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Agency operations can be a complex and daunting task. There are many moving parts, and often times it feels like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done.
But the good news is: this is where streamlining your agency operations can be a game changer.
By assessing your current processes and implementing some simple changes, you can easily free up time and resources which can be better spent on servicing your clients.
But starting it can be the hardest part. That’s why I recently sat down with ZenPilot co-founder, Gray Mackenzie, to talk about how his company is helping agencies streamline their operations and how you can get started, too.
You’ll also learn some of the best tips and tricks on how you can use your tools more effectively so that you can get more things done while keeping your teams happy and productive at the same time.
Sounds like something you’d like to learn more about?
Then read the full transcript below.
📄 Video Transcription:
Hey, hey everybody, and we are back for another episode of Boss Your Business, where I poke people to figure out how they built their business around the lifestyle they wanna have. And today I’m getting joined by Gray McKenzie, who is a fellow ClickUp-vetted consultant and partner of mine who is running a big ass agency.
I don’t even know how many employees you have now. We will be talking about all of that. Um, with ZenPilot. And ZenPilot helps agencies build more productive, profitable, and healthy teams by streamlining their operations in ClickUp. No, we are not just gonna be talking ClickUp today. We are actually talking as always, how to Boss Your Business.
So Gray, how are you? I haven’t seen you in a while. You’ve guys been busy, haven’t you?
Oh, we have been busy. Yeah, life is good. There’s a lot, a lot going on right now. This month, as we’re recording this, this is the first month where I’ve done a decent amount of travel since, um, since pre-Covid. So I’ve been on the road a little bit and it feels really good to also be back home with the family again.
Yeah, life kind of getting normal again, isn’t it? So tell us, tell us a little bit about you. So, I already mentioned ZenPilot is an agency to help other agencies build their business, build streamlined team and all of it. But give me a little bit of rundown. How, how big is ZenPilot? How old is ZenPilot now?
What is ZenPilot in the numbers?
Yeah, so ZenPilot, the business entity itself, is nine years old. Um, but the, the actual business or what we’re this iteration of the business, um, we are about four years into. So we’re a team of 16. Um, our mission is to help bring clarity from chaos for agencies.
We’re so used to, you know, throwing around like, oh, this is the agency life. This is the way it has to be. But you see inside enough agencies and we just cross 2,700 agencies who we’ve worked with over the last nine years. Oh. And you see into enough of ’em and you’re like, no, there’s some where it’s not this cra… there’s always gonna be some level of chaos, but there’s not the level of chaos that, um, that there needs to be, uh, in most teams.
And there’s the good chaos and there’s the bad chaos.
A hundred percent. Yeah. We’re growing and there’s naturally things breaking because we’re hitting the ceiling and we’re continually figuring out how do we break through it and get to the next ceiling and keep going.
Whereas there, the chaos, which is just the dysfunctions of a team and the dysfunctional, you know, relationships and systems and processes that we have that holds a lot of people back and they never get a chance to break through a lot of the ceilings in their business.
So I’m curious, um, just because I have worked with agencies in the past too.
Dealing with bad chaos
Um, how much of the bad chaos do you see in agencies?
A lot. Right?
I like the, a lot because this was literally just a, a kind of like external validation for me. I’m like, I came into agencies and I’m like, what the hell are you?
How did you guys make it this far with not having any systems for that matter?
Yeah. You see the, You see the experience just on site with an agency. I won’t blow ’em up and say where I was or what the agency is, but for one of their clients they’re working with, it’s a big client for them, they have 13 different internal Slack channels for all different pieces of that one, servicing this one client.
Those aren’t, that’s not the shared channels with the client, it’s just the internal ones. And then another client. You know, it really depends on the quality of the folks who are managing the roles. There’s all this variance that happens and that happens all over the place um, inside agency life.
