Productizing Your Services

Is your goal selling your product as a service? Find out what Tyler Gillespie from Productized.Services has to say.

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Greg Heilers

Greg

Just hitting record before I forget. And are you ready for this?

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Born ready, man.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yes, I know it. All right. Tyler, thank you so much for taking the time. You have helped us immensely over the past year.

It was actually a year ago, almost to the day I’d say, maybe 50 weeks ago, you interviewed us at Jolly thinking about where we were at then, where we think we might go, issues that we were working through.

And I, at the time, was just overcoming this, if I can be honest with you, like, repulsion I had to the whole productize concept.

Because I thought what we were doing was so special that it couldn’t be systematized and put into processes. And well, we 5X’d last year, and there were some downsides, which I’d love your insights on.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah.

Greg Heilers

Greg

But what I’d really love to talk about today is, you know, let you introduce yourself first for a second. And talk about your experience productizing services and think about what’s kind of stopping some founders from doing that.

What are the positives, the negatives? And then, what’s next for people like us, who are slowly emerging from the operator role? So Tyler, thanks again, for taking the time.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, man. No, I appreciate it. I mean, credit to you and your partner, Morgan, as well just as far as implementing and taking action. It was cool to see.

Literally, man, it was crazy, just a year ago, the progress you’ve been able to make by systematizing, dialing in some things on your side, which has allowed you guys to scale quite a bit.

And that’s really, kind of, the essence, you know, of what I try to help people with, service business specifically, on the productizing side.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Maybe you would advocate against this, but it’s really beyond any defined goal that we had is what the results were for us. In the interview we did a year ago, I was like, “I think” — and I’m conservative by nature.

“I think maybe by end of year we’ll hit 50K MRR.” And by end of year, we hit 100K MRR, and we’re definitely on track to hit more of that. So I think it’s really fascinating what the ramifications could be if you go down this path.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, yeah. And to give you the audience a backstory on myself —

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yes, please.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

I’ve been kind of in the service businesses for a while, typically offline and then went online. And really, just from there — just because family was in service businesses, whether it was property management, client-facing stuff, that’s just kind of what I’ve always felt comfortable with, and you know, maybe had shaped the skillsets that I learned.

And I just transitioned that into the online space, you know, instead of going down maybe a SaaS or an e-commerce or product-based company. And yeah, after a while, just hit my head against the wall a lot.

And realized just scaling services has a lot of issues, and experienced those firsthand. And really, with one of the previous businesses — a couple businesses ago, in the content writing space, that’s really when I started to hone in the productizing element after reading books like Built to Sell for the third time.

And understanding, cool, to actually get myself out of the business, have this business scale without me, I’m going to need to productize and systematize the way I do things within the business.

And that was kind of the catalyst building that business. And then after that, built another business and sold that one.

And that’s about when we met and I realized, “Cool. I’m fairly good at this. And I enjoy working with people,” and launched productize.services, which essentially is where I do interviews.

I interview different service business owners, have a weekly newsletter, and then do some mentoring, which we were fortunately able to meet through that program. And just helping people with exactly that. How can you productize your service business?

And my whole philosophy is, you know, turning what you do into a scalable process, so you can turn six-figure years into six-figure months is kind of the idea.

Greg Heilers

Greg

I mean, that sums it up, our experience. Right? Even one of our early calls, we didn’t have a single flowchart, until you were like, “Okay, well guys, let’s just think about this for a second.” All the way down to, like you said, the content you are putting out has been really insightful for me. Certainly, I haven’t watched every episode, but I think I’ve watched —

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Come on, man.

Greg Heilers

Greg

— five. I’m sorry. It’s on my list. I’ve got, like, seven more to go. But I’ve watched a good handful and they’re really good, you know? Business owners working through problems and you guys talking about the upsides and the downsides.

I guess, for starters, you know, I shared my personal obstacle — one of them — to even getting started on this.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yes.

Greg Heilers

Greg

What are some reasons that founders or, let’s call it a small business owner, wouldn’t take this leap of faith or take the first steps into action? It may be mental, but maybe they just can’t figure out how to get systems going. I’m not sure. You’ve probably seen tons of pain points around this issue.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. So just mainly around founders creating systems and actually starting to productize, what are some of the hurdles there?

