In the first episode of the Lion Zeal Show, I’ve interviewed my friend Armando on how he makes over $35,000 per month from SEO clients.
He even does this without taking on recurring clients anymore.
- 32:15 – The work life and team behind running a client business pulling these numbers
- 25:01 – The difference between earning 10k/m and 30k/m
- 40:03 – How to make money without taking on recurring clients
- 41:45 – And basically a behind the scenes look at someone running a successful SEO agency
Need help growing your SEO business? Click here to have Daryl personally coach you.
Daryl Rosser: Welcome to the first episode of the Lion Zeal show where every week I’m going to interview a brand new SEO and chat about how they’ve grown their business and how they’ve overcome obstacles to get to where they are today. Whether they’re earning a $100,000 per month or a $1,000 per month, different people and shown their different viewpoints of how to overcome the obstacles and how they got to the stage that they’re at currently.
So, for the first guest, for the first ever episode of the show I brought on my friend Armando, where we’re going to chat about how he’s built his business to $30,000 to $40,000 per month on average from SEO clients, and it’s just a really awesome discussion. So for all the sceptics’ and stuff, I’m going to put up a little screen shot here, and you should be able to see a little earnings report. So this is a screenshot of one of Armando’s bank accounts. I don’t think it’s everything, but it’s over the last month and it’s like a $30,000 earning. He also had his paper account and other stuff, but you can see, if you’re super skeptical, then have a look at this.
It’s just real, it’s not some made up bullshit, and also you can have a look at his testimonial. So I will put up, when you have a group swear … they’ve said that they got their first client for $11,000, so you can check that out. For me, Armando’s a really awesome guy, because not only has he helped other people, he’s helped the communities, written a blog, and created videos and stuff like that, he’s also helped me a lot.
I’ve been friend with Armando now for over a year, and one of the first things he ever said to me was a piece of advice when I was getting started with client SEO, and he said to me that “you need to act a little bit more arrogant. You need to tell them this is how you work, and if they’re not happy with that, not happy with the price that’s okay, but go somewhere else.” That sort of mind set changed everything for me.
We’ve been for a week or two, ended up closing another client for $4,500 upfront and $1,500 per month, and that was over a year ago now. Like I think, maybe, closer to two years, and I’m still working with that client today. I still have the same exact client today, and the only reason I’ve kept them is because they are kind of small, it’s because their super easy to deal with. I chat with them once every two or three months, and that’s about it. In fact I haven’t been on the phone with them now for over six months. it’s just a super easy to work with client. So that’s a decent little addition to my income, but more than that Armando’s has given me so much advice for my own business, and he’s a really smart guy, and you really should listen to what he has to say.
So, check out this interview. I hope you guys enjoy it, and I’ll catch you guys later.
Hey man, how’s it going, thanks for joining me on the show today.
Armando Saenz: It’s good man, thank you for having me.
Daryl Rosser: So, I guess to start off I should already have an intro going on of, like who you are and stuff, but do you want kind of introduce yourself a little bit? You just sent me an in-screen shot now showing, I think that’s just one of your accounts, but showing $32,420 this month. So I guess the cool little start to be would be kind of break down where that comes from … And what exactly is you’re doing these days.
Armando Saenz: Yeah so … I run, as you know, a local digital marketing outfit out of Texas and my focus is strictly client work. And it’s more than just search. It’s digital marketing. And so where that comes from is, some of that is reoccurring income from clients where I have retained a basis from on. Others is projects that I’ve just taken on. My monthly income is comprised of some, you know, one time fees that I have to go out there and work for pretty much every month and then some that is reoccurring and then up-sale some other services that I offer.
Daryl Rosser: Awesome. So also within. Actually that’s interesting you said that you don’t just don’t do SEO, there’s different marketing. So what other sort of services do you offer your clients?
Armando Saenz: Local digital marketing is sort of the core of the things that I offer right? But it’s got a foundation into it. It’s not just about building the BPN’s, it’s about doing all the things that the business needs. Making sure that their website is on point, making sure that their citations is okay or clean and up to date, making sure that their content is strong but also things like instituting review funnels for them. So that they can get patient reviews or customer reviews through their business. Helping them setup … Lead magnets for their websites. Helping them setup drop email campaigns. Helping them setup things like review or a referral systems for their business. So there’s a whole bunch of different things and even some video that I do for them. So it’s not just search, it’s marketing as a whole.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome and … I don’t know the answer to this but it’d be so much better if you said it. What was the reason you almost shifted from just doing SEO and just doing rankings to add in all this stuff. Like what’s the thought process behind providing like all these local marketing services?
Armando Saenz: Its more. There’s more value to it. You can charge much higher prices and then … Sort of position yourself as an expert in a certain field. I work, as you know, in only like maybe two or three industries and that’s how I position myself, as the go to person in these industries. And if I’m selling just SEO, I’m selling SEO and competing with everyone else who’s selling SEO. And I’m also competing with those companies who are gonna spam me 50 times a day telling you “Hey sir, I’m with Google. For five bucks you could be number one,” you know. That’s not exactly where the money’s gonna be and that’s not exactly where the high dollar tickets are gonna be. And it doesn’t what vertical you’re in, if your positioning yourself as that person who’s gonna be selling just SEO and just ranking as opposed to a higher value as apposed to the outcome. You’re not gonna be able to make as much money as you can.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome advice actually. Also and, so you said you focus on two niches right now. So would you recommend like if someone standing out like they pick like a niches or something like that? Would you recommend they just focus on just one versus being the everything guy?
