366 : Aaron O’Sullivan – Start your week with a team workshop to grow a strong Omni-Channel ecommerce business

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There is a lot of mat in this title. But if you really want to get everyone on the same page. Start the week off right. Give everyone the chance for success. Hard work and effort will take you so far but a real team rows the same way. Working together takes effective communication.

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Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)

Aaron:                                  00:00                     First thing I would say is, um, you need to download, track and then rank a little bit. Just talk to you about what this means. So download these, take a look back over the last two weeks of what you’ve been doing, looking at your to do list, look at your, um, your calendars, look in your project management software which just open up a google sheet and download all the things that you’ve been doing, you know, as many as you can. And then when I say track is you’re going to track your time for the next 10 days to two weeks or every half an hour. Write down exactly what you’re spending your time on. This doesn’t sound sexy, but it is literally changed my life and it’s changed. You know, everybody that I work with, I put them through this exact process and they are absolutely blown away by.

Cool voice guy:                  00:50                     Welcome to the momentum podcast where we focused on the people, the products, and the process of ecommerce selling. Today, here’s your host, Steven Peterson.

Stephen:                             01:04                     Hey, before we jump in, I do want to talk about just two sponsors. Today I’m going to talk about. I’m trying to not hit you with so many of them and I turn away 90 percent of them, so, you know, the few I have, I believe 100 percent, so I just want to make sure that’s clear, but I’m talking about amazing freedom and they’re getting ready to launch their course. And um, if you have any interest in it, um, I’d like you to send me a private message. They pay me so, uh, dawn and hide anything won’t cost any more, but if you come through my link, what’s cool is I’m a, they pay me, but b, you’re going to get time with me. Any Andy, some personal time. Um, we’re going to do a group call for anybody who’s interested in a two hour deep dive and we can get, you know, give you kind of a bump little jump.

Stephen:                             01:49                     I’m in the business and you can get real personal and ask a bunch of questions. Um, in addition, I’m going to prep, be send it to me, your first shipment up to a thousand units a you pay for the supplies, but my wife, my son and I, we will prep your shipment, do a cursory inspection and you don’t know how important that is because when shipments come in and we get shipments in by the truckload container load air, whichever, and sometimes they’re damaged and so we take pictures of it, send it to you, do a cursory inspection to make sure the boxes aren’t crushed, give you some feedback on it because you’ve seen enough product overtime we can help you with that. Just to say, hey, you know, this is something you might be able to improve. Matter of fact, for example, I have a client that we’re doing, we have to put a sticker on their product and I’m like, why don’t they just print that on there now?

Stephen:                             02:35                     Because it’s expensive to buy stickers. It’s a lot of labor to put that sticker on. And it’s like, that’s a simple little tip that she probably didn’t think about when she did it. Just, you know, and next time she gets that stuff printed is like just get them printed and it’s two sided and well, which side gets a sticker, put the sticker on both sides, right? You know, just print it and make it look like a sticker. You can do that stuff. So that’s an example of something that we can help. But so if you’re interested in this course, 100 percent you should be, if you’re interested in doing private label, um, is by far the best group I’m in there with you. Um, reach out to me. Just send me a private message and I’ll add you to list and giving you some access.

Stephen:                             03:11                     And again you’ll get, we’re going to do a group call with two hours with Andy and I and the warehouse where we can help walk you through or talk about it, get specific and really help grow your business. The other one when we talk about is seller that I’m. So I just saw something about search terms, you know, and relevancy and all that kind of jazz. And you know, if you’re selling on Amazon, you’re spending money in that. We all are right. The best place to get a search is organically the best results to move up in those ranks. It seems that organic search is going to help you the most. Right, and so if you can put the words in so when the person puts in that they’re looking for your product, they actually see your product, not your competitor’s product. That’s a huge deal.

Stephen:                             03:58                     Well, seller labs has scope and that’s what it allows you to do. It actually allows you to put in the best, most proactive search terms that are out there and the brand. The way you do it is you look at your competitors, the ones that are doing well, and you could say, oh, this is what they’re using, therefore I should use the same thing. It makes sense, right? Because guess what? Somebody’s going to do that two years, so you might as well do it. Also, it’s a. it’s a big advantage to actually do the work. Very simple to use, very simple, very inexpensive, and if you go to seller labs.com, forward slash scope, use the code momentum. You’re going to save 50 bucks, you’re gonna save 50 bucks and they give you a couple free search terms, but the save the 50 bucks and go and try it and see if it’s worth it.

Stephen:                             04:40                     To me, you know, it’s, it’s important and we use it for not only for private label, Louisa, for wholesale and it’s really helped. Again, if you’re a wholesale seller and you can improve a wholesale listing, you win. Yes. Your competitors who also sell in that product when to, but it doesn’t matter. You went period. That seems common sense to me. It’s getting to the podcast. Welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. This is episode 366. Erin O’sullivan, I’m perfect example of the type of guest I want to have this time a year. Somebody who a was the seller, so they know the pain points that we all have, right? They’ve been through it, they’re just not talking and you know, you know, well, you know textbook stuff. This is real life stuff. Somebody who’s done it, and Aaron’s been a private label seller, sold millions of dollars, did lots of products, all that kind of jazz.

