Trim the fat

A few weeks ago my local gym removed the sauna.

When I asked the girl behind the desk about it she told me it was too much maintenance and ultimately not that many people were using it.

They didn’t lower the price or offer any kind of replacement.

But did I cancel my subscription?

I did not.

The gym is located ideally in the city center and has all the machines and weights that I need for my workouts.

Everything else is just a nice extra.

I’ve been thinking about this recently because at my agency we’ve always struggled to find the right balance between going up and beyond to make clients happy and focusing on our core offer.

It feels great to say to clients “sure we can execute this complex sales play for you” or “sure we can get you this detailed report”.

But having done this dozens of times I’ve learned my lesson.

Anything outside our core processes requires 100x more maintenance and takes resources away from them.

In other words, all money and energy spent on custom projects could also be invested into our core processes.

Every small improvements of our core processes has a direct impact the results we’re generating for all clients.

Custom projects, on the other hand, only affect one client.

In addition, clients often quickly loses interest in custom projects and do not do much with it.

To give a specific example, clients sometimes ask that we share specific data on campaign performance or lead statuses in some kind of dashboard.

So we built custom dashboards many times.

Maintaining them was a huge headache.

And every single time it turned out clients only really like the idea of having such a dashboard.

They never look at it regularly, let alone do anything with.

Now of course, saying no is not fun.

But we never had a single client say “You’re not willing to do this custom thing? Screw you, cancel my subscription!”.

Just like I primarily care about location and the equipment available when it comes to my gym, clients first and foremost care about the leads we generate.

Do they match the agreed profile? Are they engaged?

Everything else is just a nice-to-have, not a deal breaker.

So I’ve started to wind down more and more of the custom projects we built.

I’ve started saying no to special requests.

This is incredibly hard as I know it upsets clients in the short term and I love experimenting.

But I have no doubts that it’s the right decision.

Not just for the business but also for our clients.

Custom projects and nice-to-have extras never move the needle in a meaningful way.

A ruthless focus on the core processes that drive value does.

Written on January 24, 2024

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