips to scale your business.
2:30 - The Wize DRS Model
4:44 - TIP 1: Develop Your Growth Blueprint
11:06 - TIP 2: Turn On Performance Dashboards
20:44 - TIP 3: Install an Extraordinary Operations System
24:28 - TIP 4: Keep it Simple & Intuitive
25:41 - TIP 5: Create Deep and Narrow Teams
31:10 - TIP 6: Hire A-players
35:44 - TIP 7: Micro Training vs Micro Managing
40:47 - TIP 8: T.E.A.M - Together Everyone Achieves More
45:02 - TIP 9: Attract Ideal Clients
50:46 - TIP 10: Monetize your IP
54:28 - TIP 11: Master Tuck-ins
58:24 - TIP 12. Invest in freeing up time for yourself so you can focus on your business' growth
“So a business that runs without you is the goal, but the ultimate goal is to give the business owners, the firm owners, and the teams the freedom to be able to live the life they wanna live and have more choices and just basically not have a business that's completely reliant on you.” - Brenton Ward
“You're better off over-communicate than under-communicate. And if you over-communicate, just gets everyone on the same page, and everyone heading in the same direction.” - Jamie Johns
“There's a whole saying, ‘to be able to manage it, you've gotta measure it.’ If you don't measure things, you won't be able to manage them.” - Ed Chan
“So a business needs to be growing. If you're not growing, you're dying.” - Ed Chan
GET IN TOUCH!
Download the full transcript here.
PS: Whenever you’re ready… here are the fastest 3 ways we can help you transform your accounting/bookkeeping practice:
1. Get our practice transformation Friday tips to your inbox – Every week Ed Chan shares a tip on his experience of building a $20million firm that still runs without him – start getting your Friday Tip emails here
2. Download our famous eBook The Accountants 7-Hour Workweek Playbook – This book is for any accounting practice owner looking to buy back their time, make more money and have more freedom – Download here
Take a look at the app we use to run our own $4million firm in just 7-hours a week – Take a look here
Episode 34: The 12 Wize Tips of Christmas
Brenton Ward: What we're gonna do guys, is we're gonna talk about the 12 tips of Christmas. But before we get into that, I wanna say hello to our resident Wize mentors and Jamie.
So Jamie, how are you doing?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, good, thanks, Brenton. I don't think I've ever seen so many people in one Zoom session, so this is, this is a record for me.
Thomas Sphabmixay: I was just listening.
Brenton Ward: If everyone's willing and game to turn their cameras on, we'd love to see your faces.
So Ed, how are you doing?
Ed Chan: Yeah, I'm pretty good, Brenton.
Your background's quite appropriate. You being in Ireland, I should have put a picture of the beach here in Sydney.
Brenton Ward: I know it's, it's getting to the colder end of the year over here, but it's not. All right, great to see some familiar faces. Hey, Carmen. Hey Paul. Hey Thomas. Hey Michael, BYO crew. Love your backgrounds. Great to see you.
So guys, as you know, we're always doing lots in the background of Wize. We're still a very, very young company and you can tell by our faces that we're a very young company.
Ed Chan: I'll take that one.
Brenton Ward: We're constantly developing our intellectual property and our secret source in the background. And one of the things we've been focused on this year is really understanding what the sort of core strategies is that we focus on and that we talk about when it comes to building a business that runs without you. We've tried to distill it down into a nice simple model. And this, for anyone who's interested in these sorts of model graphic models is called a genius model. If you go on the Google genius model with some great videos on it, it could be really helpful for your own business. I found this a really useful exercise for us.
But the genius model basically identifies the core promise or the core thing that we're trying to help you guys with, which is right, that the center of that graph, and that's freedom. So a business that runs without you is the goal, but the ultimate goal is to give the business owners, the firm owners, and the teams freedom to be able to live the life they wanna live and have more choices and just basically not have a business that's completely reliant on you. And then what does that mean? That means more time, more money, and more meaning, but how we're going to actually implement that? And when we look at the Wize way of doing things, we boil it down into three areas ~ Design, which is all about building the foundations and building out the blueprint for a business that runs without the owners. Recruit, which is about implementing, installing, and leading a high-performing team. And then Scale, once we've got the design and the recruit functions right, how can we then transition from growth into the scale and really see the business take off in a leveraged way, in a way that's not completely reliant on everyone doing all the heavy lifting?
So, what we thought would be a really cool way to end the year is to share a tip. So we're gonna hit ed up and I'm gonna put him on the spot. So we've got, we've got nine core areas here. So we're gonna get nine core tips from Ed in this session. And then what I'd like to do is for each of the areas, the three remaining tips to round at our 12 tips of Christmas, we're gonna get from you guys.
So I want to hear a design tip from someone, a recruiting tip from someone, and a scaling tip from someone. So I'm putting you all on notice now that when we get to those points, I'll be looking for some stories or some highlights from your year.
So without any further ado. We're going to start in the design area and we're gonna talk about, or look at one specific tip head, one piece of mentoring advice that you can give on the design function of building or developing the growth blueprint. So really building the business on a blueprint designed in a way that allows the owners to remove themselves from being in the business to work more on the business. What is the one piece of advice that you want everyone to take away from this session today on this topic?