Stephen:                             05:30                     What I appreciate. A couple things. First off, a real key takeaway for me is if you have a team in the Philippines, go visit them. I’m Cynthia Science tells me the same thing, that one of the best things she does is she gets over to the Philippines a couple times a year to meet with her team to really invest time with them. You want to talk about feeling being part of something. I think it’s very powerful and that’s Aaron’s advice too. And he did it and it changed his life and I think that’s very cool. I’m part of the story part of his story to help it define its, helped define him. And, and I think that that’s really cool. Um, second thing is I loved the, the phrase he uses about an econ factory. I mean, if you think of your business in that way, you break it down into bite size pieces and you parse it and you pull it apart and you do your standard operating procedures.

Stephen:                             06:15                     Um, I, I pressured them to ask how many would accompany have and he’s like, sometimes it’s hundreds. Well, that’s overwhelming for me. It’s overwhelming, right? I mean, we’ve got some, but it’s overwhelming, but that’s what you hire a company like his steve doesn’t benefit other than you having success. And to me, if this is something that you’re in that six and seven figure and you’re looking, you’re struggling and you need to get some help, he’s going to give you a set of slps, they’ll fine tune them for your business. To me, that’s very, very exciting. Imagine hiring that person on staff to be just your sop person. How much would they cost? How much does that talent costs? While you’re going to get the best example? And the other thing is, remember they’ve done it for many, many businesses. So to me, you’re going to get the best practices. [inaudible]

Stephen:                             06:58                     going to say, Steve, why are you putting tape on left to right? You should be doing it right to left if we find it seven percent faster or something like that. A bad example, but, but you get my point is that you want to be with somebody who’s worked with a whole bunch of people because they’ve already seen what works and they’re going to help you take a look at your business and sometimes you’re not going to like what you see and it hurts, but you get to the end goal which is to improve and so very, very cool guy, very, very smart, very experienced, and just a great discussion. Let’s get into the podcast. Alright, welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. We’re excited about today’s guest, a guest from across the pond as they’d like to say, who’s here to help us improve our business. And the reason that I’m having them on this time of year is because 2019 is getting ready. I hopefully you’ve done some planning. Um, hopefully you’re still shipping like we are. We’re doing merchant fulfill all day to day, all day this week. Um, but we have a plan for next year, but executing the plan really takes a real strong strategy and I think Erin O’sullivan is here to help us figure that out. Welcome Erin.

Aaron:                                  08:04                     Hey Stephen.

Stephen:                             08:06                     Well thank you. Um, you are an expert in this stuff. First off your seller so we can be clear about that. You understand what our business is you’ve done, you’ve developed private label, you’ve done all those things and I’m assuming that this program, this systems culture and impact, um, program that you’ve developed over time is related to the challenges you had.

Aaron:                                  08:30                     That’s absolutely right. Know I started out in 2013 and start selling on Amazon. I was asking the west of Australia working in the mining regions out there and I was doing 12, 14 hours outside and it was just like, this is, this is not, this is not like long term. This is not something I was out there for my visa, get my green card, turn to ecommerce and starts to learn how to create physical products. And Yeah, Kim, a lot come across a lot of challenges along the way of course. Um, but we launched our first brand and made things took off and um, you know, I was kind of like a kid in a candy shop launching new products and so forth. And um, things started to take a bit of a plateau and it declined because I just had too much on my plate, so to speak. So, um, within that process, whenever the Philippines help build a team of 45 staff and it was my job to do all the systems and processes and team building there, um, and from that, um, experience and learn kind of what worked and what didn’t work and you know, through trial and error and failure, I’m a lot of failure. So I’ve been helping people with that more recently.

Stephen:                             09:42                     So let’s start back a little bit further because I’m interested to find out why you decided to get into physical products. What, I mean I get the physical outside work that you didn’t want to continue doing, but not everybody’s geared towards some people are computer people, some people were, you know, salespeople, what have you, what was interesting to you about physical products and did you have any experience with it prior life or with some family member?

Aaron:                                  10:06                     So what was interesting to me was how we could create a product which would make a small but meaningful difference in somebody’s day and how scalable it was across the globe. That was really what really pulled me in and got me so excited about beginning of my entrepreneurial ecommerce journey. Um, at that point.

Stephen:                             10:26                     Well, what led you to believe you are an entrepreneur? I mean, what, what you know, because you’re working outside, you’re like, all right, this physical work at it. And for me, I get that. But what led you to believe that you are an entrepreneur?

Aaron:                                  10:36                     Deep down always knew since I was young and I wasn’t the same as many, you know, most of the people that I grew up with. Um, I always knew that I had, um, you know, always had a big drive to contribute, um, to people and help people. And uh, you know, that really I always knew I was only in the minds and doing, doing that work to get it was a means to an end so I can get my Australian visa. And I always, it was just, I was just waiting really to finish that and uh, you know, create my own thing and not just at the perfect time, you know, I think Jim Roan taught and he says it best, you know, and the, um, the conditions are perfect. The united, it’s just enough rein you in the seats, Minnesota, there’s enough wind the there and it was just at that right time. And um, yeah, I kind of dive in headfirst and a kind of never looked back.

Stephen:                             11:30                     And so you’ve made this standard mistakes everybody does. How did you figure out that, that this part of the business, this systems part of the business, the people part of the business, that creating a culture part of the business was, was your lane as opposed to sourcing in China, which some people are just natural sources or some people are even sales people. But how did you figure this out?

