I have too many clients for me to handle, how do I scale?

by 5 replies
Hi Guys,

I'm really not someone who really posts on here so forgive me if sound a little odd, it seems to be strange typing this and asking strangers for help with this.

I'm a freelance SEO, I offer my services to the leisure industry in my town and surrounding areas (gyms, spas, fitness centers... that kind of thing).

It's really gone well, over the last 2.5 years I have grown enough clients to leave my last job and go and pursue this full time. This was always my goal, however I think the next step seems to be scaling this into a brand/agency.

I've got 22 full time clients, they are all paying $XXXX per month. I've not lost a client in 8 months and I'm confident that they are happy and losing any at this stage would seem out the blue, the results I get them are well worth the money they spend with me.

The issue is with a lot of them they seem to like the personal touch, they like the fact they can call me and talk shop, we're super friendly and I have a great relationship with them... this is something I want to protect.

But having this kind of rapport with clients is not scalable.

Before I site down and plan the next phase of my business, how do I get around this?

How can I transfer from a freelancer into an agency, and still keep my clients happy?

Thanks
#offline marketing #clients #handle #scale
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
    Originally Posted by NDPI View Post

    Hi Guys,

    I'm really not someone who really posts on here so forgive me if sound a little odd, it seems to be strange typing this and asking strangers for help with this.

    I'm a freelance SEO, I offer my services to the leisure industry in my town and surrounding areas (gyms, spas, fitness centers... that kind of thing).

    It's really gone well, over the last 2.5 years I have grown enough clients to leave my last job and go and pursue this full time. This was always my goal, however I think the next step seems to be scaling this into a brand/agency.

    I've got 22 full time clients, they are all paying per month. I've not lost a client in 8 months and I'm confident that they are happy and losing any at this stage would seem out the blue, the results I get them are well worth the money they spend with me.

    The issue is with a lot of them they seem to like the personal touch, they like the fact they can call me and talk shop, we're super friendly and I have a great relationship with them... this is something I want to protect.

    But having this kind of rapport with clients is not scalable.

    Before I site down and plan the next phase of my business, how do I get around this?

    How can I transfer from a freelancer into an agency, and still keep my clients happy?

    Thanks
    The first thing I would do is...raise prices. Yes, you'll drive off some, but it is necessary if you want to increase profitability and grow. And you better be all about increasing profitability if you want to stay alive - businesswise.

    The next thing I would do is cut way back on that call me anytime "personal touch" nonsense.

    It's not sustainable. It's not productive, either, unless you can turn it into a sale somehow.

    I've been in that position. I speak from experience.

    In business, ALWAYS be DEMANDING the highest return and the most productive use for your time.

    Always. No exceptions!

    Ron
    • Profile picture of the author NDPI
      Hi Ron,

      Thank you for getting involved my friend.

      Re prices, I already have raised prices. I'm very happy with what I'm charging ($750 per day on paper), the way I have this nailed needs very very little work from me,

      If I really wanted to push forward I think I could handle 30 clients but it would be at the risk of my PBN.

      As for the personal touch, I know. This is a mistake I made early on but these have also turned into my biggest clients. I don't think they take the piss but they seem to have "invested" in me rather than what I am doing. I don't know quite how to explain it...

      Thanks for your thoughts, they are super helpful.
  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    Hello my friend,

    I'm going to give you a little advice that I learned the hard way, a long time ago. You sound like the kind of person who values customer relationships as a high priority?

    I used to hire people based on skills alone, and I found myself spending far too much time putting out fires with my customers, due to poor customer relations from my employees.

    So here's something for you to think about...

    The kind of rapport you're looking for can be scalable, but probably not by hiring SEO specialists. The truth is you can teach SEO to anybody. But genuine empathy is something that cannot be taught.

    What you're really looking for, is a customer service specialist who is willing to learn SEO.

    So here's a recommendation for you to consider...

    Hire someone with a customer oriented attitude, who's willing to learn SEO. But higher them on a contract basis for a one week, temporary trial (for example). That way if they don't work out there's less legal issues because they knew it was only a one week contract, for a temp position.

    Then, during that trial period call them (disguising your voice), or have a friend of yours call them, pretending to be a customer. Give your new employee a bit of a hard time and see how they handle it. If they handle it poorly, or cop on attitude on the phone... Let them go, and move on to the next person!

    On the other hand, if they handle the situation masterfully, diffuse the situation, and create rapport, then that's a person you want on your team. Start teaching them how SEO works. (And if they already have some SEO experience, then all the better).

    The next step is to bring them in on a conference call (or two) with one of your clients, so your client becomes familiar with this new person, and understands they are part of the team.

    Once they have some rapport with your client, have your new hire contact the client directly (on their own), with some valuable information that will improve the clients website, etc.

    After a couple calls, your client will likely become familiar and comfortable with your new team member.

    Next step... Give your new employee that clients account. Then, introduce them to the next client that will soon become your new employees next account. (Rinse and repeat)

    Now here's a very important part...

    Once you have someone on your team, that has really good rapport with your clients, and knows how to do the SEO...
    PAY THEM WELL AND LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE APPRECIATED!

    You do not want them leaving to go somewhere else. Or you're back to square one.

    Perhaps consider a small profit sharing option for each client account that they control? That way they can feel like they own a small part of the company?

    I would never try to tell you how to run your employees; But learn from my mistakes. I've made the mistake of taking my employees for granted in the past, and ended up losing some of the best workers I ever had.


    The point is this... you can teach technical skills to almost anybody. But people skills are far more difficult to teach, and genuine empathy is something that cannot be taught.


    Anyway, I hope this gives you some insight, that could possibly help you scale your business using your customer oriented values as a foundation.


    Hope this helps.

    All the best,
    SAR


    On a side note: I just started reading a book called "Delivering Happiness" by the Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (Zappos is a multimillion dollar business based on a people oriented culture, both inside and outside of the company)

    If you're still looking for insight in couple weeks, maybe I can bring you some new insights from the book? Or, if you don't feel like waiting, you can always pick up a copy of the book for yourself.
    Signature

    SARubin - Direct Response Copywriter / Advertising and Marketing Aficionado

  • Profile picture of the author AsianGuy
    Originally Posted by NDPI View Post

    Hi Guys,

    I'm really not someone who really posts on here so forgive me if sound a little odd, it seems to be strange typing this and asking strangers for help with this.

    I'm a freelance SEO, I offer my services to the leisure industry in my town and surrounding areas (gyms, spas, fitness centers... that kind of thing).

    It's really gone well, over the last 2.5 years I have grown enough clients to leave my last job and go and pursue this full time. This was always my goal, however I think the next step seems to be scaling this into a brand/agency.

    I've got 22 full time clients, they are all paying per month. I've not lost a client in 8 months and I'm confident that they are happy and losing any at this stage would seem out the blue, the results I get them are well worth the money they spend with me.

    The issue is with a lot of them they seem to like the personal touch, they like the fact they can call me and talk shop, we're super friendly and I have a great relationship with them... this is something I want to protect.

    But having this kind of rapport with clients is not scalable.

    Before I site down and plan the next phase of my business, how do I get around this?

    How can I transfer from a freelancer into an agency, and still keep my clients happy?

    Thanks
    You either make a schedule that they can see when you will be available or you hire other peoples as your staffs.

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