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Getting Paid

One of the first questions I ask a company when they start consulting with me is how they get paid. And the most common answer I hear is “the night of the event”. So much so that it stopped surprising me. Now I pretty much assume this is the answer I will get.

And while this isn’t a horrible practice, it isn’t exactly a “best” practice. I mean, you are hoping that this check will clear from people that you don’t really know.  And you don’t find this out until after you have done the job. Might I suggest that you try and look at it differently?

You can’t take the chance of not getting paid. You need that revenue to run your business. So why not get it in advance? Take away that risk and make sure that everything is squared up well before the event.

Our company requires full payment 3 weeks in advance. This gives us enough time to make sure the check clears. That will take at least 2-5 days depending on your bank. The only negative response we get to this policy is that the client doesn’t want to pay that early. And I can tell you first hand that we very rarely have a client that gives us a hard time. And if they do, we have some options for them. They can pay cash the day before the wedding (We never accept payment the night of the event, especially cash! That is asking for trouble) or they could also pay by credit card.

But here is the best way to overcome that reservation. Explain it before they sign any contract. When explained properly, you should be able to get them to understand.

Before our clients sign any contracts, they know our policy, so any reservations will come up right at the beginning. Their fear is that they will pay us this large amount of money and we won’t show up, leaving them high and dry. We tell them that if they think that, we probably aren’t a good fit. They are sitting in an incredible office, read awesome reviews about our company and were referred by 3-4 different people. The last thing we are going to do is not show up. We have bills to pay! We also explain that they can put the balance on a credit card, so if they are really worried, they always have that recourse.

But, the most common answer I get back from companies is that they just haven’t thought about it. The have never thought about how they should get paid. Well, here is your chance. Waiting to the night of the event is bound to get you burned at some point. They could come up with any kind of reason to NOT pay you and you can’t have that. You run a professional business and in doing so, you can’t be burned.

Some businesses do have deliverables, such as photographers and videographers. In that case, at least half of the balance should be paid before the event. Typically a 33% initial payment, another 33% due 3 weeks before the event and the rest due when you deliver the final product. No matter what, making sure that you get at least more than 50% paid (I would love to see 75%) before then event.

Having a good pricing policy in place should be the first order of business. Ask your past clients for their opinion. Ask other professionals in your area as well. Get as much information as you can before you go live with your new policy. And then stick with it. There might be a little resistance at first, but stick it out. And remember, if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to the way it used to be. But give it a shot and don’t go running back to the old ways after 48 hours! Have some faith.

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As a business owner, I believe growth is something that you should be constantly thinking about. It doesn’t have to be physical growth, as in getting bigger, but it could mean educational growth, financial growth or operations growth.  On the flip side, the one thing you can’t do is stay stale.

For even the smallest amount of growth, delegation is key. But from what I find when I talk to people is that delegation is the hardest thing to do! They just can’t let go of the little things. And the one reason everybody seems to give is “Nobody can do it like me”. The second most common answer, “I can’t find good help and they end up not working out”.

So let me give you a tip on making this transition easier.

You have to write down what you want. All of it. Even the smallest parts. Then you have to analyze it. Re-write it. And make sure it all makes sense. I would be willing to bet that any type of delegation you have tried to do has been the kind that goes like this, “I need you to help organize the office”. And that’s about all the instruction they get.

So, with the idea that this won’t happen overnight and it will take a few weeks for you to put together, let’s look at the previous example and see how we can make it more successful for you and the employee you are going to hire.

First up, a detailed explanation of the business and what you do. A brief overview of how you got started, who your clients are and why you are different. Second up, start to write down what you want them do and how you are doing it now. So for an office assistant you might start out with the following:

-          What time they should come in and leave

-          How do they answer the phone

-          How are they expected to file, organize and help you out

-          What are the problems that are happening now (they probably have a solution!)

-          What shouldn’t they do (give out pricing, answer event questions, etc)

-          What can they do without your permission (confirm appointments, accept payments, change contracts, etc)


Get the idea?

They really should have a list of responsibilities and know what they have to get done. It just takes time on your part before you hire them to think about all those tasks and get them written down. This will make it so much easier for your new hire.