Stephen:                             11:54                     It’s a great question. So in 2014 I flew over to the Philippines and I arrived and was in the middle of nowhere. And basically as soon as I arrived, I knew that what I wanted to do, I wanted to use, um, you know, all the businesses that we create to help, um, to help children in the Philippines to families. Talk about that for a second because I’ve heard you say this on another podcast. It’s very moving. Um, it’s not all. I mean, I don’t think. I think we’re so far away from it. We’re so removed. We don’t think about a, that there is some third world level, uh, activity there, right?

Aaron:                                  12:33                     Oh, totally. I mean, the reason when I landed in the Philippines, I need something changed me fundamentally when I arrived, I’d never seen poverty as extreme as that. And we had these businesses, which, you know, I recently, I’m made two years ago, um, I learned how to create brands and make profit out of thin air. And I was like, if I’m going to create something, I want to use it as a force for good to help these children. I’m a father myself. And uh, you know, that was the first thing I realized when I kind of arrived in the Philippines and when we start to started to build a team and started to a really, you know, kind of grow into a leadership role. I realized that’s what kind of my strengths were and you know, I’ve always been really good with, with people and always want them to do the best and to support them and lead them.

Aaron:                                  13:21                     And ever since I was a kid always had, um, you know, through sport and I was always kind the leader of the team and the captain and so forth. So it just made sense to bit, you know, um, that’s kind of what made me fascinated with how to, how to grow a team that can all move towards a common outcome together, you know, and nurture them to become the best that I can be in that role so we can all move towards our outcomes as a team. So it was really in that process of going over there and experiencing it on the ground and working closely with people that I realized that this is actually what I really love to do. And uh, just been fascinated with businesses that have been able to create amazing countries throughout the years.

Stephen:                             14:04                     Right? If you didn’t do that, it wouldn’t be, you wouldn’t be where you are because getting, you know, we can all go on Odesk or whatever it’s called today and in higher, uh, uh, people from the Philippines, right. It’s very simple to do, but you lose something because a, most of the time you don’t even skype with them to see them face to face. You, you lose something with it, right? That you don’t make that real connection as a team and you’re always like, wow, are they part of the team? Are they not been physically seeing them face to face? That’s got to be moving for them also that you took the time, you know what I mean?

Aaron:                                  14:41                     Absolutely. And, you know, I think it’s an absolute, um, on a, on a, on a pleasure to support and help grow, um, people in your organization because ultimately, you know, if you’re employing people overseas or even, you know, locally to you or in the Western world, you know, you’re like a big deal for them because I had a partner payment and you’re moving forward towards a common outcome. So it’s, you know, it’s, you know, I don’t take that lightly and you know, that’s something I kind of learned when I was over there. It’s, it’s really an honor and, you know, we’re changing. Help them change their lives, um, and helping them grow as people, which is just incredible.

Stephen:                             15:20                     Yeah, that’s it. That’s a big moment, at least in my life too, is anytime you can do that, you know, I think Cynthia Stein is somebody that goes to the Philippines and meets with her team on a regular basis. Is that something now that you’re seeing more of and are you recommending it to clients that if you are going to develop this team that you really do want to invest time with them? And really if you want to get the best from them,

Aaron:                                  15:42                     right? Yeah. So I think it’s incredibly important to have within any kind of team to have regular communication rhythms, you know, no matter where you arrive, it’s just if it’s just two partners than it needs to be, the more structured you can be around how you communicate on a frequent basis, um, with, um, you know, weekly we call them workshops. So if we have a team workshop, it will be starting the week to plan, okay, what are we going to be done for the week ahead and you know, your daily scrums, you know, quick 15 minute stand ups each day to see where were we at, where are we in regards to where we’re going. Um, and just always having clarity on what the outcomes are for the year, head quarter, the month, and what we do doing this week to move a stair. Just reverse engineering a where we’re headed as a team. So

Stephen:                             16:34                     it’s really strong. I love that. Start your week with a strong team workshop. That’s such a powerful statement, right? There might even be your, uh, the title of this episode because I like it so much. It’s really, you’re right, you’re starting the week ready. Everybody knows what we’re doing this week. Everybody’s on the same page and hey, you know, where the problems, where the challenge is, where those pinch points as I like to call them. Well, let’s talk about, because I, you know, I’ve been reading some of your blog stuff too, which is phenomenal. And again, uh, and I’ll give links. It’s systems culture impact.com. Um, I love the praise the ECON factory because it used to be building an Amazon business was the place to be, right? We’re back in way earlier. It was building an Ebay business, right? We’re then building your own website and turn into shopify and all the rest of these big commerce and stuff.

Stephen:                             17:20                     But now it’s a facebook now, right? Instagram, you can tell it’s really building a presence on all these things. Right? And so when you’re thinking about it, I think the description, the visual description of a factory is a real strong visual aid for me. And I liked the phrase, the ECON factory, walk us through that, where that comes from and what, you know, because we have a lot of small listener or a small sellers, a parttime sellers like myself that are listening to this. And then we have big sellers too. So can you kind of walk us through that?

