A common objection about running a service business, such as being a solo freelancer, is not wanting to just trade time for money. But that is only one model to run your service business, and it's not the most useful. Instead, think about your services as a product that you’re offering. A client signs-up, and you perform some defined result for them, and they pay you for that result rather than for the number of hours that you spent working on it. You can achieve financial success if you can build your service as a system that you can deliver over and over, instead of creating a completely 100% custom solution each time.
Frank Bria calls this strategy the creation of a High Ticket Program and has applied it when consulting with Fortune 500 companies on multiple continents to help them structure and sell their own offerings. We are talking anywhere from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars in services sold. Frank shares how he thinks about turning a custom service into a repeatable high offering that you can sell at a high price over and over again, including the 5 key building blocks that are at your disposable when creating your own offering.
Frank shares with us:
Frank's first steps into consulting was from an accounting firm. But instead of crunching numbers as he was trained to do, Frank was put infront of the fortune 500 accounting clients because he had a good ability to communicate and knew the technical skills.
After moving through a few agencies, including a complete failure, and developing the expertise and a good network, he set off on consulting on his own. He worked for companies who were in the thought stages of product development and for companies with products that flopped and needed his help to turn them around by putting in a special sales process and re-marketing.
Most of his clients came in through referrals or after his speaking engagements. He only had 3-4 deals a year, so they had to be big deals to keep him going. He learned that the clients are more valuable if you can go back to them year after year to work on more projects. But this is risky. When he lost one huge client, then he lost a large chunk of income. After a few years of projects, his clients also started asking for loyalty discounts, which is difficult to do as a small operation with only a handful of clients.
A turning point in Frank's life occurred when his wife had emergency surgery in Phoenix, Arizona while he was literally on the other side of the world in Ukraine. On the 36 hour trip home through multiple stop-overs, Frank had time to think about what he wanted in life. He had started consulting to be a business owner, but had found himself in a grueling job that always took him away from his family. He had become an employee to his own company. Sure, he had financial success and felt good about being needed to solve problems. But, it had to change.
He restructured and built a business from scratch to have the business he intended and wanted. First, he told his clients that he isn't traveling anymore and immediately lost half his clients. So that wasn't ideal.
Then, he started thinking about how to actually separate himself from his business. Frank was used to sitting down with clients, talking about their problems, and then saying that he can solve the problems for them by “doing whatever”. It didn't really matter what “whatever” was because he wasn't selling that, he was selling himself.
Disconnecting himself meant choosing a specific problem that he could solve over and over and over again for different clients by applying systems and figuring out what the “whatever” really is so he didn't have be there for every step. When you mass-market a service that has to be scalable, you have to commit to a meaningful outcome for your clients. Now he could scale.
How to make a high-ticket program:
A high-ticket program is a scalable service that you deliver that doesn't require any additional work from you as a business owner for a new client. It shouldn't take much more effort to deliver the service to 10 people compare to 3.
A high-ticket program also solves a 6-figure problem that drives transformation and changes lives at the price of at least $10,000. You don't have to earn the right to sell a $10,000 or $15,000 product. If you are solving a 6-figure problem, then asking $10,000 for it is not crazy, it's reasonable.
A program is a productized service, something you execute over and over again.
Step 1: Figure out the program.
You need to find a solution to a 6-figure problem, a solution that can drive transformation, drive value, and change lives. People will only pay for solutions to expensive problems that will make their life so much better.
Step 2: Validate the idea through piloting.
How do you know if the service you want to offer is something that people want and will pay for? Too often, entrepreneurs get an idea, build a website, build a sales funnel, start selling, and so on and so on, without first figuring out if it is something worth selling.
Instead, go talk to people. Have validation calls where you ask people whether or not the problem you are trying to solve is one worth investing in. Develop stages for solving that particular problem and make sure it makes sense to people. Run a pilot course.
Step 3: Scale and automate.
Once you know things work, go back and look at every single process to figure out how to scale it. You really need to understand the processes so you are scaling something that works. On day one, you are doing everything and trying to figure out the stuff as you go. But if you are just winging it, you end up scaling a big mess which will inevitably fall apart.
When you start scaling, you need to have processes in place and division of labour so everyone knows what part they are supposed to do. If you find yourself trying to hire someone who is basically you, someone who will do it all, then you are in trouble. You probably haven't broken down the processes enough to scale smoothly.
If you do manage to find someone like you, they probably won't be happy doing the work that you want them too for the same reasons you don't want to do the work, and they will move on. Employee number 2 should really be the exact opposite of you so they can fill in all the little gaps that you don't like to do.
What should employee number 2 be doing? You need to figure out where the strategic value is in your service. Once you've defined the outcome, you can figure out the strategic value. The last thing you let go should be the strategic thing.
For example, if you are a web agency who strategically differentiates itself as the creators of the infrastructure that allows clients to track leads through the online sales process. In this case, graphic design is not as important to you, so you can outsource it or hire someone to do it. It will not be what you would have done, and it will meet only 80% of your expectations, but that's ok because it is not mission critical to your business. A different business might differentiate themselves with high-end graphic design and would sub-out the programming, but keep the graphic design in-house.
5 Building Blocks of scaling programs:
Most businesses need to create skills, accountability, and mentorship for their clients in order for the clients to get results. You can do this by combining some of these 5 building blocks:
Virtual training or online courses: You can deliver skills to clients and more than one client at a time.
Master minds: 9 -12 people who come together to accomplish a common goal and use the group to be accountable. These meetings are facilitated by you, the expert. This is not the place to deliver skills.
Group Coaching: Here, you answer questions, provide examples, or teach online depending on what your clients need at that time. This is a great way to mentor but not a great place to teach skills.
Done-for-you Services: This is a great way for you client to get something done for them and check off the box. It requires you to have a very particular process that you or someone you hire execute over and over again like an assembly line.
Live events and workshops: This is a great way to both teach and provide mentorship to your group. This is also the way schools are traditionally built. However, it is not great for accountability down the line.
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