That’s just like a simple example that because so many people run on Slack, a lot of people can probably relate to, but okay, then we don’t know what channel do we use for this? Who’s talking where, who’s doing whatever? How do we manage projects? Some people have everything in here. There’s just very few standards or systems and processes, which is normal because a part of the agency business is such an easy business to enter into. Um, you know, there’s basically no barrier to entry. There’s nobody who goes to agency school and then comes out and runs it.
The 3 agency archetypes
The closest you get to that, like there’s three archetypes I was talking about with agencies, There’s the accidental agency owner, which is, you know, I was good at design and then people kept asking me and I got too busy and I was like, ah, if I hired someone else I could take on more.
And so there’s, you know, we just kind fall into it because of the skillset. Then you’ve got the people who were in house at an agency and they got tired and said, yeah, I was doing all this work at ZenPilot and I wasn’t, you know, I was only making whatever, and I could make a lot more. Then I, I see what clients are paying and I could make a lot more if I went and did it on my own.
So you’ve got that kind of the X agency folks and those people probably have the best training. And then you get the people who go after, and I’m sure you’ve seen this one, the anti-agency agency and all their websites say we’re not like every other agency.
Um, but you know, they were in house, they had a bad experience working with an agency somewhere, and then they’re like, okay, well I can go do this better if I go do it. And the commonality between all of them is, no one’s ever taught or schooled them on here’s the systems and processes you need. Like what are the core systems that you need to run a really sophisticated business?
And they’ll be strong in some areas, typically around marketing and doing the actual work and weaker usually in the the business operations side of things.
So I love how with those three different types and yeah, I can and can totally see that that’s usually how things come around.
What was your growth story like?
I know how you got here. I, we know each other, so I already have a little bit of background information, but I wanna share with my audience. So first official question, how did you actually get to where you are today? So what has been your growth story to get to ZenPilot how it is right now?
I’ll give you the 32nd version of like the boring 10 years before and then kind of the iteration over the last couple years.
Um, Andrew and I were in that first bucket. Um, and you know, my, uh, co-founder Andrew, who’s my business partner, um, here, best friends through college. We were doing, I was doing a lot of freelance web development and hosting and design and he was doing a lot of social media management and some content stuff.
And so we coming out of college said, hey, long term to become the men who we wanna become. We think who we are building widgets with is probably more important than the widgets that we’re building. And we wanna find a way to keep working together. Um, and so we started, uh, a content marketing agency out of college.
Um, joined the HubSpot ecosystem relatively early on. We were one of the first couple hundred partners there. Um, grow our agency Guava Box in the HubSpot ecosystem, and as we had success and were scaling that business really struggled with project management. So that led to our second business, which was a spin out of our first business, which was a project management software called DO Inbound, specifically built for other inbound marketing agencies.
So it was a very niche, um, product. Bootstrapped that, put a couple million dollars, and it grew to a little over 500 customers. Over the next couple years took most of the best folks from the Guava Box team, our agency, and stole ’em for our SaaS . And we hit a point though, where we really struggled to get churn, um, down, which I did not realize was totally normal in early stage.
It felt like, oh, we can’t get churned below 5% consistently month over month. That’s a huge challenge for us. And so we started adding in some services on top to try to solve that. So our coaching team’s on. Here’s the process you need. Here’s the behaviors that your team needs to be running on if you’re gonna be successful in our software do inbound.
And that worked pretty well. But the bulk of our revenue then began to come from services instead of software. Yeah. And so we went through the identity crisis moment of, are we truly a SaaS company or are we a services company that has this SaaS on the side? And we’re putting all this time and mental energy and emotion into trying to build the software.
But really what the market is telling us is we’re much better on the coaching and training front. So 2018, kinda into 2017 into 2018, we all load through that for a little while, figuring out who we were and then finally figured out like, hey, we’re gonna solve this problem, uh, on top of someone else’s software.
And so went through 71 different PM tools, wound up finding ClickUp at the end of 2017.
I got 71.
Yeah, a lot of, a lot of six months worth of research. I’ve got all kinds of like spreadsheets and notes from, from all that stuff, which is crazy. Today, that number would be what, 150, like a ton of PMGs have come into market since then.
