If you’re anything like me, you feel like there’s not enough time in the day. Maybe you’re take on too much, or maybe you’re doing things you don’t need to do. Either way, you (and I!) both need a change – and that’s where Reinart Bacalso comes in. He specializes in helping business owners reclaim their time by automating what they can, and putting the right processes in place. And today he’s going to give us his framework. Plus, in Build Something More, we talk all about his toolkit.
- Reinart Bacalso
- Agency Rocket Fuel Facebook Group
- Using Systems to Run a More Efficient Business with Shannon Shaffer
- How to Hire a VA That Actually Helps You with Matthew Yahes
- Join the Creator Crew
Joe Casabona: Hey everybody. Joe Casabona here and welcome to Episode 228 of How I Built It, the podcast that offers actionable tech tips for small business owners. Today’s sponsors are TextExpander, and The Events Calendar. You’ll learn about them later in the show. And today, our guest is Reinart Bacalso. He is the managing partner at Agency Rocket Fuel. And today he is going to teach us all about how we can leverage automation to grow our businesses.
Unlike previous episodes of automation, Reinart is actually going to walk us through the framework that his company takes new clients through to see how they’re spending their time, what they should be spending their time on, and how they can optimize that so you as the business owner can remove yourself more from your business, stop spending 60 to 80 hours a week on your business, and do the thing that you started your business for, which is have more free time.
But before we get into that, I do have a quick ask for you. The Creator Crew is going strong. It’s doing well. We post multiple times a week in our community and there’s a nice back catalogue of extended content. If you want to get these episodes extended and ad-free, you can head over to buildsomething.club and sign up for just 5 bucks a month or $50 a year, that’s two months free, and you will get access to all of the previous episodes bonus quarterly episodes.
In today’s Build Something More, Reinart and I talk all about the tools that we like to use and the detriment, we’ll say, of that tool [pon?], which is switching between a bunch of different tools just to try new tools. So we’ll talk about that and Build Something More.
Again, if you are interested, you can head over to buildsomething.club, sign up for five bucks a month. No long-term commitment required. If you try the first month and don’t like it, no harm, no foul. Or you can get two months for free by signing up for the year. You’ll get ad-free extended episodes, access to the community, deals on software and other stuff, and much, much more. So again, that’s over at buildsomething.club. But for now, let’s get into the episode with Reinart.
All right, I am here with Reinart Bacalso. He is the managing partner of Agency Rocket Fuel. We’re going to be talking about automation today, which is one of my favorite things to talk about. Reinart, how are you?
Reinart Bacalso: I’m good. I’m good. Thanks for having me.
Joe Casabona: My pleasure. Thanks for coming on the show. I was checking out Agencyrocketfuel.com, is your website, and you mentioned that you help agencies automate so that they can scale. So I’m really excited to hear a little bit about that. I’m a one-man band. I rely a lot on automation through Zapier and stuff like that. But before we get into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Reinart Bacalso: Sure. Sounds good. My name is Reinart, as you mentioned, and the business that we’ve kind of wanted to talk about here is Agency Rocket Fuel. But before that came to be, we have an agency as well. Its name is Augmen Digital. And really Agency Rocket Fuel came from our experience building Augmen Digital as the agency and just figuring out how to do it in the most streamlined way.
My background is in industrial engineering, which is the branch of engineering that deals with process and more on the manufacturing side, at least when I took it. But I was able to translate what we’ve learned there into the online space as I got exposed to online marketing and all these things. And then as I build out the agency… or as a freelancer, at least to start, we do Facebook ads. And when I started to build the agency, I was able to apply a lot of the concepts we learned within the – what do you call this? Within the program in university and then take it into building an agency making sure it’s very systematized with automations and all that.
My business partner Franbeau in Agency Rocket Fuel as well took industry engineering back then. So we both have that background and we just wanted to see how we could help a lot of other people who are struggling to kind of build systems for their agency. So that’s kind of we offshooted and built Agency Rocket Fuel. And that’s where we’re at now, helping other marketing agencies streamline their business through process automation with the ultimate goal of helping them achieve freedom, which is what I guess everyone wants out of their business. Right? So yeah, that’s a quick background on what we do.