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah. I think you said it right. I guess I’m imagining for us and people in your mentorship that I was watching, where you have a community aspect to your program. And it’s been interesting to see them go through similar discussion.

Like, for example, one that I know of is a lot of the time, and we’ve talked about this, it’s just thinking that you are the one that can execute it.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah.

Greg Heilers

Greg

You are the one. But there’s others and I know there are. And I’m thinking, in your experience, what are the obstacles that are actually quite easy to overcome if you’re willing to approach them?

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. I mean, there’s a great booked called — you may have read this one, called The E Myth —

Greg Heilers

Greg

You told me to read it.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

— by Michael Gerber. And he talks about the entrepreneurial myth, where it’s the creative that’s really good at, like, he uses a baker — really good at baking. And then they’re like, “Cool, I’m going to start a bakery.”

And then they realize it’s not just about baking. There’s all these other elements of business.

So I think a lot of people too, the first hurdle is getting out of the one-to-one creative aspect, right?

Because a lot of people start businesses based on their specific creative skillset, whether you’re a writer, a designer. You’re whatever it may be, insert X service.

You have a skillset, that’s probably why you started the business. So it’s really hard to have someone else do that, or in your mind, have someone do it as good as you.

And that prevents you from ever exiting or hiring someone to take over that specific role for you. So that’s, like — everyone is at different stages.

Some people can move past that really quickly, you know, and other people kind of get stuck in that part of the process of removing yourself. They get stuck in that for a long time.

Or some people just never leave that at all. There’s also great examples of one person consulting companies, or one person creative agencies, like Design Joy, for example, who is fairly popular.

And DesignJoy.co, I believe, is the website. And he does UX, UI design. It’s one guy, one designer. And he’s been able to scale it, you know, I think he just passed 30,000 MRR.

And he might have a few people helping him, but I know that was one of the hurdles. And he admitted it in our interview that we did.

You know, for him to hire other people to take over that creative element was really hard. And he’s only going to be able to scale that so far without eventually having to, kind of, tackle that inner challenge. But —

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah, and like you said — oh sorry, yeah.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

No, I was just going to say one person consulting, like Seth Golden is a single consultant that’s been able to scale his time. And he’s built something that’s — I talk about this a lot, but you have, what you call valuable and sellable, right?

He might have a very valuable — most one-person consulting companies might have a valuable business, but just not a sellable business because it’s all dependent on them.

So it also comes down to what do you want at the end of the day, as well. But if you’re trying to build something that can run without you that can kind of scale, that’s the first hurdle for sure in getting out of —

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah. I mean, I was just interrupting to say — and I agree with you, you know? There’s nothing wrong with having a 20 or 30K MMR business of one. Your expenses probably aren’t that high. I mean, that’s a great income for a lot of people who are professionals.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yep.

Greg Heilers

Greg

The thing that you talked about, and you mentioned a book on this subject that also confused me initially was, you know, Morgan and I, we had just finally hit upon a successful business model, and then all of a sudden language was coming in about building it to sell.

And we were thinking, “What? Like, we just got a stable income. Why would we get rid of this?”

And there was a lot of learning for us to do there. And you said it to us over and over, to help us understand it, I think, that you’re building it not to sell, but you’re building it so it’s able to sell because those kinds of companies are quite enjoyable to be an owner of, it turns out.

And I’ve really enjoyed the upsides. I’m curious, you know, you had shared some information with us, and we don’t have to dive into details here if you don’t want to, but what are some of the transformations you’ve seen in terms of — obviously, we all know the stereotype of the business owner who works 90-hour weeks, 100-hour weeks, even 70, 60 I’ve done for periods of time.

So we can talk about time savings, or stress load, or even income increase. I’m not sure. What are some benefits, if you were to bullet point them, of productizing and thinking about your systems, instead of just order fulfillment?

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, no definitely. There’s a lot. Well, I mean, you look at a typical service business or agency, and as these businesses scale, they’re very chaotic.