Yeah. So yeah, so we, um, we wound up choosing ClickUp. We knew we wanted to specialize in one software. Not cuz there’s a one size fits all. One tool’s the only tool for every agency. So we were trying to maximize our surface area and say we only want, we wanna specialize in one, so we can go super deep on it.
Yeah. And so we want the one that’s the best fit for most agencies most of the time, which has always been our standard. That’s what we think ClickUp is today. It’s the best fit for most agencies most of the time. If there’s a world where that’s not true. In a year, two years, five years, whatever that is.
Like, we’ll go whatever we think that tool is, um, on the market. And so we, we, uh, initially approached that with Andrew and I having come out of, uh, seven years of running with a larger team or growing two different teams. Our team at Guava Box and then our team at DO Inbound initially ran it as a consulting, um, type business.
And then a couple years ago made the decision, hey, we wanna, we wanna build out a team and we wanna go more aggressive and build more of what looks like, we call ourselves a training and consulting or training and coaching company in a lot of ways it parallels very closely to an agency or a services, you know, or a services business now, and so we’ve grown out, the team went from two to 15 over the last, I guess we’re coming up on two years right now.
Damn. So how was it that when, when you talked about letting go of the tool and focusing on more of a SaaS, more of an offering, coaching, kind of, how did that feel? Because you pretty much decided to let go of your baby.
Right. It’s crazy that like our highest point of SaaS revenue, if we told the business then is kind of what our business doing much more revenue today would be worth because, you know, the valuation on SaaS versus services business are just totally different.
But I’m like, when you were in it, it’s like, what, what I often want into with, with my coaching, with getting people to scale with, with reviewing what they’re doing.
We do something because we are passionate about it, right? That’s usually entrepreneur, um, at least in that level. Not like when you’re venture capitalist or whatever you are doing it to, to make money. At, at our level, it’s usually there’s a passion behind it. There’s a love behind it, and now suddenly it’s like needing to look at the numbers and be like, okay, this is just not quite where we thought this would be.
And you would just shut down.
Well, I was gonna say we’d overemphasize, like I always talk in any of our stuff, so this would be boring to you. Cause I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about it a million times before.
3 pillars of team management
But always talk about the three pillars for any team to effectively manage projects together.
I don’t care if it’s an agency or if clip ups in the picture or whatever. You have the technical side, which is the tooling, which hopefully helps everyone work more efficiently and you know, streamlines a lot of things together. But you’ve got the procedural side, which is how we do things. Does our team do things the right and best way every time?
And then you’ve got the behavioral side, which is like, do people actually follow those processes and use the tools?
It’s the human aspect, the one that’s usually the most difficult.
It’s the most important. So everybody talks about the average agency switches tools less than every three, you know, like more frequently than once every three years uh, from, from a project management, which is like the core of how we deliver services. Here’s the main tool that we’re using and we’re, and we’re constantly running around and, and switching tools cuz everyone looks at the tooling part, the technical side of it, and says that’s the problem. And you’re exactly right, the behavioral side is the most important.
Did you guys hear that? Cause I know where he’s going. It’s one of the pieces that I always preach. It’s like, it’s just there for you to support what you are doing. It’s not gonna solve your problem. Not passionate about that at all.
Obviously from a business perspective, there’s so much, uh, because right now the greater economic environment rewards you for building technical solutions, not process solutions, not behavioral solutions.
There’s billions and billions and billions of dollars that go into software development. And then promoting that software. Think ads everywhere, billboards and airports, you know, whatever else that might Ram Bell or might not. So that’s how we try to solve the problem first. And we’d, we’d given too much importance to the technical side of things and we’re leaving the other two components, you know, mostly untouched in how we’re helping service customers and what really got the best results was the other two.
So once we became convicted of that, uh, obviously struggled with wanting the rewards of the software side of things, but it became a lot clearer once we realized we’re trying to solve the same problem. Our business today versus 2014 looks so different operationally, but we’re still trying to crack the same nut and still solve the same problem for people.