Armando Saenz: Yeah, you know, initially when I first started I was gonna be the everything guy and I did that for a while. I was like “Okay anybody who needs this sort of service, anybody who needs search, anybody who needs, you know, their website optimized and everything I’ll take em’. I’ll take this.” And I learned real quick that it was really hard to sell. It was really really tough to sell and I kinda dialled back a little bit and I started focusing on where my background was. And that was a much easier sell and it came with a much higher price tag because. If I focus myself on an industry that I already had experience in, then I could understood how it worked, I could speak that language, I understood what was important to them and I was kind of trusted already because of my knowledge of that industry.
Sort of like … You know I have friends who are chiropractors, who are, you know, lawyers who have transitioned from that perfection into a digital marketing and running their agencies and they focus just on that aspect of it and … It’s like, you know, taking your car to the mechanic right? If you have a Mercedes and you take your car to the guy who works on everything. You know, the perception is, that the guy who only works on Mercedes might be a little bit more expensive but he only knows Mercedes.
Daryl Rosser: And he’s know the car inside out.
Armando Saenz: He knows right? It may not be true but that’s the perception that he can charge higher prices because, you know, that’s the value that he’s giving to you.
Daryl Rosser: Exactly. So on that subject I guess. I know you said you take on different types of clients where some are like one time setups and monthly but. On the topic of monthly ’cause I think that’s the most attracting one to be when they first to find out like I can get like a monthly reoccurring deal. What’s sort of size clients do you focus on when it’s like a reoccurring deal these days?
Armando Saenz: It’s gotta be really competitive for me to do reoccurring deals now. So, and I’ll tell you exactly who I’m going after. I’m in healthcare. So I’m focusing on medical practices. So solo practitioners, medical practices who have multiple locations and then, you know, bigger size clinics. So this ties into understanding the vertical that you’re gonna go into. Now you may not necessarily be an expert in any vertical but if you decide to jump into one you’re gonna have much more success because your focus is gonna be that much more narrow.
Because I understand medical I understand that the solo practitioner number one, he’s not gonna be able to afford … A $1000, $2000, $2000 month SEO service. It’s just the reality. He’s not. Guy could just be just getting started. His patient base is growing. He’s not gonna be able to afford that right away. But a multi-location clinic can split it over their clinics. And so I try to aim the monthly reoccurring rates on those who can actually afford it.
If you’re a multi-location clinic and you want to dominate, you want to do work for like a whole bunch of locations then you’re gonna need a monthly service and there’s just no way around that. Or if you’re a big practice maybe you’re just the one clinic practice but you have like eight doctors and each one those treats their practice separately then you’re gonna have to have a monthly reoccurring rate. On the other hand, if you’re a solo doctor who’s just getting started, who needs an extra oomph, you may more likely be wanting to buy a one off type service.
Daryl Rosser: Okay and I guess people are gonna ask this is … Because you have these higher paying monthly type clients, do you not feel like it’s distracting and I know your reason behind this, but do you not think it’s distracting on work on like one time setup type gigs when you can just get some higher paying monthly stuff?
Armando Saenz: I don’t feel that is man to be honest with you and there’s a logic behind that. Because people are more likely to pay a one-time service even if it’s a higher ticket than they are to pay a lower reoccurring monthly rate. And this is a perfect example. Two days ago actually somebody called me and left me a message. And they’re like “Oh, this is such and such. Please call me back.” I didn’t know who it was. So I called them back and I said “Hey. I’m just returning your call” and they’re like “Oh I own this.” They owned an actual mini blind is what they owned. Said “I own a mini blind company and I’m looking for this.” And I said “Okay well … Tell me more about what you’re going, I typically work with healthcare but if you’re a small business and you tell me what you situation is, I’ll see if I can help you. You know, I may not be able to but at least I’ll be straight up with you.”
And so I told him what we do. I said “Look, you know, this is my process man. This is everything I do for everyone else. It involves, you know, A B C D E F and this is what it looks like and this is what I charge.” And I said “You basically have two options.” I said “We can do monthly thing if you wanna go across a whole bunch cities and it could start at like $1500 bucks a month. Or, but if you just need to like focus on one bigger city, maybe just have all the foundation work done.” I said “I could charge you $3800 one-time fee. And just get this stuff done for you and that’s gonna put you in a better spot than where you are now.”
And he’s like “Oh, I can do $3800.” You know, even though he could’ve gotten a lot more for $1500 right? The $3800 is not that much farfetched. People don’t want the monthly payment so … Even at $500, we’re charging $500. It’s hard to get somebody to give you $500 bucks right up front but a lot of them will have no problem giving you a one-time $5000 payment.