Ed Chan: Thanks, Branton.
I guess I've talked about this in the past, but you know, when you want to run a business and a good business, you need obviously good people, then you need good systems so that everybody knows what they're supposed to do. And then you gotta provide good leadership because you can have the best people in the world, you can have best systems in the world, but if you don't provide good leadership, it can all go pear shape. So that's just a quick bit of advice on that area.
Brenton Ward: Okay. So in terms of the blueprint itself, when we talk about the Wize withdrawal journey, so helping business owners remove themselves from each of the seven divisions in the wise seven-division org chart. We've got a lot of team members on here today, which are helping the owners build, build this business and implement the Wize way of doing things. So what do you have in terms of advice for getting everyone on the same page in terms of working in their flow in those divisions and helping the owners remove themselves from working in the business so they can work more on the business?
Ed Chan: Yeah, so when you build a business, you need various different skills. And often owners say to me, I wish I could find someone just like me. You don't want someone just like you. You want someone that compliments you. And it's not like school where if you are good at maths and you're bad at English, you get someone to choose you on your own English to get your English up at work. You stay away from the things you're not good at. So you hire somebody that does the things that you are not so good at, so it compliments you. So what you end up with is one plus one is five.
Now, in the withdrawal journey, there are seven divisions. As you all know that all these seven divisions require skills to do the tasks that are required in those seven divisions. The journey that the owner should be going through is to withdraw themselves from each of those divisions.
The first division they should withdraw themselves from is the administration. So to hire somebody to do the administration. So you need to find someone that's really good at administration because everybody benefits from a really good administration person. Then you then continue to withdraw yourself from the production doing the work. Then you then withdraw yourself from the KPIs ~ monitoring, running, and reporting the financial reports of the firm itself. Then you withdraw from the sales function until you eventually just sit on the board of directors an eye on the whole business.
Brenton Ward: Okay.
So Jamie, in terms of your tip on this topic, what's one thing you'd like to share with everyone in terms of helping get everyone on the same page with the growth blueprint? So how to grow a firm in the right way, business by design rather than by default, rather than just letting it happen?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, thanks, Brenton.
I think my tip for that one today is to have meetings. So the meeting rhythm and routine for me in growing Sky was always about just the meetings. So the daily huddles that the teams have and then the weekly managers' meetings and then at the higher level your board meetings. The reason it's so important is it gets everyone on the same page and you can never over-communicate. You're better off over-communicate than under-communicate. And if you over-communicate, just gets everyone on the same page, and everyone heading in the same direction. But if you don't have your meetings, if you don't have that daily huddle, you don't have that weekly meeting or even the monthly office meeting and your board meetings, it'll just cause chaos and everyone will be going everywhere. There'll be no logical priorities.
So for me, the biggest tip on that one in terms of designing a business is to make sure that you have the meetings, meeting rhythm, and routine. You know, a bit like the sun goes down every night, the sun comes up every day. It's just like following the seasons. It's just that cyclical meetings. But I can guarantee if you drop the meetings, if you don't have your meetings if you don't have your weekly managers meetings and so forth, then the wheels will fall off.
So yeah, my biggest tip on designing a business and keeping everyone on the same page is that glue is the meetings to have, having those strict agendas on the meetings, and someone leading the meetings. So that's good leadership.
Brenton Ward: Awesome. Perfect!
Guys, as we go along because there are 12 tips to get through. We're gonna fly through them, but I'd love to hear some questions along the way as well. So you've got two options now that we can see you all, you can either put your hand up and wave it around and we'll unmute you or you want to put a question in the chat box. You should all see that chat box there, we can ask that as well. So that is tip number one, develop your growth blueprint.
Now let's look at tip number two in the design function, which is turning on your performance dashboard. So I should probably reiterate that none of the ground we're covering today is, you know, new stuff. This is all getting back to the fundamentals of how to build a business that runs without you.
So let's talk about Ed, the importance of installing and turning on dashboards in the firm to be able to keep your finger on the pulse of the health and the start of the business.
Ed Chan: Yeah, thanks, Brenton.
There's a whole saying, ‘to be able to manage it, you've gotta measure it.’ If you don't measure things, you won't be able to manage them. And we've come up with five key performance indicators, which we call The Fab 5 and it's in the WizeHub.
So everybody should have the WizeHub and if you haven't got your WizeHub, then just send an email through and we'll send it to you. But the WizeHub, everything that you do culminates in these five KPIs. And if you have these KPIs in front of you, you'll feel in control without needing to be controlling because you don't want to be controlling of the people that you work with. You want to empower them so that they know exactly what they have to do, and they get on to do it. It culminates in the scoreboard if you'd like.
So it is a bit like playing a game and you end up having a scoreboard. The five KPIs that we focus on are the fees. So your actual fees each month and year to date. So we measure the accumulative fees to date because one month could be out and then you make it up the following month. So over a three-month period gives you a better indicator of how the business is traveling rather than just one month on its own. And we measured that against last year's, month, and year-to-date. Also against the budget that we've put forward as what we're trying to achieve for the next year. So we measure that and we make sure that we're on track.
