Episode 124

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I don’t know about you, but I never feel quite caught up. Thanks to my high tech Post It Note strategy (Every night I list the 3 things, and no more, I must get done the next day and put it on my laptop) I get the most critical things done but there’s always more to do.

What saves my bacon every day is that I have a superb team around me and they have systems and processes that allow them to work miracles and keep me on the straight and narrow. Like most agency owners, I have a short attention span and it’s easy for me to get distracted. Our systems pull me back to center.

Every business is made up of processes and systems, whether you have them documented or not. If your systems are informal or tribal, then odds are you and your team aren’t being as efficient or effective as you could be. You are literally trying to shove more work into a system that is simply too small.

That’s where my podcast guest, Terry Ogburn comes in. He works with entrepreneurs and their teams to create repeatable success through a system he developed through his own experience and the teachings of some of his favorite business books.

Terry Ogburn is the owner and Lead Business Coach of Ogburn’s Business Solutions. His proprietary coaching system and personal devotion to the development of others has contributed to the success of hundreds of small to large business ventures.

Terry began his business career in 1979 when he invested his last $118.42 to start an air conditioning service business. At that time, he had no car or truck, but he did have the knowledge and ability to build relationships. By 1983, he was a top 5 nominee for Small Businessman of the Year. In 1985, successful in his business and recognized as a leader in the business community, he began to mentor other small business owners.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How the absence of good, repeatable systems keeps a business from growing
  • Terry’s eight steps of business development that can be applied to every business
  • Why you need job descriptions for every process inside your agency (and why each description doesn’t need to equal a full time employee)
  • Removing your ego from your business
  • What numbers agency owners need to look at, even if you don’t like numbers
  • Protecting your bottom line by passing costs on to your customers
  • How to carve out the time to work on your business when you are busy working in the business
  • Creating a business development plan

The Golden Nuggets:

“Document your processes so the work is consistent and repeatable.” - Terry Ogburn Share on X “Most businesses don't understand the importance of the customer. Be sure your team remembers that the customer is the one who pays the bills.” - Terry Ogburn Share on X “How much your business makes is not important. It's how much you keep that matters.” - Terry Ogburn Share on X “Line up your day so the exact number of hours that you plan to work matches the exact priorities that you need to get done.” - Terry Ogburn Share on X

 

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Ways to contact Terry Ogburn:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency Podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultants. Please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Drew McLellan here, ready to help you expand your business, grow your business, tweak your business, I know that odds are there. A lot of good things happening in your agency but there’s always room for a little bit of improvement. And that’s where we’re going to focus our time today. Let me tell you a little bit about our guest and what we’re going to be talking about. So Terry Ogburn is the owner and lead business coach of Ogburn’s Business Solutions. So, Terry has a long history of business ownership. Back in 1979, he dropped $118.42 to launch his air conditioning service business. And 10 years later, he had built it into a big business, sold it, then went into the travel industry for many years and help several businesses grow themselves as a director of operations and director of training and development.

In ’05, Terry decided to go back to sort of his roots and start serving entrepreneurs and business owners by helping them launch and grow their businesses. And so since ’05 he’s been coaching and leading businesses to greater success. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Terry, welcome to the podcast.

Terry Ogburn:

Thanks, Drew. And thanks for having me on your podcast. I’m looking forward to this.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, me too. So when you engage with a client, I know that my audience is probably a little more specialized than you. I’m sure you work with businesses of all kind. But what do you find are some common ailments that are present when you first engage with a new client? What do business owners struggle with universally, do you think?

Terry Ogburn:

The answer to that would be a, it’s like they are building their businesses from the ground up, which they do. And what happens is when you do that you grow to a level to where you actually form a glass ceiling between where you want to be and where you are. And we get into this adolescence state of business where we think we know it all. And at this point, is when they start to stagnate and their sales become rocky, they go up and down. Kind of like a hamster on the hamster wheel. And the idea would be for them to build their business from the top down to take a step back, and take the employees that they have and team members and empower them to get their jobs done instead of micromanaging. Use a new form out there, which is empowering.

Drew McLellan:

So in theory, you would think that we would see that in our own businesses, that we would see that in some cases we are or our old process. I find that in many cases as an agency grows, a lot of times their system and process doesn’t grow with the business. And so they’re sort of wearing toddler pants but they’re in the fifth grade.

