The Service Industry Truths with Melissa LitchfieldMar 02, 2022
I am here with my amazing friend Melissa Litchfield. Melissa has been in this industry for a lot of years, three on Beachbody.
“That's how I've kind of got introduced to like all these thought leaders, right, like Amy P. Marie Forleo. Um, Chalene Johnson, obviously, she was a Beachbody trainer at the time. But she was doing a lot of like, the whole, like marketing, I forget what income and income impact whatever, I guess, back then it was like $3,000. I remember because I contemplated joining it.
I actually got, like my first experience with an agency working for one that directly worked with I mean, big online course creators, right in the industry. Rachel, Hollis was one of our clients. Boss Babe was one of my clients working at the agency, this is back in 2018 through 2019. So I was behind the scenes on a lot of these launches, whereas prior, you just see everything front facing right as a potential customer. Now as behind the scenes, running the ads for these big thought leaders in the industry. I was overworked, underpaid, so I quit. And I opened up my own agency. I obviously didn't start as an agency. I was a solopreneur for a while. And then as my business grew, I was like, Wow, this feels like I'm working at the agency again, right? Because I was feeling that burnout. I was I had too many clients to manage on my own. So I knew then I was like, I need to hire somebody full time. Scary. But now, here I am. I have about six or seven employees now some part-time, some full-time.”
What have been your biggest lessons from transitioning from working for another agency in the ad space to now doing it yourself and having it be your company?
It's hard right to really know potentially, like, what the client is going to be like working with them. But I do remember working with quite a few clients who still stuck out to me at the previous agency, awful to work with nightmares. And I just remember feeling like wow, when I have my own business. I'm going to I want to be able to fire these clients because I felt like I was stuck with them because the CEO isn't working directly with these nightmare clients. But that her agency was growing so fast that she didn't care, right. She didn't care bottom line was like, we need to onboard as many clients as possible, I think we had about like 69 clients at the biggest point, and that you can see when I was working there. And when you do that you affect the people who are in it right in the actual thick of it, like dealing with the clients one on one.
So there were a lot of clients that we did onboard that were not a great fit for the agency. And I was like, okay, one day when I have my own agency, I want to make sure that one I'm onboarding the right client, and they're not a nightmare type of client.
Sometimes it's hard right to get a good feel for how they are personality-wise until you start working with them. So and over the years of obviously, having an agency, I feel like you get better at recognizing those red flags. And you're like, Okay, this guy is giving me the gut feeling that I'm not the right fit for this person. I'm sure that now with you having your own agency,
So true. I feel like especially in that first year, is where you learn the hard lessons and you make judgment calls that looking back were not the best judgment calls to make. From your experience, what are some of those red flags that you look for, at least in your expertise, right of being an ad agency? What do you look for?
Timeline, right, and project boundaries. So initially, like if the person on the discovery call, or the sales call is wanting to start like tomorrow, it's almost like a sign like, “Okay, we can't necessarily work like that, right? We have a protocol for onboarding all clients. We need like X amount of time to even get started, right, we need to prep the ads.” So that's kind of like an indication of this person is not prepared, right. And normally those are the type of people that want quick turnaround times that are unreasonable for an agency like ours.
There are processes, there are SOPs, there are other people working on the other end of the computer trying to deliver these projects to the client. We can't just whip out ads overnight, like it just doesn't work like that. And if you are not prepared for lunch, meaning you have last minute things that you're trying to tie up, and you literally have to go home, like the next day, it's just, it's just a sign that maybe they're too early in their business, they don't have like a system or a team, right to support them. And it's almost like they kind of rely on you in your agency and your team members to help with that load.
Those are some of the signs that you can kind of tell if they're going to be that type of client to work with where they don't meet their own deadlines, right. And then they have like, unreasonable expectations for turnaround time.
That makes so much sense. And I know you've been very open about this in your content as well about not deciding to necessarily run ads, at least not through you guys with a brand new offer without proof of concept. Can you tell us a little bit more about why that's the case? And why that's something that is really important for you and your team?
