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David C. Baker explains how new business can help account service manage clients well, resulting in lots of money and significant impact on the client. The control comes from your willingness to replace bad clients with clients who are a better fit.Download Podcast
What are the characteristics of a leader that others want to follow?As you’ll soon see, this list is a very personal one. In other words, we’d all come up with different elements when building the list. What I’ve tried to do, though, is to think of a complete leader. So I’ve asked myself this question: can I imagine a leader who isn’t fair, for instance. The answer is obviously no. Each one of these, then, describes a leader’s characteristics, any one of which might hinder their effectiveness if missing in any significant proportion. What I’d encourage you to do--maybe even before you read this list--is to first make up your own list and compare it with mine. (These are not presented in any particular order.)Read More
As you grow, what transitions are useful and even expected? Let’s look at a few that you’ll almost certainly encounter and help you see what might be on the other side of the transition.
One: Hiring for Expertise vs. Money
The first good transition to make is to begin hiring people for their expertise rather than for what they cost you. In the early days, you have a budget and you hire accordingly. You aim for whatever you can get for that price, and that’s the best you can do. There simply isn’t any more money, and expertise takes a back seat to available funds.
Eventually, though, you determine that expertise is more important than money. So you outline what you’re looking for in great detail and you don’t settle for less. You have a budget in mind, but the budget takes a back seat to the requirements for expertise. That means you may bust the budget. But in this scenario, one very qualified person may actually be equally as effective as two less qualified individuals.
Two: From Judging to Shaping
The second good transition to make is to move from judging to shaping the work underneath....Read More
In your mind, list all of the important metrics you'd like to track about your agency. Now tie each metric to one specific gauge and your dashboard might look like a hopelessly complex airplane.
At first glance it can be overwhelming, with so many things to measure that you almost don't know where to start. The key, though, is to make the more important gauges larger and then place them in the center. If we did the same thing with your agency's dashboard, here are the eight gauges we'd see right in the middle so that you never lost sight of how your agency was doing.
Performance No. 1: Billings/FTE
Take all employees (billable or not) and divide that number into your yearly fee base. The average, ordinary firm achieves $116,000 per full-time equivalent employee. The good firm is $160,000; the excellent firm is $220,000; the stellar firm is $275,000. This metric is useful because it concentrates on realized utilization, folds your hourly rate into the mix, and won't let you have a bloated administrative staff. From there...Read More
Positioning decisions probably last longer than most marriages, so let's get it right! Ignoring the dozens of nuances to consider, for a moment, let me help you think through the biggest issue: the pros and cons of positioning your firm vertically or horizontally. I'll start with vertical because the vast majority of firms who are positioned well have a vertical positioning. These are the four advantages of vertical positioning.
First, verticial positioning makes it so much easier to find your prospects. Whether you buy a list of prospects or not, think of it like this: can you buy a list. Conversely, if you cannot buy a list, you are likely going to struggle finding your prospects. That's because your targets don't share sufficient characteristics to be on the radar of the world trying to sell things to them, and from their point of view, their problems aren't so unique that they value working with an agency that specializes in solving them. If you can't buy a list, you are looking for a group of prospects that nobody else thinks is worth tracking.
Second, vertical positioning benefits from decision makers who...Read More
Read Beyond Reluctant Leadership on Medium, published by David C. Baker.Read More
This manual, by David C. Baker, is the compilation of 16 years of analyzing 650+ firms. It contains 270 pages and sample financial statements and utilization forms, all in a handsome looseleaf format for years of use.Read More
This book is intended as a field guide for first time managers, or for managers who want to begin doing a better job. The author worked closely with 650+ companies and interviewed more than 10,000 employees, then summarized the findings in an interesting and imminently readable form. Read this book and you're likely to understand management and leadership like you never have before, but also learn very practical steps toward becoming a better manager.Read More
Edited by Steven Heller and published by Allworth Press, David C. Baker kicked off this book with the opening chapter, entitled "How Hard Can This Be, You Ask?Read More
This monograph, penned at the request of the Counselor’s Academy (a subgroup of the Public Relations Society of America), was written in 2002. From the summary:
“Baker's thesis is that before you can serve clients well, you have to find the right clients, then formalize a relationship with them to set expectations and clarify roles. He stresses the importance of ongoing marketing, describes how to achieve the ideal client mix, lists the elements of a typical client agreement, and presents detailed advice on how to communicate effectively to and on behalf of clients in order to keep them satisfied.”Read More