Daryl Rosser: That’s just such a really interesting thing. I remember this like, I get clients, one thing they like to do is, they like to, if you give them a monthly fee they suddenly stop thinking like a year, two years and stuff like that. So you say it’s a $1000 a month, they’re thinking “Oh. $12,000. $24,000.” Versus if you give them like a one-time service fee even it’s like $8000 it still seems less than that monthly reoccurring fee.
Armando Saenz: Yeah, you know, it’s the psychology behind it all right? And on the opposite end, on our end of the coin we’re always looking for that retainer fee right? Because that’s what the industry teaches you. They say “Oh, the retainer money is where it’s at. Why would you want to do something for a $1000 bucks when you can get something for $500 and then charge them for the rest of their life?” Well nobody wants to pay a mortgage. But the thing that they’re missing, in my opinion, is all the up-sells. The guy who you could maybe do $2000 worth of work for up front. Once you starts getting results, you can go back and say “Hey man. You know, we got you this far but you’re still missing maybe setting up a review system for you clients. You’re still missing maybe setting up an email drop campaign for your existing customer base.”
And you can charge extra for those and those things are not cheap you know, and in the end you’re still charging, you’re still making money, its just not a monthly thing, you know, like that. But you’re prices are really high.
Daryl Rosser: So if someone wants to go out there and you want to start adding this now, so maybe they’re gonna sell this, then later on add service or reoccurring package or just different types of people anyway. What sort of services could we sell as like this one time gig?
Armando Saenz: Well I’ll tell you exactly what I sell. What I sell is website redesigns. And you know from speaking to me, I’m not a web designer or web developer. I’m far from it. Like I could spend three weeks on a moving a button from one side to the other. It’s not where my talent is but I know enough to go find somebody that can help me do that. So I sell one time website redesigns. I sell one time, what I like to call the local disability, you know, thing, which is. I’ll take a look at your site, I’ll take a look at all the on page stuff, all the typical things where you have. Your site is slow. If you’re returning some 404 errors, that type of stuff. And then I’ll take a look at where you had citations and I’ll go ahead fix the top twenty or list you in the top twenty or what not. And I charge a fee for that right?
I also sell press releases. So if somebody wants to come to me and say “Hey. I want to get, you know, this but I don’t have this kind of budget.” I say “Well, I’ll do a press release.” Or I also sell the review system. And that’s where I create a review funnel for them on their site and I sell that for a one-time fee. And I also sell the social media, basically, the social media account creation and auto management which is. If they’re on WordPress site, I use the snap plugin, I configure all the social properties, tie everything together and I make sure that any post that they put on their automatically gets auto-posted to everything else.
If they’re not on a WordPress site, I have to use IFTTT or Zapier and I set up the exact same thing and I sell that as a package. I also sell the email drop campaigns so setting up a follow up system with the customer base. I sell the setup of that. And I sell setting up a lead capturer, a lead magnet on their website with auto-responders.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome stuff
Armando Saenz: Yeah. A lot those are just one time fees but people keeping coming back for different things.
Daryl Rosser: Makes sense. And you can sell like all of them to one person, that certainly adds up to quiet a decent amount.
Armando Saenz: Right. I want to tell you one thing about that though. The people who actually get on the monthly retainer … All that’s part of the plan. It’s just spaced out differently.
Daryl Rosser: Sure. So they get the same thing it’s just the … Spaced out. Yeah it makes sense.
So do you have like fixed prices for these types of services? Like is the same for everyone or is it gonna vary depending on the business? For-
Armando Saenz: No it’s gonna be the same for everybody. Now the key for me is, I’m only gonna take you on as a client if I could help you. So initially when we do our conversation, they already know how much I’m going to charge ’cause I tell em’ up front.
Daryl Rosser: Okay before they got on the call.
Armando Saenz: This is what I charge. Oh yeah, they know everything, like if they call if they talk to me and they get on the call and they say “I’m looking for this, you know how can you help me?” and I say “Look man I offer these three course services. This is what you get and this is how much they are regardless of who you are. Now, wether I’m gonna take you on as a client or not, it’s gonna depend on a few other things. You already know how much you’re paying and you already know how much your getting.
Whether I can help you or not, that’s gonna depend on a few other things, other questions I’m gonna ask you and I need to take a look at your analytics. I need to take a look at your web master tools. You don’t have to give me access but we can share screens ’cause I’m not gonna take you on if you’ve got a manual penalty. I’m not gonna take you on if you’ve hired cheap services before and I can tell you’re spent to death. So you set yourself up for failure with that so I don’t take on clients like that I turn them away and no matter how much money they’ve got.
Daryl Rosser: That’s good. So would you say, also, and this, I guess a is a bi-product of that, that having that position where it’s like I’m only gonna take you on if I can help you and that sort of thinking and mind set, actually helps you attract more clients because it kind comes across differently versus being very needy while your on the phone like when you first start out.
