Friday, November 29, 2013

SOP Friday: Financial Goals - More than Revenue Targets

We've talked about The Basics of Financial Goals and Making Realistic Revenue Projections. Now let's look beyond the money. This isn't quite a "mission statement" discussion, but it's not too far off of that either.

I like to remind small business owners: Your business exists to serve your personal goals. Yes you want to make money. Yes you want to help clients. But what's the big picture?

One of the terms you might hear in management training is stakeholder. This is different from a stockholder. A stock holder owns a piece of the company. A stake holder has a stake in the company. Stakeholders include the owners, the managers, the employees, the clients, and even the vendors.

Now that doesn't mean you need to intentionally create a business for the benefit of all those folks. But you should take stock of who they are. Let me tell you a story about a client who is a great stakeholder in our company.

Just a few days ago Mike and I were talking about this client and trying to decide whether to charge them for an on site visit that consisted of turning on a switch. I put my labor as standard on site labor. That means billable. Then I told Mike he has to decide whether or not to charge an hour for that.

Mike said "No. First, it's [Company]. Second, it's Janet. Third, they always do everything we say. In fact, they bought a new server before the three year warranty was expired on the last server.

On two different occasions we almost dropped this client because they were below our 10-user threshold. They literally begged us not to drop them. They honestly see our support as a key element in their success.

That's a stakeholder!

Now, what has all that to do with setting your financial goals? It's simple: Making money is also about being happy, making your clients happy, making your employees happy, and keeping your vendors happy. So when you sit down to project targets for the next year, three years, and five years, you should take all that into account.

There is a true cost - a monetary cost - to having loyal clients and loyal employees. It might mean keeping smaller clients, paying employee benefits, or even throwing a party once in awhile. Sometimes you need to budget for "unnecessary" expenses that make your company a better place to work and a better company to do business with.

And it's not selfish to consider your personal goals as well. What do you want to do with your life? Do you want to travel more? Buy some rental property? Start a non-profit organization? Put your kids through college?

Also consider the long-term goals of the business itself. What's the "end game" strategy? I was talking to a good friend a few days ago about a very esoteric part of my business and trying to decide on pricing strategies. In true entrepreneurial style he asked me what effect this decision would have on selling my business (Small Biz Thoughts). We had never talked about me selling this business, but he assumed that that's one possible end game. And he wisely suggested that I make decisions based on the long-term goals of the company.

Let's be honest: Most clients are really just customers. Most employees are not in it for the long haul. Most vendors don't really care much at all about your business. But some clients are true stakeholders. Some employees are true stakeholders. And even some vendors might be stakeholders.

All of this ties into the discussion of the kind of company you want to be. We work hard to have employees and client who are fun to work with. I love it when employees say "I love my job." And I'm proud to say I've heard that many, many times in my life.

It takes intention to create a business that serves your goals - personal and professional. First you need to acknowledge these goals. Then you need to keep them top of mind as you plan out your budget for the next year. Some of these things cost money. But in the long run they create the company you want.

Nothing happens by itself.


Comments welcome.

- - - - -



About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Shredding

:-)
Join our Indiegogo campaign

Get the new 4-book series at the best price you'll ever see

Standard Operating Procedures
for Technology Consultants




Help make this 4-book set a reality and earn great perks for yourself.


See all the details - and some videos - at that site.

Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Blog Post for Your Clients: Backup Strategies

In case you haven't seen it, I encourage you to check out the Consultant or Amateur blog. That's a blog written specifically to help YOU sell to your clients and prospects.

The basic idea is that you can point to it and say "See: This is what I've been telling you."

The blog promotes professionalism over amateur consulting. It's also a way to slap your clients with some tough love without insulting them. I'll insult them when needed. You just point to the overall message.

My most recent post is on picking a good partner to help create (and test) a backup system. The message is Don't do this yourself! along with the standard discussion that hard drives fail and disasters happen so you have to be prepared.

The post is entitled simply

Take Backups Seriously


Check it out.

As always, I'd love your feedback.

And if there's a particular topic you want me to talk to your clients about, let me know.

Enjoy.

:-)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Role Reversal on Personalized Service

Technology always changes the relationships between businesses and people, just as it does between people and between businesses. As we move into the final weeks before the New Year, it's worth considering how these changes affect us.

Two particular trends affect those of us who run small service businesses. Taken together, they represent a role reversal with regard to the large service organizations out there. We're becoming less "personalized" in our service while the big boys are becoming more personalized.

