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AP 1001: How Do I Streamline My Business so I’m Not Overwhelmed?

AP 1001: How Do I Streamline My Business so I’m Not Overwhelmed?

By Pat Flynn on

About This Episode

Gianna from Family Fun Twin Cities joins me to talk about streamlining her business. In this call we discuss how to balance tasks when you have business partners and Gianna makes a plan for managing her workload.

What You’ll Learn: How to identify your strengths within your business and ways to look for help with the areas that are harder or less interesting to you.

AskPat 1001 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to AskPat 2.0! This is Episode 1001, and for those of you who might remember Episode 1000, which was a few months back, we’ve taken a little bit of a break. But I made a huge announcement about a brand-new format here for AskPat, so if you’re running through the archives here and you’ve gotten to this episode, you’re used to the voicemails that are coming in. Well, those are going to be a little bit different now moving forward, just as a recap.

I’m actually doing a coaching session live, one on one. So this person is asking me, not just one question, and then I provide one answer—but it’s a lot of back and forth, a lot of questions, a lot of coaching. And through this process, you are going to learn so much more, not just in terms of answers to various specific questions, but also just how one might be able to discover what the problems are, the real true deep problems are in their business so we can tackle those things.

And I want you to consider what questions I might ask you. And by the way, if you want me to interview and coach you here on this show—just like you’re about to hear with Gianna who is our very first coaching student here on AskPat—if you want to be coached by me as well, just head on over to and you can ask . . . Actually sorry, I was going into my usual bit. You can apply to be coached here on the show, just like you’ll hear in this episode today.

But before we get to that, I do want to give a big shout out to FreshBooks who have decided to continue to sponsor the show, despite the new format. Actually, they’re really excited about it, just as excited as I am because I know this is going to be even more high value for everybody listening. And speaking of high value, I want to put FreshBooks in your brain and you should check it out because it is seriously one of the best pieces of software that you can get to help you manage your business finances, from your income, to your expenses, and especially invoicing. If you do any coaching of any kind, where you’re actually asking a person to pay you for your precious time, if you are doing any consulting, if you’re billing anybody for any reason, you should be doing it through FreshBooks because it makes it very simple: Literally in less than thirty seconds you can send a professional invoice out.

And not only that, you’re able to keep track of not just who’s paid you, but also who has even yet to open those invoices so you could properly follow up with those people and get paid like you should. So please check them out. If you want to check them out and add them to your database of tools that you will be using and that will help you back: and just please make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. FreshBooks, thank you so much again for sponsoring, you guys are amazing and big supporters of the show. Everybody go check them out:, and make sure to enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.

All right. The way these coaching calls are going to work is, I’m not even going to really introduce to you what this person does because they’re going to do that a little bit at the beginning, but it’s just going to be like you’re a fly on the wall listening to two people talk, one person coaching the other. I’ll see you on the other end, but this is AskPat with Gianna from Minnesota.

Gianna, thank you so much for coming on AskPat. I appreciate you being here.

Gianna: We’re so excited. We, meaning me, but I’m also part of a team. I’ve got two other people that are part of my company.

Pat Flynn: Awesome. I’m looking forward to hearing what they think about this too. Now, really quick before we get into the coaching session here, tell us about yourself and your business a little bit.

Gianna: Well, I am a mom and a wife, I’ve got four kids. And a long time ago, I tried to figure out a reason to blog and finally settled on the idea of doing a hyper local site so that we can be a resource, like a one-stop shop for people that come and find out all that great stuff happening around town. So I wasn’t the only one who decided that this was a good idea. As I was trying to figure this out, I ran into a couple of other ladies and we decided to combine forces and create the synergy. And now, there’s three of us on the team, co-owners of our company. We’ve been doing this for about five years and people are really responding and loving having one place to go to find great stuff to talk about there or to do things with their kids.

Pat Flynn: I love that. What is the URL, if you don’t mind sharing it?

Gianna: Oh sure. My company is Family Fun Twin Cities, and so it’s

Pat Flynn: And it’s obviously in Minnesota and it’s there to help the community there come together and do activities together as a family, correct?

Gianna: Yep. Exactly. We’re in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Pat Flynn: Fantastic. And so let me ask you, first question: What’s on your mind related to all this?

Gianna: Well, I tend to get overwhelmed, and so, I would like to just kind of chat about, how do I serve our clients without killing myself? I feel like once . . . Like I want to serve them and I am working hard at serving them and we have great relationships with them, but I also feel like I’m kind of killing myself by doing like all these different things for each different person, or each different client.