Armando Saenz: Yeah absolutely. I feel like my whole thing with positioning is that I. Even if I know that I need the client, I don’t want them to ever think or that I do need em’ right?. I’ve got this attitude that if you don’t want to buy from me then I just don’t care if you do or you don’t. I’m just gonna go somewhere else and I’m not gonna nickel and dime you either, my price is my price and if its not right for you then I’m okay with that. It’s not right for you, its not right for everybody, I get it but I’m not gonna bend all that because then … You’re sorta of setting an expectation mix that you’re not gonna be able to manage later.
The expectation that they can muscle you into a situation and they’re gonna be able to do that later and that’s not what I like to set. I turn a lot of people down because they come to me and everything is right but then they ask for the wrong thing on the questions that I ask ’em. What I say … “Do you need.” Like one of the questions is, do you need clients? Do you need new customers today? Do you understand that it takes a little bit of time to grow or do you want something like yesterday? A lot of them will, “I want some customers yesterday.” So that tells me, okay you’re are already not in a realistic spot where you know that this is gonna take a little time to season.
So I don’t want to work with you if your expectations is already wrong to begin with.
Daryl Rosser: Yes! Really awesome. Actually that’s the advice you gave me when I first got started up and like that whole thinking is a complete game changer for me when I just started speaking to clients. And actually from there I like when out and like I suddenly got like a bunch of clients because when you actually speak to them like that, they want to work with you even more than if you’re really needy and like desperate to get them as a client.
Would you say … I know ’cause that’s how much it works, but it’s really really difficult when you’re first starting out. Do you have any like advice for someone when they’re first starting out and they actually are needy to try and come across as little bit more obviously expert type positioning?
Armando Saenz: I think focusing on one area and narrowing that one area is gonna be really key to becoming the go to person in that industry or that area like fast. Right?
Like if I. Like me for example I work with doctors in healthcare and like I could give, like I’ve given talks to doctors, like dozens of doctors at a time and a lot of them don’t even know me from the guy down the street but when it’s done they understand that I’m the expert in that aspect.
Daryl Rosser: For sure.
Armando Saenz: They don’t even know if I’ve had other doctor clients. They just know that I’m the expert. So my advice is narrow your focus down instead of going for everybody and their dog, now your focus on a what type of industry you want to work with, who your ideal client is and then set some hard boundaries. Don’t let them tell you “Oh, I only have this much money to play with.” You say “This is my price and this is what you get for my price and if it’s not okay for you then that’s okay that it’s not okay for you.” You know don’t bend on your rules.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome. I have some more questions on how you manage it now but, I’m kinda interested to hear like how you kinda got into SEO’s, so like your background, and what where you doing before you were a SEO or digital marketing consultant which is probably more accurate?
Armando Saenz: Well, I was working for a big fortune 500 in healthcare actually and I was on the business development side so I’ve been on the business development side for probably seven to eight years prior to getting into this. And, you know, in the hospital doing service lines and that sorta thing. And so, you know, my thing was very big on business and it was very big on understanding how basically a corporate mind set works and understanding processes. It was hard for me to make the decision to jump into this vertical because, I would say that I’m not the typical “I hate my job.” I didn’t hate my job at all. I loved my job you know. I love the people that I worked with, they were great people you know. My pay was not bad, they took care of me. I had tons of flexibility. If I needed to go pick up my kid from school I could leave and not have anybody tell me anything and, you know, I was well respected in that space. But I never, you know, saw myself working for somebody else forever.
I think we spoke about this before about when I was in high school. I started my own landscape riding company. I actually became an electrician, that’s how I paid for school and everything and so once I got a taste of what it was like to be on my own and actually make that side money, it was like. It’s always in my head, it’s always been like, I’m never gonna be working for somebody the rest of my life. It’s just, it has to happen at some point.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. That’s really awesome. So how did you come across SEO, the business model from when you were doing that?
Armando Saenz: How did I transition from that to this?
Daryl Rosser: How did you find out and kinda get started as like selling SEO services?
Armando Saenz: Oh yeah. So I started man, I started like when I was doing some stuff for work, you know. I was messing around on the website and doing some Facebook advertising and that sorta thing. Because we we’re business development so then digital kind of fell on our lap and I had to sort of learn it. And initially, you know, I decided, I poked around a whole bunch of different things and I thought “I’m gonna build. I’m gonna learn how to build a website, do all this other stuff.” And I did and at the time I followed somebody called, think he still has it as a plug on Spencer Haws from Niche Pursuits.
And that guy was putting a case study on like Amazon sites. So … I build an Amazon site you know and almost identical to his site. And-
Daryl Rosser: I remember you told me this.
The Difference Between Earning 10k/M and 30k/M
Armando Saenz: Yeah. And I spent like weeks writing like what everyone, what I read, what everyone thought was like the correct thing to do. 10,000 words on every page, 1,000 word reviews, that sorta thing and it sat there for six months and I didn’t know what to do with it from then on and I started researching and researching and people were talking about block commas. And so I posted like one comment on Yahoo answers. Then I waited three weeks ’cause I thought “Yeah that’s gonna get me where I wanna be” and I learned real fast that wasn’t, then I stumbled upon Source Wave and I started to put some of the things those guys deal with, you know, private blog networks.