Ten years ago the big organizations couldn't compete with us on this score. We know our clients by name. We attend their BBQ parties. We send them thank you notes. We know the quirkiness of their servers and printers.

In the meantime, the big companies didn't know their customers except through some macro-level buying habits. They focused on transactions rather than people. Transactions might be money, but it might also be gigabits sold, contracts signed, boxes shipped, or licenses installed. In this equation, "people" are just names on a mailing list.

But now we are becoming more transaction-oriented while the large corporations are becoming more personalized. Interestingly enough, their move toward personalization is pushing us toward the transaction model with our clients. Here's what I mean.

Big service organizations are becoming more personalized because they can now gather massive amounts of data and attach very specific information to specific clients. Instead of dealing with big chunks of users based on zip code or age, these companies can drill down into very specific buying histories and patterns. They can serve up personalized experiences in real time.

The most obvious examples are in retail. Amazon is king of this. You bought the last three novels by this author. She's got a new out now. Shall we add that to your cart? At the grocery store, if you don't buy your favorite chips two weeks in a row, you might just find a discount coupon at the bottom of your receipt.

Meanwhile, we small service providers are finding that transactions are the wave of the future us. Just look at your Cost of Goods Sold:
- BDR Units
- Anti-Virus licenses
- Spam filter licenses
- Gigabits of storage
- RMM agents deployed
- Hosted mail boxes
- Web sites
- VOIP lines

Of course these things translate into units deployed, clients under service, cloud packages deployed, etc. Even the way we describe our businesses to each other has changed. "I have fifteen servers and 400 desktops on managed service."

Transactions. We deploy licenses during the month, get paid for them in real time, and pay just for what we use. When you deploy enough licenses, your cost drops from $1.10 per unit to $1.07. It's all about transactions.

If there's bad news for us, it's that we are moving into an era in which we no longer push or deliver the kind of personalized service we used to. Microsoft wants us all to sell Office 365 and make pennies per transaction. The only way to make that work is to have thousands of transactions.

In the meantime, companies like mine are offering our services to "strangers" all over the country because we're going to deliver them basic remote services that are 100% transaction based. They sign up and get service. Calls go to a help desk. And we only get involved when the job needs to be escalated. Ideally, most clients will never need that.

One of my favorite quotes is:

"The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment." - Warren G. Bennis

We're heading in that direction.

The good news is that the big service organizations will never be able to compete with us on personalization. We can compete in some small way with transactions. But they can never actually "know" their clients. We still can - if we choose to.

:-)

Friday, November 22, 2013

SOP Friday: Layoffs and Downsizing

One of the hardest lessons you'll ever learn is how to reduce the size of your workforce. Generally speaking, there are three reasons for "letting someone go" from your business:
- You are firing them
- Your business is shrinking (and therefore your workload)
- Technology has reduced the need for manpower

Each of these in turn has sub-categories. You might fire someone for being incompetent, for stealing, for showing up drunk, or for many other reasons. Your business might be shrinking because you lost a key client, sales are down generally, etc. And with regard to technology, I mean more than automation. This also includes outsourcing.

Whether we like it or not, laying off and downsizing are part of owning a business and having employees. And the more employees you have, the more you'll experience letting people go. It is a hard thing to do. And (at least for me) it's a hard thing to get used to doing.

In an earlier post I wrote about The Firing Process. In this post I will address the other two reasons for downsizing: Your business is shrinking or your need for employees is shrinking. In either case, you have the hard job of telling someone that they can't work for you anymore.

I recommend that you adopt a few simple policies to make this process as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

First, find out about the laws in your state. Unfortunately, we live in a time where you can stumble into illegal activities or lawsuits if you don't handle things correctly. If you do not have an official Human Relations officer, you should get some outside advice. That might be an H.R. specialist or an attorney who specializes in employment law. My preference is an attorney.

One example of stumbling into law is the final paycheck. In some states it is required that you give the employee a final paycheck upon departure. That way, they don't leave with you owing them money. I think this is a good idea even if not required. We pay the employee through the end of the day.

If there are outstanding bonuses, sales commissions, etc. you may not be required to pay them at this time. But it's a good idea if you do. Make the break as clean as you can. It also gives them a little extra money at a time when they obviously need it.