Terry Ogburn:

Correct.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Terry Ogburn:

And just like you said, the infrastructure of business, some people when I talk to them, “Hello, I’ve only got three people, I don’t really need an organizational chart.” Or, “I really don’t need job descriptions.” Or, “I don’t need a plan of action on this. I’m too small.” And my other favorite word is, “Terry, you don’t understand.” And I probably don’t understand the technical side of their work. But I certainly understand the infrastructure side that you must have the systems and processes in place, even if it’s only you know three or four people working.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I think the other part of that is when you’ve got a system or a process in place, it also has to keep growing up with you as your business changes, evolves and grows. And I think a lot of agencies will have sort of the most rudimentary of systems, but that was something they put into place five years ago and everything… And it’s not that the system hasn’t changed. It’s just hasn’t been documented and shared with everyone. So it’s this tribal knowledge that lives in everybody’s brain and the owners believe that everyone are doing it the same way. But in reality, everyone is doing it the way they interpret the tribal knowledge.

Terry Ogburn:

Exactly. And we see this many times. You used to be, Drew we were in a business world that knowledge was power. And we got hooked up on that. And so the knowledge is up there. And what you describe to somebody just doing the same thing as telling a joke, and through 10 people that joke is going to be different when it gets back to you. How you disseminate this information downward, should be in training manuals or it should be in some kind of documentation that everybody says the same thing and performs in the same way.

Drew McLellan:

So do you believe that there is a single process or system inside a business that is in the hierarchy of importance more important than the others?

Terry Ogburn:

I do. I think that we should have eight… And my program is also [inaudible 00:05:48] that. There’s eight steps to business development, and it can be applied to any business that’s out there. First, you have us have a primary aim, you have to have your goals. And I like to do 90 day goals because of the way the markets and things change so rapidly, it’s hard for us to stay on focus for a year because of the technology that’s around us. We also need, including this primary aim we need to have a set of core values and a purpose that surround our goals. These are things we eat, live and breathe every day so that we form a consistency with throughout our business. Then we need principles to live by, the business should be founded on principles. Two that like, one time in the air conditioning business one of my dispatchers was arguing with a customer. They argued for like 45 minutes, and then she gave the store away so to speak. And I said, “Well make up your mind either stand on a principle or not. But don’t waver back and forth.”

Then we have to have an organizational strategy. How are we going to organize our business? Who reports to who and who does what? And so forth. And then we have to have a people business. How are we going to treat the people that work for us? You have a management plan on how we’re going to manage the business. Our systems, what systems are we going to need to put in place to make these happen? What is our marketing strategy, how we’re going to go to market? There’s several ways to go through. Social media, direct marketing. What would we be like, Drew if we never embraced social media back in the early 2000s? Right? And then we have to have a service strategy, as well. And this is where I think most businesses start to drop off is, they don’t understand the importance of the customer. And that the customer is the one who’s paying our bills. Even if I was designing an organizational chart, I put the customer at the top, and the frontline the people who are actually dealing with the customers, they should be the ones who are empowered to solve the problems.

We had this same situation in Radio Shack days. We didn’t give enough leeway to the managers. And they were causing a lot of the district manager to get involved in a little petty, little things that could have been handled at a much lower level and saved us a lot of money.

Drew McLellan:

So do you believe that a business has to develop those eight sort of pillars, if you will, in that order? And/or do they do it based on the most urgent needs? So when you work with a client do you walk them through? “Okay. First, let’s set the goals, then let’s have our core values? Or is there a right or wrong way to do this, I guess is what I’m asking you?

Terry Ogburn:

Well, I think the course that works for me, and I guarantee my work. So I’m probably one of the only people that you’ll ever have on your show that actually guarantees my services. And it’s because I have developed a recipe. And then you Know, Drew if you follow the recipe, the recipe produces the same cake or a recipe that you’ve set out to do. So yeah, I do believe it goes in those eight steps. But I do believe that customer service is paramount. So even though it’s last on the list of things to do, it’s first in our hearts.

Drew McLellan:

So I’m guessing that a lot of the agencies owners that are listening are like, “Okay. We got the customer service thing down. In fact, we give away the farm on a regular basis. That’s not my issue.” So when you think about… To me, where I think a lot of agencies get caught up is in the systems part. So, is there a right or wrong way to develop a system for a small business do you believe? Is there a, as you called it a recipe or a process inside the idea of, I have to develop systems? And are there universal systems that everyone has to have?

Terry Ogburn:

Well, think of it this way. When you’re looking at your business, well take Drew’s agency. Okay? Now when you have accounts payable, you have accounts receivable. Is that fair?

Drew McLellan:

Yep.

Terry Ogburn:

Okay. So what I teach is that you go out online and you get a job description for each of those positions. You pick the things out, reword them the way you want them to be reworded but those are all tasks that have to get done. That’s fair to say, right?

Drew McLellan:

Yep.