Pat Flynn: Anything else?

Gianna: Also, I was wondering if we could . . . I need some help streamlining, just kind of making it so . . . so each individual client, it’s their own special thing, and then maybe scaling it so that I could maybe help others do this and I can step away so I don’t have to do it all.

Pat Flynn: Can you describe your clients? You mentioned them a couple of times. What is a typical client like for your business?

Gianna: Our clients are generally, well they are local business owners. Usually there’s something to do with families or kids. We’ve got clients . . . there’s a museum in town that was working with us. I’m trying to think of some of the other ones. Some of this will be like, cleaned up, right?

Pat Flynn: Maybe. Maybe not. What I love about AskPat, this new format, and obviously for those of you listening, you know this is the first of several of these kind of coaching calls, it’s real life. And I think people can resonate with things like this. First of all, I love the laser noises, because that’s just . . . I do the same thing when I’m thinking and I’m like . . . blowing up little mini ships. You’re doing fantastic. So your clients, when you mean clients, it’s not necessarily the most of the traffic that’s coming to your website that you’re talking about. What is it really that you’re talking about?

Gianna: Our clients are usually businesses around town. I just made a list of all the stuff that we do. And now I lost you. Are you still there?

Pat Flynn: I’m still there.

Gianna: Okay, I’m back. It’s local businesses like toy stores and coffee shops . . . I want a coffee shop, that would be fantastic. No, we have a coffee shop. A coffee shop and museums. Did I say toy stores? Lots of things like that. So, yes, they are not necessarily our readers. We have a ton of readers that come to our site for free information, kind of like your site. And that’s how we want to keep it. We don’t want to annoy our readers because we want them to keep coming back, but we also want our clients, who are trying to get in front of our readers. Because really, I think our product is our audience, is that right?

Pat Flynn: That’s right. If your client is these businesses who are essentially paying you to get in front of these people who are on your website, then yeah, your product is your website and the people who are on it; because if those things weren’t there, they wouldn’t pay you, right?

Gianna: Right. Right.

Pat Flynn: What would you say in your words to sum it up? What is the real challenge that you and your partners have with this business right now?

Gianna: The real challenge is . . . I don’t want to say time management, but it’s something like that. Maybe it’s the scaling. Maybe it’s . . . I think the real problem is products, like making products that work for everybody so that I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel every time we have a new client.

Pat Flynn: Okay. Let’s walk through that process. I’m a new client for this wonderful coffee shop in town and I want to get in front of this audience. Let’s go through that process of how you would onboard me right now.

Gianna: Okay. The first thing I would do is—it would probably be over email for a while—is send you a list of our packages, and we have some good packages. There’s just the simple sidebar ad; there’s this like, sponsoring our season or a month or things like that, where they’re on there more.

Pat Flynn: How are you sending that package to me?

Gianna: In a . . . On a Google doc.

Pat Flynn: Okay. So it’s a Google doc? It’s already made, and I just get access to it to see what I have available?

Gianna: Right.

Pat Flynn: Okay. What’s next?

Gianna: Then you tell me what you’re most interested in, and then you would hit a goal with me for a price. We would come to a price, we’d send you an invoice, and we would go from there. Once the invoice is paid we set you up, or make it happen on the site.

Pat Flynn: Now that sounds like a pretty clear onboarding process. It didn’t take you very long to kind of reiterate what happens to me. I’m curious about, within this process, what is the most time-consuming thing for you?

Gianna: It might not be the onboarding process that’s kind of tricky, but the most time-consuming probably is the back and forth emails.

Pat Flynn: The back and forth emails?

Gianna: Yeah, for that, I think it’s the followup. Like I’m very much—I want to make them happy, I want them to have a good experience, I want them to really benefit from the opportunity to work with us. I don’t want it to be a once and done. I want to take care of them.

Pat Flynn: I love that. That just shows you really care about these clients, which is always great, because if they can see that you’re caring they’re going to want to continue to work with you. I’m curious to know, how are you helping them feel special right now?

Gianna: Well, one of the ways that we do it is we keep track of like, the clicks to their sites. We keep track of how many page views there are. I kind of just keep trying to touch with them here and there. Then the other thing that we just started doing is, on a local news channel here I’ve been able to pretty regularly get on, so instead of just featuring FSTC, which is what we call it for short, we do feature us, but I bring on some of our clients and we—I make the segment about something that they’re an expert about.