Another example is "at will" employment. Find out if your state has "at will" employment. That means that employees can be dismissed for any reason or no reason, and with no advanced warning. The reason I like to work with an attorney is that you can accidentally end up negating this status if you DO give a reason. If you give a reason when you don't need to, you might open the door to litigation.

I always have letters of dismissal reviewed by my attorney. After awhile I feel pretty safe, but I still do it. I'm not an attorney, so I hire someone else to play that role.


Second, be professional and don't play games. No one likes to be laid off and no one likes to lay people off. So don't do stuff like wait until 5PM on Friday or take someone to a public mall to give them the bad news. That kind of thing happens in the movies to demonstrate how horrible the boss is.

I think it is much more humane to give them the news early in the day so they can run over to the unemployment office and get their paperwork started. And Monday is much better than Friday. That way they can spend the week looking for a job instead of spending the weekend seething and sulking. Hold a quick meeting with the person. Give them a letter that simply says that you no longer need their services (this is the one approved by the attorney two paragraphs ago), and let them say goodbye.


A Few Things to Consider

As a general rule, it is best to have the laid off employee depart as soon as possible. Even finishing out the day can cause disruption in your business. And hanging around for a few weeks can cause all kinds of minor problems.

You can remain on very friendly terms with the people you have let go. Over the years our company has grown and shrunk more than once. But we still have a good "family" of former employees to get together socially.

The final thing to consider is References or Referrals. You should set a policy now about whether you will give references and under what circumstances. Remember that the safest route is always to treat all employees the same, to the extent that's possible. Again, talk to your attorney.

You might have a policy that you DO give references as long as the employee has had good job reviews at their most recent quarterly reviews. Or you might say that you simple DO NOT give references.

Since we are talking about layoffs that are not firings for cause, support and personal empathy are completely appropriate. In most cases, for small business, we are laying off people who are our friends.


Related SOPs

There are two things you should do as part of the employee on-boarding process that you'll revisit at this time. One is to have the employee sign an employment agreement. That agreement should state that employment is on an "at will" basis. You should give the employee a copy of the agreement they signed when they were hired.

The other item to give the employee is a copy of the non-disclosure agreement they signed when they were hired. And whether you have concerns or not, you should take a moment to remind them that your processes, procedures, and sensitive information are part of the agreement, as are the processes, procedures, and sensitive information of your clients.


Laying people off is never fun. But sometimes your business needs to shrink in order to survive. Policies like this are not enjoyable to contemplate, but it's best to think about them before you need them.

Comments welcome.

- - - - -



About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Financial Goals - More than Revenue Targets

:-)

Join our Indiegogo campaign

Get the new 4-book series at the best price you'll ever see

Standard Operating Procedures
for Technology Consultants




Help make this 4-book set a reality and earn great perks for yourself.


See all the details - and some videos - at that site.

Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Another Trip Around the Sun

As you may have seen on Facebook, it's my birthday. I don't feel "old" in any way. I'll take some credit for not over-eating too much and exercising a little. But most of it is due to good luck and good attitude.

Ten years ago I was walking with a cane and felt a lot older than I do now. My rheumatoid arthritis is under control. While I still feel pain every day, it is insignificant compared to what it once was.

I guess I'm lucky that my birthday comes near the end of the year. That way the nostalgia of the year and and another trip around the sun are pretty close together.

My life has changed quite dramatically in the last few years. As has my business.

I am happy to say that I've built a life and a job I enjoy very much. I work and play with some amazing people. And I can't wait to see what the next year brings!

It seems like I'm constantly saying this, but I am eternally grateful for the friends I have all over the world. Thanks to technology, I am in touch with people from high school, college, graduate school, various jobs, I.T. communities, and a dozen other places.

At some point, all my friends (in Sacramento and everywhere else) started out as people who just wandered into my life at some point. Some of my friends I've never met face to face, but we've connected electronically for years.

Of all the important things in my life, my friends are my favorite. And I'm blessed to have so many.

That's all I had to say.



:-)

Friday, November 15, 2013

SOP Friday: Financial Goals - Realistic Revenue Projections

I maintain a spreadsheet of the basic profit and loss of my company month by month. So I have a picture of where my money came from and went to in January, February, March, etc. I start out with all of the months filled with projections. Then, as each month becomes real, I replace projections with real numbers.

(If you want to see a sample of this, download the sample Excel spreadsheet and related materials at this page: Free Business Plan Resources. That is part of a six-part blog series on building a business plan. It's from 2008/2009 but the math still works.)