We just are doing it in a better, more sustainable way today, once we took the focus off of it’s gotta be just our software, and that by itself has to solve everyone’s project management problems and took a more holistic approach.
Interestingly, I’m, I look at my business and it’s the same thing.
I’m like, I’m still trying to do the same thing that I’ve tried to do 10 years ago for my clients, yet it just changes how it looks. Um, I wanna come back around just for a second. You were talking about ClickUp to you is your tool of choice right now. Yet, if you guys didn’t hear it between the lines, this is why I’m bringing it up, what you were pretty much saying is the system you guys are running on, but also the system that you guys are teaching your clients is not tool-based.
You can literally grab the whole thing and go somewhere else if the tool would solve the issue better.
Yeah, for sure. I’m still, like, today I’m still um, really bullish on ClickUp. Like if I could buy ClickUp stock at their current valuation. We were talking about this not too long ago. I would still, I would still invest cuz I still talking to ClickUp exec team and product team.
Like I still feel bullish on where ClickUp is gonna go. And I’m really rooting for and hoping that ClickUp is still the horse to ride three years from now, five years from now, that, you know, they continue their ascent. And obviously a lot of the challenges that ClickUp experiences today are a result of their success.
Like success at scale is a, you know, causes challenges as well, but a hundred percent correct. That if ClickUp’s not the tool, if another tool went away, like ClickUp, being in the ecosystem, um, makes most agents as a, as a tool. It allows us to make agencies, um, more efficient. But if ClickUp was not the tool and there was something else, we’d lose a little bit of efficiency in terms of how we deliver what we deliver.
But yeah, the same outcome could be there on, you know. I think you just look at the macro. This is part of us getting outta the tool business. Look, who are the best agencies that we know? Who are the folks doing eight figures a year in revenue? And you’ve got agencies on Asana and ClickUp and Teamwork and Monday and you know, like a million base camps still.
Like you’ve got, you got agencies on all different tools. Obviously it’s not one tool, it’s not the, the solution, but when you look inside and how they actually operate, you realize they’ll have clear standards defined for other teams. They all have an accountability structure, um, to hold people to those standards that they’ve set.
They all have defined processes somewhere and they centralize that work in a project management tool somewhere. So the building blocks are all there. It’s just not that the tool that they use all looks the same. And it’s not that the exact rules of engagement are all the same or that the processes are all the same, but those pillars are still there regardless.
They just have their own flavor.
Yeah. Which, which, when you build based on those pillars, you literally can just go grab everything and, and move it. You are not counting on one thing to be around for the whole time. And it’s like the, we’ve been watching ClickUp grow for a few years now. I’m like, we’ve been around, I don’t even know how many years and it’s a startup. There’s going to be issues. So it just is what it is. And having that backup of not having to rely on the tool because you build your business the right way, being able to pack up and leave if you have to, if you want to, perfect. But also don’t leave just because you are thinking the tool is solving your issue.
Workflows and processes for Agency Operations
It’s not. Um, with that, within ZenPilot, within building the business, how you have with that strong foundation going on vacation, now that carpet is finally over, what are some of the most common workflows and processes that allow you to do the thing?
Yeah, I break up the services business. Our business specifically in most of our client’s businesses, in the three main categories. You’ve got growth, delivery, and operations.
So in our business right now, like I lead the growth side of the business, that’s my responsibility is the marketing and sales and business development. Andrew, my business partner, leads the delivery side. He’s in charge of, I make the promises, or my team makes the promises. His job is to make sure that we keep every single one of those promises.
That’s a golden relationship right there. When you can trust each other, that one is gonna go out and bring everything in, and the other one is gonna deliver.
It’s the most important relationship in every single business. Cuz he needs to trust me that I’m not making promises that we can’t keep.