It went through the roof. And from there on it was just like, okay … Obviously the Amazon thing is not for me, you know. But I’m good at what I’m good at and speaking to people and getting in front of people and I already knew this industry. And there’s a needing for it so I jumped into that vertical real quick.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome. So I know from speaking to you before that, because you like loved your job, like you’re really happy with it, that the transition from actually like leaving that and going like full time SEO was super difficult. Before I mention that, what sort of level of income were you at when you decided to like finally make that jump?
Armando Saenz: I’d already reached what I was making at my day job actually. So you take your. What I did was, I took my day job, you know, and you get a certain salary. But that salary is not take home pay. You’ve got medical and you’ve got, you know, healthcare to pay for and social security in the U.S. and then you have retirement and you have everything else in between and taxes. And so people think “Okay. You’re making a 120 a year which is like $10,000 a month,” and they think “that’s a lot of money.” And that’s the standard 80 hour week corporate job but when you take everything else out, you’re not taking that home. Man you’re taking like 30 40 percent of that. And so once I reach to that point where I was like well I’m on my own and I’ve got this. I don’t have all this extra weight then I’m gonna make that leap and that’s when I did it. You know, I decided to do that full time.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make because, like I said I didn’t hate my job, I loved it.
Daryl Rosser: So was it just the income that was the tipping point or was there other factors about, like it’s just like, okay finally like it is time to just go-
Armando Saenz: Yeah. There were other factors. It was like a catch 22. I couldn’t grow my business, I couldn’t continue to grow it because I was at a day job. And it was because I was at day job that I couldn’t grow my business if that makes any sense, you know? So one of them had to give. I was at the point where in order for me to take it to the next level I need what my money can’t buy and that was the time. I needed the time and I couldn’t. I was meeting people like on my lunch break, I was talking to clients on my lunch break. I was meeting and talking to them after work at Starbucks. I was somehow telling them “Hey. You’re busy during the week, I’m busy. Your seeing patients. I’m busy doing my thing. Let’s hookup on Saturday because we’re both free.”
And it’ll get you to a certain point but then business is eight to five, Monday through Friday and people wanted you to come to their office at like noon for lunch and, you know, all the things in between that you can’t deal with when you have a regular day job unfortunately.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. So I guess we can fast forward to today because we’re already past that stop. So … These days. And when you tell people that you’re owning this sorta numbers you’re doing, 30 40 thousand a month, whatever, then their immediate reaction is like “Holy crap you must be doing like 80 hours a week or like 12 hours days and stuff.” So it’d be kinda interesting like, what’s your sorta day to day life like these days in terms of work and just around how much hours you can spend with your family and all these different things?
Armando Saenz: Well part of the reason that, you know, that I wanted to do this on my own was to have more time. Nobody says I want to start my own business so that I could work 100 hours a week. I think that, I don’t know anybody who says that, I think that their mentality is “I want to start my own business so I can have more time.” And then they get sucked into the business and they realize it’s not it, you know, it’s not gonna work out. I’m gonna be much more time, you know, constrained than I was even at the day job.
So initially when I first started man I was doing everything. Now I’m not gonna lie, you and I have had a lot of conversation on outsourcing. And you and I have had a lot of conversations and I picked your brain on a lot on automation because you’re big on automation, you’re big on that type of stuff and those were things I lacked. And I was like “Okay, well damn how do I get, you know, to automate certain things?” Once I hit about five clients I was tapped. Once I hit about five clients, at one point I was working until two three o’clock at night.
I was spending my time building BPN’s almost all day long, sometimes up until night until my eyeballs popped out spending my time writing content. I was spending my time doing fulfillment work, running reports and then end of the day speaking to clients and doing all these different. And I was gonna get burned out real fast. I almost did. I had to take a step back and go back to my days where I was like, you know, managing things and doing stuff. And I thought “Well, damn. What am I good at? What am I not good not? What do I hate? What can I automate?” And I started building. Repetitive things I started handing off to people. I hired a VA initially, who was part time. Helped me with some things. And then I hired another one and he became full time and then. Now I have three. I have three.
They’re all full time and I spend the majority of my day doing the one thing that is gonna move me forward. And that is trying to land new business.
If I can spend my day trying to close people even as a lunch meeting, coffee meetings or whatever then that’s what’s gonna move my business forward and nothing else. So I’ve systemized a lot of thing. I’ve systemized really fast and then I refined the system and then just even tweaked a little bit more.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome. So, and I guess this is gonna be a lot of on traces. About how many hours would you say you work in a day or like a week these days?
Armando Saenz: On average I try to stick to a set number that I’m like. When I left work, you know I wanted to get up and do and pretend like I was going to work in a ways. So I get up, I get dressed, I put on my tie, my shirt. You know even if I was in my office at home where I’m at now, I would still get dressed and do those things because it was important to me not to like slack off. And so on average I’m probably working about 40 50 … Maybe. And I say that with a big maybe because a lot of times I like distracted by a YouTube video or something and I’m just like. I catch myself, you know like, going through Themeforest looking for like 30 themes and it’s like an hour later and I haven’t done anything.