Joe Casabona: That’s fantastic. I love that. There’s a couple of things already here. The first is I love that your background is in industrial engineering, which is not necessarily directly relatable to marketing. But I read a great book recently called “Range” about how maybe being a specialist and only knowing about your field is not the best. But having general knowledge about other things gives you different perspectives. And I think this is really great proof of that because you are able to take things you learned in industrial engineering, apply them to marketing and agency growth.
The other reason I think this is important is because, at least in my space, in my circles, I kind of made my bones in the WordPress space. And I suspect a lot of freelancers have a similar story to mine. We think, “Oh, man, I can make money making websites. This is great.” So then you just kind of go and start making websites and don’t really think about the process. Oh, well, they’ll just pay me via PayPal and PayPal money will be fun money. I’ll just do whatever I need to do or whatever. That’s not an efficient way to run a business. So I think this is going to be really great.
You mentioned that you were able to apply some of these concepts and build systems for the agency. You have your own agency. It sounds like you’re dogfooding your own product here. Is that about right? Have you heard that term before?
Reinart Bacalso: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I think that’s what’s pretty cool because they complement each other. And I think that’s why I’m the dynamic of us being so process-oriented comes out. Because even if there is sister companies in a sense, we still act as if Agency Rocket Fuel is a client for Augmen Digital. Of course, we run the ads for that company. Augmen Digital is a client of Agency Rocket Fuel in which the team there helps out with our systems.
So even in that regard, we like to still think of it separately. But yeah, definitely, there’s a lot of, of course, new things we bought in the agency side, we shared through the Agency Rocket Fuel team. Any new things they find here we also share it. So there’s a lot of cross-learning that happens because of how it’s all set up. So that’s how we keep up to date, because a lot of things change quickly, especially with Facebook ads, and all that these days.
Joe Casabona: I think that makes so much sense. So let’s give the listeners a good idea of what the process at Agency Rocket Fuel looks like, and then we can maybe talk about the value of building systems and automating. So let’s say that I have hired you over at Agency Rocket Fuel, I want to grow my business. I’m a one-man band with a family so I can’t put all this time into my own business. I want to work on the business not in it. What’s the onboarding process? What kind of services are you going to offer for me?
Reinart Bacalso: Sure, sure, it sounds good. Actually, that’s a lot of our clients who come to us. That’s the key avatar. A lot of agency owners we come across, they just wanted to start something to kind of get out of the 9 to 5, the corporate, kind of want to provide for their family more. Most of them they’re starting off new families so they really kind of want to get that time back.
But then what they see is that they start the agency, and then maybe they get a few sales here and there, and maybe they get some referrals. Like you said, they get to build a website, get paid in paper, like, “Oh my gosh. I’m like halfway away from my monthly salary, or whatever it is, let me just quit.” And then they head in headfirst, and it’s all good. They maybe figure out sales really quickly, and then their flow comes in and it keeps rolling and rolling.
The next thing you know, two months down the line, the same thing that they thought would take them out of the day-to-day work or that grind is now even producing more hours for them in terms of work. So that’s the usual thing that happens. And that’s really the kind of business that we can help with the most are the ones that have found some success in terms of getting clients. So a lot of material out there these days on getting clients with ads, with so many other methods, so many different methods.
But what we saw, as we tried to think about how do we serve this market a bit better, there’s not much out there in terms of how do we actually bring it all in and turn that during those clients and then, of course, retain them and work with them longer periods, and of course, not burnout in the process.
When you try to help any client, our general methodology is we got to first audit everything. We start with the audit—we want to understand what you’re currently doing. So many people think that when you want to basically automate the business or get things off my plate, you just hire someone. Go in Upwork or go on Fiverr and hire.
And that might be the case for some tasks, because it’s just burning and you just needs someone to help. But longer-term, you gotta really find the time to step back and really think about things. Like, what am I currently doing? What’s currently happening? Because if you’re logging, what, 40, 50, 60 hours a week working your business, it could be agency, it could be something else, usually, you’re doing so much stuff in the business, you aren’t stepping back to think about how you’re working on the business.
