So what I really love doing is write about the things that I want to help you with, in order to help you to move the needle in your practice. And today, I want to talk to you and educate you around:
the four types of team members that you'll ever come across,
professionalism & promises kept, and
a brush on zero-tolerance management.
And, I'm going to link this topic to a prospective client I recently spoke with (I love, love bringing you stories from exactly what I'm experiencing in my practice!), in order to help you in your practice. Because, we are all bookkeepers going through similar things – and the stories I share with you of my success, along with where other bookkeepers are getting it wrong and falling over, will help you to forensically look at what area of your bookkeeping practice can be improved.
So, I was speaking to a prospective client recently.. and I'm just going to put it into perspective a little bit. So, right now, in my bookkeeping practice, we are absolutely on wait list. No way would I be bringing more clients onboard right now. And, our wait list is usually about a month. So why would I be speaking to a prospective client? I've said this before and I'll say it again:
In our business, we are never standing still – we are either growing or we are receding.
Just like in nature. Nature is either growing or dying, think of trees and even humans. And I know that in business, we need to be doing our business growth activities, and a lot of ours in my practice tend to actually be on autopilot.
We play with a lot of stuff in order to test and measure it for The Strategic Bookkeeper Tribe. And so if you did not join the program when the doors open on August 1, worry not because the program is evergreen. We have a way to bring you into the program seamlessly, so that you can absolutely start working with me to build your thriving practice, delight your clients, and live your dream on your terms. If you are keen to know how that works, just drop us an email or ask in the The Strategic Bookkeeper's Way Facebook Group.
Because, three things: Number one, the program comes with a MONEY-BACK guarantee. Number two, I do not get you to spend extra time working with me – this is about ON THE JOB application and implementation. And number three, that money-back guarantee, it kicks in after a year but my expectation is to help you get the ROI really early, allowing you to pay for the program as we go along.
But yeah, most of the things we do are an autopilot, but they still have to be set up properly to work properly. Our social media actually has a certain amount of time and money invested in it. We don't spend any money on social media advertising, however, I do have team that takes care of the social media posts, and timing is always a factor.
So, that's just to put into perspective talking to that prospective client.
When I was chatting with this PC, I did raise capacity and I told him that right now we're on wait list. This client's needs, he needs a fair bit. It's probably a half day client a week. And a lot of the clients we bring on, we can smash through their work in an hour a week. So someone who needs four or five hours, that can be the equivalent of four or five smaller clients – so I have to consider that. And in terms of our capacity and the way I run my practice, I want to be small but mighty.
I want to do the least amount, with the biggest impact on my clients and on myself.
I've worked damn hard for it.
So here's what I don't want to see in your practice. I don't want to see the seesaw effect, of where the seesaw goes one way and it's like, okay, I'm doing the work, and then suddenly the work dries up and you realize, oh my goodness, a couple of clients have off boarded from natural attrition, and then the seesaw swings the other way and it's like hustle, hustle, hustle. I need to try and win some work.
There are so many things wrong with that.
The way that works is, simply,
when you're hustling, you're not being strategic – you're working harder and probably feeling a little bit more... desperate is the wrong word, but not as choosy.
So, we want the seesaw even at all times, where at one side of the seesaw we're doing the work, and at the other side of the seesaw we've got our MARKETING LAYERING in place, and all the pieces of the puzzle in place, so that an invisible PIPELINE is being filled up slowly over time. And with this prospective client, he said, I found you on Google. So that is one of the results of marketing, layering, and pipeline.
We do no paid advertising to be clear, but at the time of writing this, I have been experimenting with more Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so that I can learn more, and bring what I learn to the Tribe as they come through the program.
So going back to that prospective client, I was doing a NEEDS ANALYSIS with him. I'm still happy to do the analysis because very early on, I was able to assess that he was prepared to wait. He's got a bookkeeping solution right now. He is fine to wait a month or two months, even three months. What's important to him is the right solution. So, we started the needs analysis, he's using another bookkeeping practice, and as I always do, I just kind of said, "Okay, I know a few things because we spoke the other day. Right now I just want you to brain dump anything else that you want to tell me about you and about your business."
And you would be surprised when you asked that question, because if you listen to that, I didn't start with, "Are you behind on the books? Do you have payroll?" – I asked him to tell me what was important to him. Those kind of open questions are great. And he told me all the beautiful, what I call ethereal stuff, all the stuff that doesn't directly relate to the bookkeeping, but guess what? It relates to the why.