Because I could totally, apart from our, you know, our whole delivery team, um, pretty much runs on the motto or one of their mottos and mantras is if ZenPilot can’t do it in ClickUp, nobody can do it in ClickUp.
I, I would pretty much sign for that. Like you guys. Mm-hmm. .
But if I’m making promises that ClickUp could never do, you know, then they’re out of luck.
So they need to know that the growth side of the business isn’t gonna over commit them. And the flip side, we need to have confidence in what we’re selling. That hey, when we make a promise and we say we can do this for you, we will do this for you. That the delivery team’s gonna be able to do that. So there’s that second side of the business, the delivery side, and the third side is operations, which is kind of like, you know, the, the most stuff full junk drawer in the entire world.
It’s like we got people, operations, you know, our HR and culture here. We’ve got finance, we’ve got legal, we’ve got all these different areas of the business. And so Amy, on our leadership team, leads, leads that side of the business. So inside of each of those three buckets, then you’ve got, well, what are the systems?
So the first system is I, I look at the growth side of the business as this framework. It’s really simple. There’s just two pieces to it. One is creating conversations and the other one is having quality conversations. So marketing’s role essentially is how do we create conversations for my sales team and then sales role is how do we have quality conversations?
And our attention is to find out if people like how people need help, if we can help and then to help them, if so. Um, so that means our sales process should be a consistent process where whether people buy from us or don’t buy from us. They have a positive experience and are left with a huge amount of our business comes through partnerships, referrals, word of mouth.
Our number one channel is inbound from the marketing side and from our content side. But number two is referrals and word of mouth. And so we want everybody, this happens pretty consistently to us. Like we’ll get referred by someone who talked to us and never bought. And sometimes you get those. It doesn’t surprise me as much, but still surprises me.
And it surprises new, uh, new team members that, um, they’ll get a referral from somebody and they’ll say, you know, I don’t know who this person is and I’m like, oh yeah, I talked to them a year ago, but they never bought. Or you know, John talked to them a year ago, but they never bought. Like, why are we getting referrals from? Cause they had a positive experience, you know, we were able to figure out.
How do they need help? Point them in the right direction and then say either we’re not the right fit or they chose not to work with us for whatever reason, but still had a positive experience. Um, so both of those sides of the business, we can get happy to get more tactical if you wanted to get more granular with those.
But there’s systems, uh, in, in all of that and how we set up our CRM and how we on the delivery side use ClickUp to stream on that and the operations side. There’s millions we get into.
One of the big things I wanna wanna point out here for the listeners is that piece of getting referrals from people that did not buy.
When you look at entrepreneurs and agencies that are a little bit smaller, um, we often take it personal when somebody says it’s not the right fit right now. Like, you know me. Um, I decided to not work quote with agencies anymore. I’m like, ZenPilot’s got that down. You guys go deal. I just wanna work differently with the different target market.
And we often enough behind the scenes have those conversations where it’s like, hey Gray, I have this information here. This is what this agency looks like. This is what they’re looking for. I already talked with them. Whom do you think it’s a good fit? And I literally sent my lead over to ZenPilot.
Do I get a little cut of it here? I do. But Gray, for example, also sent over a lead to me, which I just started working with. So you are getting your referral fee on that one here soon, where it’s just we don’t have to take it personal when somebody says, I’m not the right fit, or when you decide they are not the right fit for whatever reason. They might not have the budget, they might not be the perfect target market for you.
You might not have room, whatever it is, but going that acts to a step of saying, here is somebody that does fit your project and what you wanna do, or, you are on a low budget. I don’t have anybody I can refer you to. You are just starting out, but here are some resources. One of the emails I sent out yesterday where it’s like, okay, you are starting, you have two other jobs.
You’re trying to make something happen. Here is some stuff that helps you make sure your company is gonna be functioning right and you can move ahead and feel safe in running your business. And the moment business picks up and you do have the budget or you do have the need for somebody like me or ZenPilot, chances are they’re gonna come back. So, and even six, 12, I had it where it was like probably like 15 months later where I’m like, who was that? And I, I just searched my ClickUp because I have my simple CRM in ClickUp. And I’m like, huh, interesting. And I might have actually perceived this call as I wasn’t on my best.