So what I like to tell people who approach us, client or not, is like, you’re already spending 60 hours working, what’s another hour or two? They’re going to just step back and think. Because it will help to pay off in the long term because you’re able to identify, what am I actually doing and these 60 hours? So whenever we work with our clients-
Joe Casabona: Just to drive home that point, taking an hour or two to plan and figure things out could save you 10, 15, 20 hours in the long term. Right?
Reinart Bacalso: Exactly. People are very surprised when they see that. And you just need someone to kind of tell you that and for you to commit to getting that done. But that’s what we do first, we kind of audit everything. And it’s funny because that’s the first step. And it’s very simple. We have this little Google Sheet we create for our clients. It’s very simple. Anyone listening to the show can do it. Just put Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday as columns and then split it out by the hour and just start putting in what do you do in these hour chunks. Keep it simple. You can do it on the journal even.
And you’ll see that oh, my God, I’m spending like three hours on this client almost every day, or I’m spending X amount of hours just going back and forth with this client or doing this kind of task for my business. And it becomes very clear what’s taking up a lot of your time and how it’s taking up a lot of your time. So we got a lot of people we work with that really find value in that. And we haven’t even done any automation work.
So that foundation is very important, being able to step back, and like you said, plan and think. I think that’s very key. I think what stood out to me recently, I watched a video, an interview of Jeff Bezos or something. And he was saying that results are great for this quarter and whatever for Amazon, but then his executives’ team and himself, he’s not thinking about this quarter or even the next. They’re already thinking about three years down the line. They’re thinking so long term. And the success they’re finding today has been planned three years ago.
So, of course, if you’re new, we’re not expecting you to do the same. Things for a bit faster-paced when you’re new, but the concept applies. Like thinking will pay off in the long term if you just take some time to step back. So that’s step one. Just audit your time and think about what do I actually do? Do I actually plan my work? How does that look like? It starts there.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. You’re right, that can apply to anything. I mean, this podcast… we’re recording this episode on May the 4th, this episode is not going to come out for a couple of months because I have a content plan in place. Just to kind of pull back the curtain, I guess, the time travel curtain. I think that makes perfect sense.
One thing that you said that reminded me of a quote: Most freelancers won’t die of starvation, they’ll die of overeating, because they have too many clients and they can’t manage it, and then things start to fall apart. And so understanding where you spend your time is so, so important, no matter if you do client work or product work.
I was using an app called… Timerly? No, Timerly is the iOS app. Timing. It showed me I was doing something for five minutes, then going to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and then going back to that thing, just because I was super distracted. And I’m like, “No wonder I can’t get anything done in an eight hour day. I’m switching between five websites all day.” It might be a painful discovery, but it’s going to be super helpful in the long run.
Reinart Bacalso: For sure. For sure. It’s a very key insight. Anyone who’s listening to this show, download some sort of app—there’s so many out there—and just see what the numbers look. They can do on a Saturday or something to review it and see what you can dropdown. Just start there. I know this is about automations and all but it really starts with that audit.
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And now let’s get back to it.
Joe Casabona: Let’s say we have the audit now, I know where I’m spending my time. Is there another step before we get to automation? Or what’s that process from getting to “All right, well, I’m spending 12 hours a day, and six of that is client email.” How do I take this off of my plate without necessarily hiring a person to read my email?
Reinart Bacalso: I would say next step really depends. Now, it becomes very custom depending on your business. I can answer this for sure to give you a framework. But that’s kind of like what we saw when you’re working with clients. At first, to be honest, when we started… the reason why we started this Agency Rocket Fuel one is because we actually wanted to do a coaching program, because we were like, “The agency is a lot of labor.” You need a lot of people to do the actual service. So we were like, “Let’s build a new kind of product or offer where we don’t have to be building stuff for people and people can go through a course or something or some coaching course. It’s a much, much easier.”
So that’s our mindset going into it. But as we went into it, we realized that we were helping people with no time. So it made no sense for us to be giving them like, “Hey, watch this eight hour course on how to save you time.” They had no time. So we decided around a few months into it that if we really are in it to serve our customers the best or this market the best, we got to iterate away from being purely coaching or digital product business.