Sample Revenue Projection (click to expand)
In the last few months of the year, I start working on the projections for next year. What do we expect in project labor, managed services, hardware, software, hosting, etc.? I fill in numbers for each month. And, of course, we project some growth for the new year. See the sample display of revenue projections. Notice that it moves from "projected" to "actual" in August. Of course these are all fictional numbers.

In an earlier article, I talk about basic financial goals. Now we need to take a different view of the future. I am a firm believer that every business should have a one year, a three year, and a five year projection of where you want to go. For most businesses, anything beyond that is wild speculation.

In fact, five years might be wild speculation. But three years should be based in reality and should be attainable. The one year plan should be very realistic and reflect what you really expect. Here's what I mean.

If you set a goal of doubling your business in twelve months, that might be possible. It might be very realistic. Or it might be completely impossible. You want to stretch your goals, but not to the point where they're simply fiction.

So let's say you want to have 20% growth. That's still aggressive, but much more attainable. Okay, so how will you get there? In the real world, what do you need to do to make that happen? In December of this year you make $X, and in December of next year you expect to make $X*1.2. What's the action plan that gets you there?

Somewhere from December to December you're going to have to demonstrate an increase in one or more types of revenue. What drives that increase? Tell me the story of how you will do that.

Luckily, in managed services, we can plot and plan to increase recurring revenue. So the narrative (the story that supports this projection) needs to say something like
- Add one $500/month managed service contract per month
or
- Add one $5,000/month manage service contract per quarter

The next question is: How realistic is that? Have you been able to sell one small client per month or one large client per quarter? If so, great. If not, then explain how you are going to do that next year. It might be very real. You might have a grand marketing plan and you just hired a new sales person. Just make sure that there's a realistic "how" behind your ambitious plan.

Here are some basic questions to ask that will keep your revenue projections realistic:

The best estimate of next year's performance is this year's performance. 
Unless you can tell me why that's not true. This year might have had an extraordinary event that simply won't happen next year (good or bad).

I had a stretch of about ten years when I signed about one new client every calendar quarter. Some were large, some were small. Sometimes I dropped small clients to serve the new, larger clients. Sometimes I hired staff. Both of those events have to been accounted for. Bumping up the revenue by $1,000/month, followed by bumping up the payroll expense by $4,000/month can both be accomplished. But they need to be in the context of a realistic larger picture.

Your future budget must start with where you are right now. 
You cannot "assume" a brighter January unless you have a plan to make that happen. From today - from this month - you can tell a story of how you'll gain clients. If you start from today, you will ground your predictions in reality.

Be clear about your assumptions for next year. 
What do you think the economy will do? Why do you think that? What changes will you make and when? Will you hire someone? Will you offer a new service? Will you raise your rates.

Make notes about your assumptions and plans in the margin of your Excel spreadsheet. For example "Assume two new managed services clients per month. Will hire new tech 20 hours/week in May." You don't need lengthy paragraphs, just enough to jog your memory about what you'll tell someone to justify your numbers. That someone might be your accountant, your spouse, or your service manager.

Keep the end in mind. 
Now we're back to the long term. If you plan to double the size of your business in five years, what are the assumptions about years 1, 2, 3, and 4? If you're going to sell your business or retire in year five, what do you need to do between now and then to reach your goals? What has to change and what has to stay the same?

Short term and medium term goals should always move you toward your longer-term goals.

Share your projections and get feedback.
Show you budget projections to someone and ask them whether it looks realistic. You might be surprised with the questions you'll get. Put your ego aside try to answer their questions. If you can't, then you need to realistically re-evaluate your budget.


This might sound like a pain in the neck. But it really is an exercise worth doing. Even if you've been in business for ten years without a budget, I think you'll be surprised at the difference it makes when you do have a budget.

. . . Of course that assumes you pay attention to it once a month after the new year begins . . .


Comments welcome.

- - - - -



About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Layoffs and Downsizing

:-)
Join our Indiegogo campaign

Get the new 4-book series at the best price you'll ever see

Standard Operating Procedures
for Technology Consultants




Help make this 4-book set a reality and earn great perks for yourself.


See all the details - and some videos - at that site.

Thank you for your support!

