Do you want to be known as someone who provides the best results and client experience? Of course, you do! In the quest to reach that goal, however, it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of overdelivering, which can quickly create chaos in your business. Overdelivering dilutes your expertise and your messaging. In this episode, we give you some questions to ask yourself when you find you're giving too much. These questions help you identify why you're falling into this trap.
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[01:05] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Have you heard the axiom that you should always underpromise and over-deliver? Well, there's a fine line between overdelivering to give a great client experience compared with overdelivering in a way that undermines your time, energy, and profitability. As entrepreneurs, we can get shiny object syndrome about what to help our clients with, and that happens because of a lack of boundaries.
[01:32] Deirdre Harter: Let's talk a little bit about what does that look like when we say a lack of boundaries, especially when it comes to serving our clients. We know we have boundaries in all different areas of our lives, but I don't think we take the time to think about the fact that we need to have some boundaries in serving our clients, and we're not talking about the relationship with our clients. That's a different kind of boundary.
What we're really talking about here is this boundary of when you're having a hard time drawing a line in the sand regarding your role and responsibilities, where do they begin and where do they end in regard to the service that you're providing to your clients? And I think that this is an issue that service providers—especially women—have some trouble with.
Many of us can help people in many different ways because we are multitalented individuals. But in order to create sustainable profitability in our businesses and in order to protect our time and our energy, we've got to set some clear boundaries for ourselves on what we will and won't do for our clients.
[02:43] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: It can be really hard—especially as women. I think we want to do everything for everyone. We get used to that role early on. By the time we've reached midlife and beyond, it's really ingrained. But instead of doing everything you “could” do, you have the ability to refer your client to other professionals instead of taking on extra work outside of your expertise.
So what we're talking about here is you offer a service to your client, and we want to make sure that we have a boundary for ourselves that clearly defines where our scope of service ends a lot of times—and Deirdre, I know that we've seen this with our clients as well—we can see that a client needs more than what we're contracted to offer. And it's easy for a lot of women, I think, to get caught up in, well, I know how to do that thing to help them, so I'm just going to do it.
And this is what we're talking about when we're talking about overdelivering: We want to make sure that we're delivering on our service, not looking at someone's entire business and saying, I do this one piece. Let's just use a graphic designer for example. You're a graphic designer, and so you do the graphic design, but then you see that they don't have an accounting system set up, and they don't have their email system set up. And you have skills around those things, and you think, well, maybe I'll just add an addendum to the contract, and I could add that on. That's not staying within your expertise, and it's blurring the boundaries.
There are no boundaries when you decide that you're going to try to help with all those things. And even if you get paid for doing that extra thing, if it's outside of your focus expertise, it's not worth it because it creates chaos and it eliminates your leverage of systems and efficiencies. And just because you can do something does not mean that you should. That's what we really want to get across here.
[04:35] Deirdre Harter: I had to learn this lesson, Carmen. I had to practice it because of the fact that for so many years, I prepared tax returns. So, as a business strategist, there's always an opportunity and always someone who says, I'm really far behind on my taxes. In our coaching program, even though we give a lot of financially-based advice and systems that we can help put in place, preparing someone's tax return is just not in the area of services that I want to provide. And I could do it for sure, but I know that that's going beyond the scope of what it is that we offer, which is business strategy and coaching.
[05:18] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, and the same for me. I know tech, and I know learning platforms and websites and all those kinds of things. And not that I would ever say I'm going to put together a website, but I could certainly help someone with that, but I don't. And it feels so liberating to know where that boundary is and then to be able to refer to other fantastic female entrepreneurs who are part of our collaboration partnership referral network, and knowing that we can refer our clients to someone else who is a quality person, that's their focus.
I think that's another piece of this, is we have our focus, and other people have their focus. And when you're trying to do everything, you're just blurring those lines. And that's what we mean by the boundaries aspect.