Terry Ogburn:

Okay. Same thing, when you’re looking for marketing. There you can go out and do job search for job descriptions and any person you need. Whether that person is you wearing multiple hats, or it’s positions that you want to feel. The way I teach it is that you’re going to need a bookkeeper in the future anyway, so might as well go ahead and develop their job description. So you’ve got a bookkeeper actually balances the books between the receivables and the payables. So you have customer service, you have all these different positions. Like in my company, it takes 15 of us to run my company. Now there’s only three virtual assistants and myself, and one other coach. So, I don’t need 15 people I just need 15 organized systems or job descriptions that will get my work done each and every week.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. That’s an interesting point that a job description doesn’t necessarily equate to a full time equivalent or even an employee.

Terry Ogburn:

Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Terry Ogburn:

Some of the people I work with, they will have two and three job descriptions based out with tasks and then we’ll see how long it takes to get those tasks and we make sure that each team member has got 40 hours worth of work.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Right. So when you are working with a business owner, and I love the, “Terry, you don’t understand.” Because I do think no matter who the business owner is, they want to talk to somebody who understands their business. So I get that. But what are the barriers? Because what you’re talking about… So everyone listening is going, “Yep, absolutely. Yes, of course, we should have that. Yes. Aha.” But they don’t. So what gets in the way and how do they get over whatever that hurdle is?

Terry Ogburn:

Good. First of all, we have to remove the ego. Okay? Ego is fear based. As most people should know that. What we want to evolve to is result based. I had a client, a few years back she said, “Okay. I got my website up. I got everything is going now, I’m going to order my business card, should I put CEO or president on my business card?” I said, “You put neither.” I said, because you don’t… If you run into a CEO or a president and they start asking you those types of questions, what’s going to happen is you’re not going to be able to answer them. So just don’t put anything on your card. Vaden, your name is Vaden. It’s Vaden. Inc, I think they’ll get it. So let’s remove that little ego thing. The other thing is, for those of people out there that have children, when you get your first baby and you’re cuddling it and your mom comes into the room, and she’s raised five kids and she wants to take it and you want to hand it to her and there’s this little bubble.

And that little bubble causes your heart to fall into your stomach. And this is, the mom gets it and everything’s okay. The point is that, it’s when they’re handing their baby off, whether to me or to somebody who can help them, we go through this little bubble stage that says, “Oh well, I’m not sure I want to do that.” But about the third kid, what are you doing? It’s that you’re tossing it at the mom.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Right.

Terry Ogburn:

You’re not even caring about it. Yeah. So once you get break this, I need to hold on to the baby concept and empower. So, like for example, there are many corporations out there today that they’re not the owners of the corporation, there’s not the CEO of the corporation. Find it what it is you do best, whatever that is. If it’s marketing, then dive right into the marketing and then hire the other people to do your work for you. I have, I’m looking right now this week I will be looking at hiring a CEO for my company. Because I’m not the CEO, I’m a good coach. I need to be in a pivot point in my business and that pivot point is making sure that the material that I want delivered is delivered correctly. I can hire somebody else to take the direction of the company.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I just think you just made a whole bunch of listeners very uncomfortable. The idea of letting someone else run their company. It’s one of those things I think a lot of business owners want to have their cake and eat it too. They love… So a lot of the old E-Myth model right? So you were a great baker and you love baking the cakes, but now you own a bakery so you can’t really spend time baking the cake, because you need to run the business of the bakery. So, what I’m hearing you say is sort of in counter to E-Myth teaching, which is go ahead and bake the cake, hire someone else to run the bakery. Is that what you’re saying?

Terry Ogburn:

In part, I believe in the E-myth. And the E-myth is one of the books that I use to build my business and help businesses grow. What I just want to add to that is that if you’re the best baker, if you’re the one that can develop those recipes and get that product sold… I’ll give you a quick story, Drew. When I was first in the air conditioning business, there was a guy who was a mentor to me, his name was Dick [Petini 00:15:59]. And Dick was a four color printer. So I’d go by and hang out with him and get lessons learned and all the stuff from him. And every time I’d go there by there, before it’d be after four or five o’clock in the afternoon. And he’d be back at the cutter, cutting the projects and cutting the deals and you know cutting the paper and stuff. And asked him one day, I said because I’d met him in networking meetings. I said,” Dick why don’t you change into your workflows here and go to work?” And he goes, “As soon as I get back from the office.” He said, “I got my front end is handled by my sales team. My wife handles the books. I got a great front gal and I sit back here and I cut and I make sure the quality of my product goes out that door and delivered is perfect.”

He says, “You pick a pivot spot in your business where you’re good at, where you can watch the quality control of your business. And then you hire good people to do the other things that you don’t want to do.”