Pat Flynn: Great. I love that. Those are things that I would definitely love if I was this client that you’re talking about. Do you have . . . Let’s see. That process of the followup and making the client feel special, how is that done internally? Is there a system in place to make that happen or is it kind of just as a kind of do it as you go kind of thing? Tell me about that a little bit.

Gianna: I think it’s a do it as you go. I did try to have a system and then I dropped it. That’s kind of my MO, is like I try, try, try, and then it’s just not working great and I kind of drop it down and kind of have to put a little margin in my life until something usually goes. But it’s usually pretty . . . Lately, for the past probably four months, it’s been just very individualized, so I don’t have a practice, and I think that’s part of my problem.

Pat Flynn: Okay. So let’s talk about that a little bit. Actually, going back to the fact that you’ve tried this before, to me it seems to be obvious that you know that this is the part that needs to be kind of updated and changed and you’ve tried that before.

Gianna: Right.

Pat Flynn: What didn’t work about that?

Gianna: I don’t think I found time to do the research that I needed to do, like going back and getting the numbers and then taking the time to send out a nice email that said this is how it looked. If it didn’t look good, like if there was some page that didn’t get a lot of views, I would always feel like I had to apologize or . . . I don’t know, do something, like say we’re planning on keeping you on this page for a certain length. “We didn’t get the results we wanted, so we’re planning on keeping you on this page a little longer,” or something to that effect.

I feel like it’s very . . . I want to take care . . . I’ve said this. I want to take care of people, but I also feel like it’s kind of stressing me out, because I feel like the weight of everything, of my clients’ success, lands on me.

Pat Flynn: What kind of expectations are you giving them up front in terms of results?

Gianna: I don’t know if I’m giving them any expectations. I think we’re giving them the . . . We have over 200,000 plus page views per month. We’re giving them that.

Pat Flynn: That’s awesome.

Gianna: I know. We love it, we’re so excited. We give them our Facebook stats: 200,000 plus page views, is the whole site. It’s not just the one page, so that’s kind of where I’m . . . If they don’t even get somewhere near that, because some pages don’t do that because they’re not excited about . . . People need that information, but they don’t go there as often.

Pat Flynn: Now if you were a client and you saw that you had a page that maybe wasn’t performing as initially expected—and remember, you’re the client—what would make you still feel great about still continuing to work with that company?

Gianna: Communication. I think if they were keeping track of us and checking in with us frequently—which doesn’t help the fact that I’m trying to not individualize everything for me—I think communication would be the best form of care.

Pat Flynn: I agree. I think communication is obviously . . . People want to know that no matter what the results are, that you are at least paying attention to what’s happening and perhaps offering some suggestions on how things could be improved. For example, I can imagine as a client you can come to me and say, “Hey, you know what? We put this banner out on this page. It’s not performing like I want it to perform for you, so there’s a few things we can do here,” and you can have this kind of list written out beforehand. That would be something like, “Number one, we can change the image on the ad for you or the ad copy, and here are some suggestions. You can come back to us when you’re ready with a brand new image if you’d like and we can replace that and try that the next month.”

Do you see how, now I am kind of helping to coach that person through “okay, let’s kind of work together to improve this,” versus, “here are your numbers, and that’s that,” right?

Gianna: Yeah. I do like that.

Pat Flynn: We’ll get into the communication scalability in just a minute. Another thing that would be great is if, just even in between those reports—I don’t know how often those reports come out, but even just an email that says, “Hey, coffee shop, I just wanted to say thank you again for being a client here and I’m just looking out for you. Do you have anything that I can do for you?” Just that question alone, most of the time people are going to say, “No, but thank you for checking in.” It’s just keeping you top of mind with the fact that you are there, you know they are there, you’re communicating with them, and just opening up lines of communication in case there was something wrong so that you could potentially fix it sooner than later, when it’s too late and you lose them as a client.

Gianna: Okay.

Pat Flynn: I’m not sure if you’re doing that already, but little check-ins like that help. Now here’s the big challenge. How do you manage all this communication between all these clients? In your words right now, how are you managing it currently?

Gianna: There isn’t any like that, except for an occasional “this is what’s happening,” or “how are you doing?” So I think a more intentional email asking them, right?

Pat Flynn: Do you have them on an email list?

Gianna: I’ve been thinking about this. Are you talking about like an email list, like what we would do for our readers only it would be for our clients?

Pat Flynn: Yes. Do you have an idea of why that might be helpful?

Gianna: Because then I can send one email to all of them, individualized, that says, “Hi, how are you doing?”