Daryl Rosser: I know the feeling.
Armando Saenz: Yeah but on average, you know. But its standard work week man, you know. That’s about what I do pretty much, play with the kids or something. I’ll just take some time and just do that.
Daryl Rosser: So most of your time is on like the scaling aspect. So … How much is actually management? So the idea is, if you wanted to work less and you don’t, you want to grow bigger but, if you wanted to work less, how many hours like, if you had to have a minimum would it have to be? Like just the manage it and keep your thing running smoothly?
The Work Life and Team Behind Running a Client Business Pulling These Numbers
Armando Saenz: … Just management for me, I probably spend a good 20 to 30 hours just in management. The reason for that is because you can’t be completely hands off your business. You have to know everything that’s happening at all times because if you don’t its a good chance that your employees or somebody else is just gonna run it to the ground. You have to keep a close eye on it.
Ill tell you how I have things structured. The very first VA that I hired I kept was part time. He may not have a good relationship, the key is, treat them like human beings because they are human beings. They have families, they have kids that want to go to school, they want to feel like they’re part of the team too. They’re not just some robot that’s doing some random tasks. They’re a piece of your business. So Paul, my main VA, he moved up one tier. You know I said “I’m gonna hire somebody else but now I’m gonna pay you more and give you a raise. You move to almost a supervisory role where your overseeing the other person. And I’m gonna hand tasks to you and then you delegate to this person based on their skillset and I expect the feedback loop from you. I expect you every day to give me a report on you and what this persons done, how you feel things can be done differently, etc.
And then I hired one more person to be under Paul. So Paul and then two people, so three right? Me and Paul communicate pretty much daily, the others have a direct line to me but Paul is essentially responsible for these other two guys. And if they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do, then not only is their job at jeopardy, but Paul’s jobs at jeopardy.
Daryl Rosser: Okay yeah.
Armando Saenz: So it’s a lot of checks and balances right? And him and I actually spend a lot training him and developing him and he really understands my business is a part of his business. Every project that we finish on time, it can deliver great results. I give him a bonus you know, I make sure there’s a bonus structure. He’s, you know, I give him paid holiday, I give him paid vacation time. He gets paid time off. He doesn’t have to tell me he’s sick and lie. He just needs to tell he wants to take a day off with his family or whatever. He gets vacation time. Everything that you would get in a normal U.S. job …. That he gets, you know?
Daryl Rosser: That’s so huge that a lot people have problems with VA’s and you look at how they’re managing them and there is like you said, like a robot like, need to work eight hours a day, not allowed to have a minute break. Like you have to check in the whole and making sure that they’re doing something. And just like not allowed sick days or anything like, nothing that you expect in a normal job.
And when you add that you I think you get that level, like they respect you and like you and they work better because of it.
Armando Saenz: Yeah it’s hard to, they don’t want to lose that gig but they also, they’re part of the team and they understand how things work and you get so much more production out of them because not only are they learning something but they feel appreciated right? And everybody wants to feel that no matter who they are, they want to feel appreciated. And that’s how I treat my team and it’s skill-ability is huge. I don’t make him clock in and out, you know, he’s gonna get paid a salary. He knows that he’s gotta work eight hours a day and maybe the job we’re doing maybe it only requires him for to do four hours a day, he’s still gonna get paid eight hours a day.
My thing is making sure that the highest quality level of work is completed within a given timeframe and then if he could get that done in one hour and seven hours you’re playing Xbox, than that’s more power to you.
Daryl Rosser: I have the exact same approach, yeah. Awesome.
So I know you’re in some pretty awesome niches these days. Like really high end luxury type stuff. And one of the questions that I have is like, how do they get into higher end stuff? Like I’m not gonna name niches, you can name whatever you want but how do they get into the super high end stuff?
Armando Saenz: Well focus on what you want right? You can’t be the guy that works on jets and does jet marketing and then be the same guy that works on a pizza shop. There’s no skin to go with that, there’s no respect right? There’s no repertoire right? How can you go from one to the other. So focus on what you want and then you need to go after it by doing different things. You got to position yourself as the expert in that vertical but what does that exactly means?
For me, I did talks like, with these doctors I’ll tell you, you know. I go to one of them and I say “Hey, you know. Can I come speak to you guys about this stuff? I’m not gonna sell you, I just wanna show you how can get this, a better grip on what you’ve got going on.” And I give talks to them, and you know, I have mixers, I have lunch and learns where they could come in and you know, I buy lunch for everybody but it’d be ten or five doctors sometimes in one room. And I start talking to them about the local disability aspect, talking to them about how they can get their patient reviews up, just giving em’, everything I would normally do I tell em’. This is what you need to do, here’s how you do it, you know, and then I continue to do it again.
Initially like you, I did some of this for you. I did a lot of direct mail you know? And I targeted those, a lot of very higher niches with that, a lot direct mail and direct mail campaigns to those verticals and I just kept going. I didn’t stop because somebody said no or because didn’t answer the door. I just kept going. I made a lot of video reviews, some of em’ which never got viewed. Others got views a whole bunch of times. People contacted me and I followed up and I followed up and eventually, you know, it takes one person to open that door and say “Yeah man. We looked at your stuff, we’re impressed, let’s get the ball rollin ’cause after you do that you understand that business so well, the next guy is gonna be much easier.