So we started bringing on a team to build out these automations and stuff, and it became very custom. So now after the audit is done, we figure out what’s the best next step for the business depending on where they’re at. But that’s what actually we thought. But then for that specifically, I would say if you’re really already burning, the first process we like to look into and really dissect is the onboarding. This is primarily for agencies, but I think to a certain degree, even in broader businesses, it’s good to really review your onboarding and make sure it’s airtight.
The reason why we put the really big emphasis on onboarding is because we’ve seen in our experience that it makes such a huge impact on the client relationship. I think this applies also with product businesses a lot. Because let’s say with product businesses you have a poor onboarding experience or you have a SAS or whatever it is, and people are confused on how to use the app. Your support tickets on the back end are going to increase long term. You don’t see it upfront maybe but you see it two or three months down the line, and that’s what eats up your time.
Again, that’s why you have to step back and think longer-term what are the stuff you do today that’s going to affect the long term? So we like looking at onboarding for that reason, because especially in the agency side, what do you do in that even the first five minutes of you working on onboarding a client can make or break their relationship. Especially with agencies you’re probably selling something of, hopefully a higher value or higher price so you earn something from it.
Of course, people are investing in the business. If you’re doing websites or if you’re doing Facebook ads or whatever service is. Business just dropped a few grand on you to kind of do a service. And if you don’t even send them a message or anything at that very first interaction, they’re going to start feeling, “Well, what’s up? I just dropped a big investment on this team and this person and literally, no one messaged me. I don’t know what’s next.” People don’t think about it, but it creates a lot of tension from the get-go. And because of that initial experience, the client’s not going to email you every day, “Hey, what’s up?” Or “Hey, what’s happening? Where’s the updates.” They get antsy.
So you might think that the problem is that you’re spending now six hours a day doing client emails. But the problem really was when you first worked with them that you did not set the right expectations, you didn’t get back to them quick enough. You just didn’t really figure out what that onboarding sequence looks like. So that’s the kind of next stage for us.
Joe Casabona: I think that’s fantastic. Because I think a lot of us have probably been in a situation where I’ve been all gung ho to send the contract, and then the invoice, and then I just get to building and nothing after that. And they’re like, “Hey, where’d you go? We gave you money and then you disappeared.” I’m like, right? So automating some of that is so important. I mean, you’ve seen it, my podcast guests have seen it.
Reinart Bacalso: Amazing stuff there.
Joe Casabona: Like you sign up and then you get an email that day, you got a page that you got to read, you get a couple of reminders, you’re going to get an email after this interview saying, “Here’s where you upload your audio.” So I don’t do that myself. It would never happen if I had to do that myself for every interview. I have four interviews today.
Automating that is… I think that’s a really good place to start. Shannon Shaffer talked about that on a previous episode. I’ll link that in the show notes for this episode over at howibuilt.it. But I think onboarding is a really good place to start. Like you said, whether it’s products or services. Because that onboarding for a product means, like you said, support tickets or just the person’s going to stop using your product and churn out. “Oh, I don’t use this. It was too hard, so I stopped using it.”
Reinart Bacalso: Yeah, for sure. And it’s not like some people would think like, “But I’m fulfilling on the service, and all that.” And yeah, we’re not calling you a scammer or anything that maybe you just took that person’s money run away. Of course, you’re doing the work, but the client does not see that. The clients not going to see that. There’s literally no one to blame here, but the system itself.
This is another way we like to look at things. And one of the things we teach early on with our clients, because this whole systems thing is also mindset. It’s not just like I come in here, build automation and that’s it. You got to start thinking in that way. Because in that scenario, specifically, it’s like a longer-term consequence you don’t see upfront.
So you have to start thinking what actions should be taken today to reduce work in the future. So it’s not really like, what can I cut down today? So yeah, you’re going to have to spend maybe a few extra hours on top of the 60 you’re already doing. Hopefully, you’re listening to the show right now, you can do something about it a bit earlier and not get to that point and start working on that. Like how can I avoid some of these situations? And onboarding is definitely the big one.
