Someone told me once that the goal of Chick-fil-A is for you to spend 30 seconds or less in the drive-through once you’ve placed your order. Now we all know (well if you live in the South) there certain times a day, like breakfast and lunch, Chick-fil-A's line can get out the wahzoo crazy. They have implemented several changes to make the drive-through even faster at their busy times - they have someone take your order & take payment before you even get to the normal ordering station, or you can order on your phone - but I'm not getting into that all that detail today. What I want talk about is do you run your business like Chick-fil-A or Starbucks?
So let's compare some different ideas.
Chick-fil-A offers several different combinations and they are rolling out more and more but Chick-fil-A also makes it really easy for customers to order. A number one is number one there's a few substitutions you can do, like no pickle or fruit instead of fries, but for the most part their options are fairly limited which is great because it makes it fast and easy for you, the customer, to place an order and then to pick it up and drive off hopefully under 30 seconds. But let’s be real CFA basically makes the choices for you - number one no pickle, bottle of water.
Starbucks, also has several different options listed on their menu. However, they take customization to a whole new level - multiple sizes, hot or iced, number of shots (espresso and flavors), sugar free or regular, type of milk - the list goes on. Now, one could argue that they do this in order to please the customer, the whole “have it your way” thing (or is that McDonalds or Burger King?) which is great because I can get it exactly the way I want it - grande white chocolate mocha, 2 pumps of syrup, extra shot of espresso, with skim milk, no whip. They just have so many different options and it caters to me the individual and puts me in the driver’s seat (pun intended) but I can also hold up the line from everyone behind me. What if the barista makes a mistake and have to start all over there's just so many options to choose from that it can be overwhelming.
How This Relates to Your Business
So let's think about it in terms of your business - how many different packages or products do you offer and do you have systems in place to streamline client onboarding / customer checkout?
When I first started out, I offered all of the virtual assistant services I thought people wanted to see. I would start listing everything and allow them to pick and choose like they can at Starbucks. Which seemed like the best way to get customers and clients however it also left me feeling overwhelmed with clients in all different manner of business markets. There was one point, right when I left my 9-5, that I had 12 clients, in every time zone, all at different billing rates and cycles, because I was after that dollar. I was overwhelmed like that Starbucks barista who got the order right but called out the wrong name and had to start over.
So I decided to become the Chick-fil-A of virtual assistants.
I think it's important to offer a few services and then let others be added a la carte during the initial phone consult. For me its blogging, social media, newsletters, and marketing plans (or all wrapped up in one business management package). One of my favorite people that does this is Jess Freeman - she has a few website packages and then at the bottom she lists that she does offer a la carte projects, but for the most part you end up choosing a package because she has it packaged in a way that benefits both herself and the client. I decided to offer just a few main packages (and even these have changed recently), and then discuss other options with potential clients in our first consult.
When they pull up to my drive-through (website) I want them to know exactly what I offer and maybe a few ways they can customize their package. The process should be as smooth as ordering at your local CFA. Then, I want my onboarding to be quick and painless, just like handing the cashier my card and picking up my food in one fluid motion (that’s where your systems come in!).
You do want to be thinking about your client and what is the easiest way for them to navigate your products and services, however, you also want to make sure it is smooth for you so that you're not overwhelmed with keeping up with a million different projects and client details.
Why You Should Operate like Chick-fil-A
Again, we can all agree that Starbucks is great because the client gets exactly what they want. But we also know the frustration that can occur when a potential client nitpicks apart your proposal to try to get the most work for the least amount of money (HINT: THIS IS NOT YOUR IDEAL CLIENT). If they give you a headache during the interview and proposal, they’ll still give you a headache when the money has exchanged hands.
It's always best to have systems in place to know what you offer and sometimes to be a little bit hard on those boundaries. You want clients to respect your time, your energy, your schedule, and your expertise who are willing to work within the confines of the boundaries that you've placed in your business. When you find a client who understands and respects you, you'll be more willing to work harder for them because the relationship is that much easier. Trust me when I say the picky you get with your products and services the better client you’ll work with. I have the best clients a gal can ask for - I’d take 12 more just like them!