So really letting go of that, that process, it has nothing to do with you, right. 95% of the time, they don’t give a damn as long as you give them a good experience. And yeah, I think that just showed you, and same happens for me.
Yeah. There’s so much, so much power in that. I would always, I think, um, rarely is doing the easiest thing in the moment, the right thing.
And so much of this, of building a business, like the goal is not to build a business that, um, is here for, you know, a year or two and then is gone. Like the goal is that there’s a business where I mean, we are hyper niche down. We work with a few other professional services, businesses, um, that come to us and a handful of other use cases if there’s some kind of extenuating circumstances.
But we are hyper targeted on the digital marketing agency space and then inside of that digital marketing agencies who are willing to work on top of ClickUp. So that bucket in the world is not very big and all of those people are hyper connected cuz they’re all in digital, um, all day. And so, screwing up your reputation is the easiest way for that to go away.
So that means our core value. Aside from that, hopefully we’re doing the right thing anyways, but we also have a business incentive to not mess up, um, that reputation and not treat people poorly. Which should reflect in our core values and culture and the type of people we bring on the team.
I’m a big believer in that also needs to reflect in our systems. So if you ask about systems, like I value partnerships a lot. I value you as a partner. Um, I think this is one of our worst, you know, our areas of opportunity for improving systems. But we should have systems like, um, you have a really simple link to send to people that automatically tracks them back in our CRM.
Because one of the things that’s important to me is when you have a good partner who’s talking to the right leads, that you follow up and close the loop when you talk to the leads that they, even if it’s like, hey, this person was not a fit. Um, or was a fit. So we should have that as a task built into our CRM.
Like let, if there’s a referral source and a referral partnered to it, then there should be a task to follow up and close the loop. Once that loop is, is closed, um, no partner should ever have to ask us for a commission payment.
It’s like bank account before, like almost once they know, or, you know, we say that we’re gonna send it out on the first of every month with our tracking system. And if we can exceed that, that’s great, but nobody should ever have to ask or wonder if I make that referral and they come through, do I, will I actually get my money on? And so many partnerships in, in my experience in the agency ecosystem, oh yeah, we’ll give you 5% if you shoot somebody our way.
Or we’ll, you know, we’ll give you a hundred dollars for this, or whatever. Uh, so many people complain about having a track for that. Like that shouldn’t be part of the system if we’re delivering a great experience for our partners and for our end customers, for our team.
Way to make me feel bad, right? Yeah, I don’t have that system done.
Use closed loop. I didn’t ask, I didn’t see, I didn’t have to do anything. It should show and there’s a million.
I love how he saves me from feeling that. No, I do not have that system set up, but it’s like I love experience it on this side from you guys because we both care a lot about how we are perceived.
We have worked hard to have the name recognition that we have, which is how I choose tools, which is how I choose partners, which is how I choose who I work with. So that also means behind the scenes, when Gray sends somebody over, I send somebody over. It’s not gonna take long, and we simply just check in.
Hey, how did it go? How did the call go? How did you, what do you think about them? It’s like not just digital agencies talk behind the scenes. We do too. So if you are a crappy client, we will know too. It goes both ways, so it’s, it’s just nice. It’s just smooth. It’s just working. Even though I don’t have the system to close the loop automatically.
We will talk and take care of it simply because we do care about the reputation that’s attached to our name.
Yeah, for sure.
So with all of that, and we are coming to the 30 minute mark pretty close. I wanna make sure.
Gray’s standard tool stack
I ask the question too of what’s your standard tool stack? Because a lot of my listeners are just as much tool nerds as I am.
I know Gray is paying just as much attention to tools as I am because the tools we recommend is also an extension of our reputation. I know a couple of the tools you use, but I’m really curious what is like that, that main tool stack? I know there is a lot of side things often going on, but what is like that core tool stack you guys are using at ZenPilot?