Initially when I went after, and I’ll tell you, I went after a new generation for private jets … I didn’t know the difference between what I was doing. I didn’t know what I was doing. I walked into this meeting and I had done all my research and I was ready to like answer that they had about this vertical and then I started talking this thing and then 15 minutes in, the guy tells me “That’s great. You seem to know your stuff. However, we don’t actually do jet charters. We do fractional jet ownership.” And I was like “Uhhhh. Awesome.” I had no idea what that is. And I learned a lot from that, I don’t know as much as I thought I needed. But it gave me an opportunity to sort of learn that vertical and just pound it into em’.
So focus and just keep going after those things in different ways. Not just. These guys are not gonna pick up the phone man. You can’t just call these guy and say “Hello let me speak to CEO of this company.” And you can expect him to pick up the phone. You have to go through the chains and sort of stumble a little bit before you get to that right person.
Daryl Rosser: That’s really good advice. Especially about when you get a client, that’s the easiest way to learn a business inside out which is another reason why sticking to that one niche is a good idea. Like once you have that client, you know that business, everything about it because you actually put time into studying it and learning about it so you can get them the best results. You can get them.
Let’s see what other questions I have, people asked … People are curious I guess. When you take on a client and you take on different types, so I will say monthly reoccurring because it’s the most popular but, honestly the advice you gave earlier adding setup fees, like one time office, is really awesome. I think people should start doing that.
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But say on like a reoccurring monthly client. What sort of margins do you get in terms of like what’s your expenses averagely and what’s your profits before tax and all that sorta stuff.
Armando Saenz: Yeah so typically I allow between 20 to 30 percent for every project for fulfilment. So automatically in my head, I’m like “Okay. It’s gonna be what.” Let’s say all things being equal and nothing else as far as expenses goes, the fulfilment at 20 30 percent, you’re looking at about 70 to 90 percent profit margin. It seem ridiculously crazy right? Seems like-
Daryl Rosser: To newer businesses it’s insane
Armando Saenz: It is right? But Paul, my VA, I pay him $500 a month okay? So $500 a month and I pay my other two around $350 per month a piece. They’re both full times, full time employees. So if I take on a client that is let’s say $3800 onetime fee, those guys can literally do everything on the fulfillment end for that price. That’s less than 20 to 30 percent of that. Or just about, more or less. Right? If you think about it. So that’s on the fulfillment side but then I have things like cell phone right? I have a cell phone to pay which is $150 bucks a month. I have … I don’t have an office.
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I used to have an office. I used to, I rented an executive suite and then I realized “Wow this is so stupid.” Like after six months of paying the rent there I thought “This is so stupid. Nobody comes here. This is just for me to say that I have a damn suite.” I meet all my people at Starbucks. This is just the dumbest thing I ever did so I cancelled that. So I don’t have, most of the time I’m working from my home office which is, you can see where I’m at … It’s very, it’s my garage actually that I turned into my home office because I never park my cars in here so I turned into a home office and decked it all out.
So every month I have cell phone bill, I have hosting for like BPN’s and that sort stuff which can add up but that’s split among different clients. So on average I’m taking, add another 10% to that so I’m taking about 40% profit. A 40% profit from my business for anything that I could make gross.
Daryl Rosser: Awesome. Yeah that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s pretty universal, you look at most SEO’s like client SEO’s that doing pretty similar percentages as that.
Awesome. So we’re already like ten minutes over, I think more, but two more questions then. So client acquisition. You say you spend most of your time on client acquisition now. So if you could give yourself some advice or someone that’s just starting out, you yourself when you have been like struggling and stuff. What would you focus on in terms of client acquisition these days? Just like the main thing.
Armando Saenz: The main thing is gonna be sticking out from noise. And I know that sounds cliché, people say “Oh you gotta be different, you gotta be different.” But how are you gonna be different? Stick out from the noise. So in other words if you’re gonna be sending video audits, don’t, think about a little about how you’re gonna construct that email and what you’re gonna offer. But calling. Go for people who may have certain types of clienteles already established. So if you’re gonna go after let’s say, if you are the kind guy that wants to go after everything maybe going after a web design agency who doesn’t really offer SEO or who has a weakest skill point. Go after that because they already have clients they can feed you.
If you’re gonna do video marketing a foot in the door. Go after a videographer or photographer that may have already some clients that would may feed you right? And don’t be afraid to call these people and reach out to them and invite them to lunch. Don’t be afraid to knock on their door four five times. Don’t go selling something the very first time and expect someone to give you money. Fine, but probably not gonna buy from you if you go selling something the very first time.