Maybe we can go a bit into what we recommend for onboarding. But again, it’s very similar to what you’ve done with your podcast. Like when I saw this I was like, “I gotta send this to the team. We got to do the same with our interviews because it’s next level.” But onboarding, like you said, it’s not only even with clients, it’s like partnerships like this one or interviews or any kind of experience you have with service or something.
But key parts for us there that we highlight is first there has to be some sort of welcome email that is automated. We like to add in the story there, kind of empathize with a client a bit, and share why the service is built, why this is the best place for them to be in.
Very important in email is you have to share to them how they can succeed. This is dependent on the product and service. You might spread this out a few emails with all in one or make it, if you’re a SAS, an onboarding sequence of sorts. Really depends. But the concept and principle is you got to share it to them and tell them how they can succeed with you. And second is what next. Now that they’ve signed a contract, maybe they’ve paid you upfront for something, what do they have to do next?
And why we like automating this onboarding process, because we see a lot of people that they have back-to-back sales calls. Let’s say they close one client… out of the five in a day, they close two, which is great, where everyone’s happy. But literally you’re so busy. You’re trying to draft this contract, draft this contract, and you don’t have time. And you have a client calling in that same day after those five calls. Next thing you know it’s five days later and you haven’t sent anything to that new place and new close.
So you want to automate that. You want to make it as quick as possible to just let go to the client to tell them what they need to do next. And you want to put as much of the next steps as what they have to do on them. Like immediately after. So it could be maybe some sort of automation if you have a pipeline like CRM, like Pipedrive, maybe drag someone to close and you figure out Zapier then sends an email, it sets up folders, it sets up all these things. Or maybe you fill out the form. Either way, it works. It sets up the contract. That’s all on the client side. So now you can just focus on going about your day and you just have to wait for your client to maybe fill out the form on that email, or whatever is your next step.
So we believe that welcome email is a very big beast that people don’t spend the time to think about. But actually it takes an hour or something to write out. If you just think about what do you want the client to do next and put on them, so you can just wait for it next.
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And now let’s get back to it.
Joe Casabona: So you mentioned Pipedrive, Zapier, how much do the tools matter? Or is it more the feature that the tool offers?
Reinart Bacalso: It’s really less about the tool. That’s one thing we get. It’s a very good question. People ask us all the time, “Hey, should I just get this one or this one? Asana or Teamwork or Basecamp?” All these platforms. And our answer to that is always like, “Worry about the tool later. Use whatever you’ve been used to to a certain degree.” Almost all tools have some sort of way that it can be automated. Almost all. They all integrate with Zapier in some way. And you can get fancy later on.
So if you’re currently using Pipedrive, use that. If you’re using HubSpot, use that. For us, we usually start with forms, Google Forms even because the most raw way to really see and visualize how when you enter information certain steps happen in the automation, and it outputs certain things. Because when you do things, like really advanced stuff, when you drag a card and let’s say Pipedrive or a CRM, or Kanban, move them to close, and there’s all these fancy things, sometimes it’s hard to consume in what the heck’s going on? Some magic happening.
So we always start with forms. We build out the forms, and later the client is like, “Hey, I actually use Pipedrive as my CRM. Can we actually trigger it using Pipedrive?” Then “yeah, let’s do it.” But we like using forms to start. Anyone’s new to this listening to this, you should definitely do the same. Just start simple and explore from there. So use whatever you’re currently using and just try to understand the idea of like, what can I automate today in the onboarding? Sending an email it’s literally just like one Zavier step of send email. It’s not very complicated.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah. And maybe we could talk about this in the members part of the episode, Build Something More, about what a lot of people do with tool switching and maybe new tool [pon?] or whatever. I’m like that. But we’ll dig into that in Build Something More. So if you are not a member yet, you can sign up over at buildsomething.club to get this extra part of the episode and an extra part of every episode ad-free. But I think that’s great because then you don’t have to be like, “By the way, I need access to all of your tools right now to help you do my job.” That’s another big benefit of starting with forms.