So try and keep me here to 60 seconds. The core cool core tool stack is the Google Suite, ClickUp, uh, HubSpot for CRM, QuickBooks for Finance, Slack for team communication. We largely use Slack because all of our clients are on Slack and so it’s a way to serve them and then have really clear lines of, uh, or rules of engagement around this is what Slack’s allowed for, this is what ClickUp is used for.
But a couple tools that might be interesting to people that not everyone is using Text Expander. Um, yes, a team account. And so we’ve got all kinds of snippets and kind of, um, automations or, or kinda best practices with how we use Text Expander that’s shared across the whole team. That’s, um, that’s been really helpful for communication.
Uh, obviously we use a ton of Loom. We use two other tools. I’d point to, one is called Avoma. So it’s like a gong or a chorus, but it, uh, records calls and then transcribes them and it uses…
How do you, how do you spell that?
A V O M A.
I never heard about that. Great. That goes my weekend.
This is a really helpful tool for teams because we’re on a plan that has an integration in HubSpot on the sales side, and then it automatically kinda categorizes first of all, how much time each person spent talking, but also what were the different parts of the conversation.
Um, you can set different trigger words and we use it for review calls together. So my sales team, as they’re having calls, they’ll submit a call or two each week, um, for me to then review and give feedback on and it can give feedback directly to the tool, um, itself, which is cool. And then the other one I was gonna call out that we use, that’s kind of a fun one.
Internally, this is not, no one needs to run, plug this in right around, right away, but it’s around. Um, let see if it’s still around.co or if they have the com. I think it’s still around.co. It is. Yep. And so think of it like Zoom or Google Meet or whatever, but you’ve got these rooms that you can hang out in.
There’s fun games and background music and reactions, and we use that for pretty much all our internal stuff. So it’ll just be a, you know, you can see who’s in the, in the room. So if I pull up around right now, I can see, oh, Paul and Gabriel are talking together right now. And so if they’re in the gen, if they’re in the delivery team room, that means it’s probably a pretty focused conversation.
I shouldn’t go interrupt. If they’re in the general room, then totally fine. I can jump in and say hi guys, and so it just helps us to feel a little bit more connected as a remote team.
So, yeah, I was going to say, it sounds like it’s, it’s a great solution to bring the whole office and water cooler experience into that digital space and really build those internal relationships and, and have people meet.
I love it.
Those are a couple. There’s a million that, uh, that we could list off, but those are a few of the key ones.
Yeah, I think you’re a similar tool now to me it’s like, okay, let me test, let’s see how this goes. I’ve been playing around with, with things more towards the SOP creation and making life easier.
Also as fun, because nobody wants to have an employee handbook that nobody ever reads and just signs on the last page.
Advice on scaling
With that, I am going to throw Gray a little bit of craft ball here. Um, for any agency owners that are listening, what would you tell them the first thing to do when they’re in that struggle of, oh my God, I wanna scale, but this stuff isn’t working.
I do. You know, when you get into that, oh my God, I don’t know what to do. What would you tell them to do first?
So I pretty much am always working with somebody on the outside of our business. Right now we’re working with an EOS implementer, uh, to help us. We’ve been running on EOS, the entrepreneurial operating system for the last five years, but we’re also, um, paying an implement to work with us to take it to the next level this year and to see inside what we’re doing and help us improve our, our systems and operations and just kind of overall team operating structure. Um, working with another coach, um, on the sales side and building out a sales ready organization. Um, so there’s pretty much, at any point in time, there’s always one or two folks on the outside who are, um, working with and, you know, we’ll spend six figures this year in learning or outside coaching and consulting.
And, um, on the surface, some of that doesn’t come back right away, but the, this is a long way of answering your question. Which is, we are so terrible at reading, like we’re stuck inside. David Baker, um, who is, you know, sometimes he’s a, a, um, a great consultant, uh, for agencies as well, and has been doing it for quite a while.