What is the bookkeeping there to achieve for him and what kind of solution is he looking for? So definitely, you want to know that. And, I don't find the needs analysis linear. It's not like I have a set of questions and we go question by question. It's more creative than that.
So, I start with those open questions, and then once we've got through a bit of that, I then go back to more of the formal bookkeeper kind of questions, and I check them off. And a lot of them gets answered anyway in our nice free flowing conversation. So at some point, in the needs analysis, I said, okay, can I please ask you with your current bookkeeping solution? And we are familiar with that practice. We do get clients come through from there from time to time and say, what exactly are you not happy with?
And in a nutshell, in my own words, what he told me is that the bookkeeper was likely quite skilled, however... And he'd actually had a few bookkeepers from this practice. One of them didn't like the fact that he likes to psychometrically test the bookkeeper – and actually, we psychometric test across all of our team and then we get together and we have really a lot of fun with who we are. So psychometric testing is amazing and everybody should be doing their Wealth dynamics, Psychometric test, or at least their DISC analysis. And the starter maintainer finisher, which I developed.
So, one bookkeeper he had from this agency didn't like that, and so she didn't want to work with them. And then there was a second bookkeeper, I'm not sure what happened there, but then the third bookkeeper they had, and I see no problem with staff turnover. However, what I'm hearing here is there has been a lack of consistency and professionalism.
So the bookkeeper has been making a lot of excuses for breaking her promises. She complains a lot about how hard she's working, which I often find when we're complaining about working hard, we're not leveraging tech and automation and streamlining the way that we should be. She ends up with of personal commitments that get in the way of work, and she talks about that a lot. She's a mom with kids, which this client is massive on supporting parents with flexible work environments, and I'm a mom with a special needs child, so I get it. However, this comes back to professionalism. There wasn't a big issue with her work, although she had made mistakes, but that is normal. We're human.
When he told me what the problems were, what I heard was there is a lack of professionalism, and I could talk about that till the cows come home – lack of professionalism, promises broken. So those two things, and this bookkeeper sounded to me like a yo-yo, or possibly a time-waster.
As a bookkeeper in practice, when you are recruiting team, an admin, someone to help you with some graphics, a bookkeeper, anyone, there are four types that you'll encounter. That is, the superstar, the workhorse, the yo-yo and the time-waster. And I can tell you right now,
in terms of zero tolerance management, hire slowly and fire fast.
Have I always had a zero tolerance management in my practice?
Hell no. I had to learn the hard way.
I had to learn from losing money, to profit bleeding, and being stressed and having to tame that people pleasing manager, and actually learn what MANAGING is compared to LEADERSHIP. And that while leadership is, in my opinion, fun and a bit more creative, management is a linear process. It is plan, organize, staff, direct and control. There is no room for movement. It doesn't mean you don't walk in with your values and your ethics, and you're absolutely a nice person, but management is linear.
And when you wear the manager hat, you're not wearing the friend hat. You need to change them.
However, being a manager is key. This is all elaborated in my book, in the Systems and Team chapter. If you can lean into that, together with hire slow, fire fast, and be zero tolerant, this will absolutely revolutionize your practice – and I'm going to be there to help you in the program. When you come to these bridges, you are going to say, "Jeannie, help. I don't know what to do." Or, you're going to say to other members on my team that are brilliant with this, help, I don't know what to do, and we're going to help you.
So the four types. First is the SUPERSTAR.
Usually, these are bookkeepers in practice who are managing to successfully run their practice. And, those bookkeepers out there who have contacted me and said, "I've read your book twice." "I've listened to the audio book, I've listened to every podcast." "I'm coming to every training or I'm listening to every training." – well hello, superstar.
A superstar absolutely does their time and tasks. They do what they said they'd do, in the timeframe they said they'd do it. That is promises kept. They are highly professional and are critical thinkers that can pretty much be left alone to do the job, and they can also give themselves that pat on the back, the support that we need to give them as well. But pretty much, these are people that could run your business for you, like my right hand, Jo.
Then you have your WORKHORSES. And workhorses are a little bit like superstars. They are great with time and task. They are going to keep their promises, do what they said in the timeframe they said they do it, which is rule number one for building a highly profitable practice, for thriving and delighting your clients, and living your dream on your term. So the workhorses are going to do those things.