Then the second KPI is your EBITDA, profits, and costs of goods sold because the biggest expense item on your profit loss statement is your cost of goods sold. If you lose control of the cost of goods sold, your profits will disappear. And if your profits will disappear, there's a domino effect. You can't pay your wages, you can't run the business if your profits aren't there. So it's in everybody's interest to ensure that the goose that lays a golden egg, which is the business that you are working for, is profitable and it's running well because if it's not running well then everybody loses. So, that's the second bit. It's your profitability.
The third one is your cash. If you don't have cash available, then you can't pay your bills. Often a business can be quite profitable, but if it doesn't have any cash flow. It can still go into liquidation. If you can't pay its creditors. So cash is really important and cash is either with your work in progress or your debtors and if your cash is all locked up in those two areas. You won't be able to pay your bill and you just have to owe someone more than a thousand dollars and they can apply for liquidation on you. So it's really important that you're on top of your cash flow. You got the systems in place to make sure that it's not all locked up in whip and debtors.
The fourth one is fees. So a business needs to be growing. If you're not growing, you're dying. There are only two states for a business and if you want to be growing, so you need to be measuring the new fees that are coming through. You also gotta be measuring the fees that you're losing because you might be, if you're only focused on the new fees, you might be growing. You might be thinking that you're growing, but there's a leakage there and it's leaking out the back and it's the net that's most important. And it also helps you work out what capacity you need. So if you are netting a net growth of a hundred grand a year that tells you you've got to hire another person and make sure that your resources are keeping up with your growth.
And the very last KPI is your net promoter score. You've gotta make sure your clients are happy and research shows that clients or customers expect businesses to make mistakes. But what defines us is not the mistakes we make, but how we address those mistakes, and how we respond to those mistakes. The research shows that if you respond really, really quickly, not only do you keep that client, but you turn that client into an advocate, a promoter of your business, and they'll go out and refer people to you. And it's extremely expensive to try and get a new client. It's much cheaper and easier to retain an exempt client.
So it's important that we're on top of how they're feeling and if they were here for some reason that we address their grievances as quickly as possible. And the only way that you'll know that is to run surveys and, and measure NPS. The net promoter schools on how they're feeling. Often when I talk to firms, they say things like, ‘Oh, I don't wanna hear anything negative,’ but you gotta change your attitude because you can't see that as a negative. You've gotta see that as an opportunity to improve your business. It's funny that we have differences in Japan, they've got a culture of looking forward to complaints because, in Australia, we hate complaints. We hide away from them. But in Japan've got this thing called Taza, which is continuous improvement. And the only way they can continuously improve is to get feedback from your clients. And the last one is, of course, you make sure your staff is happy and their issues are addressed. You're not just paying attention to our clients, but you are also paying attention to your staff because your staff is one of the biggest assets in your organization. You've just gotta make sure that those five KPIs are trending in an upward direction. Then everything is under control and you'll feel in control without needing to be controlling of anybody.
Brenton Ward: Perfect.
Jamie just to add to that, you've been spending the last 10 years or so getting to a point where you're automating those Fab 5 as we call it, as much as possible. We've gone to a certain extent with the WizeHub, with the SharePoint dashboard, but anything to add in terms of maintaining those dashboards, making sure that they're kind of kept up to date, or anything around that piece?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, The biggest piece of advice I could give is to make it a priority. If you don't make measuring your firm a priority, then you're not gonna know how it's going. So while you've got the tools there, you know, and if you don't use it then that's, that's no one else's fault but your own own. So you've gotta make it a priority to measure those five things, Brenton. And to put in systems, to put in tools in place so, so that you can actually measure it for the better of the firm, for the better of the team. Because if you don't have a handle on each of those five KPIs, you're gonna be deficient in one area. Those five KPIs came out of years and years of experience with myself looking at what to measure in the firm and also with Ed building and running Chan and Naylor.
So those five KPIs are critical and I think don't miss any one of them. So make it a strategic decision and a top priority to actually spend the time and effort to actually measure each of those KPIs. Because if you just push 'em to the side, then you're really missing the whole point because what you can measure, you can manage. It gamifies your business and it shows you who's good at what they're doing and who's not so good at what they're doing so that you can then help them or support them to be better at their job.
So yeah, my advice makes it a top priority if you are a decision maker in your firm to measure those five KPIs, ‘cause they won't just happen unless you make it happen.
Brenton Ward: Perfect! Good advice, I think.
The third one to round out the design piece, which is we're emphatical about installing extraordinary operating systems, Ed. If we were to pinpoint and highlight part of this methodology of installing and building extraordinary systems, one piece of advice for everyone to take away to focus on next year on this topic, what would it be from you, Ed?
Ed Chan: Sure, and I'll talk fast.