Aaron:                                  17:52                     I totally can do that would be my pleasure. So I’m like, I’m a big visual person and sometimes when we’re so close to the trees, we can’t see the Florence. Right? And what I mean by that is, um, you know, that’s kind of overused, but if you think about your business in a way where you can look down here, down on it from a bird’s eye perspective and understand, um, you know, all the moving parts to your business, your realize that it’s, you know, um, made up of all different kinds of systems and like any, any result in your life effect, a good effect or a bad effect is a result of a system which is in place. And we work in, or a lack of a system that is, you know, or one that’s not actually a, you know, efficient. So if we map our business out in, in that visual way, we can start to see where the constraints are in the business and where the bottlenecks are.

Aaron:                                  18:45                     And I’m a big revelation for me is, um, I read a book a while back now called the goal by Eli Goldratt. It is absolutely legendary. He is. Jeff Bezos is top three books he gives to all of his strategic staff. So if you’re not ready to, you’d need to get it because it’s incredible. But that book really helped me understand the strength of the business is determined by the speed of the bottleneck. And that’s what businesses do that grow, you know, like Amazon have done, they consistently find, you know, the week, you know, the, the biggest bottleneck and allocate our resources to fix it and make it more efficient. And then the next one and the next one. And that’s what you keep doing to increase throughput, which in our world is typically, you know, sales and profit. So I’m giving you this context because in the book the goal, it’s, it’s a parable around a factory out in the United States and manufacturing facility and it just goes through his incredible book and it teaches you how to identify the bottlenecks or Aka constraints and then how to kind of fix them. So, um,

Stephen:                             19:59                     and is it basically you’re taking your business, breaking it down into bite size pieces and then watching the throughput or measuring the throughput in some way and then as you say, find that, that bottleneck or I call it a pinch point and then dealing with that and the way to deal with it. That’s the, that’s probably the art, right?

Aaron:                                  20:18                     Yeah. What is to, you know, I find it useful to, to have a visual of the entire business or the move us. So Amazon ecommerce, you know, we’re talking about if we went from left to right, it’s, you know, you can map, if you think about it, kind of like an org chart. Um, this is what has been helpful for, for us to, to put that visual on it. You’ve got all the different areas of the business, you know, the product related stuff, you’ve got, you know, the kind of operations that, you know, the finances, you got to be marketing and sales aspect. If you map out onto an org chart is it, you know, you can use that as a guide to, you know, look at it as a factory. So if this is everything and this is all the roles and your kind of responsibilities of our company were on that org chart or your, if you’re looking at it as a factory, where is the ultimate x right now? Where are we needing support and that can help you identify and then basically try and leave it and bottlenecks to increase the throughput, older, um, the, uh, increase the amount of money your company can make.

Stephen:                             21:29                     Yeah, I think most people would relate to this is that they’re probably the bottleneck. Right? And that’s what they usually find. So a lot of companies have decided to outsource certain services. Now, if I’m correct, you offer some of those services, am I correct in saying that?

Aaron:                                  21:44                     Right. So the reason we, we kind of like talking this way of, you know, visualizing where the constraints are because we’ve done this over the years again and again, and we’ve um, we’ve realized that a big sticking point for sellers that grown a ecommerce businesses is, you know, the great visionaries, a lot of the time they want to be focused on product creation. They want to be focused on marketing and sales, but they get caught up in the day to day operations and the details and, you know, I know I did when I know way back when I, when I really started to have issues and I realized that for most people it’s not something that they enjoy. So things like inventory management, chasing shipments, I’m printing labels, chasing suppliers, you know, and all that stuff to do with end to end test a inventory management. So for a lot of people, yeah, it’s a right pain in the backside for most.

Aaron:                                  22:43                     And um, you know, once, once you’ve got business in, it’s, it’s really starting to grow and you’ve got, um, you know, trying to launch new products. You are, you’re trying to open up new marketplace and so forth, but you’re dropping the ball on your inventory management and your listeners go down and you know, your cash flow stops are these, in some cases you’re best at and listens and it can be, um, you know, a real big challenge. So what will you, what we do is we just remove operations like inventory management and customer service from a kind of high six and seven figure salaries plate so they can get to create and more products opened up new marketplaces and, and building their assets like their email list.

Stephen:                             23:23                     So let’s talk about inventory management because in the old days, back in the, when I was in college, I worked in a factory a little bit and I remember they had, you know, in house departments that handle that. Lots of inhouse people touching inventory, always doing counting, always doing different things, tracking, tracking, tracking work in progress, right? Um, you can do that remotely. Now I’m the, is it a special software that allows you to really get your hands on it? Or is it, are we back to that communication that you talked about? Can you walk us through that?

Aaron:                                  23:53                     Yeah, totally. So in the context of it. So we have FDA training team and we’ve just been told me that you remove inventory management, customer service, but what we do is we hand them a filing cabinet of soes that we’ve built up over the years and refined and just personalize them to other businesses. So our team, we have the system, we have all where we just tweeted it, fit their specific client and keep them update for them. So it’s Kinda like I’m Kinda like a bolt on operations department to company so they don’t have to worry about finding, finding staff, hiring, training and onboarding and so forth. So yeah.

Stephen:                             24:32                     Well, on the onboarding process you would say, well, you know, do you have a can be a bad example, forklifts and packaging and all those, all those different little things that can make my business sharper than yours or vice versa. Then you can fine tune that system and you build me a custom set of slps. Is that right? That’s right. That’s beautiful because that’s a big issue. We all know it. Everybody knows that that’s the number one thing everybody’s saying that you must do a is about two things. One, do monthly financial statements to build out slps, um, and to have those slps, most people are stymied when they try to start because it’s, it is overwhelming when you think about how many sop, how many slps does a standard ECOM company have?

