Daily Directive: 050624

Write one blog post or record one QuickCast.

This week, we’re building an “On Ramp” to your business. Start here.

Step 2: What should your clients know within the first 3 visits?
Write that down.
This is a checklist for your On Ramp period.
At the end of your On Ramp period, a client must check all of the ‘knowledge’ boxes.
You can deliver this knowledge while they’re using your service, or you can give them 1:1 instruction, or you can develop an online course to teach them, or you can send them emails during their first few weeks of service.

For 5 months in college, I was a fishing guide.
I lived in the bush in a cabin with a few other guides. We were 206 miles straight north of home, with no roads and only a generator for electricity.
Visitors would rent cabins and boats for a week at a time; fly in from all over the world; and try to catch as much pickerel (walleye) as they could.
The smart ones hired a guide on the first day. They learned the best spots, and what the fish were hitting on that week. Then they enjoyed the rest of the week and usually hit their limit.
Other guests tried to figure it out on their own for the first few days. Then, as the end of the week approached, they grew frustrated enough to hire a guide to show them where to go and what to do.
They usually caught several fish with the guide, salvaging their week, and keeping a few fish to take home. They almost always told me, “We should have hired you on Monday instead of Friday.”
Some guests never hired a guide. Even after dropping thousands to fly in, rent the cabin, rent the boat, buy lures and overpay for drinks at the lodge, they’d say “I’m not paying the extra hundred bucks for a guide! Too expensive.” Then they’d go home with a couple of fish and say “that lake is fished out” or “we’ll go somewhere else next year.”

Of course, if a guest didn’t catch any fish, it was bad for everyone. It hurt the guest, because they spent a week frustrated (don’t get me wrong, the location was beautiful, but they didn’t sign up to go looking for fish; they paid to CATCH them.)
It was bad for the guide, because it was less work – we spent a day on the dock tuning up engines for minimum wage instead of guiding.
And it was bad for the lodge, because guests who didn’t catch fish didn’t come back.

Step 2 of building an “on ramp” onto your service is to ask,

“What does a client need to know to be successful long-term?”

And then teach that to them within their first 3 visits (or first 3 months) of using your service.

This should be done 1:1, even if your service works with cohorts or groups. It can be done in-person, or through a short online course.

For example, every new client at an accounting firm should be taught the basics of reading a P&L; how to report their expenses; and how to pay less in taxes. This should be done from the start, not on April 14th, when the client is panicked about their tax bill.

If your gym sells group training, a client should learn the basics of your methodology before joining a group session. If they don’t, they’ll feel out of place, and your coaches will spend all of their time teaching the newcomer instead of coaching the other paying clients.

Every new client at a marketing agency should be educated about the basics of digital marketing, including understanding key metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and the significance of SEO. Additionally, they should be shown how to use the client portal to track the progress of their campaigns. This training helps clients understand the value of their marketing efforts and sets clear expectations about what the agency can deliver. This initial education can be conducted through a series of short videos or an interactive webinar within the first month of engagement.

For a company offering IT support services, new clients should be given a comprehensive onboarding session that covers the basics of the services provided, how to submit support tickets, and best practices for maintaining their IT systems. This could be done through an online tutorial or a personalized training session. Educating clients on how to properly use and maintain their systems can reduce the frequency of service calls and improve satisfaction, as they better understand what to expect from their IT support.

For a dog-walking business, it’s crucial that new clients and their pets have a smooth introduction to the service. In the first few sessions, the dog walker should spend time educating the pet owner on the specifics of the service, such as how to prepare their dog for walks, what route will be taken, and what kind of behavioral training methods are used (if any). Additionally, an initial meeting where the dog walker gets to know the dog, understands its behavior, and assesses its comfort with the walker and the leash is essential. This could be paired with a short guide or checklist provided to the owner detailing how to ensure their pet is ready for each walk, covering aspects like proper collars/harnesses, readiness cues, and post-walk routines. This onboarding process ensures safety, builds trust, and sets clear expectations, leading to a more rewarding experience for both the dog and the owner.

Of course, this “on ramp” process takes time and effort, so it shouldn’t be free. A typical rate for an ‘on ramp’ program is equivalent to the price for 2-3 months of the usual service. Far from being a barrier to entry, this ‘on ramp’ program is actually a barrier to premature exit.

Who should NOT require an On-ramp? A product-based business. Products should be engineered to be simple enough to require minimal help to use. No one wants to sit through a seminar on how to use the software they’ve just purchased. Service businesses and product businesses are different.

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