There are hard systems and soft systems, okay, so hard systems are things like Xero, Practice Ignition, and those kinds of things. They all work pretty well and don't really matter which one you pick, they all do 80% pretty well. So it's a bit like if you're playing golf if you buy a better set of golf clubs, it might improve your game a little bit. But what really improves your game a lot is the soft systems ~ culture, processes, leadership, and culture of no blame.
Now don't create a blame culture, focus on solutions, and focus on playing the ball, not the man. The No Bypass Policy is empowering people to work, be productive and focus on output, not input. So focus on productivity. Don't focus on politics and political points of scoring and blaming and that kind of stuff. Focus on the output, focus on the solution. And if you can get those things right, then you create the soft systems that will propel your business to greater heights.
Brenton Ward: Perfect. I love the hard system versus the soft system and there needs to be a plan for both of those, doesn't there?
So Jamie, what's your piece of advice on this topic?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, quick and easy, Brenton. Is to develop standard operating procedures, develop your videos that are just critical, and have one central spot that's in an organized manner for all your how-to. So this is how we do it at our firm.
And if you just record, use something like SnagIt, or Camtasia, just record everything that you do and get all that intellectual property out of here and into your system, which will actually by default become an extraordinary system. Because you'll have it all recorded and when someone starts you can say, ‘Oh, just look, watch these 10 videos and this is how our business runs in this particular area.’
So a quick, quick answer is SOPs.
Brenton Ward: Yeah, SOPs. And just to extend on that, my tip on that is, I'm late to the party on this, but Loom, L-O-O-M.com. It is awesome for like screen capture and either being able to share a link for the screen capture. It's all cloud-based or you can download it. There's a subscription if you want all the fancy bits to it, but it's probably one of the easiest pieces of software I've used this year. So get on loom.com if you need something to capture stuff on your screen.
All right, I want to hear from you guys. So who has got a design win for me? So whether you've had a massive shift in the way in which you run your business in terms of business by design, rather than it letting run you if it's around extraordinary systems, if it's around your dashboard, you've got it humming. Who's got a good story for me that we can share before we power on to recruit hand up? Anyone? I'm gonna start picking on people given that I can see them.
Who's got to, Oh, come on guys, make it easy for me, right?
I'm gonna make this easy. Thomas, you're up. Or Carmen I'll go to you next.
Thomas Sphabmixay: Okay. Yeah,
Brenton Ward: Thomas, yesterday you were talking to us about the transition and the transformation of your firm over the last two years. Give us a quick soundbite of like business by design for you guys now.
Thomas Sphabmixay: Yep. The number one priority for design is just to keep it simple. If it's not simple and intuitive then staff aren't gonna pick up on it. The clients gonna be confused about how they interact with you. So just the short part is just keeping it simple and that way things will flow much better. Then if it's complicated when things break, it's hard to fix. It's hard to know where things should be looking, but if it's simple it's just, it takes care of itself.
Brenton Ward: Yeah, I was listening to a really good podcast yesterday and it was titled ‘Don't Be Cute.’ It was all about this message of don't try and change the recipe and don't try to change the process. Like until you are doing far better than the system that someone's given you just follow the system. Don't try and be cute and change it and make it fancy.
Carmen, what have you got for us?
Carmen Morris: One of my big focuses this year has been the team structure, my production team. I had originally offered my client manager role to someone. Then after actually seeing her attempt to function as an assistant client manager, I felt she wasn't actually right for that position and I gave her the opportunity to choose senior production manager instead. I'm really glad that that's happened ‘cause I think that's much better. So covering that discovery, even though it's taken me literally months is a big win.
Brenton Ward: That's awesome. Thank you.
So we are moving to recruit. It took me ages to find the right photo to represent a deep and narrow team structure, but I think I nailed it. Reindeers in the right formation, deep and narrow team structure. You can tell I had a lot of fun. Put my slides together.
Ed, we all should be very familiar with a deeper narrow team structure. I can see a couple of new faces on here. So if you haven't seen a deeper narrow team structure, Step 5 in the Wize Vault, be all over it. But your one tip around deep and narrow team structure and getting this right is because it is one of the hardest pieces of the puzzle to get right. I don't even think you can get it right completely because it's always changing, but tell us your tip.
Ed Chan: Yeah, it takes a few goes at it and like Carmen said, sometimes you think you might have got it right. Then you sleep on it or something else happens and you realize you've gotta tweak it a bit. It's a constant tweaking of the teams. But it's only because people are complicated and they're different. They've got feelings and emotions. They've got strengths and weaknesses and the dynamic is quite difficult to sort of pin down in sort of black-and-white terms.
But the deep narrow team is all about utilizing complementary skills in order to manage the traffic flow in the organization. What kills an organization or a business is the amount of traffic flow that comes through. The traffic flows are made up of production traffic and communication traffic. Clearly, some of us are better at communication than we are at production. Others are better at production than we are at communication.
If you have a flat team structure, you're expecting that person to be able to be everything to everybody. That's not correct. Now, you might get some people like that. But it's generally the minority. The majority of us including me, have strengths and weaknesses. I know what my strengths are and I know what my weaknesses are.