And my one other piece of advice for you would be to listen. Listen to what the people you hire have to say. Many times, they will have a better way to do it then you are doing it. Let them try it out, see if it works, if it doesn’t, they learned for themselves and can start to see how to make their next decisions.

Delegating is hard. It takes a lot of power to not tell someone how to do it even as you are watching them do it the wrong way. But once they start to handle the little tasks well and they are learning, it will free you up to work on bigger and more important things for the company.

There comes a time in every business where the principle person needs to be worried about the growth of the company and not the little, everyday tasks that end up holding you back. Start today on the plan and outline for what a part-time helper could do for you.

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If you only do one thing to try and garner up some business this year, it needs to be networking! If you don’t do this, or don’t do it enough, you gotta get on it.

The biggest resource of qualified new leads is going to come from other professionals. Hands down. So you need to get out and see them, meet them, and talk to them. Many of us do not do this and we wonder why we aren’t growing!

As with everything else, it comes down to time. You have to want to make time for it and then do it. The only reason you don’t have time, is because you choose to not to. You are missing out on the best resource of new leads because YOU don’t think it is worth it. You are wrong.

We recently moved into a new market and within 6 months we knew who the key players were simply by going to several networking events and introducing ourselves. No fancy lines, no big marketing pieces, just me, a smile and interesting topics to talk about. That’s it.

You can do it as well, just don’t think you will get results over night. People like to do business with people they like. This means you have to put your time in. You have to commit to doing a few of them and not just one or two. You have to talk to new people and not just the ones you know. You have to follow up and make sure they know about you. You have to put the time in to know about them, to get them to want to care about you. It takes time, but so does everything else that turns out good.

So, what are you waiting for?

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I love getting stories like this. We consulted with Erinn Brown last year and he recently just sent me a text that read.

"Hey man it's Errin Brown down in NC. I know you're doing well cause I have been keeping track, but I just wanted to let you know since I came to see you a little over a year ago I have been tearing it up. Increased my bottom line 40%. Crazy. Off to my best year ever. I have already passed my totals from last year and it's only February.  Love to chat with you sometime."

Erinn came to our 3 day boot camp and clearly took a lot from it. Thanks for the kind words Erinn!

If you are interested in the boot camp, please call me and we can discuss it in more detail.

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Each year, I try and get to 4-5 conventions, but not for the seminars. While they are a great perk, the people I meet there are so much more important to me. I am able to make connections with people all over the country. I am able learn about different things that people are doing on the west coast, while seeing great new trends from the south. We share ideas, we pick each other’s brain and we get the chance to just have some fun.

You should try and get to at least one convention a year. And don’t always make it one for your industry. Try and go to some different ones. Give some thought to the following:

-          Special Event

-          Catersource

-          LDI

-          Wedding MBA

-          Mobile Beat

When you go to these conventions, make sure you have some things in mind:

-          You have to go there to learn and meet people. So you need a plan. Don’t just show up and expect to get something out of it.

-          You have to go up and introduce yourself to people. Don’t expect people to come to you. Say hi to strangers and get involved. Don’t be shy.

-          Presenters can sometimes be bad. Sometimes they can be great. Most are mediocre .But you should try and take at least one thing out of the seminars you attend. Just one thing can change the way you do something and make the whole trip totally worth it!

-          Don’t party to hard. You are there for more important reasons. Get to bed early, wake up early and hang out in the hallways.

-          Attend the parties at night. It is a great place to continue the conversations you had during the day. It is also a better place to approach people.

-          Stay in the host hotel. Even though it may be more expensive, it will give you the best chance to meet the right people and be around the center of the conference.

-          Bring a voice recorder or notepad. You will need to write down names and companies, as well as notes from the seminars.

-          Bring plenty of business cards. You don’t know how many times people don’t have them.

-          Be prepared to spend money. It won’t be cheap, so be prepared to buy some drinks and /or some food.

Conventions can be so much fun, but they can also be a turnoff. People go to one of them, don’t get much out of it and then don’t go back. Try something different, have a plan and keep your mind open and you might be surprised at what you get out it!

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