Friday, November 08, 2013

SOP Friday: Getting Started - Cash vs. Accrual Accounting

One of the big(ish) decisions you need to make about your business is whether you will use the Cash Method or the Accrual Method of accounting. You can switch from one to the other, but it's not a good idea to do that too frequently. At the rollover to a new year is a good time to switch if you decide to.


What Are Cash Accounting and Accrual Accounting?


These are the two options you have for keeping track of money coming into and going out of your business. The essential difference between these two methods is the timing of when you "earn" or "spend" money. With cash basis, you earn money on the day you receive it and you spend money on the day you pay it. With accrual basis, you earn money on the day you invoice the client and you spend money on the day you agree to pay for something.

Here are two examples, one for income and one for expenses.

First, let's say you invoice a client for $100 on January 2nd and she pays you on January 15th. With the cash method, you earned that money on January 15th - the day she paid. With the accrual method, you earned that money on January 2nd - the day you invoiced her.

The difference doesn't matter much - except when you're trying to keep track of how you're doing each month. If you invoice the client on January 2nd and she pays on February 2nd, that money was earned in February under the cash method. And if she doesn't pay until March, it will be earned in March. Under the accrual method, the money was earned in January no matter when the client pays.

Second, let's say you put office supplies on your credit card on January 2nd. The bill comes and you pay it on February 2nd. Under the cash method, that expense happened in February. Under the accrual method, the expense happened in January when you committed to paying for the products.




Oddball Things That Happen with Cash and Accrual Methods


Personally, I think the accrual method is better for me because I like to line up income and cost of goods sold within the same month. This will never line up perfectly, but is much easier with accrual.

In my opinion, the cash method is fine if you are not good at paying attention to your financials and your bank account. But it makes it difficult to answer the simple questions
- What were your sales last month?
and
- What were your expenses last month?

Strictly speaking, the accrual method gives you a more accurate picture of how you did each month in terms of money "earned" and money spent. But if you don't get prepaid for all your work, you need to make sure you understand that the sales represent commitments for sales, not actual dollars in your bank account. You might have $20,000 in sales but not see the money for some time to come.

The exact opposite can happen with the cash method. You might have horrible sales in December but it looks like a great month because lots of clients decide to pay their bill before the end of the year. So all that cash "income" you earned in November and October shows up in December. Then again, the slow sales in December will make January look slow even if you make lots of sales.

The only real problem with the accrual method is when the client never pays. So, for example, you booked income in January but the money never shows up. At some point you need to write off that sale so that it reduces your earnings. Otherwise, you'll be taxed on a sale even though you never got the actual money.


Which Method is Best for You?

I don't know. Go talk to your accountant.

I'm not an accountant. I pay very close attention to my numbers. I use accrual.

There are a few choices made for you by the government. If you make $5 million or more, you have to use accrual. You also have to use accrual if you have revenue over $1 million and you maintain an inventory of merchandise.

In other words, if you're small and plan to stay there, they you can choose either method. If you are a little larger then you need to use accrual.

Go talk to your accountant so that you can make a decision and understand the consequences of the decision for you business.


Comments welcome.

- - - - -


About this Series


SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.


Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.


- - - - -


Next week's topic: Financial Goals - Realistic Revenue Projections


:-)


Join our Indiegogo campaign

Get the new 4-book series at the best price you'll ever see

Standard Operating Procedures
for Technology Consultants




Help make this 4-book set a reality and earn great perks for yourself.


See all the details - and some videos - at that site.

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

My Very Biased Opinion on Robin Robins and Her Technology Marketing Toolkit


Why I Promote Robin Robins' Training Materials
by Karl W. Palachuk

Recently, Robin asked me to send out some emails on her behalf. One of my fundamental rules of success is "Do what Robin says." That has worked well for me over the years. So I did.

A few people emailed me and asked why I was doing this. Some even opted out of my email list. The basic message was: You expect a newsletter from me and that's about it. So I thought I'd give you a sense of why Robin Robins is welcome in my neighborhood.

The current program Robin is promoting is a new video series on how to get more high-quality clients to outsource their IT support to you, without discounting or hard-selling. Please check it out.

But please also watch this video on why I subscribe to Robin's program, open her mailing every month, and encourage others to do the same:



Look for this sentence: "Buying into Robin Robins' first program that I bought into is the best decision I ever made for my IT company."

I would not encourage you to use Robin Robins' training videos or anything else unless I believe in it. And I wouldn't send out information about it unless I really think it's worth your while.