So the deep and narrow team identifies our people with their various different strengths and weaknesses. Just like a team and just like this photo where you've got a leader who has different skills and the others have their roles in that team. It’s just like a sporting team. For soccer, you've got a fullback and a winger who's quick and we all have our positions because of our strengths. It's exactly the same when you run a business. So we have to be able to manage both the communication traffic and the production traffic. We need to have it in a deep and narrow format so that we're complementing each other. What you end up getting is we end up getting one plus one is five through working together as a team. So rather than having a flat structure where you have extraordinary people, if you have a flat team, you have champion people. Whereas if you have a deep and narrow team, you have a championship team. A championship team will always beat a team of champions. And hence the reason why we have deep and narrow teams.
Brenton Ward: Perfect. Love it!
Jamie, what’s your number one tip for deeper narrow teams?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, I think Brenton, if you run a deeper narrow team, it really follows what I call the rule of 33.
The rule of 33 is where a third of the time you're always gonna be teaching someone potentially who's under you like a new hire. When you teach someone, everyone will know you really need to know your stuff. We've all experienced where you've sat with someone and you have to teach them you know how to do a particular task. The learning that comes from that is quite extraordinary when you're teaching someone. When you're learning from someone that's really the other third. When you're learning from someone above you in a deep and narrow team, that's critical that you learn the skills so that you can do your actual job. Then thirdly, often you'll be sharing with your colleagues. Someone is at the same level, maybe on another team about what your insight is and what worked for you.
So I think if you really do follow and the firms follow the deep and narrow team, you really fulfill that rule of 33, which is to learn, share, and teach. I know for me personally that that's been a great positive interaction with team members in terms of developing my own career and professionalism. So yeah, it's the rule of 33 and if you want more on that, just Google it. It's every there like learn, share, and teach. And if you have a deeper narrow team, that's what you'll get in your firm.
Brenton Ward: I love that! I love the rule of 33, hiring our deep and narrow team, getting really enthusiastic people, the right people in the right seat, on the right bus, and heading in the right direction.
Ed, what is your number one tip on recruiting, excited and high-performing staff?
Ed Chan: The number one tip and everybody make this mistake is when the pressure comes on them and they just think that we'll just throw bodies at the problem. Just go hire people. Everybody makes this mistake. And you end up with a flat team structure.
The number one tip is to start with the plan. Start with the ideal team plan. What is that? What does that plan look like? It's a bit like if you wanna build a house, you don't just go and start laying bricks in the backyard, you go to an architect and you get the architect to design the house for you. With the plan that you have, then you can then recruit people for those positions to build that ideal team. So bring the blueprint for the ideal team. Then based on that blueprint then look at the people that you have in your organization that you currently have and try and fit them into those positions. And if you're short, then you may have to recruit for those missing pieces.
Brenton Ward: Perfect!
Jamie, you've been doing a lot of hiring this year and helping a lot of firms do a lot of hiring as well. I think if we had to turtle up the number of people that the Wize Tribe has hired this year to be in the hundreds, which is pretty cool. What's your number one tip for hiring great staff?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, I think it's one of the things I've learned, Brent, with working with lots and lots of firms is some of the most obvious things. As an old saying, high slow. When you're hiring, if people don't respond to your emails, if they don't fill out a form, if they don't give you the basic details that you need, then straight away that alarm bells go on for me. I worked with a lot of firms where the owners were really, really keen to hire a particular person, but they couldn't even get the person to fill out a form. They couldn't even get the person to respond. Some of these people that we were looking at were really, really experienced people, highly qualified, like CPA, MBA, and all sorts of things. So it all comes back to attitude. If someone goes above and beyond to go for a job, then take the obvious things as a warning sign. If someone can't just complete a simple thing or respond to you, then the alarm bells have to go off. In a lot of the firms that I dealt with, I think the owners were so close to the hiring process but they couldn't see the light from the darkness. So, if someone can't simply respond to basic things or fill out forms, then that's the biggest tip for me it all comes back to attitude. I don't care whether you've got three MBAs and 15 degrees, attitude is the first thing. And your attitude will be reflected in how fast you respond and how fast and respectfully you interact with someone who's trying to fill a job.
Brenton Ward: Yeah, absolutely.
I guess just to add today, I think it comes back to that extraordinary system because emotion can creep in with recruiting other people. But I think if you have that extraordinary recruitment system that you've got the step-by-step process and everyone goes through that process, no matter how you feel or how much you may like the candidate, the outcome will always be the best as possible. So thank you.
Recruitment done. Oh no, it's not. That's a lie. The final tip in the recruiting piece is micro-training versus micromanaging. Ed, you use this a lot, we've spoken about it a lot in clinics, but can you just sum up this tip in itself?
Ed Chan: Sure. If you are a senior client manager or you're a leader in your team and you're managing people, then it's absolutely essential for you to understand that if you don't spend the time to micro-train them, you'll have to spend the time to micromanage them. Nobody likes being micromanaged. So it's important that you put the time into micro training them so that you don't have to micromanage them. The micro-training is about delegation, not abdication. There's a big difference between delegating something down and training somebody and abdicating it to them. Now delegation is about making sure the instructions you're giving them are clear and you've got the scope of work for how to do the job. Then follow up extremely important rather than just telling, do something you never hear from you again. So to follow up to incrementally keep them on the right path because often they can go off over time, they could go off on a completely different path.
