Pros & Conversations

Episode 18: Adding Structure to a Creative Business. PART TWO: Breaking Down the 15 Step Process

June 05, 2023 Peter G. Reynolds / Damon Adachi / Jo-Anne Kupiec Season 2 Episode 18
Pros & Conversations
Episode 18: Adding Structure to a Creative Business. PART TWO: Breaking Down the 15 Step Process
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In Part Two of "How to Bring Structure to a Creative Business," Peter Reynolds welcomes back Jo-anne Kupiak, a designer and owner of Design Excellence, and Damon Adachi, a marketing expert from Sevenfold Marketing. The guests discuss the challenges of creating structure in a creative business, which is often subjective and influenced by feelings and opinions. They stress the importance of having structure to ensure the longevity of the business. The episode provides valuable insights into how creative businesses can establish a strong foundation while maintaining their creative integrity.

If you missed Part One, Listen Here: https://prosandconversations.buzzsprout.com/1985155/11651506-episode-14-adding-structure-to-a-creative-business

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Peter Reynolds  00:04

Hi, I'm Peter Reynolds and welcome to Pros and Conversations, the podcast that explores what it takes to be successful, whether you're from the world of science, business, or the arts. Today, we're going to be looking at part two of how to bring structure to a creative business. If you work in the creative field, so much of what we do is subjective, and really affected by tastes, feelings and opinions. But the taxman doesn't care about your feelings. And if you don't have some structure in your business, you're not going to have your business for very long. And joining us today is somebody who objectively is a fantastic marketing guru. And that's Damon Adachi from Seven Fold Marketing. Damon, how you doing?

Damon Adachi  00:51

Good, I hope another talking about tapes, because I have no taste. So that'll be a problem. But no, I'm excited to get back into this. The first version of this topic was really engaging. I want to get down into more of the details. And I'm all set to be the Lando to your Han today. Let's get it done.

Peter Reynolds  01:09

That's terrific, Damon. Yeah. And that being said, let's introduce our guests, who joined us in part one, and that is Jo-Anne Kupiec, who is a designer, and the owner of Design Excellence. Jo-Anne, welcome to Pros and Conversations again.

Jo-Anne Kupiec  01:27

Thanks, Peter. Thanks, Damon. Thanks for having me.

Peter Reynolds  01:31

So Jo-Anne, this is it's been fascinating how this episode has really, really struck a chord with viewers and listeners, because I think there's a lot of people out there who have creative businesses, but maybe don't have the structure that they need.

Jo-Anne Kupiec  01:51

I agree, I think it's hard for creative businesses to create structure we are, we are of the left brain, right brain, whatever it is, it's not the brain that we normally have. And it's hard for, for creative people to create that structure. So we're here today to to help people create that structure in their business.

Peter Reynolds  02:09

So last episode, you just touched on the fact that you have a essentially a 15 point process, or a 15 step process, I should say, that you repeat over and over, and perhaps we could actually go over those 15 steps. But start by telling me why you decided to create a 15 step process.

Jo-Anne Kupiec  02:33

It's important to create repeatable processes. You know, in the end, it creates consistency, you know, you create a solid reputation for yourself as a small business. It creates professionalism, you know what it allows you to look professional in front of your your peers, but also in front of your clients. And the intention is to make your clients pleased, happy in the end, and certainly, for them to refer additional business. So it's a full circle of creating new business is the intention of a process.

Peter Reynolds  03:07

So maybe we can start with step one of this process. 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  03:12

Sure, why don't I Why don't I go through them step by step. So So really, the first step is to have a consultation, a phone, call discussion with the client and find out what it is, what it is that they want to have accomplished. So creating a scope of work, making sure that you are on the same page as your client. So that's step one. Step two, I would say is creating an agreement like signing a letter of agreement. So this is going to be between you and your client. And you want your lawyer to sign off on that, make sure that you're not getting yourself into trouble. And we ask for a retainer, which you know, that that amount of money gets credited to the client's final invoice. And this gives you as a business owner confidence that your client actually wants to move forward with you and is serious about working with you. It is their commitment to you. So that's step two. I'll go into step three and four as well. Is that okay?

Peter Reynolds  04:16

Absolutely. I wanted to talk to you about lawyers. And this is this is something that I have, I don't know about you Daymond but, you know, I I have tended to avoid, you know, the sort of the contract with all the legalese because I found that it kind of scares off some clients. And although I do see the value, you know, of having, you know, this is our process. This is as much to protect you as it is to protect me. But I it's sometimes can seem overwhelming for clients when they get a document like that. What are your thoughts on that, Damon? 