Reinart Bacalso: Exactly, exactly. So you got to just start simple and then build from there. As you get better with automation or maybe you hire someone, it’s just so much easier to understand if you start simple. We use Google Sheets a lot as well for database kind of stuff, like a list of clients and all that, and a lot of people come to us like, “Why don’t we use something like Monday or Airtable or these advanced stuff?” And we’re like, “Yeah, we can, but then will you understand how they’re used?”
In the end what we want whenever we work with anyone, even in a consultation basis, like advise anyone, you got to understand what’s happening. Because some people are hiring an Ops Manager and [unintelligible 00:30:58] kind of thing. I guess there’s pros and cons to both ways, but we’re in the camp that you, as a business owner, have to at least understand what’s going on to a certain degree the systems and the fundamentals. And maybe when it gets more advanced, yes, hire it out because of course, you have your zone of genius, you got to focus there. But you got to have that systems kind of mindset from the get-go and understand some of these more foundational stuff so when things break you’re not left into like, “What’s happening?”
Joe Casabona: Yeah. Plus, I mean, starting simple means you understand what you need. I had a conversation with Matthew Yahes a while back, he’s an expert in virtual assistants. I hired a virtual assistant back in December and for the first few months, I wasted her time, I wasted my own money, because I was just like, “Go do this.” But I didn’t really understand my process. So how can I expect her to understand my process.
Now I create a video every time I do something new and I tell her to transcribe it and create the steps. It’s a lot more smooth sailing now. You got to start basic, and you need to understand what you’re doing before you can automate or outsource.
Reinart Bacalso: For sure. And that leads us to the next one. So after onboarding, in our methodology, we go next to process. So we go into documentation. Once you’ve figured out the onboarding process and automated a lot of things, part of that automation includes project management set up, all that stuff. Again, fundamentally, the idea is to front load as much work as possible and plan it out as much as possible, because onboarding is going to be the same for most of your clients. And if it isn’t, you should aim for that.
Like if your service, for example, if you’re a freelancer or a budding agency owner or you want to grow your service, try as much as possible to standardize it and not be offering everything to everyone. Very conventional advice. Niche down, choose a service, choose a niche, you’re going to be successful. So that’s the onboarding.
After that, we go into documentation. You make a great point, because a lot of people think that, “oh, I have some of this automated, let me hire someone directly and let me see what they can do.” That’s really the phrase. That’s what most people get into where they hire someone, and they’re just in Slack. And they’re just like, you know, you’re just chatting, and you’re, “Hey, what’s up?” “I’m good.” “I got something to deal with, not really do. You just have a quick chat with your VA or something.
So that’s why we don’t go into hiring yet. What we go into first is, let’s document some of the processes. A lot of clients, or at least businesses we speak to, they’re like, “I don’t have a process.” And they’ve had like 20 clients or something. They’re like, “I don’t have a process. I don’t know what I do.” We’re like, “You fulfilled on 20 client campaigns for 20 websites. You have a process, you just have to put it out on paper. You just have to put it down. Get out of your head and put it on paper.”
So that’s what we recommend to our clients is like once you figure out some of the automation side to get onboarding a bit more streamlined, next thing sing into what you actually do to fulfill at least the core pieces. And what are the core parts of your service that we can kind of standardize? So I know you have probably never made a process in your life but you have one. Let’s work together to extract it.
So how we go about that extraction process is as simple as just brain dumping. Just sit down, get a piece of paper or a document, Google Doc, notes and just start writing. What do you do? What’s step one? What’s step two? What’s step three? And we can organize later. And people are very surprised when they do that and it’s like, “Oh, this is it? This is what I was doing.”