Pat Flynn: Yes, and so let’s keep going here. What are some things that you know, based on your experience speaking to your clients already, that you pretty much share in every single email that you send out to them?

Gianna: I don’t think I send anything out that I wouldn’t have said, “Hi.” I think that would be about there, “Hi, how are you doing?”

Pat Flynn: Okay. So, the emails are still individual per a person’s statistics? However, if you wanted to add on that email that says “hey, clients, here’s some news that’s going on that might be helpful for you, here’s some new packages you can get involved with, here are some things that are working, here are some things that are not,” or just “hey, checking in with you.” That way it’s not an individual email, but just one email that you send one time to all those people that essentially acts as just a, “Hey, we’re here. We’re thinking of you,” kind of email. In your mind, how does that feel to you?

Gianna: That just made me . . . like my blood pressure dropped.

Pat Flynn: Good. That’s kind of what we’re trying to do here. That’s great. Let’s say we set that in place, which will help you save time and hopefully save clients over time as well. With these individual emails that go out to these clients, tell me how you’re crafting them, step-by-step.

Gianna: We have a CRM that doesn’t work super fantastically, so I kind of ditched that just because it really wasn’t working . . . that technically wasn’t even loading my emails.

Pat Flynn: That’s not good.

Gianna: I know. So what we did when it was working . . . That’s kind of on our list for the new year’s meeting that we have. But what I would do is I would create a template, and then I would just fill in the template for each client. Then I would like, erase the little jibber jabber at the top and I would just totally individualize it just for them, saying, “I hope this season”—whatever the season was, maybe it’s baby shower season—”was fantastic for you. We know that we had lots of babies in our . . .” like I would just kind of chitchat, like real life. Yeah. Yeah.

Pat Flynn: I like that. Now, having a template is really important. Even if you do not have a CRM sending emails out that have some sort of structure that you know that you’re going to send emails out from already is really helpful. You can copy and paste something into an email to make it easy for you. You could even copy and paste some text that says “intro here, stats here, this here, and close here,” or the closing can be the same all the time. That way it just, again, cuts out that time. I’m curious, when do you send these out?

Gianna: Usually it’s . . . When I did do it, it was the month after. So let’s say they were a client for September. The goal would be that I would get it out to them by like the first Friday of October. Sometimes it kind of morphed in with more the middle of October, but I tried to be somewhat timely about it.

Pat Flynn: What would help you make it a little bit easier for you to do this?

Gianna: Somebody else. Maybe I can ask one of my teammates to do it.

Pat Flynn: I mean that’s not a bad idea. If this is really something what’s stressing you out a little bit and maybe you know that your time is better spent elsewhere, perhaps somebody else can do this kind of work, which would just include taking some numbers, putting them in an email, and crafting some sort of personalized intro. That can be the case.

Have you ever considered batch processing? In terms of spending perhaps even just one day a month, knowing going into that day that “okay, this is what’s going to happen,” and maybe even having your whole team work on that same day to crush a third each, to make it easier on yourselves? Batch processing for me has been a game changer when it comes to things like recording podcasts or those kinds of things where I have to do a lot of them. When I do them all in a short period of time—a lot of people know that Tuesday is my day for recording podcasts—I go into that day knowing “okay, I’m going to bang through all this,” and then I exit that day with “wow, okay, I’m done for the rest of the week.” For you it might be “okay, I’m done for the rest of the month.”

Gianna: Yeah.

Pat Flynn: Would that mess up the systems that you’re doing right now, or would that perhaps make it a little easier to get into?

Gianna: That might be really helpful just because each . . . Joy and I, each of us have our own completely different strengths, and I am not good with the details, but I know that our clients need the details. I am like, the client person. My job is community and client relations, like that’s my job. So it might be awesome to ask Joy, who is our administrative executive . . . Literally say, “Can you get these numbers for me, and even just send them to me by this date?” And then I don’t have to go in and do that part. Then I can craft the email, because I like the email. I want them to hear me, you know, because I’m the face of the company for them.

Pat Flynn: Yes. I agree with that, and that’s a really smart thing to do, to kind of hand off the stuff that you don’t like to other people, who may actually like it, and who may be better and faster at those things. In what format would those numbers best be given to you to make it even easier for yourself?

Gianna: Probably even if it’s . . . Whether it’s in our Trello system or in a Google doc or an email, any three of those. I just have to . . . Any one of those three. It would just have to be the same one every time. I mean she could do whatever she wanted to that way, as long as it’s the same.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. It seems like you already kind of have some ideas on what can already be done to improve that situation.