Damon Adachi  04:55

Yeah, and I understand, like the terms and conditions and or retainer or contract I'm super prudent, it applies specifically to certain types of businesses. And I understand for Jo-Anne how it's super important because there's a lot of money involved in the transaction. And there's materials to source that you are then on the hook for Jo-Anne, if they're not actually following through with the job. When I was at a promotional industry, that was the same case, we were buying product, and we selling it, so we had to have some kind of obligation back to the client. As I've grown in my business, I found that I'm tending to work with people that I trust more and more, you know, rather than just trying to, you know, take anybody who will come in and and use my services, I don't know them that well. So I get I've gotten away, I would say, from that kind of agreement, binding terms contract, anything like that. And it's just been much more casual. And my clients appreciate that. And it establishes a different kind of trust, one that is more like a handshake agreement, versus, hey, I need to see some money up front before I start working. So I think you you progress, depending on your industry, and depending on the stage of your business, whether you need to be that documented and secure. Or whether you can have trust with your client and understand that we can get right to work and not slow down the process by making people feel awkward about money.

Jo-Anne Kupiec  06:10

Yeah, absolutely indictments, if I can add to that. We have clients that want our ideas. And so when it's an idea business, they don't, they don't come for free. And so, so this is for our business, just to create some sense of confidence that, that they're working with us, they're going to pay us for our ideas. And so it covers it covers your butt as a as a business owner, but also it it ensures that we're taking time out of our day to put into our clients. So I see the benefits of both of the trust and, and an agreement, some sort of agreement. 

Peter Reynolds  06:59

Yeah, no, absolutely. 

Damon Adachi  07:01

Please proceed with the with the process and waiting to hear three and four. They sound exciting. 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  07:06

Okay, well, I know that exciting, but let's go through it, because we do need to go through it. So. So okay, so number three is to clarify the scope of work. So what we've done is we've created a questionnaire, so you could create a questionnaire in your business have, have your clients complete the questionnaire, and afterward have a discussion. So because there's so many moving parts in the business that that we have, we need to really get quite clear clarity on what it is that they want from us, often, the initial conversation is more emotional about the renovation that they they want to have. But now we're getting down to the nitty gritty and the actual details. So that's step three is to really get into the details by creating a questionnaire. And then step four is really to for us to go on site to that home that's going to be renovated and do the measuring the photographs and the final criteria. And then this includes making sure we are all on the same page with the scope of work. So really, the first four steps are just making sure we're going to deliver what it is they want. So bottom line communication, I would say, 

Damon Adachi  08:13

right, and so I have a similar type of process, it's not as in depth and involve as yours is. But when I put out a proposal, I break it into five phases. So my clients have a level of expectation, which we did talk about in the first version of this episode. So your first four steps for me are discovery. And it's getting the client a sense of understanding you a sense of understanding Scope of Work expectations. And that's really important. For me, it also includes looking at what competitors are doing, looking at what they've already got, so that we can see where they're starting from. But yes, discovery is the first stage and I will parallel as you keep going. But that's it's makes perfect sense to me so far.

Peter Reynolds  08:51

And you and I, I remember us talking Jo-Anne about, you know, this idea of creep when it comes to work. And the fact that, you know, little things sneak in and you know, before, you know it is twice as much work as it initially was quoted, is that sort of part of you know, that scope of work, you know, making sure that that's absolutely rock solid right at the beginning. 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  09:19

Absolutely. And certainly we're more than happy to do more than a main floor renovation or more than a kitchen renovation things tend to do that. It's just it's important that the client knows we've delivered what they've asked for. And they didn't just assume that was all included. So yeah, that's, that's how we get around it is by really identifying what that scope of work looks like. Yeah, good communication. Great. So shall we move on? Please? Okay. Okay. So then the project begins which is the fun stuff so for us because that's what we it's what you as a business are intending to do what you wanted to do why you started this business, it's the nuts and bolts. So step number five for us is executing artwork. So in our case, we do floor plans and elevations, three dimensional drawings. And we source products such as flooring and plumbing, cabinetry, fabrics and furnishings. So for another creative business could be creating the website, it could be photographing the intended project. So that is step five is actually doing the work. And then Step six is to present our work to our clients and make sure that just to see what in our case, what the renovation is going to look like before they actually get the contractor on site. So we show them that all of the work that we've just created all the drawings and the estimates, and we show them the costs in terms of a proposal, so they get Option A and Option B, it's like a menu, and then they get to pick and choose from there. And that's where we collect a deposit. So not only do we have a retainer in hand, we collect a deposit for the products. So this is covering your business, our business so that we're not putting money out out of our own business. Pockets. Right, it's covering ourselves. So then once all the clients have made their decisions, we, we get the deposit. And then we do number seven, which is place the orders and obtain some delivery dates. And then we budget. Yes.