Right? And the agency owner, the CEO, whoever is actually in charge of taming the ship is usually stressed out, not getting much sleep.

They’re not making much money. It’s not a very healthy place to be, and I think that’s the downside of trying to scale people.

Especially creative people, creative services. And that’s the whole idea behind productizing is, you know, trying to fix that. And I think there’s a lot of really cool use cases where now it’s, you know, I’m more against the anti-agency, building something not very traditional, even though there’s a lot of those out there.

There’s a lot of big agencies. But I think it’s, like to your point, designing something to exit, kind of being intentional with the way you want to build something.

There’s a lot of ways to build a service business. So by productizing your agency, you’re able to actually kind of tame the beast as well. So I mean, the upside — you kind of alluded to, and they’re also our downsides, which I think are good to touch on as well.

Greg Heilers

Greg

I’d love to next. I’m going to share one of ours, for example.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, definitely. So I think when you start to productize and systematize what you’re doing, and you’re finally getting yourself out of operations, you typically have a much more seamless sales process because you’re selling something that’s very straightforward.

Right? It’s a product. There’s no variance — there’s little to no variance. People know what they’re getting right from the start, which makes it easier to sell and just creates a better customer experience.

You know, just like buying — I always use the example of buying something off Amazon, right?

You go there, you know exactly what you’re getting, what’s included, the price, when it’s getting to your house, all the details, the reviews.

And when you package up your service offering in a similar way, it just adds a lot of confidence to the customer, and then you as well.

Also, we have a lot of streamlined operations because people are doing similar things over and over again. And every project that comes in that you sell isn’t going to be completely new, right?

You can also have better control over costs compared to doing, like, bespoke type of things. When you’re selling a fixed thing, then you know exactly what that is going to cost you over time as well.

You usually get paid up front and faster. And you kind of remove the growth ceiling, right, because now you can duplicate yourself and you’re not that one-to-one.

Like DesignJoy, for example, he’s going to hit the ceiling where he can’t — there’s no more hours in the day. And eventually, he’s going to have to start hiring people.

But there’s that growth ceiling, which a lot of people hit, right?

And then as well, you’re just making something that’s a lot more valuable because you’re building a machine that doesn’t rely on you.

So those are some of the top ones that come to mind.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah. And that value piece, again, didn’t resonate with me before I opened my eyes to — you know, there’s more value than the income Morgan and I are receiving each month in all the work we’ve — you know, people talk about brand equity and things like that.

So it really was a new window for me. Even so far as today, we’re considering buying complementary services to increase the value of the company through leveraging the value of our current company, right?

So it’s really something to consider. You and I both agree that we should also talk about some of the downsides. I’d love to share, for us, there were two main that stick out to me that happened in the very recent past, and are still working through the first, we’ve — thank goodness, March 2021 resolved. This productized service, you mentioned Amazon, it almost felt like yes, the sky is the limit.

The growth ceiling is removed. And we lived through this period of two months of rapid sales and onboards, except we couldn’t fulfill it. So it was Greg driving a double — I even shared it on LinkedIn. You know, I doubled our investment in Legion at the end of 2020 because everything was going swimmingly.

Well, it worked, and then we got a lot of sales and we didn’t have the fulfillment together. So it created a bottleneck that was silly in hindsight, but it was very real for two months.

We burned some bridges with some people who would have been great clients, things like that. It got ugly. The other side — I’m dismissing that because, you know, we learned from that.

We apologized to some people, but more importantly, long-term, we set up a system so we don’t do that to ourselves again. And we learned not to be so aggressive, in a way, until we’re ready for it.

I think the other side is one I never expected, which is all of a sudden our really sexy, sellable, productized service somehow looks like a liability to me.

And maybe it’s because the niche we’re in, but I’m curious if you’ve seen this weakness. And then I’ll be quiet and let you think of some other downsides that I’m not thinking of.

It was, like, “Wait, we’re a single service entity,” which was really, really good up until we realized we had no diversification going on. And so for three months now and ongoing, we’re putting our energy into new service development.

And we had been half-heartedly, even six months prior, but now, we’re really got the fire under us to figure out how to diversify.