You just don't know what the results are gonna be like, and to avoid major disappointment on the client's end. I think, for any ads manager out there, obviously, you know, you get like, the greener ones who will probably take on any client because they want to pay you to run ads for them. But in order to see, like, an awesome return on ad spend, which, right? Everyone wants to know, what's the ROI going to be when I invest X amount of money in your ad services, and then also in the ad spend. So in order to meet those expectations, I want to make sure that the client is meeting mine, meaning that you have a proven course, or a proven product, like whether it be a digital product, or essentially your funnel.
If we run ads to something that isn't proven, it's a risk. It's a risk for both of us. I don't know how it's going to convert, I don't know what type of money is going to come out of this product, right, or this funnel. So it's really important that you have that solidified first before you even start running paid traffic to it. Right. The best sign is honestly if your business is struggling right now with sales conversion rates, ads are not going to be the Savior for your business. It really isn't. It's a tool that you can utilize to grow and amplify what's already working in your business.
Have you found that people don't really understand what goes into the process of developing an actual good ad campaign?
There's so much more that goes into ads. And I mean, my first ad course was because of network marketing. That was actually in 2014, I bought my first ads course, it has changed since then. There are certain protocols that you need in place now that there are conversion campaign objectives. So you can select an ad manager. There never used to be one. But a lot of things happen after they leave the ad, right? You want to be able to track that you want to be able to measure those certain points and metrics in your funnel because then you won't know what's wrong, right? If you don't have that tracking in place, and how do you even know the ads working or not? Do you have the tracking in place? Do you know how to split test headlines? Are you familiar with creating ad creative yourself? Graphic Design? Do you have a graphic design background? There are so many different factors that go into creating a successful ad campaign, especially for live launches to make that
That was one of my biggest lessons of 2021. Because I feel like in the service space, and I know that you've also had your hand in both the coaching education space and the service provider space. I feel like I've found as a service provider, people expect you to, move mountains, in things that like are not your responsibility. It's, it's, it's so interesting to me, I still feel like I don't understand that either.
Yes, yes, yes. Most agencies don't do this. And I know because I used to work at another agency. I do look at the entire funnel. And I do offer suggestions, but I just have to make it super clear in the contract and in my communication with the client is that we will not create the landing page for you. And also we will not make these physical changes that we're giving you. It's your responsibility as the client to incorporate those changes on the landing page. You know, in order to make conversions, or to increase conversions, obviously, I'm going to give you those two professions. But that's an additional fee that's essentially out of scope, right is what we use a term in the service industry, right out of scope, because it's extra money. It's extra time to do those changes and apply it on the back end of you know, whatever software you're using. So yeah, managing expectations is probably the biggest hurdle that you'll have to do as a business owner in the service provider space.
And what I found too is really setting the boundaries of like, what is our responsibility as a company? And what is their responsibility as the client and then also letting them know what could happen if you don't take this advice because I do the same thing. Like we love to go above and beyond and give extra tips that can help amplify what they're doing. But ultimately, right, they have a choice of whether or not to do it. I think that’s one of the hardest things when you do try to go above, above, and beyond,
It's so hard to not get like your hands entangled into everything on the back end. Because you do want them to be successful. You do want the ads to work, right? You do want your services to perform, and you want them to see an ROI on your services because I get it it's an investment investing in an agency. But if you're not willing to apply and make those changes to your funnel, especially someone's giving you the suggestions, right, then you're doing a disservice to your own business by not implementing those changes yourself or even telling a team member to implement those.
Sometimes I feel like coaches, or online business owners who hire service providers, expect so much more than initially what they're paying for, you know, or what they hired that person to do. It's like they are almost thinking that we can be the savior for their business. It doesn't work like that. Right? And it's almost sometimes the lines crossed because we're not exactly business coaches, I don't charge to be your business coach, sometimes I am to my clients.