And we’re like, if you have a hard time doing that, like you said, just shoot the video. We use Loom a lot. Loom.com. And just click that button whenever you do something and try to talk your way through yourself doing it. And I think that’s a big exercise a lot of people actually enjoy and see, “Oh, when I actually started trying to explain myself on the video as if I was teaching someone, I actually see a lot of the gaps in my process.” They’re like, “Oh, why am I doing this? If I were to teach somebody to do that, I wouldn’t do it like this. I’ll do it like this instead.” So that’s another way as well. Like just doing a video and just trying to teach while doing it, and you’d be surprised how efficient you become in your own process.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. I would just say leave the mistakes in. I think that’s important too. I think the first video I shot for my VA, I was like, “And then you go to this… Oh, I don’t have a central folder for all my podcast artwork or whatever. I need to do that now.” So it helped me improve my process. I have a production folder now with all the artwork and the episodes. And I talked through all that. So now she has a better understanding of the way I think and how the process is supposed to work.
I also learned that she’s very good at transcription. I have a transcriber—Evelyn, you’re great—but if I have a ton of other stuff, I know that I have another person who can do transcription if I need it.
Reinart Bacalso: For sure. I think that’s a great point that you highlighted there. That you end up explain… if you’ve even done the mistakes, and you have to, some people like, “Oh, I made a mistake. I’ll redo the Loom.” Don’t do that. Just keep it in there and solve it on the way. Like you said, you’ll be able to kind of rub off your thought process and your thinking through that person. And really, that’s where you want to get to.
I mean, first step is being able to teach someone the whole idea about what buttons to click right. But over time, you want to be able to train people or get people to a place where they understand why the buttons are being clicked. Like, why do we do this a certain way? Why do we do that. And ultimately, you want them to understand the outcome of doing certain things. Because in the future, what you really want to get to, as you get more advanced, and you’ve gotten some of the foundations in place, is being able to have a team where you give a certain outcome, like, “Hey, I want this done,” and they can figure it out on their own with the principles or thinking that you’ve kind of set in place through your processes.
You don’t want to be the one micro… like you might think, I might not micromanaging people by telling them exactly what to do. But you got to start somewhere. You got to start somewhere. And then over time, you build that muscle and you can start moving more towards in the spectrum of delegating outcomes rather than delegating actions. So that’s where we want to get to.
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Joe Casabona: So we’ve been talking for a while now. Before I get to my big question, we do the wrap-up, I know you’re working through a framework. We are on step three by my account. Is there another step or another… is there like 10 steps to…?
Reinart Bacalso: Yeah, we’re going to through the last two are really, really quick.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, right.
Reinart Bacalso: The first three are really important. Now let’s say you have your process, you’ve done some brain dumps and put it on paper or you’ve shot some videos. Next step is now I would say you’re in the more confident place to hire. So now you know exactly what you want out of certain set of tasks. You can use that to leverage your hiring.
So our principle behind hiring is we always want to be able to task people on what they’ll actually do. A lot of people are like, “I hire people and they have such great resumes or whatever, but when they actually do the work and I hired them, and we’re committed to… I have to provide for this person’s like livelihood, they actually don’t do the actual work properly.”
So our methodology is always try to test people on what they’re going to do. And you can’t do that if you have no process. This is why sequence matters. You got to have that sequence. You got to have that process. So maybe your trial project or whatever it is maybe like a quick trial project of whatever the task is, you can just share that same video and maybe set up some side test environment, a bit more work. But again, it’s going to pay off in the long term, because once you’ve set it up initially, ideally, you just have to just do it again and again if you have new people you want to hire for that same role.
And ideally, they go through it, and you can see the actual work output rather than what they graduated in college or what their achievements are. Because to be honest, it doesn’t really matter, especially in remote work. What matters is their ability to do that work and culture fit. Those two are what we really look out for.
So in the interview process, we don’t ask a lot about the work. We ask about experience and stuff. We try to ask questions to figure out, would they jive with our team right now? Are we in the same kind of thinking? Do we have the same values? Because we really believe that if we have someone with the right attitude and the work ethic, and we’re aligned values wise, they’re going to figure it out if they’re given the right process. So that’s the hiring piece.
So you have process, now you get to hire, after which you want to be able, the last pillar of sorts, is you want to be able to build systems to track everything. Now that you have a team in place, you have processes that are running, you have KPIs or any ad campaigns, you want to be hitting the target cost per purchase. If you’re making websites, you want to be able to hit deadlines.