Not because we’re scared that our service is imploding, but just because it seems pragmatic at this point.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. Well, I think you guys did a great job of scaling. I always try to — I mean, there’s a great book Ready, Fire, Aim.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yes.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

And that one was great. He talks a lot about, “Listen, you’re going to take one product and scale that to a million dollars before you even think about launching another product,” so —

Greg Heilers

Greg

Interesting.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

I think there’s going to be an essence of you’re concentrated into one product, and I think, your industry is also a little to do with that.

But I think you guys, growth-wise, and how you guys are thinking about it is, I think, a really good way. Because a lot of people get into trouble by trying to launch too many products too early and then they diluted themselves.

But now, you guys are in a great spot to be able to either, like you said, buy some other revenue streams or launch new products. The same thing with — The HOTH was run by a buddy of mine.

And they were on a very similar path, you know, they just had one core product. And now, they have 15 products that they just keep testing and launching new things, which also just drives to your growth.

Right? Because now you’re selling to the same customer base over and over again, new products that they want. But they did a good job as well. So I think that’s smart.

I think, as well, to your first point. Yeah, I think you have a little bit of — it’s not like scaling software or products, right? Like, if you’re selling a product on Amazon, you might run out of stock.

If you’re selling software, it’s unlimited. You’re duplicating the dashboard of whatever software you’re selling so there’s no, you know, ceiling there.

But with services, there technically isn’t a ceiling when you start productizing.

But I like to ask the question to a lot of the guests on my podcasts is like, “What if your business — whether it 3X or 10X in the next — tomorrow morning. What would you do?” And essentially, the answer is all the same. It’s, “Well, I wouldn’t have the people to fulfill on the orders.” So I think that’s the lever that you really have to plan for.

Especially, as you said, you’re investing into all this LinkedIn growth, and things are clicking, and you guys have a great productized offering so people are signing up.

You have to almost go really heavy into hiring on the fulfillment side, which, I think, is a whole other skill in itself, you know?

I think once you get really good at that — I mean, at one point, like I said, in my writing business we had 130 writers. And we had a dedicated person, that’s all they did was just hire and train writers.

And, you know, we just made sure that was her only job because my partner and I, we hated doing that.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

That wasn’t like, “I don’t want to.” She was great. She was from Poland. She spoke eight languages. She spoke English better than me. I was like —

Greg Heilers

Greg

Better than I, Tyler. Better than I.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Thanks. There you go. Good example.

Greg Heilers

Greg

My wife is Chinese. She’s always asking me language questions. And I’m like, “Don’t ask me to explain why. I think I got” —

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, exactly.

Greg Heilers

Greg

She’s like, “Weren’t you a professional writer for five years?”

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, so I think that’s something to think about as well. Like, cool, if you’re investing in growth and we talked about this, finding that ratio for whatever team member — whoever is executing the work to your customer, how many customers can they serve.

You can figure out a ratio, which can help you on the hiring side.

Because if you start bringing in a ton of customers, then you know exactly — you can try to stay ahead of the curve on the hiring side, but —

Greg Heilers

Greg

I love that.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

— downsides for sure.

Greg Heilers

Greg

You said, “stay ahead of the curve.” I actually learned a new phrase, for me, today in another interview that will go live later on.

I was speaking with Brad Smith of Codeless, and Usurp, and now Wordable. He talks about, in their writer team at Codeless, they have a buffer that they manage. So we are at the point like, “Wow, we need to always stay ahead.”

They are so far ahead that whenever that buffer shrinks below a certain point, they have warning signs going off. Like, “We need to get much further.” I think that’s what we need to do.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Smart. Yeah. Because I mean, to bring someone on, whether it’s hiring, filtering, getting someone on board, and then training them, there’s definitely a gap between when someone’s hired and when they actually can be at capacity or doing their thing for you in a productive way.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Absolutely.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

I mean, it’s kind of like the equivalent to inventory management with —

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yes.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

— an e-commerce business, you know?

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Because, you know, you’re selling inventory. You have this lead time. If you’re ordering products from China, sometimes it could be a month, month and a half —

Greg Heilers

Greg

— before it arrives.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

— you pay them before it’s in Amazon’s warehouse, right? So you have to be on top of that because if you run out of product, you’re not making any money.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yep.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

So I think the advantage is the service — it’s a little faster. We typically find people depending on what your service is, but same type of thing.