Aaron:                                  25:14                     Depends on the complexity of the business, but it not uncommon to have hundreds. Okay.

Stephen:                             25:19                     Hundreds. You’re a couple person operation even though, you know, as you say, they’re doing mid, mid six figures, make seven figures. You still are. Most of these companies are really tight, right? You know, there are so tight because good people are hard to find and keep and retain to have to take the time to build out hundreds. Have you ever estimated how long it would take for somebody to do that?

Aaron:                                  25:42                     Um, well it does take a second and say you just like to, um, to get them to where they are today. At least the challenges with sop creation is ensuring that um, they’re being created, created correctly, that can scale because what happens a lot of the time as people begin sod as they create a couple and then they lose them on their hard drive or their support, they cut out and then, you know, they’ll never get used. So that’s a big challenge for most and it makes people that let, you know, they don’t want to get started in creating them, um, and, and actually put them to use. So yeah, it takes a long time to get them, um, Darden and then no first, first and foremost identified, created and then approved and then ongoing use ongoing, um, is the updating of them because these businesses changed so quickly. Um, in terms of there could be an update with Amazon or they could be, you know, something changed with a certain and you’re, the whole group of sop is need to be updated and that’s something which really gets put on the back burner for people that have got so much going on.

Stephen:                             26:52                     Percent. Yeah. I’d never get back into it. So then, let me make sure I understand that. So if somebody was using your services and Amazon changed a height requirement of a pallet from 72 to 70 inches or whatever, right, you guys then automatically go through and update my son, is that correct?

Aaron:                                  27:11                     Oh, that’s, yeah, that’s what we. Anytime there’s a change, um, team kind of stay on top of the changes and so you don’t have to, you know, they don’t have to worry about it, you know, the people that we work with, they just get onto um, keep launching them products that are ultimately grown their business and uh, opened up new marketplaces because here’s the thing, you know, I speak to speak to know sellers all the time that, you know, they might be doing 10 hours a week to 40 hours a week on inventory management and customer service and that’s anywhere between 40 and um, you know, like a hundred and 60 hours a month on just operations. Um, one of our clients was doing 40 hours a week and it, we just removed all that and you know, he’s been launching new products and you know, ultimately making more money in his business because of that and he’s not having to worry about all the headaches of suppliers and the management of chasing the shipments and so forth. So, um, yeah, that’s, that’s really, you know, the big thing for people is they know that they can make a lot more money if they focus on what they’re best at. And typically what I found is most sellers, they want to be creating new products open like this isn’t for sure when the fun stuff, right? The detail detail orientated logistics.

Stephen:                             28:30                     I want to get to customer service in a second, but I just want to understand something as new marketplaces open up, right. And right now, you know, uh, I guess a walmart or maybe facebook would be the last large, uh, a channel to open up what, what do I get with your service of operations when, when something like that occurs, how easy is it for you to help get me started? Because I’m assuming you got a bunch of clients on those platforms, correct?

Aaron:                                  29:01                     Right. Yeah. So I’m best know an FBA ECON business and they’ve been wanting to get to really scanning on a shopify store and opened up in Europe for instance, but they’ve just been held back. So, um, what we find is once we free up, you know, 10 hours a week or more by taking inventory off their plate, customer service off their plate, and they now actually need to spend that time open up new markets and so forth. So we would bring the Ain as the, you know, part of our operations as when we’re setting up the inventory, for instance, Europe or a new channel. We would have to bring that in and add them to a filing cabinet of slps for that particular client. So our team, um, so each client has like a relationship manager, you have a customer service specialist and

Stephen:                             29:56                     so dedicated to me, somebody that I can get to know on a first name basis.

Aaron:                                  30:01                     Totally. Yeah, totally. It’s very, we have like pods which are accounts which are associated to each client. So relationship manager, inventory management specialist, and you know, we call it a customer love specialists because they’re doing a ton of different customer facing tasks on a daily and weekly basis.

Stephen:                             30:22                     Alright, well let’s move on to customer service because I think that is an issue that right now most people don’t have to deal with. And I, I think of drop shippers I’ve had, I’ve had a few really large drop shippers on and they said the number one problem they’re running into, and this was just a couple of years ago, I’ve had them on it. So I imagine it’s much worse. Uh, was customer service. They didn’t have it because basically they never touched the product, right? They bought it from a company, they put it up on Ebay or Amazon, whatever, and it just shot through and it was fulfilled by somebody else. Say they really never touched and they didn’t get a question here or there. But now with, with the everybody buying everything online, the expectation for questions, our people to answer my questions are there. Right. And so they don’t have that infrastructure in place and they’re operating at such a low margin to begin with. It just started cutting into their profits. Is that something that your company helps with and can you give us some examples of what you’ve seen work?

Aaron:                                  31:21                     Okay. So just so I’m super clear on the question, so, um, can you just repeat it?