For general information on Robin's programs click here.

For information on this limited time offer for this video program click here.

:-)

Friday, November 01, 2013

SOP Friday: Signing Service Agreements

I've written hundreds of pages on service agreements. In fact, I'm just in the middle of a two-part series that is over at the StorageCraft Blog.

So this post is not about all about WHY you need service agreements or WHAT they need to look like. This post is very simply about a policy THAT you will have service agreements with every single client. As with all policies, it moves from a general principle to a process, procedures, and checklists.


Sidebar:

Defining Policy, Process, Procedure, and Checklist


The flow from Policy to Checklist is a flow from the broad to the specific. A policy is a statement of a course of action by the organization. For example, the following are policy statements:

- "We will get prepayment for all hardware and software we sell."

- "Everyone we do work for must have some kind signed agreement for services."

- "All technician labor must be performed against a service ticket."

A Process is the name given to a series of tasks that result in a general outcome. Processes support policies. There must be a process to make sure all clients sign service agreements.

A Procedure is the name given to a specific set of action steps that achieve an outcome. A process might include several different procedures.

A Checklist is the name given to the finest level of detail for executing the action steps needed to achieve a result. A procedure should include at least one checklist, but might include more than one checklist.


Your Policy: Everyone Signs a Service Agreement


As a starting point, let's just adopt the policy stated above: Everyone we do work for must have some kind signed agreement for services. Great.

Now, there are different types of service agreements. The most basic is a 1-2 page "terms of service" agreement. You might also have agreements for basic break/fix, managed services, blocks of time, projects, etc. You might have one agreement flexible enough to be used for all of these.

So, to implement you policy, you first need to have one or more service agreements that people can sign. Then you need a policy that says that everyone should sign. Finally, you need processes and procedures, and even a checklist, to make sure this happens.

See the blog post on Setting Up a New Managed Service Client (Checklist).

All of that happens as soon as the client signs a service agreement. Well, at least when they sign a managed services agreement. When you go through that checklist, I hope you can see that there's a lot of time (and a little money) involved in setting up a new M.S. client. So they better be under contract.

As for simple break/fix and small jobs, you will need a different process. Once you have the policy in place that everyone must have an agreement, you need to figure out how you'll make that happen. As a rule, larger agreements for ongoing service involve some kind of sales process that concludes with a signed agreement.

Smaller require just the 1-2 page "terms of service" agreement. In our company, the owner or service manager general works these jobs so they can meet the client and determine whether we want to pursue an ongoing relationship with them. The owner or service manager simply takes the 1-2 page "terms of service" agreement with him and has the prospect sign it before anything else is done.

If a technician is sent to do the job, the process is basically the same. They carry copies of the 1-2 page "terms of service" agreement and ask the process to sign it. Technicians need to be very clear on this point: No work can be done before that agreement is signed. Period.


This policy is pretty simple and straight forward. You can adopt it in sixty seconds and then simply do it from now on. Implementation simply consists of writing a quick process for writing up each kind of agreement. Assuming an agreement is the end product of a sales call, the only real procedure you need is about the terms of service agreement.

Just do it.


Comments welcome.

- - - - -



About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Getting Started - Cash vs. Accrual Accounting

:-)


Featured Product:

SMB Online Conference Recordings 

Download Sample Audio: 




2013 Recordings: IT Business Reboot 2013 

Topics include: 

- Keynote / Rebooting and Restructuring for the Future 
- Better Sales Through Better Education 
- Transform Your Business With A Hybrid IT Services Catalog 
- Five Tools That Could Transform Your Company Overnight 
- Understanding Your Financials: 3 QuickBooks Mandatory Monthly Reports 

- Keynote / Building Your Identity (Internally and Externally) 
- Effective Business Networking: How to Network Online and Offline 
- Five Magic Tricks to Make Your Numbers Jump Up and Speak to You 
- Serving Larger Clients - The Mid-Market Opportunity for Small Business Consultants 
- Stop Hiring Your First Sales Person Over and Over Again 

- Keynote / Absolute Rules of Success 
- How to Take Back and Turn Around Your Small Business 
- Thinking Inside the Box 
- Understand Your Financials - Use Data to Make Decisions 
- Where Facebook Meets Business - Strategies to Market to the Business Audience 

 - 2013 Online Conference Recordings - 15 hours - only $199


More about the 2013 Conference Recordings

More about the 2012 Conference Recordings