Sometimes you might have to ask yourself if you're like a business coach yourself, or if you're an online business owner, some of the questions you may be asking your service providers are more geared towards strategy, like you need to hire a funnel strategist, or as a business coach said, you know, maybe they that's their jam, their jam is webinars, or their jam is like webinar scripts, like you really can't expect your ads team to write your webinar for you, you know, things like that.
We never cheapen or run a sale, on our core services. But I've noticed this in this space. And I don't know if you have as well, Melissa, of people that are looking for, like unicorn service providers that do everything, including do your dishes and fold your laundry for, like, a couple dollars an hour. Are you noticing things like this? Where is this coming from?
Yeah, 100%. And you, you know, it's because other people are teaching this exact concept, right? Hire someone for $20 an hour? And they'll do they'll build your funnels, they'll write your copy, they'll post on social media for you. They'll do all the things for $20 an hour. But I mean, really, are you going to get quality work? If you find someone that does all that for such a low price point? No. So someone in the industry is teaching, this is a way to run your business, hire service providers for cheap, and put all this responsibility on them and expect them to propel your business forward because you hired somebody. That's what you're supposed to do as a business owner who's trying to grow and scale your business. We hire people, but there's strategic, certain people that you should hire, especially when it comes to like funnel building copywriting ads, those are like specialized services. And you should be paying a pretty penny for someone who knows what they're doing an expert versus saying like, Okay, if you hire VA, yes, there are obviously some MBAs that charge like 20 to $25 an hour, but they're not doing copywriting. They're not funnel building, right? Usually, when you hire a virtual assistant, you're telling them what you need them to do, in order to, you know, in order to take tasks and like other things off your plate. That's what a VA does. versus say you hire a funnel strategist, they're coming in, they're like, “Alright, I'm the expert.” I'm going to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to implement and build and create this funnel. So totally, completely, two different types of service providers.
So true, and I'm so glad you talk about that too. Because as someone within my agency I do a lot of the copywriting, it's definitely my zone of genius. And it's so interesting when people come to me and they're like, “I'm coming to you because I put a, a feeler post out for a VA that could write and do all this on social media and this and that, but I just don't like it or it's not working.” And it's like, you're expecting this, this poor young girl who probably just got out of college is trying to break in. You want her to write posts, and emails and do this and somehow understand your industry that she's never heard of before. And it's expecting a lot of people all in the name of saving a couple of dollars. It's, it's so interesting. And then too, you hear this still in the online space of there are experts that brag about their six-figure months that are telling people to hire, even a VA, which they have a lot of responsibility to at like $5 an hour.
Right? I'll be honest, I initially hired a VA overseas at the very beginning of my business, because I wasn't making enough money. I didn't pay myself at all. But you get what you pay for. Right? They're coming from a different country, English is not their first language. They're probably not familiar with the industry, especially if they're brand new. So you would have to physically train them to do exactly what you want them to do. First, is them already knowing exactly what they would need to do task-wise. But yeah, you're so right. Like, there are so many, “seven-figure businesses”, you can find them because they usually have this in their bio. Right? Right, seven-figure CEO, um, but behind the scenes, they're requesting, you know, specialized services for $25 an hour. And that's not right. It's honestly not right. It's like, it's almost like it's a slap in the face. To say that I'm looking for someone who specializes in copywriting services. But I can only pay $500 per page, or per sales page or something, you know what I mean? It's like, no, let's hire somebody like you make seven figures, clearly, you say that in your bio, hire a copywriter that and pay them what they deserve.
So true, so true. And it's just it's so interesting that people don't realize and I know you have employees, right, that you pay through payroll, you pay taxes, you pay workman's comp and all that stuff to that, to get to that level and to be ready to slowly but surely scale a brand, that way, your margins are going to be pretty small. And I think what some of these people think, because right, and in the coaching space, a lot of the time, you can get to a certain point with pretty big margins without that much overhead. But if you want to get to that point of moving, you're gonna have to get to a point of very uncomfortably small margins for probably a couple of years. Like if we're being optimistic.