Stephen:                             31:26                     Well, yeah, I can. I mean basically what I’m seeing is that customer service wasn’t a big deal because we all used to say, oh, Amazon takes care of customer service or male, he never did. But that was the old days as. And I’m using an example of drop shippers because they are a perfect example of a perfect system, right? They never touched the product that got paid upfront for the product. Then they ordered it all within seconds and it got delivered to that person. Hands off, never touched it, right. Made a small margin, but they wash, rinse, repeat. However, now what I’m hearing from them is that there are people asking questions and they have to establish some kind of customer service and they don’t have an infrastructure built for that. And so are you helping with those kind of companies? And then I was looking for some examples of what you’re able to do from a customer service point of view that’s working that better. I probably didn’t say it right. I apologize.

Aaron:                                  32:18                     That’s brilliant. So what we find is, and this is from my experience in working with, you know, tons and tons of seven figures out of six and seven figure earners over the years, um, you know, there’s always going to become a point where, you know, your customer service income and inbound inquiries does, um, you know, pick and, you know, most people will think that is just answering emails. But, um, for us at least, the customer loves system is what we call it. There’s, you know, a number of things involved with that from reviewed, answering, you know, positive and negative. Um, you know, managing all the inboxes. If you know, if you’ve got facebook inboxes, if you’ve got more than one, um, customer inquiry inbox as well as your Amazon account, so that’s to name a few. You’ve got your refunds, your fulfillment orders, you’ve got, you know, everything in between.

Aaron:                                  33:17                     A customer service rep can, can kind of do so with that in my eyes is definitely a need for an agent or two to help you. Um, obviously if you’ve just got, um, things are picking up and one should be enough, but if you are actually going to be going ahead and answering the customer service emails yourself and you’ve not yet got a staff member and you’re looking to hire a customer service based type person and just start documenting what you do doing as you go so you can build up some kind of step by step. Sop is as you go, so when you’re ready and when the, when your margins and allow you to, you can literally hand over the tasks which you’re looking to offload. So

Stephen:                             34:05                     to do what you’re describing, isn’t it? I mean very people.

Aaron:                                  34:09                     People typically think it’s, it’s not, but it, it, it doesn’t sound sexy, but I can tell you now when you do it and when you actually offload it, it feels a lot sexier than doing it. So, uh, um, it’s just taking the, the initiatives to pull open a document. It could be just a google sheet or Google doc, sorry, I’m just writing the steps down on that particular procedure and just adding to it over and over again. Every time you do it and quickly you’ll be able to build one up and offload it to the new team member when you go and you know, fire and hire and train and onboard them.

Stephen:                             34:47                     We used to call him Zen desk. It’s all dudes back in the old days. We had a zen desk, right, that you would hire a company and they would have all your questions there when, when something came in about your particular company, they answered it the way you wanted and then you would fine tune it. Well now the ability to get that done. Um, and, and these are good English speaking staff members. Correct.

Aaron:                                  35:10                     Ready? Really Keifer for that to be, you know, top priority. So in terms of how that happens, because it can be difficult when you’ve got, um, you know, for instance, one of the guys, one of our clients was doing 27 hours a week on customer service. It was during the fire with kate about 450 care actually a month when we first met him, um, and he was doing 27 hours a week and customer service. Um, so that was a huge opportunity for him to get out office play within that 27 hours. You could launch easily one or two products a month and it’s typical product launch, you know, was bringing him anywhere between 30 and 50 K in sales per month. So there’s a huge opportunity that if you’re spending just say 10 hours a week on a operations and you know that you can bring in just 20 k per product that you launched per month. Then over the year, that really, really adds up.

Stephen:                             36:11                     Sure. The other benefit to me, I mean this is when you’re not so close to it, where I’m sitting back and you’re feeding me the customer service, I’m seeing a report, Hey, these are the questions that are getting asked. I’m recognizing that I’m not effectively communicating with my product, so maybe it’s a packaging issue. Maybe it’s my instructions, maybe it’s something else I can do to pre answer those questions because I think about Amazon saying every contact is a fail, right? That means we didn’t do it right. You shouldn’t have to contact us. We should make it all easy. Well, that’s an opportunity and when you’re so close to it, doing all that work yourself, you never see the patterns. You don’t see it because you’re just, it’s right in front of you and you just can’t see the forest through the trees. Back to your example, right?

Aaron:                                  36:53                     Yeah, totally. And that’s what we found. I mean, he came to us, he is going to sound crazy, but you had over 400 canned responses, um, that he was using and they will all over the place. So we took, took the system improvement, removed it from his plate, and now he’s doing new products and really a scan is a scan of his brand even further.

Stephen:                             37:18                     Alright. So, so customer service and then inventory management or operations does seem to be the two areas that you specialize. Is there another area that you really help businesses?

Aaron:                                  37:31                     So that’s where we are now. We’re going to be kind of bolting on new services down the line and because let’s be honest, there’s a ton of stuff which is just tactical and not strategic with things like product launches and um, you know, a lot of people don’t want to be doing the day to day firefighting areas of the business. So there’s a lot of scope for how we can help people. But for us we found that most people, the biggest opportunity is the inventory management. Um, so you know, a lot of people that are not, have not got their system starting with their inventory. They can get hit with longterm storage fees and stuff like that and to go down. So that’s what we want to help people with initiative, you know, down the line we could add in other of the other services too.