Often when I talk to very senior client managers who are managing staff, they say things like this to me, ‘Oh look, by the time I trained them I could have just done it myself,’ or ‘It's quicker if I just do it myself,’ or ‘They dunno how to do it.’ Well if they're thinking like that, you've gotta snap them out of it because eventually if they just keep doing it themselves. You get no leverage out of that and they'll burn themselves out. That’s number one.
Number two is that it ends up being too costly for the client if you use a very high-plus person to do very low-level work. So they often say to me, ‘My staff don't know how to do it, so I've gotta do it myself.’ Well, my response generally is, ‘At some stage, you didn't know how to do it either and someone had to train you.’ In the beginning, they would've given you something to do and you could only do 20% of it and then they had to do 80% of it. Then eventually you could do 50% and then 80% to 100%.
So when you are training somebody, it's the same thing. Initially, they could only do 20% and you have to do 80%. Then they can do 50% and you do 50%. Then they do 80% and you do 20%. Eventually, they do the 100% and all you've gotta do is check, review and make points.
You've gotta lead your team because often they work what I call P&L and not invest in the balance sheet. And you've gotta get the balance right between just working in the P&L, being efficient, getting the work out the door versus the investment in the balance sheet. Because if you don't invest in the balance sheet, then you're not gonna be able to grow your business and develop, the juniors coming through. The holistic approach of teams has to be trained. So an investment in your balance sheet requires the senior people to be training the junior people.
Brenton Ward: Perfect. Excellent. It's such an important topic and I think it only benefits everyone by embracing this as well.
Jamie, anything to add to that tip?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, I just think in terms of the micro-training versus the micro-managing is for everyone in a firm to have a buddy. In that deep and narrow team, it's always great for the leaders of the firm to set up a buddy system, your go-to guy with the smaller or technical things that you need to learn. There's nothing worse than not knowing where to turn to or even in that sense having two or three people as bosses where we get shared across teams and that type of thing. So yeah, my biggest tip is for anyone who's in a firm, make sure you've got that technical buddy to go to which will really help in your learning.
Brenton Ward: Yeah. Awesome! Great tip.
I see Sam nodding his head there. I like that one. I reckon.
All right, I want to hear from someone specific and it's one guess who I'm gonna ask to talk about the team. Look at it, they've lit up their screen.
Jamie Johns: I think Diane can answer that one.
Brenton Ward: Diane, I would love to hear. You guys have absolutely nailed the whole working virtually and embracing team culture as part of this massive shift we've had to do. So can you give everyone a quick insight into what you guys have done and maybe one of the highlights of doing it?
Diane McCaffrey: T-E-A-M together, everyone achieves more. Everyone on the team knows about that. We're all very important. There's not one person who has more importance than everyone else. We celebrate our wins. We have, so what do we do to keep them, the glue and the momentum going as a team every day we have a cup up, it's 1145 every morning. It's only 15 minutes and the rule is you are not allowed to talk about work.
Brenton Ward: Awesome.
Diane McCaffrey: So that's really good. On our Wednesday, quite often we would have a wacky Wednesday. So we've had crazy hair days or lipstick days. Last Wednesday was a pajama day, so we came to work in our pajamas. We had backdrops of bedrooms in the background here. Also at the end of every quarter, ‘cause we're a bookkeeping company at the end of every quarter, we're just working so hard to get the information in and get everyone's lodgements done on time. We're really focused and it can be quite stressful. So the Friday after that we always have an end-of-quarter celebration and so we had ours two weeks ago we did a virtual escape room. We also played a game as well, so there are lots of sorts of things that you can do.
Brenton Ward: So You're like locked in your bedroom or on Zoom?
Diane McCaffrey: Yeah. So it's fun. Like, it's just a matter of just tapping into wherever possible those 15 minutes per day. Not everyone can make it every day, but mostly we do get there and it gives us an opportunity to learn more about each other as well as cultures too. Because we have six now in the Philippines, it's pretty much 50-50. I think it's working okay.
Brenton Ward: On that note, I'd love to hear if I can put one of your team on the spot, I'd love to hear it from their point of view as to how it's helped the culture. Because it would've been in a very strong culture before CoVid-19 and before working virtually, but how has it helped you maintain that culture? Who's gonna put the hand up for me in the BYO team?
You're not allowed Charlotte.
Charlotte Smith: No, I wanted to suggest Maikka can go.
Brenton Ward: There we go. Where's Maikka?
Jamie Johns: Where's Maikka?
Maikka Romero: I'm here.
I've been with BYO for the past seven months. So the culture of by is really like a home. It's like my second home. So after I start BYO, I have my company. I mean my family with me. So BYO for me is like a dream come true job. It's not like you're rooting for the best career path that you wanted, but it's that the family that creates the culture here in by. It's really amazing. That's why when they come up with like, they were opened for jobs and I really recruit my friends.