Get to know who they are because you may not, it may turn out their assholes, and you may not want to work with them. So go after what you want but be a little bit different. Like you can contact associations, you can contact different groups and give talks to these people and actually get physical people there in the room. When I did the chat for these doctors and I keep using them as an example, gave a chat about local disability and I said “Hey. This is what you need to work on, this is what thing are important, this is how you stop your competition.” And then when things were over I said “Hey, by the way. Not that I’m trying to sell you anything ’cause I really don’t, I’m not, I’m just here educating you but have link and if you go to that link you can actually plug in your business information and if you want, you can kind of get a snap shot of what the landscape looks like for your practice. And then you can take that and do all the work yourself.”
And that was great because people did it and they came back and they said “Oh this is great but I’m never gonna do this myself. Can you help me with it?” “Sure if you really want me to, id be more than happy to help you.” But that was kinda the hook right? And you can have people come and get it all types of things. You can go to church events and do it. You can talk to local businesses and associations and do it. You can meet up at restaurants and do it. You can do all kinds of things to get in front of these high end clients. Nobody’s going to give you money, especially that kinda money without shaking your hand or at least kinda getting to know who you are, whether it’s video or whatnot. They want to know who their dealing with up front in order to do that.
That could be a phone call but it maybe a series of phone calls and one things is important to know that, the bigger the deal, the longer the sell cycle at times is gonna be so you have to understand that. Corporate, they only take months sometimes up to years to close where smaller deals where you’re dealing with the decision maker and there’s no red tape might be less. So certain companies you might go after. After a certain dollar amount that’s gotta go through finance and then finance has to approve it and there’s a cycle that goes through that as opposed to the smaller guy who can write a smaller check.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. That actually comes back to what you were saying earlier which is basically just, initially just focusing on just trying to help them and when you focus just on helping them and not just trying to sell to them, like meeting them the first time is like “Buy my shit.” It’s like “Hey let me help you out a little bit and if you want some more than like we can chat.”
Armando Saenz: Yeah you’re becoming the authority really fast when you’re helping somebody like that. Like I honestly could care less if they buy from or not but I’m gonna give them this help because I honestly feel that it could help em’. But you don’t have to buy from me, you can do it yourself. In fact one of the things that I offer, I think we spoke about this before, is like I tell people “Hey, like I got these two services that are one time services but I’ve got this retainer thing. The difference between the two one-time services are that one, I tell you what to do and you do it yourself and you save the cost of implementation. The other one, I implement it for you.”
It’s the same thing on both except the one I’m charging more for because its my time that I’m taking to implement. The others they can do themselves so there’s no secret out there, there’s no magic pill or magic formula to what I’m doing. Everything is just very systematic.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome. So one final question is, what’s the future looking like for you? So the next 12 months, what’re you looking to do with your agency and you business? Do you have like an exit plan? Like you’re looking to sell it, you’re looking to scale it more, like what’re you looking to do yourself?
Armando Saenz: … Yeah I’m looking. I’m actually, I don’t know if I’m gonna sell it but I do have, I guess if you will, a sort of exit plan. I want to focus more on actually growing a local business and then getting rid of that local business, sort of like a service based business.
If I could do that, if I could take everything that I know and that we know, we know how to basically grow a business from zero to whatever and in no time. So it’s nothing for me to actually grow a service based business and get some people to do the work and then just sell the business back to them and just take percentage of that business.
I think that’s what the next step if gonna be for me. I’m still gonna take on clients obviously but that other step is gonna yield much more of higher field return. I’m moving in a direction of being a business owner and owning these assets as opposed to being the person who’s actually doing the work for you.
Daryl Rosser: It makes sense. And also one of the important things, I can’t remember if you said it on this interview but you definitely said it before is that, when you take on a client you want to almost act like you are the business owner and care it as if you’re the business owner. So when you’re marketing and stuff, it’s not like, I wanted the bare minimum to for what they’re paying me, it’s like, act as if you own the business and you care a lot about it so you’re gonna do everything you possibly can to get them absolute best results. Which allows you in turn to charge a lot more because you have that focus.
Armando Saenz: Yeah absolutely. And they see that. Other business owners see that man, they see that you’re caring for their business and when you have somebody who actually cares for the business just like you do and it’s your baby and somebody comes in, man you know, do this. This is gonna be better than, they’ll do it for you, like, I mean I’ve got clients who I do one time work for and then I’m like “Hey are you reaching out to your people? Like do you have a referral program?” Or no like “You should really do that, like this stuff is gonna kick in but really do that like right now because that’s gonna be key.”
And I’m like “Do you know how to do that?” Some of them will say “Yeah, but I’ve never thought about it.” “Do it because it’s gonna give you more business.” Some will say “No, can you do it for me?” And then, for some, depending on the situation I’ll say it’s pretty easy, you have a list already. You already have like no chip setup or something. I’ll show you how to do it and at no cost. And that goes a really long way because then they recommend new business and they keep coming back for other things because you’ve actually genuinely done something for them that can grow their business.
Daryl Rosser: Exactly. Aright man, were already way over what were supposed to do so. It’s really awesome, you share a lot of great information. I’m sure people will get a lot out of this. Thanks a lot for just coming on the show and being here today. It’s really awesome.
Armando Saenz: Thanks man. No problem.
Daryl Rosser: Aright. Thanks guys for tuning in and I’ll speak to you guys later.