[06:01] Deirdre Harter: Exactly. And we're using an example here of the business-to-business space, but this can work no matter what kind of service you provide.
I know I've seen a lot of coaches, especially coaches, where when you define what you're coaching on, a lot of times we try to bring in other pieces and parts because a lot of times people have problems in different areas. It's more than just one. And the other problem with doing this is that instead of becoming a specialist, we become a generalist. And part of the problem with that is that if we never develop our skills to that master or specialist level, then we really dilute the impact we have. And that actually kind of does the opposite of what we really want for our clients.
We want our clients to have an amazing experience with us. We want a transformation to happen. But if we are diluting ourselves by overdilivering, we never get to that level of mastery that we really need to deliver the ultimate transformation.
[07:12] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Definitely.
[07:13] Deirdre Harter: Another part of this, Carmen, is in addition to diluting the impact, this also can dilute what we can charge. And I don't think business owners think about this either because when you're a specialist in a certain area, when you are the go-to gal for a certain thing that commands a higher price because someone wants to work with the go-to person. Again, we can never get to that if we're doing too many things and saying, oh yes, I can do that for you. Oh yes, I can do that for you.
In order to be charging what our value is, there's a perception of value. And part of that perception is being a specialist. So, for example, when you go to your family doctor—we all have to start there generally, right? We go to the doctor, and they say, oh well, you've got this skin condition that's going to require a dermatologist. I'm going to have to send you to a specialist.
Well, I know I have to pay more if I go to a specialist as opposed to going to the general doctor, I have to pay more. And the fees are higher for a specialist. And the higher up you go, the more of a specialist you're seeing what happens? The prices continue to go up.
And so it is the same concept. And this is not just all about the money, but I know that pricing can be an issue for a lot of service providers. We're undercharging, and part of that can be this perception that we are not this go-to person and we're not the specialist in what it is that we're serving our clients with.
[08:51] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: It's so much better to simply hone in and narrow down and create a focused specialty. It simplifies on so many different levels, and it creates ease in your business. And we want to talk, too, about this whole specialist piece. We want to talk about mastery.
When we learn a skill, and we have the expertise in something, it means that we have mastered it. And mastery comes from repetition. It comes from doing the thing over and over. And there are different levels of mastery. Sometimes, I think people feel like if they don't have a whole menu of options for people, that it somehow reflects poorly on them. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
You want to be able to offer what you just said, Deirdre, about the specialist. You're the specialist in this one thing. When you go to the doctor, and you have a skin condition, you know the specialist you need is the dermatologist. That's where you go for that. That's his specialty. That's his skill set instead of being the general practitioner.
Mastery comes from mastering the process of one thing, not of adding more and more and more into the mix. And sometimes I think people get caught up in this, and they think, well if I can help them with this, and then I can help them with this, and then I can help them with this, that I'm more valuable. My clients will look at me as having much more knowledge. But you can't create streamlined systems and processes when you keep adding more. And that's such a big key to this. And that also speaks to how much we can charge.
When you're adding thing after thing after thing, you're creating complexities in your business that you don't need to create. When you have one or two—maximum three offers that you do, that you help your clients with, and they could be levels of service, it could be complementary offers. It could be phase one, phase two, phase three, whatever it is. But it all revolves around your specialty. You become the master at this, and that is how you become known for it. And it makes pricing it so much easier.
What happens if you get into a relationship with a client to do—let's talk again about the graphic designer. And so you're doing graphic design for someone, and then they say, oh my gosh, I really like that. Can you help me create my website, or can you just write the copy for me? And I'm sure we all have a certain level of expertise around copywriting, email, marketing, whatever we're doing, but it doesn't mean that we add that onto our services.
You talk about how your graphic design work is helping with the brand. It's helping to elevate this brand and create consistency in the brand. And that's what your specialty is. So that's where you want to stay.