Drew McLellan:

See, that’s interesting because I will tell you that for me, and the advice that I give agency owners that’s counterintuitive to them but it’s pretty tough for an agency owner to scale their business, if they are baking the cakes. Because the truth of the matter is, most of them have no one on their staff who’s as good as baking a cake, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have people who are good at baking cakes. But there’s no one who’s going to run or mind their business the way they need too. No one’s going to mentor their people. So one of the challenges for agency owners is, so I guess I’m respectfully disagreeing.

Terry Ogburn:

Okay, that’s fine.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right. But for agency owners, if they don’t get out of the day to day, their business is stuck at about eight or 10 people and they can’t grow beyond it.

Terry Ogburn:

Well, that and we’re just debating that a little bit with you. Again, that’s the micromanaging side of it. If any person, wouldn’t matter to me what business that you’re doing. If you can get out of the the micromanaging and get into the empowering, and the empowering means that I’m going to set you off on a mission. Here’s your managed by objectives. Okay. Here’s the objectives that I need. Here’s the course that we need to take. Now you explain to me how long it’s going to take you, can you do it, what resources do you need to get this to subjective turn? And then I’ll check with you halfway through the project or set up three checkpoints along the way. This is working backwards. And this is again, what the E-Myth teaches us is that we have to learn to work backwards. Work with the end in mind, that’s [inaudible 00:18:41] teaches the same thing. If you build from the bottom up, I’m not saying you won’t build a great business because there are people out there who’ve built. I was one of those people that built my business from the ground up.

However, I’d learned so much that now I fully understand that it’s far easier to build your business from the top down than it is to build it from the bottom up. In fact, you have a 90% success ratio, when you build your business from the top down. And then you do versus a 20% chance of being able to grow your business or maintain a business for longer than three years by building it from the ground up.

Drew McLellan:

So it kind of sounds like maybe we don’t disagree.

Terry Ogburn:

Okay.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Because-

Terry Ogburn:

I hope we don’t.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I’m okay if we do i think that makes the conversation valuable in its own right. But it doesn’t sound like you’re saying you should be baking cakes every day. What you’re saying is find other good bakers and teach them how to bake the cake as well as you do.

Terry Ogburn:

Again that and, if you don’t have a… I run into entrepreneurs all the time. “So I’m an entrepreneur.” But most of them aren’t. I run into CEOs all the time that say, “I’m a CEO.” But then when I ask them what a CEOs responsibility is, they usually give me the director of operations or the chief operating officers job description. See, a CEO of a company is only responsible for two things. First is the vision of the company. And some people are not visionaries. They just don’t have the wherewithal to become a visionary to be able to see. For when we were in the travel industry, John Curran, the CEO and visionary of our company saw that the decline in travel was going to happen because of the internet. He was able to visualize that, he was able to escalate our going public, from a five year goal to a two and a half year goal.

And we were able to go public before the travel industry collapse. We had invested at that time, about two and a half million, and we accelerated our growth to where we needed the total of five billion. And then we put our IPO out, and we got 13 million. But if he hadn’t seen that the decline in the travel industry, we would have been stuck with a $5 million loser.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Well, when I’m listening to you, I think one of the realities from a lot of agency owners is, I think most agency owners did not really choose entrepreneurism. I think most agency owners, quite honestly are accidental business owners. So what happens in the agency world is somebody is working for an agency. And this is not true of all of them, but probably 90%. Someone’s working in an agency, they either get downsized or they get hacked off at their boss or whatever. Or they decide, as I did back in the day, 25 years ago. I looked at my boss and I thought, “Well, if he can do it, I can do it.” So I left and then all of a sudden I had to learn how hard it was to run a business. But I’m not sure that they would have chosen entrepreneurialism. It just sort of all of a sudden, they were freelancing or consulting. And then they had a couple employees, and now they have five or 10. And all of a sudden they look around and they go, “Oh, crap, I own a business.” And now they’re trying to figure that out. So I want to dig into the idea of how you help someone identify the right role for themselves. But first, let’s take a quick break. And then we’ll dig right into that.

One of my favorite parts of AMI are our live workshops. I love to teach, I love to spend two days immersed in a topic with either agency leaders, agency owners, or at AE’s in our AE Bootcamps. But most of all, I love sharing what I’ve learned from other agencies, from 30 years in the business and all the best practices that we teach. If you have some interest in those workshops, they range from everything. From money matters, which is all about your financial health of your agency to best management practices of agency owners, to new business, to AE Bootcamps and a plethora of other topics. Go check out the list and the schedule at agencymanagementinstitute.com/livetraining. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

All right, we are back. Thanks for sticking with us. I am here wi