Stephen:                             38:16                     Well, because you’re, you’re just putting, as you see these pain points come up again. I mean, I guess that’s the beauty of sitting in your place. You’re seeing all this, right. Um, and so you get to see a write up a pattern across a whole bunch of businesses and then you can address it. To me, that’s very powerful. All right, so talk to about, one of the cool things that you have is a, uh, a cheat sheet that you offer for free. And I’ll. Well we can just, we can say what the link is now. You offer a launch, a product launch cheat sheet your term, right? I think you call it the ultimate cheat sheet. Not the, not the best. The ultimate one was being really humble with hey.

Aaron:                                  39:01                     No, but um, yeah, it’s, it basically gives you a stone system. So in this example, it’s how to setup the system basically and how to improve over time. But I used it for the context of product launches because it’s kind of more attractive as be able to get dialed in and it’s kind of easy to follow. So it’s like, I think it’s like seven pages pdf and it’s a real clear on how to get started with systems to get stuff off your plate, get organized and so you can keep scaling. So yeah, check it out. It’s a systems culture impact.com, forward slash launch and you can grab a copy

Stephen:                             39:40                     at your leisure. What I like about it because I did, um, is you’re basically putting it in perspective for people because again, I think most people get overwhelmed. They start with great intentions. Um, and I usually find most processes work for about two weeks and then people revert back to what they were. So you’re basically saying, no, let’s build a new framework, a new. I mean it’s probably that Tony Robbins stuff coming out in you build a new framework, get a whole new perspective and then follow it. And then boom, wash, rinse, repeat, wash, rinse, repeat.

Aaron:                                  40:11                     That’s it. Totally. I mean, if I can help, you know, what we’re worried about is how can I help incredible entrepreneurs to get stuff off their plate, get organized so they can go and create the impact that they put on the planet to create. And I’ve seen it time and time and time again, it’s happened to me over the years being bogged down with the minutia of the details, which a lot of entrepreneurs, people like us don’t really like. So, um, you know, this tissue, we’ll show you how to get started and how to, to, to offload some of these tasks and set up a system so you can do what you do best.

Stephen:                             40:43                     It’s the perfect time of year, right? So here we are, right? The end of the year’s coming along, hopefully everybody had a great q four. Um, and they’re looking at, I call it a q five, January, February, and March, right? It’s another opportunity to sell what you have, get rid of some of your mistakes. It really launch, right? I mean, that’s fine. Um, but I think launching your business in a better way if he what, what, what didn’t work this year and fix it for next year. And so I think it’s very powerful to have a plan. And so, um, let’s, let’s just get this right. So it’s systems with an s culture impact.com. Okay. Is your website, there’s a whole bunch of information and there’s blogs, there’s podcasts that he’s been on a whole bunch of them, a really good, strong, a lot of good content and then you sign up for this cheat sheet. All you have to do is give him his email, your email and you get this, this really great. I mean it really has a lot of actionable steps in there. And so put all that out there. And Are you on facebook that people, if they were to get in touch with you or is it based best way to get you is on that side?

Aaron:                                  41:47                     Yeah. I’m on facebook. So if you have any questions whatsoever, you know which type Aeron Sullivan and we’re probably got a few friends in common. So just admin should be a message, if not head to systems cultural impact.com.

Stephen:                             42:03                     Okay. And so the goal of this podcast is to help people who get stuck and I think again, for this time a year, this place where we’re at, um, you actually have, you could help launch people who were stuck with a whole new year and I’m very excited about that. So can you give us a short approach that you would recommend for somebody who’s Kinda like, Aaron, I just don’t know where to start.

Aaron:                                  42:29                     Oh, I’d love to. I would love to do that. So the first thing that if you’re in a place where things have to be overwhelming, you know, you’ve got a lot on your plate and you’re looking to just get things, you know, get some quick winds, get them offloaded a. The first thing I would say is you need to download, track and then rank. Uh, let me just talk to you about what this means. So download movies, take a look back over the last two weeks of what you’ve been doing, looking at your to do list. Look at your, um, your calendars, look in your project management software. It just opened up a google sheet and download all of the things that you’ve been doing, you know, as many as you can. And then when I say track is you’re going to track your time for the next 10 days to two weeks or every half an hour, write down exactly what you’re spending your time on. This doesn’t sound sexy, but this is literally changed my life and it’s changed, you know, everybody that I work with, I put them through this exact process and they are now absolutely blown away.

Stephen:                             43:35                     It’s to be eye opening, a painful to look at sometimes

Aaron:                                  43:39                     even if it was someone’s done this, it dented my pride massively, although it was really productive and I was, you know, uh, but you know, dentist, the ego a bit. But what it, what it does is it gave me awareness and I was quickly to be able to see all the areas where I’ve frankly shouldn’t be working on, which is not moving the business forward. You know, the bottle neck type areas of the business. Um, as we talked about it earlier, so download is the first piece, um, look back over all the stuff you’ve been doing. Second is track your time for 10 days to two weeks and then you’re going to have basically a long list of items that you can now rank. So what I mean rank, I mean put it in order of highest frequency at the top and the lowest value.

Aaron:                                  44:26                     So the things that come up the most and most often you want to put them at the top and basically under the top 10 things, you can draw a line which is your strike list of things to get off your plate so you can get some, uh, you know, the immediate time and energy and effort kind of Roi will be immediate as soon as you offload these. Let me see, because this is important. When you look at the people that you put through this program, those top 10 things that they were working on, how significant of their week was it? When did you find just a guest? Yes. Yeah, it does. It does vary, but it’s, it’s proportionately much larger than they are this. So if this is off your plate, you could gain back 20, 30 hours a week. I mean, is that realistic? Oh, without a doubt.