Wrote a book called The Business of Expertise, but he talks a lot about the analogy of we’re trapped inside the jar and we can’t read the label from inside the jar so that sounds like a, a pitch for us. Hey, come talk to us at ZenPilot, or go talk to Yvi, or whatever. It could be us, it could be anybody.
As long as you trust that they know what they’re, what they’re doing in that arena. And even if they don’t, um, maybe having a conversation with that person. Maybe they make a connection to somebody who does. But I, I’m just a huge fan of getting somebody on the outside who’s not as emotionally involved to look at it and say, this is crazy.
You’re at a 14% profit margin. Your growth rate’s only this, like none of these numbers make sense. We’ve gotta do something here right away. And that solution is gonna be nuanced. It’s not gonna necessarily be three, two things that I’m gonna tell you on a call today. Solve all your problems magically.
That’s rarely, rarely, rarely the case. But yeah, I’m huge in getting outside help to try to figure out how do we take things to the next level and break the seal.
I love that because it’s, I think that is not just even for agencies, that’s pretty much for any business where it’s like getting a different perspective.
And I’m not talking about going to your family. I’m not talking about going to your business partner. I’m talking about stepping out there. Somebody that has no idea or barely any idea of your business to take a look because they gonna see things you do not see. If that is ZenPilot and cleaning up your stuff, if that is me and kicking your booty because your business doesn’t align with your values.
We don’t care who it is. But really just we both do the same thing where it’s like getting an outside perspective if the stuff we are doing even makes sense because again, they, they’re not in it, they don’t have those blinders on. They are not constantly just doing like we do in our business. It’s just shifting your perspective and often enough, even just in entwine to find a coach.
For me, I had been looking for a coach to, to take AskYvi to the next step. I’m like, you know what’s happening behind the scenes. My email list know a lot of stuff is coming in Q1. I needed somebody that can help me get to that next level. And in the process, and interviewing some coaches and consultants that I was thinking that might fit the boat, where I realized I don’t like that.
I don’t like how they do that specific piece of their business, which then also means I’m not gonna do this in my business. So it already helped me, just the process of finding somebody. To take a new look at my own business. And I did end up with a great coach that I’m working with right now. But again, even just the process of trying to find somebody outside can already help you and it’s always great just stepping out of your comfort circle, stepping out of the woods, and just being able to look at it from a different perspective.
Yeah. So great having you here today. Gray gave me, it’s gonna be in the description, it’s gonna be in the, uh, podcast description too, and the show notes and everything. Um, Greg gave us ZenPilot’s client onboarding template to make it easy to really bring in the client, have that streamlined, not forget stuff in the process of it.
Believe me, I had some really bad client onboarding experiences where I’m like, what the hell do you want me to do? Where, how, what? Huh? Don’t do that. Gray has a template for you and if anybody wants to stalk you online, what’s the easiest place for them to go to learn more about you guys?
Um, so ZenPilot.com is the easiest site to get to.
Uh, if you want a third party conversation, go to ZenPilot.com/call, or you can just click the button in the header and book a time with our team. If you’re looking to implement ClickUp for agencies or you’re wondering if you or foreign agency or for another service type business, or you’ve already implemented it and you’re wondering if you have the right invest configuration under the agency resources tab on the website, you can also find our, uh, ClickUp for Agency Guide, our agency PM Health Benchmark and Benchmark, how you’re doing compared to a couple thousand other agencies, um, performance and kind of quick five minute survey. So there’s a couple different, um, tools there. And then if anyone wants to connect with me directly, my email is really simple.
It’s gray, g r a y, like the color, @ZenPilot.com and I’m happy to connect with.
Yep. And Gray, pretty much, he is always on there. He even replies to my emails when he is on vacation. I’m like, dude, you’re supposed to be on vacation. Go away. Thanks for everybody watching live. I’ll see you again next week and make sure you subscribe to the podcast because more fancy stuff is coming soon.
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