You want to be able to track client’s side metrics, like your ability to deliver and you also want to be able to track on team’s metrics of how your team is doing, what their hours are, things like that. Are they happy? Are they showing up every day, their best self kind of thing? So that’s what we wrap it up with—being able to build some sort of tracking system or workflow with your team to be able to see numbers, and you’re able to build accountability with your team with those numbers. And from there, hopefully, you have some time back. Now you have [inaudible 00:42:09]
Joe Casabona: Absolutely. That’s fantastic. I will just say, you know, you mentioned that you test people on what they’ll actually do. I think that’s so great. Like you said, grades don’t matter that much. When high school or college students come to me and they ask like, “What should I focus on, this and that? Should I do extracurricular activities?” I say, “I was one point off of graduating [unintelligible 00:42:39]. But nobody who’s ever hired me cared about that.”
They cared about my extracurricular activity. “Oh, I see you were president of the computer science club. I see that you were on an event planning board?” They’re not like, “Oh, you just missed…” I’m not trying to go to Harvard or like Harvard Law or whatever. So I think that’s a really good point.
And then, like you said, KPIs which KPIs comes up a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever formally defined it on this show. But this is a key performance indicator is what that stands for. And that could be anything. If you sell widgets, how many widgets are you selling a day? Or how many billable hours are your employees working per day? What are you trying to do? Understanding that every hour probably isn’t billable, things like that.
Reinart Bacalso: Exactly. Right. So that’s the dream. A lot of people come to us and they’re like, “I want freedom.” And that’s the vision they have, that they go on vacation, and they open up an app on their phone and they see numbers and they see how the business is doing without them having to kind of jump in all the time. And they’re able to make decisions from these numbers. So you can get there. But you got to have the foundations first. You got to have a good onboarding system, some documentation in place.
From there, build a team to kind of take over some of the work. Because 60 hour work weeks, you can’t automate all of that no matter what you do. You’re going to have to have people. And if that’s the decision you want to make with your business, you want to grow, it might keep up that client load, and you have to hire people. But make sure you have those processes in place.
Then lastly, you can start figuring out, how can I make sure the team is accountable to numbers, the key performance indicators, if the business is healthy financial wise, retention wise, whatever metrics that matter to you. And of course, your team as well. Don’t forget your team. Ask them maybe once a month or a few weeks how are they feeling. Quantify that somehow. Maybe a happiness score, that’s what we have in our agency, just to get a feel and a pulse of how the team is feeling as well towards the work. That’s it. You go on the beach and enjoy your life.
Joe Casabona: Boom. Awesome. Awesome. I absolutely love that. This has been great. I do need to ask you my favorite question, which is do you have any trade secrets for us?
Reinart Bacalso: Trade secrets. A trade secret I would say is that just step back. I think I said this in step one. A lot of people think there’s a lot of hacks in this line of a project or this kind of service. But no, it’s really about taking time to step back and think. I think that’s the biggest secret of all, taking time to think and a lot of things will be clear from there, hopefully.
Joe Casabona: Awesome. I love that. And you’re following a very important podcasting role, which is repeat the most important parts because people might have missed it in the beginning or forgotten. And it’s important to reinforce that. Step back, understand what you’re doing, and then you can follow the rest of this great framework.
Reinart, this has been a fantastic conversation. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?
Reinart Bacalso: Sure, you can visit agencyrocketfuel.com. We have the frameworks there, and you can learn more about us. And if you want a bit more content in terms of actual training, we go very deep into the actual automations. We build how to build… We use Asana, so how to build on Asana, or that in agencyrocketfuel.com/fb-group. So it’s a Facebook group. It’s free. There’s a lot of content in there on the actual building of these automations and processes we talked about during the show.
Joe Casabona: Awesome, I love it. I will link to that and everything that we talked about in the show notes over at howibuilt.it/228. Again, if you are not a member, you can sign up over at buildsomething.club, because we are going to talk all about playing with different tools and when that’s good, when that’s maybe more harmful. But again, Reinart, thanks for joining us. I really appreciate the time.
Reinart Bacalso: Awesome. Appreciate you having me as well. Thank you.
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