Brenton Ward: Well that's a great song. If you're recommending your friends, then I think the team is doing some good things. I have to commend you on it. You've done a fantastic job. I thank you all for investing your time in the clinic as well. It's so good to see and I'd encourage everyone with the team clinics next year to bring your team on. It's just such a rich training tool for you to learn once a month. We're biased, but we'd love to see more teams on this clinic next year.
I wanna talk about the scale section, which is all around sales and marketing and putting the business on steroids if you like. But the first area of scale is about attracting ideal clients to the firmer. So getting a nice consistent flow of new clients into the business, either via referral or by digital marketing as some form of marketing activity.
Ed, what's one tip that you've seen really successful advice in terms of getting clients through the door?
Ed Chan: Sure. I always refer to this as building a garden that attracts butterflies to us rather than going out there with a butterfly net to catch butterflies. Building a garden that attracts butterflies requires an investment, requires time, and so forth. But the first and cheapest way to do it is through word of mouth. If you get the narrow and deep structure going, then the senior client manager's role is not to do the grinding or to do as least grinding as possible, but to get in front of the clients to talk about strategy, tax planning, and advisory. So the more in front of the clients you can get yourself to, they're gonna refer more clients to you. Then if you're busy just sitting there doing the work, that's the wrong kind of work and you won't get any referrals.
So word of mouth is the best kind of referral because it's free. It's off the back of doing a good job. So you're gonna retain that client and then best of all, they're so happy that they refer you to another friend. So, the only way you can do that is to get in front of the clients. Now the only way you can get in front of the clients is if you are not burdened down bo bogged down with all the production work. So you gotta have the narrow and deep team to get the work done for you and then that flows through to use as a senior client manager to go and see your clients. That's a very easy thing to do. It's not something that's difficult. It's a very simple, easy thing to implement as long as you've got a deep and narrow team structure in place. You work out your capacity. So you are running at about 10 to 15% over capacity, not under capacity. Then you should have that time to be in front of your clients. That's the senior client manager.
The other way to create the garden track butterflies is through digital marketing. In this day and age, everything's on the internet and you've gotta get your Google reviews up. You gotta make sure that you got that side of your business working well and that's a whole new topic.
Brenton Ward: Yeah. Awesome.
Jamie, for everyone listening, if they wanted to start the year off with a bang and get a handful of new clients through the door, what would be your one tip on attracting ideal clients next year?
Jamie Johns: I'll give you two tips.
The first one just follows on with Ed saying like the people who are the finders in the team. That's their role is to get on the phone and call them. The best client managers that I've got and I've seen at work, just literally on the phone all the time, just talking to the clients as they've said. Because it's all about relationships. Their highest best contribution is just talking to the clients. It's not actually doing the grinding work.
So it's really important to have the team members, the production team doing the work, doing what they do, working in their flow, and then the client managers literally on the phone or on Zoom or seeing the clients and just watching the referrals follow. It's all about relationships in this industry. The more meaningful, the more interaction, the more that you can service the clients, the more referrals that you'll get and you'll just keep getting referrals. And again, it comes back to making sure that you've got the capacity to take the new clients on and to take the referrals on without pain. Just talk to 'em on the phone, but you've gotta get the time to do that.
Brenton Ward: Awesome!
I'm a bit of a marketing geek, so I love this area. So my tip on this side of things would be not to expect overnight wins or new clients through the door from digital marketing. Digital marketing as a strategy is certainly a long runway. As Ed mentioned it's very much focused on building the garden. So when they're ready to do business with your front of mind with them.
So for anyone investing in digital marketing, don't turn the tap on and think you're gonna get clients through the door as an immediate response to that digital marketing activity. Bear with it, stay consistent with the activity, be persistent, test and measure, and you'll certainly benefit over the long run. But I think all the quick wins in terms of client acquisition are certainly in your own backyard with referral business. There's just so much that you could be doing there. That would be the best place to start.
All right, tip number 10 ~ monetizing your IP.
Ed. Everyone on this screen is incredibly intelligent and holds so much knowledge in their noggins. I've spent the last two years pulling all of your knowledge and Jamie's knowledge out of your head and we've packaged it up into this beautiful thing called Wize. But tell us your one tip about monetizing intellectual property or unique knowledge in a firm.
Ed Chan: Absolutely. Then, within your database, you've got a goldmine that you're sitting on at the moment and that guideline hasn't been mined. What I mean by that is that you may have20 or 25 different services that you could provide your clients, but they don't even know that you offer them. So, prepare a monetization sheet.
Are monetization sheet is that it's just a spreadsheet of a list of all your clients. So on the left-hand side, the name of all the clients and then columns going to the right will be made up of all the different services that you offer. So you might offer tax, but you may not be offering bookkeeping to them. You might want to add in estate planning. It's a whole lot of services that you could add. On these metrics, if you like a spreadsheet you just go through it and you tick them off as you, as they take up the services.
