Questions

Hi, how do I grow my (video) production company without 1) taking on too much overhead 2) burning people out 3) maintaining our strong culture?

3answers

There are three ways to grow any business:

1. Increase number of clients
2. Increase average sale amount
3. Increase frequency of sales

If your company is already fully booked, I suggest that you start by simply raising your prices. You might lose some clients, but usually when a business raises prices, the clients they lose are the most troublesome ones. Refocus sales & marketing efforts on attracting higher-end clients or doing more work for your best existing clients.

You can also typically boost your short-term bookings by pre-announcing the price hike and get some potential clients "off the fence" with an offer to sign now at the old rate.

To avoid adding unnecessary overhead as the company grows, dedicate some time to building strong, repeatable systems and to automating processes where possible. The most important place to do this is in your sales systems, so that your revenues become predictable and you can scale them at-will by adjusting your sales & marketing expenditure.

If your sales systems are already pretty solid and you want to boost your production capacity to keep up, again look to systematize and automate as much as possible. Break the whole production process down into steps: sale, concept, script, taping, editing, post-production, review, delivery, collecting payment, and so on.

Write down each logical step, and then write down all of the physical actions that need to take place to get the desired result.

Who can perform each of those actions?

Is it something that could be partially or fully automated with software (e.g. project planning)?

Something that you could outsource (e.g. video editing, bookkeeping)?

Or is it something that is your "secret sauce" or otherwise requires specialized in-house talent (e.g. creative work, executive management)?

By really getting down to exactly what roles must be performed by your employees, you can calculate how many employees you're going to need in a given role, for a given workload. Now you have a hiring plan.

A highly-scalable organization will focus on doing what they do best, while automating, outsourcing, or eliminating as much as possible of the other work involved in performing their business.

OK, last topic: Culture. People much smarter than me have written entire books on this topic. The best advice in regards to culture and employees largely boils down to:

1) Be *intentional* about creating the company culture. Decide up front what you will value as a company, and communicate this throughout the organization.

2) People REspect what you INspect. Trust your people, but verify. For example, if your organization is highly customer-service oriented, then make darned sure that your clients feel like they were treated just as you expected that they would be treated. Call them up personally. Make sure your employees are aware that you're doing this.

3) A new hire's indoctrination into the company culture begins the moment they first enter your world, and first impressions matter. Do your website, interview and hiring process, and new-hire orientation all reflect your intended company culture perfectly? Or does a new-hire get mixed messages because current standard practices or employee behavior is inconsistent with your stated values?

4) Hire people based on whether they are a cultural fit. Have each candidate interviewed independently by multiple people, all of whom are evaluating that person on cultural fit. If you're small enough, have the entire company interview them. If you hire someone who doesn't fit your culture, you have just eroded it.

5) People who share your company values almost certainly associate with other people who share those values. Leverage their networks to find great candidates. Even if they're not looking to make a move, or you're not hiring, or not hiring for a position they could fill, make the connection anyway, and keep in touch. The easiest way to fill a job in the future is when you already have a list of pre-qualified people who'd love to work for you.

6) The only way someone should be able to get fired is by violating the norms of your company culture. And if someone does commit a serious violation, they need to be let go--immediately.

And here's one last strategy that can increase your profits without taking on much of any extra overhead at all:

Think about what else your clients need—even things that you can't offer them directly. You already have a relationship with them, and if you're doing things right, it's a *trusted* relationship.

Figure out what they need, find a partner who can deliver that for them, and then make an arrangement where you sell those products or services to your client and have them fulfilled by your joint-venture partner. They do all the work, your client gets what they need, and you and the JV partner split the revenue.

For example, are your clients hiring you to produce videos for marketing purposes on the web? Maybe they need help with their website? Or with getting traffic to the videos on YouTube? Partner with a web marketing agency. You can even work this both ways, so that they send their high-end clients to you when they need a video produced.

I hope I covered that as best I could without knowing the specifics of your business. If you have questions that I could answer for you on these topics, I'm happy to set up a call.


Answered 6 years ago

The best way is to ensure you have the net margins to support the growth. Most companies don't charge enough to grow, so they keep taking on more customers - don't increase prices - and ask they're overworked employees to work more to keep up.

If you charge more, then you can hire more and deliver on a great customer experience.

Company culture comes from hiring the best talent and not filling a position with someone just cause it's easy. Be proactive vs. reactive. Define what you want, what the process for hiring someone looks like, and don't deviate. Involving the team in this process helps keep everyone accountable to the new hires, and ensure they support and cross train as needed.

Culture starts from the top. What you value, and how you make decisions will influence what others on your will do. If you want collaboration, then you need to collaborate with them. If you want everyone to take initiative and do great work, then you need to fire anyone who doesn't do this and tell them why - and fix your hiring process to not hire these types of folks going forward.

Growing pains are normal, so don't fear burning people out, as long as they know you have a plan and it's short term, most people will usually step up to the plate and help get over the hump.

Hope that helps.


Answered 6 years ago

I think that it depends on what you mean by Grow. I'll go ahead and make some assumptions based on your bullet points; you mean grow revenue, you have existing customers, you produce good work.

Word of mouth.

I highly recommend using the Net Promoter Score®. Conduct a simple follow up with every customer after the project is closed out, asking them on a scale of 1-10, how likely are they to recomend their experience to their peers. If they answer an 8 or higher, they are considered a "promoter" if they answer a 6 or lower they are considered a "detractor."

Follow up with both types immediately.

Follow up with your detractors right away and see how their experience could have been improved. What could you have done better next time to elevate them to an 8 or higher.

Your promoters are your bread and butter. Follow up with them and _ask_ them to spread the word about your company. Give them something that they can share with their friends that makes them look good, providing them with a unique discount code that they can share with their industry peers. The discount code entitles the referrer to a kickback and the new customer to a discount. We call this a _dual-incentive_ structure. It allows your promoters to spread the word about your services without coming off as spammy or exploitive.

A recent Texas Tech marketing study discovered that 83% of respondents would be willing to refer new business to a brand they love, but only 29% of them actually do.

If you'd like to discuss the specific details of your organization in a more private forum lets schedule a call and chat.

Good luck!


Answered 5 years ago

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