Damon Adachi  11:36

So like so that for those 567 steps from me or my design phase. And you're right, that's when you do the real work. And that's when you're, you know, you're getting your hands dirty. And it's the fun part. Do you ever find and I'm assuming no because of the scrape process. But to refine that you have to backtrack up the chain again, because what you're showing them isn't meeting expectations, or they had a different idea of what was going to be involved. Do you ever have to go back into the discovery phase to reestablish some of those expectations? 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  12:03

Absolutely, absolutely. Because it's amazing. So many options in design, you can you can go in any direction. And part of our process, which I didn't mention, because it's so specific to our business is that we get our clients to do Pinterest boards, which shows us specifically what they're looking for. So when they say Well, that's not the direction we had hoped we we say, well, these are the Pinterest boards that you showed us. And this is how we began our work. So yes, you're right, we do go back sometimes Damon for sure.

Peter Reynolds  12:33

I do that myself when I'm working with a client who is sort of unclear as to what they're looking for. And I think Damon is a designer, you know this very well, when they say they want it to be cool and hip. And what does that mean? And you know, you know, yeah, 

Damon Adachi  12:51

not either of those.

Peter Reynolds  12:54

I love it. But if it could just be 20% more professional. Okay, why? So

Damon Adachi  13:02

I think my greater challenge is, you have clients who know exactly what they don't like. But they can't articulate what they do, like. And so you're just constantly showing them stuff where they say no, that's not it. But no, that's not it. And you're like, Well, I will show you exactly what you wanted, if you could tell me what that was. So that's the challenge. I have more than say, yeah, no, can it be cooler? No, it certainly I don't have that in mind. But 

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We hope you're enjoying this episode so far. Pros and Conversations is brought to you by For The Record Productions, providing video production services to corporate and nonprofit clients for over 20 years. To learn more about how we can help your business visit videosthatmatter.ca and via the Business Alliance, a professional peer group that helps you grow your business through networking, collaboration and sound advice. To learn more about how to become a member visit jointhealliance.biz. 

Peter Reynolds  13:57

I think the Pinterest board is a fantastic idea. Because this I you know, what I do is I will, you know send them videos from YouTube, either in either work I've done to give them a sense of the kind of work I do at that very early stage. Or if they're looking for something that I don't have a sample of that I've done, I will send them examples and say, Is this what you're you're looking for? Or is it more like this? And very quickly, you do find out what they don't want. But they do want this they do. Okay, so you want some drone work in it, you know where you want some time lapse. So very quickly, you can you know, kind of nail down what it is they're looking for. So everybody has a very clear idea moving forward. And I guess ultimately, the idea here, Jo-Anne is that there are no surprises by the end, 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  14:49

right? Or at least if there are surprises from the clients and we can show them well this is you know, one of the things you said you liked and so this is the direction we took it and then they say well I'd actually prefer this direction, a different print Pinterest board, for example. And then we go, okay, well, we will change and go into a different direction, which is fine. It works. And as long as you know, you repeat the whole process again, but as long as the client is okay with that, yeah, it happens. Great. 

Peter Reynolds  15:21

All right, moving on. Yeah, 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  15:23

sure. So we are at Step seven, where we place the orders, obtain delivery lead times. So and then step eight is to review the budget. So the clients have already agreed, we need to make sure the vendors that have given us quotes are actually charging us what they said they were going to charge us, so that our clients are not paying any more than we have said they're going to pay because that's really important, it's important to maintain pricing that you've already agreed to that they've agreed to. So then construction begins and the contractor step on site, and the renovation begins. So that's step nine. And then once all the product arrives, we can start to send that off to the jobsite, the construction site. But before we do that, again, we're covering ourselves as small business owners, and we send out client invoices for that product in advance before we send it to the job site. And that covers ourselves as well, which is really important not to be left open and vulnerable in your business. 