Greg Heilers

Greg

No, it’s true. New team members need time. Especially for any business owner who prides themselves on quality of service, right? Quality of deliverable. And you want them to be ready for your client’s expectations. In our mind, Morgan and I come from a food service background, each of us, actually.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

There you go.

Greg Heilers

Greg

So that’s how we always think of it together internally. We’re like, “Man, how long is this person waiting? Is the food getting cold? Are we missing the order?”

Things like that. Cool. Well, maybe this is a selfish question, but I feel like anyone following along to this point would be curious.

What’s next? Say you go down this path, you get yourself out of primary operator, maybe you’re still dabbling in different departments. But what’s next? I loved the book you recommended.

I believe his name was Keith, and I can’t remember his last name.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, Cunningham.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Cunningham, thank you. The Road Less Stupid, right, I think? And he had four hats. And I’d say we were kind of entering into what’s next. And then he pegged it after owner is investor.

But, practically speaking, what does the day look like next? What are your priorities next after you’re no longer the sole operator or even the head manager, so to speak?

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, great question. So I think the four hats of business that Keith talks about is kind of the artist, the technician, the owner/operator, and then the advisor.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Right, thank you. Not investor, yes, advisor.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, it could be advisor investor, but really you want to go from — obviously, yeah, kind of the artist, technician, to operator, to owner, then advisor. So those four hats.

After you’re out of the technician role, you’ve exited out, now you really want to play that owner role, that CEO, and kind of working on your business rather than in it.

And, you know, that’s actually where most people stay and play for a while, I think. And that’s a fun place to be, right? You typically have someone that’s a manager or someone that’s operating the business, and you’re kind of checking in and guiding the ship, per see.

And then kind of the next phase from there is actually finding someone to replace you as kind of an interim or someone to just run the company for you, and report to you as an advisor. And you’re just kind of higher level chess moves at that point.

So going from owner to advisor is definitely a huge step. I think most people, just getting to the owner, and really owning the owner role is where most people should shoot for.

And from there, kind of going beyond that is a whole other game.

But yeah, I think once you’re out of operations, then really designing and working on your business is, I think, the main goal. And that’s a really fun place to be.

Greg Heilers

Greg

It’s really quite beautiful. And not to say for us that it’s been flawless, like, without hiccups, right? Sometimes we regress back into that.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Maybe we didn’t build that buffer in certain departments and someone leaves. And we think, “Oh, Shiza,” you know? So I agree with you, that’s a really fascinating spot to be in. Okay, please.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, I was just going to add that that’s actually the danger of being in that owner role is sometimes you have done such a great job, that you get pulled back in to operations, or you break things just so you can have something to do.

So it’s kind of a funny place to be to see different people because, you know, you work so hard to get out of the business. And then having nothing to do is just a whole other type of problem.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah. You talked about if you were to sell, having some type of continuity, something to replace that, just emotionally even.

That’s really interesting. Not selling, you stay the owner of your business, and month after month, your role is diminished if you did such a good job.

I can see that it’s real, right? And I think other people have talked about this, but it’s still going to be a new experience for the business owner, who just grinded through technician to operator for the last years.

And maybe it’s resonating well with me because Morgan and I are getting close.

And it would almost seem, if we didn’t have something else we’re trying to launch, that what would we do for work, so to speak.

And maybe I’m spitballing too much here or philosophizing too much. But it sounds like you said, you know, you always did service.

I came from a blue-collar family, and I can remember all my initial jobs, my dad would be like, “That’s not real work yet.” So maybe it’s like an internal thing in business owners to be like, “I do work.” You hear it all the time. “Maybe my team thinks I don’t work.”

I think the business owner wants to prove they still can do it, do it, and they’re an integral part of the success of the company.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. It’s so funny because you work so hard, like, let’s get working from inner business to on it, then let’s work so hard that you have to do these code phrases or the laptop test.

Which we kind of talk about, you close your laptop, how long can your business last if you did nothing.