Where they differ from the superstar is that they need to be given the job to do and the instructions, and then they will work so hard to do it and do it well, and keep promises. They might not be as much of a critical thinker, but they are still really valuable on the team because they're a great workhorse that gets the job done. Their performance is consistent. They're reliable. They're just going to turn up, get the job done.
Although, every now and then, you might be a bit frustrated because if you're a superstar, then in terms of a workhorse, sometimes you might think, really, you had to ask me that question? But ultimately, even in terms of asking you questions, they're not going to interrupt you yet. They're going to be consistent. Interruptions are going to be in accordance with the systems and processes you've got, which we have a lot of in the program. Because, when you get comms and you reduce interruptions and all of that is streamlined, your profitability will soar.
So, moving on to the YO-YO. A yo-yo's performance is up and down. So one minute it feels like they're a superstar or workhorse, and the next minute, they're inconsistent. They missed a deadline, they didn't do a task.
Hire slow, fire fast. A yo-yo will tear your house down, will burn your house down as will a time waster.
So here's interesting about a TIME WASTER. They're not just wasting your time and your client's time, they're wasting their own time. Based on what that prospective client said to me, that bookkeeper sounded mainly like a time waster – wasting her own time, wasting the client's time. And holy moly, what he told me, he didn't even complain that much about it. He said, I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, and she's great in some ways. And I thought, oh my goodness, you are paying good money for this service. I don't think it is too much to ask that we are professional, that we keep our promises – those two things alone.
I'm the mom of a special needs child and he can't even go to school at the moment. He's 13 years old and he is at home. If I can turn up and be professional, we all can. Okay? But if you have a yo-yo or a time waster, if you recruit team like that, there is no fixing it. You need to hire slow and fire fast.
Now, action steps and a little bit of information around that. First of all, if you are coming into the program, look, we absolutely help you with how to recruit winning teams, and a part of that is psychometric testing. And then once you do, we're there to support you with what's going on.
One of the actions to take is that there is no place in any business, in your bookkeeping practice, for the people pleasing manager or the people pleasing monster. And I work with my clients around this, and they love it and we all talk about it. A nice person is a nice person, and if you're a nice person just like me, I am totally prone to the people pleasing monster. But because I know it, and I've talked about the three A's to change before, so there's awareness, right? So because I'm aware that I'm kind of a bit of a big softie and a marshmallow, then I can accept that I'm going to be prone to the people pleasing monster or the people pleasing management style, and then I can take action.
And the action that I take is to really be aware and accept what a manager truly looks like – plan, organize, staff, direct and control. I don't need to manage. Primarily, I sit in the leadership role, so then I get people around me to support me in mainly the day-to-day manager roles.
But when I need to put my manager hat on, and this is one of the actions that I find really helpful, I literally gesture taking an invisible hat off, and putting an invisible hat on. I'm going to take my friend hat off right now because I'm absolutely friends with everyone on my team, I love them. We throw the love word around here all the time. But,
I will take my friend hat off, and I will even take my leader hat off. I'll put my manager hat on, and for the minute or two or 10 that I need to wear the manager hat, I will wear it 100%.
I will wear it well, and I will know that my values come with that hat.
So one of my values is fairness. So my top values is courage, honesty, authenticity, kindness. When I put my manager hat on, all of those are intact. I really do encourage that hat wearing, so that you can help yourself shift gears and you actually literally can say it to a team member: Right now, I'm going to take my friend hat off and I'm going to put my manager hat on. If you ever get told by a yo-yo or a time waster that you are micromanaging them, no, you're not micromanaging them – you are managing them. You're not standing over them. You have to manage in your business, you have to wear the manager hat, in order to build a thriving practice. And if you don't build a thriving practice, your staff won't even have a job.
So, do not apologize to your team for wearing the manager hat and wearing it well. Unfortunately, you don't make friends with the manager hat on, but the good news is that you can take the manager hat off, and put your friend hat on – and I've been doing this in some capacity all my life. So if I can do it, you can do it.
And if you're coming through the program, we're going to be giving you tons of great stuff to recruit and manage winning teams. But also, one of the big parts of the value that I love, love, love about the program that's kind of invisible is that we are going to cross the bridges with you as you come to them. We're going to give you the support that you need when you need it, with that mentoring and that coaching and that high end confidant that you need.
And don't forget that if there is anything that you want help with, do share with an open heart and an open mind via our Facebook group. If you don't want to do that, you can always reach me via email, then I can jump in and create podcast and video content for you as well.