Damon Adachi  16:31

Right. So that that seven to 10 section is like for me, that's my development phase where, you know, I might do a design like you do, but somebody else is probably implementing it in the real world. So I would have printers or I would have web developers that build the design that I put together. So very similar to your process. Is it scary when you've done the work of the design, and you have to hand it off to somebody else now to implement it in development? 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  16:59

Is it scary, sounds scary? It sounds scary. What? So for us, we do such specific drawings for our contractors. So for example, I'm looking at that incredible background, you helpful paper, behind you, Damon, and and so we specifically say, Well, this tile is in a chevron pattern, and we show specifically what that looks like or, or it's in a herringbone pattern. And we show specifically how that's going to look as well. And so we give such specifics to our contractors, so they know exactly how to install it. But I totally get that once you hand that off, it is for them to install and follow the instructions that that we've provided for you. 

Damon Adachi  17:44

But when you see a finished room come together, that's not something you can always visualize in its entirety until you're in the room. So that must be a great reveal for yourself as well. Right? 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  17:53

Yeah, that's the fun part, which you're right leads to step, you know, 11, which is the furniture installation, and the styling, and the client reveal step 12. And then walking through because there's always deficiencies, that nothing goes perfect. So you just need to know and they need to know that upfront that you know, things might go wrong. And we're going to deal with that. So we resolve them in step 14. And then step 15. We rarely present the final invoices, and the project is complete. So that's our final few few steps. How about you, Damon? 

Peter Reynolds  18:29

Jo-Anne, with deficiencies, if I can jump back to 13, the deficiencies walkthrough? How do you factor that in? To the cost not knowing really what they're going to be? I'm wondering is it is it a percentage? How does that how does that work? That's 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  18:45

a good question. So and I think every business is a little bit different for us, we are an hourly rate. So we don't do a complete fee. basis, we are hourly. So we do charge to resolve deficiencies because of clients were renovating their home on their own, they would have to resolve these deficiencies. That's always tough for them to swallow. So we try and go easy on that in terms of how long it actually takes us to do that. But those deficiencies do need to be resolved and taken care of. And sometimes they go on and I know how do you find what that is a deficiency 

Peter Reynolds  19:22

and forgive me because I'm just trying is is a deficiency isn't something that's been done incorrectly? Because then if something was installed improperly, there would be no cost because the installers or you would take care of that because it was it was done improperly is a deficiency, something they want that's different than the initial design. How exactly does that work? 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  19:46

Sometimes no, it's not something different that they want a deficiency for us would be like one of our last jobs. A light bulb didn't come with a particular light and it's very specific light bulb that probably sounds crazy but it's a very specific light bulb, we've been literally waiting months for this during light bulb. So these are deficiencies, it's supposed to come with the bulb, it didn't come with the bulb. So that's what we mean by deficiencies. Hopefully, all of the other things that contractors have done with the products we've given them have been done properly. And we go on site, of course, check measures to make sure they it is going as planned, as I'm sure you do in your businesses, there's checks and balances along the way to make sure so 

Damon Adachi  20:33

paralleling mine again. So we share the discovery and design and some development phase, my steps 11 to 12 years are kind of like a deployment, which is, and Peter understands this, you build the work for the client, but then it has to go to market, it has to be deployed out into the world to become effective. You know, that video that sits there on your computer that never shows to anyone else doesn't do anything for your business. So there's a deployment process of getting it out to market, how are we broadcasting this great work that we've done? And the last steps for me, your 13 or 14 are kind of a support step phase where there might be like, what else do you need? Or how do we make it better? If it's not hitting the mark? Or, you know, you've got this now let's do a social media campaign to promote it. So there's more support to the same work? Do you find that you're getting called back to more work after your project has finished? 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  21:26

Absolutely, absolutely. You know, sometimes if we do a main floor renovation, they'll call us back to do their basement or they're upstairs or? Absolutely, or certainly, their friends and family see it? And then they connect with us, which is the ultimate? The ultimate goal, but I'll ultimate compliment for sure. And I'm sure as is in your business?

Damon Adachi  21:49

Yeah. What about deficiencies that show up later on? So let's say that that all burns out? You just can't find it at Home Depot? Are they calling you 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  21:58

yet? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And then we just ordered new bulbs for them and that sort of thing. Awesome. Absolutely. Yeah.