You worked so hard to arrive at that place, and then when you get there, this whole other problem that, you know, it’s a good problem to have, but it’s very similar to you’re doing nothing.

And you kind of have to pitch it, figure out new things to do or projects. And, like, in your case, maybe it is great to like, “Cool, we’ve gotten to this point.

Let’s transition now to where my job is to find cool companies that we can buy.”

Greg Heilers

Greg

Maybe, right?

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Or launch new products and build that up on the team. So I think you definitely arrive at a point where needing to do something is definitely important.

Because if you’re not doing something, you might find yourself back in the business, and micromanaging or trying to fix things that don’t need fixing.

So there’s some interesting things that kind of happen when you get to that point.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah. Well, I mean that sounds like a dream. It certainly did to me. It sounded like a pipe dream to me a year ago. So I think that sums it up nicely, what the ambition is with productized services.

Being that I’m still in the process and learning, I think we always are, but I’m still kind of amateur hour.

Is there anything I should have asked that you would have covered had the tables been flipped and you were leading the conversation?

You know, you’ve done this a couple times and you’ve advised quite a few of us now.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. No, I think you had some good questions. And I had a couple other downsides, which I think are good to maybe go over. We can cover some of those, if you want.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Well, let’s leave it on a downer then. Come on, Tyler, pour it on. Let’s get one laugh again before it’s over.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well no, I think it’s good because when you’re building and working on productizing whatever service you have —

Greg Heilers

Greg

For real.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

A couple of these — yeah, definitely. I think it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. And I think the more — especially, like that, I mean, that’s part of the thinking time habit of that book you mentioned by Keith.

It’s like people are really good at seeing the upsides of things and planning for the upsides, but not the downsides.

Greg Heilers

Greg

The thinking time, I don’t do it now, but when I did, it’s almost like meditation.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, right?

Greg Heilers

Greg

Don’t mean to scare anyone off the book. It’s a really good book. Check it out, The Road Less Stupid. I mean it in a sense that as Tyler was saying before I interrupted you, these are the questions that are naturally your resistant to contemplate.

Because these are the things that you’d rather focus on what can I do to take things better, which is the point of the questions. But they’re attacking it from a, “What aren’t you thinking about to make things better?”

Because there’s a lot, it turns out, I don’t think about.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. No, definitely. And I think, I guess, when I look at some of these downsides, it’s not as if these are not reasons to not venture down the productize mode.

It’s more of having the awareness of these downsides going into it, so that you can actually protect yourself and build up things to solve these problems. So one of them that I didn’t cover yet was you’re going to have to say no to a lot of people.

And I think that’s a big one because when you create this productized package, set price, specific person you’re serving kind of product and service, there’s inevitably someone that’s going to be coming in that doesn’t fit into that, and wants more, or will request something else that doesn’t fit inside your new productized offering —

Greg Heilers

Greg

If I could piggyback?

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Like especially if you’ve been around. If you had an existing service or set of services. I get, to this day, people approaching me, like, thinking they’re really being kind and thoughtful, offering me services I used to provide, offering opportunities for services I used to provide.

And I have to remind, sometimes the same person, multiple times that I don’t do that. “I used to do that. And thank you so much, I don’t do that.”

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah, so that’s the hard part for sure. And that’s really hard during the transition phase, like, when you’ve launched your productized service and now you’re selling just that, but then people are still trying to buy other things from you. And it’s really easy to say yes to those people —

Greg Heilers

Greg

The money over there.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

And then you kind of have this blend of you’re doing a productized, but then you also have all this custom work. So that’s, like, a hard thing as well.

So you’re going to pass through that transition point. Eventually, the goal is to get to just selling your productized service and then saying completely no to everything.

And that’s when you really start to see progress. But you feel like you’re losing out on a ton of money and opportunity as well, so there’s a mental kind of game.

As well, when someone signs up with you and you’re just offering one thing, it’s sometimes hard to retain really fast-growing customers who want more, right? Because the natural thing is to continue to upsell them, but you might be at a stage where you don’t have the next products to upsell them.