Yeah. And I mean, to be honest, if we compare the agency business model to the coaching business model, completely different profit margins. We as agency owners have a lot of expenses. So for you to ask us to give a discount or to ask us for a refund, that hurts our bottom line, it really does. Like we're not solely operating on maybe one co coach and a BA in our business. We have an I'll just name off some of the people that I personally pay, but I have a, I have a copywriting agency that I white label their services. I have a graphic designer that handles all of the animated videos and images for the clients. I also have a virtual assistant, an operations manager who I pay her well because she's a godsend in my business. I also pay myself right, because I think it's important, but yourself. I also have a full-time ads manager, and then, you know, one off contractors that I that hire in for the business, right? So there are so many other expenses that we have as an agency in order to provide our clients the service that we do add the level, right that we do. It is a disservice to even ask for a refund, especially if it's something that we were waiting on you to deliver to us in order to do our job. Or just ask for a discount in general, major disrespect, just being honest.
So true. And I think that those who may be newer to the online space, don't realize that this stuff goes on. And I think it's one of those things that when you know this and you recognize this, you can have a new perspective of maybe the area in the industry that you want to move into, or even just if you're not planning on doing that, but you're a client of either an agency, a coach or anything just to think about, like, Wow, a lot goes, goes on on the back end to deliver the service and the support and the coaching that I'm accustomed to. It's not just, you know, you check out with the money and then hop on Zoom and like, Have a nice day. There's so much more that goes on behind the scenes that people don't, that they don't realize. I don't know if that's just because maybe we should talk about it more. I don't know.
I definitely think not a lot of people are talking about this. And I think that's why what I was sharing on stories the other day blew up so much, because the service providers could relate so hard to say. And even one of the gals in the DM was like, It is so sad that we can relate to this right now what you're saying. It is sad that this is happening behind the scenes in this industry. Because people are either trained that way that like, this is how they run that run a business, right? We run our employees and contractors into the ground, we don't care if they have any work life balance, we're gonna throw everything at them left and right and expect them to like delivering the next day. It's not how you run it successful, sustainable business can burn a lot of bridges all the way to eight figures just saying
That's something that's huge to think about, like who you're hiring? Are you hiring someone that is exhausted and doesn't ever get to log off, right, that shows up in their work. So hire someone hires a team, that takes care of their people, that continues to provide training and opportunities for them to grow. Because that gives you an opportunity to get some of the best quality work done for your business.
And I also want to point out too, that like, sometimes, you know, six, seven figure business owners, they hire somebody for so for such little pay, but the expectations are so high. How could you not expect that the quality of work would not be up to par? Right? So if you're constantly seeking like, the lowest, cheapest person, you have to think at the end of the day, how, how could you not get shitty work compared? Because like, you're always seeking out the cheapest person, right? So true. It just, makes me think about all these Facebook posts that I see or like maybe like a service provider horror stories that you read about. But think back to your job description, or like the person that you hired, were you going for the person that said, I can do X, Y, and Z all the things for this much. If you're constantly always going and seeking out the people that are the cheapest, the lowest rate, etc, you're going to get subpar work. So there's a benefit, to researching someone looking at testimonials looking at their past, you know, results to their provider for clients. Interviewing people, not always going for the lowest, like the cheapest person is what I'm trying to say,
The person that you connect with, right. And if there's something right, that maybe is a little out of my budget, at that moment, I'll figure it out. Because I want to work with that person, I'm not just going to go and seek out something cheaper, just cuz it's like I want to work with you for a reason. And maybe it's, we can't do a full package of something, maybe it's something small to start out with, like and go to the service providers that you want to work with. And even if you can't do the full mac daddy package, if you want to work with them, most service providers are willing to see if there's something that they can do with you in the scope of what they provide, that can get you started. I think that's huge to like. Don't be afraid to ask.
I hope this was helpful for you.
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