Peter Reynolds  22:08

It's interesting. Look, again, so many parallels, and I'm sure people listening can can see the parallels to their business. Because there's, there's sort of sort of for myself, there's the filming stage. And then there's the editing stage. And then there's the review stage. And it, it's very interesting, because it is as much as you try, I would love it. If there if there was a 3d modeling, you know, that I could create the video beforehand, before creating the video. But that's where that subjectivity comes in where you, you really have to factor in those changes and things later in the process than perhaps you would, because the client really doesn't see it until very far into the process and you, and then it becomes a bit of a dance, because if they don't like something, it's okay to change. As long as they're not changing the overall concept. If it's about changing text, or it's about changing one shot for another, then that's okay. But it can be really challenging with some clients, as much as you have tried to make sure there are no surprises when they see the final product. Sometimes they see the final product and they don't like it. And that can be that can be a real, it's rare. It's rare, but it does, it does happen where for whatever reason, they were thinking something else. And so, in in my business, what I try to do is sort of at every stage, always checking in to make sure now, you know this is how we're filming it. Because this is how it's going to look take a look in the camera. This is you know what the look is going to be. And so by the end when you have that reveal, you want you want happy looks on everybody's faces, but you really don't want any surprises. It should be exactly what they're expecting.

Damon Adachi  24:04

Well, though you do like flipbook animation sketches for everybody before the video gets shot. stickman going across the scene. 

Peter Reynolds  24:13

I knew I knew. I knew there was a reason I knew there was a reason you were here, Damon? Absolutely. 

Damon Adachi  24:19

No, but I can understand Peter, your challenges, especially when the client says, you know, what we could have used was this shot and you're way past the filming stage, right? It's one thing to edit text and to re order sequences of things. But when they say I want a new original shot, you're past that point already. You can't go back and back to location. Do it all over again without significant cost, right. 

Peter Reynolds  24:41

No, absolutely. And Jo-Anne, we're going to I, Damon that we're going to do an episode which just talks about sort of horror stories and, and mistakes we've made and challenges that have come up. And I did have a series of product videos years ago. And it was a wonderful contract. And there were 200 different products that I was going to film. And I had to calculate, without how long it would take to film each product in order to, to figure out that the whole invoice. And I had worked it out to about it was 30 minutes per video. So there was about 100 hours worth of filming. But it as we got deeper into the project, that 30 minutes became 40. And sometimes 45. And although in in a single day, shoot 10 minutes, who cares, you start to multiply that by 200 products, it was a massive the extra amount of work and then having to go back to the client for that was very messy. And I think that one of the things my big takeaways from that is when you have a project like that there are so many unknowns, that the more structure you have at the beginning, the safer you're going to be. And you're going to have a satisfied client as opposed to one that is unsatisfied and is not going to give you that referral. 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  26:16

Agreed. Yeah, it's it's tricky when you're having to set out the price initially. Because we don't always know how long it's going to take clients to make decisions. We don't know if things are going to go back and forth a number of times, and how much repair work we need to do. So that is a difficult situation for sure. To navigate. 

Damon Adachi  26:37

Yeah, and to kind of summarize both episodes here, I hear what you say, Jo-Anne about making sure your business is protected. And these steps outline a process for you, to keep you on track to keep budget on track to keep your your going money covered from your incoming money. But I find that the greatest benefit is that setting expectation for the client, they know what to expect, they know what's coming next, they're happy with how it's happening, because they see the progress according to that expectation. And they feel much more secure and and comfortable with the whole process. I know that's a benefit, you also realize your process and put those two together. And it's like a no brainer to have a very structured, even documented process that your clients can latch on to and connect with. So kudos to you super smart way to run your business. 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  27:27

Thank you. It certainly creates, you know, successful projects over and over and over again. And then clients know what to expect. And you know what, how to how to do it every time. And when clients come to you because I've had one recently come to me and say, well, we want to do it this way. We don't want to do it that way anew. You've created this process that works successfully for each project and stick to your guns don't change it for one client, it's really important that you stick to your process if you can create a successful project, that process sorry. 

Peter Reynolds  28:06

Jo-Anne, thank you so much for joining us again, for our part two, where can people find you? 

Jo-Anne Kupiec  28:13

You can find find me at designexcellence1.com. That's our website and the same handle designexcellence1 on Instagram. 

Peter Reynolds  28:25

Well, thanks again for being part of this part two of our episode. And thank you to our Maven of marketing, the Damon Adachi for his insights. And we'll be linking the part one down in the description. And of course, we're always interested in our viewers comments and requests for information. That's why we're doing this episode. So please keep those comments coming. And be sure to like and share. I'm Peter Reynolds. You've been listening to Pros and Conversations, and we'll see you next time.

Legalese in client contracts.
Project execution and presentation.
Design process and expectations.
(Cont.) Design process and expectations.
Furniture installation and client reveal.
Deficiencies in renovation projects.
Parallels in video production.