Gianna: Right.

Pat Flynn: Imagine when you say yes to doing it this way, and time opens up a little bit because of it, what are you . . . You’re obviously going to be less stressed and perhaps just have a lot easier time doing this. What might that extra time allow you to do even beyond all this?

Gianna: Plan our TV segments, which I need to be good if they’re going to be in front of people so that we can get invited back. Yeah, that would be helpful. And if that’s for our clients, then really I really want it to be good, right?

Pat Flynn: Right.

Gianna: I mean yeah, I do.

Pat Flynn: So the way that you just shared it with me, that’s how you would share it with your team too in terms of like why this is important, what this can potentially do, and that way you’re all kind of working together. Not to make your life easier—I think it’s important to make your life easier, right, but we don’t want to pitch it as, “Hey, guys, I’m really stressed out so I’m going to give you all this work.”

Gianna: Right. Right. Yeah, I know.

Pat Flynn: I’m not saying that you would normally do that, but I’ve noticed that when this kind of thing comes up people forget how to position it when they’re telling other people to do stuff. What I’m saying is, position it the way you just told me when you share it with your team. That way they can get behind it too, and as a byproduct of you having less work to do with finding the numbers and individualizing these emails—and again bringing these systems, which you will learn over time how to make them even more streamlined—it’s going to be better for your clients because you’re able to prepare for the TV shows, like you said, and better serve them, keep them on longer, and ultimately it’ll just help the business on the whole.

Gianna: I feel so much better. I can’t wait ’til I do this. I’m so excited.

Pat Flynn: Tell me what of this was useful for you? I want to make sure we recap and you have me . . . You tell me kind of what you learned here.

Gianna: What was useful is sending one email via an email list, which we have, but not for our clients, so now we need to add in a client email list. We need to . . . And I need to kind of batch process everything for the whole team and make it a whole team thing and not just a “Gianna is in charge, we’ll just let her do it herself,”—and they’re not trying to do that. That’s not their goal at all. Then to ask for help so that we can keep growing, to ask for help with even just the small details of . . . The one thing is getting the numbers.

Pat Flynn: Well done. You coached yourself, essentially. You’re the one that came up with those things.

Gianna: This is going to be an easy show for you then, isn’t it, from here on out?

Pat Flynn: Now it’s not AskPat, it’s PatAsking.

Gianna: PatAsks 2.0.

Pat Flynn: Hey, Gianna, this was amazing. It seems like you got a lot of great value out of this and I’m sure that a lot of people listening have as well. One more time, where can people go and check out the site so they can perhaps see some of these changes over time?

Gianna: We are at and we’re on Facebook, and we’re on Instagram and Twitter.

Pat Flynn: Awesome. We’ll put a link to the show notes to you. I appreciate you and your family. Thank you so much for trusting me with this and being the first version of AskPat 2.0. You rock, and just get that work done.

Gianna: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Pat Flynn: You’re welcome.

All right, I hope you enjoyed that episode of AskPat. What do you think? Let me know what you think. Actually, if you wanted to give me a shout out on Twitter just to let me know, use the hashtag #AskPat. That would be awesome, and I will just discover it and see what you think, because this is a brand new format for me. It’s definitely a brand new format for you, but this is the one we’re going to move foreword with here in 2018. Maybe we’ll make a change later on, but for now I really do feel like, based on this conversation and all the other great coaching sessions that have already been recorded and waiting to be published . . . if you enjoyed this please let me know. Please subscribe to the show as well. This is going to be huge, I believe, if we can get the support from even more people listening, because it’s not just about me helping people like Gianna and all the other people who have submitted applications.

As a reminder, you can submit your application to potentially get coached by myself and be featured on AskPat, if you go to But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the ripple effect of somebody learning something so they can apply it in their business too from these conversations, because imagine all the amazing conversations that are happening all the time that we never get to hear. This is opening up that box for you, and I hope you enjoy it.

Please subscribe to the show. You can apply at if you want to get coached. Again, one more time thank you to FreshBooks for sponsoring this show, because FreshBooks is a lifesaver for me because they help me manage my business finances. I’ve been using them for quite a while now, especially with billing and invoicing. Like I said, it just makes it super simple and it’s just one of my favorite tools, so go ahead and check them out. If you want to get a thirty-day free trial, a thirty-day free trial, then check them out. Go to, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.

Sweet. Thanks again. My name is Pat Flynn. I’m here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people. I’ll see you next week in the next episode of AskPat. Bye for now.

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