So they might be going other places for some of those things. The third that I would say, is also, and this is a big one. Keith touches on this in his book. But, you know, productizing, you’re really kind of packaging, you’re finding people, you’re building processes.

But sometimes systems can kill creativity. And I think that’s a big one to kind of be aware of because no one wants to be a cog in a machine. And sometimes you’re creating, essentially, a machine in many points.

So kind of doing everything you can, and try to protect against that because that’s a really quick way to have a high churn on the creative element of your business. But I think that one’s kind of — you can play with that one.

And I know, Greg, I think you may have done things there. But I know we did things as well that, yeah, make things fun. You know, still allow people to work, have a creative element even though they’re working inside a structure.

So there’s different ways to kind of approach that as well.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah. It doesn’t need to kill positive interpersonal interactions at your company, you know, and even in the work itself, as you said.

It doesn’t need to stifle creativity. There’s just a little more structure as you put it. I would agree with that perfectly.

I mean, in our case, a lot more structure because there wasn’t much. So it’s been really enabling in the positive sense of the word, really.

Yeah. Those downsides though, I really appreciate, and I think your second one, that would be like a whole other podcast we could do sometime because I find that topic fascinating.

And I agree with what you said earlier in our conversation. You know, it’s right steps for right time. But it is something to be aware of.

Once you go all-in on one service, that’s all you have for a bit, anyhow.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. You want that as well, because that’s the whole sprint, the focus, you know, and really building traction in that one offering.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Well, how do you choose well? I mean, let’s say you had a few services, how do you weed those out? And how do you — I mean, let’s say you don’t inherently feel it like, “That’s the one.”

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. No, I think there’s a couple elements to that because you lead on a good point. One, you can look back at all the service offerings you’ve done, right?

And you can see which ones made the most money, that were the most popular, had the most demand, provided the most value.

And you can kind of pick and choose, like, that was for us. We had a digital agency and we did all sorts of things.

We kind of looked and we were like, “Okay.” As well, what do people need on an ongoing basis? That was important. And that was cool blog content at the time. This was a great fit.

We have a team of writers. We also offered email writing, and website building, and funnels, and all of these other things. So we had to double-down on one thing and that was the one we chose.

So you’re not just blindly picking. But if you’re just starting out, you might have to test, and really do a lot of market research if you don’t have the benefit of the backlog of trying a bunch of different things leading up to that point.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Yeah, okay. So if your ambition as a new service provider is to launch a productized service, perhaps the path might seem counterintuitive. But perhaps you need to test a few services first to see where your sweet spot is.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Yeah. And I talk about this productized focus wheel. And one of them is picking one product, one avatar, one funnel, one traffic source. But then doing it for a 90-day spread —

Greg Heilers

Greg

That’s right. I recall that.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Until you find your product-market fit, right? And once you find the product-market fit, or you might be testing a few products, then you can double-down and that’s all you do for the next year.

But you have to — yeah, you have to play with it a little bit to kind of find what that is. And that’s a tough period, that’s the grind element of the business that is not easy. So yeah, definitely something to think about.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Definitely. Wow, thank you, Tyler, a lot to think about. I appreciate you taking the time. I think it’s well worth mentioning to people to check out productize.services.

We personally have benefited a ton from your time. So I really appreciate it. You know, month after month, it’s been instrumental for us in ways that I didn’t think of, mentorship and community could help us.

So I just wanted 45 minutes of your time to share with other people. So thanks a lot.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

I had so much to cover. I appreciate it. And I put together a little productize playbook, which kinds of sums of some of my thoughts and everything around the idea of productizing.

And if anyone wants that, yeah, just on productize.services there is the free playbook there you can download. That should be insightful.

Greg Heilers

Greg

We’ll definitely have a link in the description, and then on our website. So absolutely they should navigate to that. I’m a marketer, I know what a lead magnet is. I already have your service, but I’m probably going to enter my name in there.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

Hey, man. Get it, you’ll enjoy it. It’s pretty much a lot of the stuff we’ve covered, but I’ve been updating it. And yeah, it’s a good little resource.

Greg Heilers

Greg

Really cool, really cool. Thank you again, Tyler. Thank you so much and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler

All right. Thanks, Greg.

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