Aaron:                                  45:17                     So looking at each one of these tasks and seeing, you know, is it really strategic? Can anybody else do this in the business or am I the only person that can do it? Um, and if it’s something firefight and, and you know, if it’s tactical, then you know, you could pretty much offload it. So there’s a great coach called Dan Sullivan who had, um, you know, another word, another lens to look at this route which might be helpful. So once you’ve downloaded and you’ve tracked your time and you’ve got all the tasks out in front of you and you’ve ranked them in order and next to each task, you know, look at it and assess whether it’s something that your incompetent at, which means obviously you don’t want to do it. You don’t like doing it and it can be removed from the plate. So that’s the first kind of Lens to look at it through.

Aaron:                                  46:11                     The second is, are you competent at it? And there’s so many things on people’s plates that I speak to you. Yes, we can do it because we got good in it and there was nobody else that can do it as good as those. Yeah. And these are the kinds of things that we hold onto and we don’t like to offload. So that’s the second label are you see for competent. The third would be an e for excellent. So this is, are you excellent at doing these tasks and you know, these could be kind of more high level things and things that you’re just so accustomed to doing, but ultimately they don’t know for, for you. They don’t make, you know, really happy when you’re doing them and they don’t. They could actually be offloaded. The fourth level is your zone of genius. So this is what the thing that nobody else can do in a business that could be product creation, that could be, um, you know, building relationships with, with influencers or building a business, partnerships things which is really high level that you do best and that would be your zone of genius.

Aaron:                                  47:14                     So once you’ve got this list, look at him through that Lens and anything with an competent able or competent or excellent, you can be really looking at them for a lens of what’s, what of these can I remove at that can be added. So you can methodically removed him from your plate. Do you look at it through, because that’s probably a pretty good

Stephen:                             47:39                     wide swath. Do you then focus and say what brings me revenue or what brings me profit or you know, I mean, how do you narrow that down because you can’t tackle it all. Your maybe my list is 25 things. Where do I start? Maybe that’s a better question.

Aaron:                                  47:56                     Yeah. So I would, where there’s the highest frequency, the thing, the tasks which come up most often with the lowest value in terms of profit generation. And you know, everybody’s slightly different in what they do best, but for most people I work with, they want to be spending time creating products and, and really, you know, designing the marketing strategy to get them visible in Bible, whether that’s on Amazon and shopify and so forth. So does that make sense?

Stephen:                             48:27                     No, I think it makes perfect sense. So again, we’re going to download it and this is painful, but you know what I think back to Dan Miller, the Dave Ramsey fame in Dan, Dan’s advice was always like he would take November and December and look at everything he’s done basically the same system and then get rid of the lowest deliverables. And he said, you know, well some people, even though they were profitable, his theory was I can’t wait to see what replaces it. And to me, that’s what gets me excited about what you’re saying. The same. Basically the same thing as downloading it. It, hey, you get, you get your arms around how big it is and how what you’ve created it is what it is. But then tracking it, I think that’s going to be the most powerful thing and painful to do, but then you’re going to see how much youtube you’re watching or you’re going to see how much a pack and boxes or whatever. Right? And then I’m breaking it. I think, you know, the ranking is a little subjective, but I think the way you, you gave us two, two ways to look at it, I think is very powerful. And again, imagine picking up 30 or 40 hours a week or 20 slash 20 or 30 hours and what could, what could it replace? What could you do instead? To me that that’s exciting. Very, very exciting.

Aaron:                                  49:36                     Absolutely. Yeah. So that’s the one takeaway. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, download tracking, rank, and then understand what is your strike list and then get off your plate so you can focus on creating new products and Nordstrom and whatever you do best that makes the most money for your business

Stephen:                             49:54                     and what you still love to do. I mean, to me that’s so important that you actually love it too. Okay, so again I’m going to put errands, contact information, his facebook thing, but again the website is called systems culture impact.com. Forward slash launch would be that download, which I did and it’s very powerful, actionable steps right there, cost you nothing but your email. Um, and man, I really appreciate it. I really appreciate you taking the time to help us move forward in our business. Erin. Really do.

Aaron:                                  50:25                     Hey Steve. It’s been my pleasure. Absolutely loved being here and just throw it on him. So yeah, if anyone needs help I’ll be more than happy to point them in the right direction.

Stephen:                             50:33                     Take care. Tell you what a great guy, a great experience and download that report. I did the ultimate cheat sheet. It’s really strong. That’s why I told them after the call, I mean who’s ever doing this graphic is phenomenal because that I’m a visual learner and I love that visual, you know, impact of me just following it and the colors and everything. Just making it easy. It’s like I can see each box and just start ticking boxes. I’m really good at ticking boxes and so very, very helpful. Um, so again, his a website is systems culture impact.com, forward slash launch. You’ll get that report and if this is a service that you can use, again, I don’t benefit other than you having success. Um, and I think that’s very, very cool. ECOMMERCE momentum.com, ecommerce momentum.com. Take care.

Cool voice guy:                  51:22                     Thanks for listening to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. All the links mentioned today can be found at incomers. Momentum. Come under this episode number. Please remember to subscribe and the lake us on itunes.

 

 

Stephen-Peterson

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