Years ago I worked with a client who slept at her agency. I’m sorry. Her “full-service” agency.
She literally had a cot in her office to sleep on. She’d work all day. Sometimes until midnight or later. Then she would crash on her cot. Get a few hours of sleep. Do it all over again the next day.
The only problem was she owned the agency.
And she’d been in business for decades.
They were a “full-service” agency. Meaning, if a client wanted it, they would do it. It didn’t matter if they had competency for it. If they didn’t say “yes” she feared losing the client.
So she said “yes”.
But all those “yes’s” came back to haunt her. In her sleep. Literally.
I couldn’t say anything to her about it. The mess staring at her right in the face.
Mainly because I was scared. She was scary and I hadn’t yet learned how to look a client in the eye and say, “what you are doing is not good.”
I can do that now.
I couldn’t say anything because I was hired to help with their social media presence.
(It was all over the map. Which wasn’t terribly surprising. It was in chaos. Just like her business. It was here where I learned the inextricable link between social media and business.)
Let’s get real.
This her agency is not a business.
It is a murderous master. A slave driver. A ruthless task-master who has no interest in her, her family, or her dreams.
IT ONLY WANTS MORE.
And my fate, your fate–OUR fate–will be the same. Your business will only want…
More of your time. More of your soul. More profits. More clients. More more more more more more more…
I’ve always been impressed by In N’ Out. The burger chain with four items on their menu:
- Soft drinks
That’s it. You can order hundreds of different variations of the above. But that’s the menu. Take it or leave it.
In 2004 I was a server at The Cheesecake Factory.
We still like eating there. I do not miss working there.
The menu was enormous. As a server, you basically have to memorize the whole thing. Not good for someone like me who struggles with details.
Entrees, salads, drinks, apps, desserts. Every cuisine imagineable. The menu was 35+ pages.
So many choices. It can take 5-10 minutes just to get through the blasted thing.
If you want to see someone squirm, try and get a Cheesecake Factory server to say “no”. When you go through server training you are instructed to never tell a guest “no”.
Customer: I want 100 more loaves of the honey oat bread.
Me: OK, I’ll see what I can do.
Customer: Can I get 10 more bleu cheese-stuffed olives for my martini? But I want them hand-stuffed tableside, please.
Customer: I want you to sing “Happy Birthday” to my nephew even thought it’s not his birthday.
Me: I’m out of here.
(Oh, and the cheesecake isn’t “frozen” it’s “deeply chilled”. I’m not making this up.)
Running an agency means I had to make a choice. Full-service (Cheesecake Factory) or not (In N’ Out).
I chose In N’ Out.
We focus on a SMALL amount of items. Everything fits into what we call a social media system:
- Social media content
- Social ads
- Audience growth & engagement
- Email content & list growth
You can get hundreds of different variations. But at the core, this is what we do.
If a client wants a service that falls outside of our core offering, we introduce them to one of our partners. These are folks we trust who have a different “menu” than us.
Work still gets done. Client is still happy. And, frankly, the client doesn’t care who is doing the work. They just care it gets done.
Promptly and correctly.
This is how you scale.
This is how you grow.
This is how you build a business.
Obviously the Cheesecake Factory model can scale. Full-service doesn’t mean “bad”. It’s just a bigger commitment I’m not prepared to make yet.
The client I was telling you about is still going. From the outside looking in, she’s tremendously successful.
A captain of her industry.
But what people don’t see is when she goes to bed at night.
She lays down. Closes her eyes. And falls asleep.
In her office.
On a cot.