So, as a senior client manager, your role is to talk to them. If they're not doing bookkeeping, you should be talking to them about taking on the bookkeeping and so forth. You want this monetization sheet to be completely filled out, whether there's a tick on it or a cross on it because it may not be appropriate for them. But you want it to be complete with a tick or with a cross. If firms don't do this and there's a huge gold goldmine and they go chasing what I call out in the big ocean where they could shoot fish in a barrel, which is their own database and they go fishing in a big ocean instead of shooting fish in a barrel. And going fishing in a big ocean costs a lot more money than, you know, shooting fish out of a barrel. So focus on your own database, create a monetization sheet and just implement it. Success is coming from implementation, not the idea. 80% of the success is in implementing the thought and 20% of the idea.
Brenton Ward: Absolutely.
Ed Chan: So that's a very easy one to do. Make sure you do it in the new year.
Brenton Ward: Couldn't agree more.
Jamie, anything to add to monetizing IP?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, the biggest tip I could do is make sure any time that you give a client a proposal, make sure you show him all your services. So I think packaging and pricing is a massive area that we can all improve. I just think always anytime you've got the opportunity to present to the client, do it in the form of packaging. ‘Okay, I know this is the service that you want, but we also offer this, this, and this as well.’ It's just dripping on the client. The client may not always take up the second or third package, but sure enough, within a year's time or when the client's ready, they'll say, ‘Oh, okay, I didn't realize you guys could do that, but I do now.’ So yeah, you must just offer it in packaging.
Brenton Ward: Awesome. My one tip on that is there's a fantastic book called Built to Sell by John Warillow. It is a really, really good book on the topic of packaging up your unique offering. So get that one for the Christmas stocking.
Now for many on the screen here, they may not have heard the term tuck-ins before Ed. So, it's a more refined strategy in terms of the acquisition of clients and things in growth. So do you want to try and pinpoint the best tip for anyone considering a tuck-in in 2021?
Ed Chan: Sure. Just, we'll start with the definition of a tuck-in. It's just buying a firm, going out there, and buying a business. In our space is either an accounting firm or a bookkeeping firm. The biggest mistake that firms make when they do a tuck-in is that they try to make too many changes too quickly.
So when you do buy a firm, you've got the clients and the staff at a heightened level of suspicion. Because people don't like change. All of a sudden the vendor, the person who's selling has made a change and they're changing the principle. The people that are involved with it at a heightened level of suspicion. They know they don't know who you are. You need to win their trust before you can make any changes. It's a long runway to win their trust.
The first thing you gotta do is to build familiarity. So you gotta get in front of them so that they know who you are and who your staff is. Then you've gotta build credibility with them because you may get in front of them, you may introduce yourself but who the hell are you? What can you do for me? Are you going to look after me appropriately and properly? Once you build that credibility, then you build trust. And only when you build trust can you make changes.
This takes a bit of time and I've seen people who buy firms and they don't get in front of the clients and then they just keep doing the work. They don't do the things that are most important, which is the relationship. So the quick tip that I have for you is that don't make too many changes too quickly. Just introduce it slowly as you've built trust and as you've built familiar familiarity with the clients.
Brenton Ward: Perfect.
Jamie, finish us off with a tip on your master strokes of tuck-ins.
Jamie Johns: Yeah. Look it's pretty much, as Ed said, out of all the things I can think of and I've done a few of these to give my reinforce that tip. Don't make changes. Humans do not like change unless you've built trust with them. I've done this before so I wouldn't start gonna change anything until they get to know you and they understand that you are a basic or normal person. Because when you do a tuck-in, people don't know who you are. I think it's probably a minimum of 12 months before you even start having discussions about any changes.
Brenton Ward: Yeah, Perfect.
I think that tip alone could save anyone thinking about purchasing a firm. Literally six figures in the first 12 to 18 months because it's just so critical. We've seen it time and time again, go the other way when they don't abide by that process.
So, thank you, guys. We've got our known core strategies rounded out. Our tips are nearly finished, but I want to hear one from you and I'm gonna pick straight on Paul. Tell us one of your highlights of the year in terms of client acquisition, whether it's referrals, whether it's any marketing you've done. Give us one highlight in terms of growing your business.
Paul Volpe: Hi guys. I guess the highlights are probably more in the team structure, to be honest. But I've brought on a few through referrals, a few business owner groups where we're able to do some management reporting, annual compliance, and all wrapped up into a monthly fee.
Brenton Ward: That's Awesome. So that's package in your IP and obviously, you had a bit of time freed up so you could focus on that. So tell us about your team while you're with us.
Paul Volpe: Yeah, so I've got two amazing Filipino team members now of senior accountants. It's fairly recent, but they've freed up a lot of time. So it's been fantastic. Life changing.
Brenton Ward: Congratulations. Life changing. Awesome. We like to hear that. Thank you for sharing
Paul Volpe: All thanks to you guys too, by the way. So really appreciate it.
Brenton Ward: Oh, an absolute pleasure. Thanks for being part and if the work comes back to you. We've seen your name on this list of attendees every month for pretty much this year. So credit here for investing time in this. And it's great to see your face. I really like this format. So we're sticking with this format going forward guys.
We are at the finishing end of that. So I hope you enjoyed our 12 tips for Christmas.