Just because you can do other things doesn't mean that you should. And when you add more on, you can't create systems that you can then rinse-and-repeat. And what we want is systems that we can rinse-and-repeat. When we have one, two, or three offers, we rinse-and-repeat those, and it creates efficiency in our business. And without systems, there are no boundaries. So, all of it works hand in hand.
[11:59] Deirdre Harter: Why do we all get caught up in this overdelivering? And I think all of us do to a certain extent. Well, part of this can happen due to a lack of confidence. And I know many women have told me that they are recovering people pleasers, or maybe they still are. And I know I fall into that camp. I'm a recovering people pleaser. And people pleasing is a sure sign that boundaries are lacking.
In my younger years, I did not understand boundaries, and I definitely didn't have enough in place either in my personal life or in my professional life. And so I've learned what those were.
Another part of this can be that, as women, we often have a caretaker role of some sort in our lives. It is either for our children or it is for aging parents, or sometimes it can even be caretaking of our significant others in certain instances. A lot of times, we bring that caretaker role into our role as a professional. We have to really separate out this caretaker versus the service provider. They are not the same thing. Providing a service is not caretaking. Unless, of course, your business is the business of caretaking. So that's a whole nother issue. But what I'm trying to say is that we don't want to confuse the two, and we don't want to bring that one role in as our professional role in our business.
[13:28] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: I agree. Especially as women, we are caretakers. So it's a natural go-to for us. But it's so liberating when you can create these boundaries and say no. This is where I get to stop now. That's such a great feeling to know that you're responsible only for this certain amount, and then you can pass it on to someone else.
[13:46] Deirdre Harter: That's right. And one question that comes to mind as we're talking here, Carmen, is in order to kind of determine if when you're thinking about adding on services in your business or there are certain things that, yes, we can have what we call the back pocket offer.
So a lot of times we might have an offer. We have our front-facing offers, right? Two or three things. And then, when we're working with clients, there are some things we can have as add-ons for them. And that actually is a good thing. We can add on certain services if they make sense and if they help the overall client experience. But if you are going, well, I'm going to do this for this client, and then I'm going to do this completely, totally different thing for this client. And if they ask me and I see that they need something over here in this other area, well, I can do that too. So I'm just going to help them with it. That's the difference. It's really about are you intentionally putting together a package or are you reacting to the needs of your clients and you feel that you need to provide that for them because you want to caretake for them, right? You want to take care of everything for them. And that is the difference between the two.
Here are some stories you might be telling yourself. If you hear yourself saying or even thinking, “Well, they won't like me if I don't go above and beyond.” And this is probably something that could be subconscious. But we have to ask ourselves why are we adding on this thing? And why are we going way beyond the scope of what we originally intended? What is our motivation behind it? And we have to stop and think about it. What is that? Is it because it's a smart business decision? Or is this really more emotional? And is this because I really want the approval of this client that I'm working with, and I really want them to like me?
[15:37] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, it's so important. And that's why we like focusing on the inside-out approach because until we ask ourselves these questions, we aren't aware it's subconscious. Just like you said, Deirdre, and I think the like factor is a big one, especially for women.
And you can look at this as—especially if you're stepping into that caretaker role in your profession by accident—you can tell yourself this story, “well, I see that they need help, and I can help them, so why wouldn't I?” I mean, we're caretakers. We want to please the people. We want to create a great customer service. But unless it's intentional and strategic, like Deirdre just mentioned, you're just adding things for the sake of adding them. And you need to look at what the reasoning behind it is. The reason that you don't want to do it is because you're adding onto your workload for not much return on your time investment.
When you keep adding things that aren't part of your regular offers, you're creating exponential work for yourself. When you have a specific set of offers, you know exactly what those offers are. That's where that rinse-and-repeat comes in. There is nothing that comes in and muddies the water you do that—and this is including that back pocket offer—and I don't want people to get confused about that because, on one hand, we're saying, don't add more and more and more. But what Deirdre was talking about is if your customer needs a certain service, that is a natural segue to what you already do, and it's something that you can do, like an ascension.
Let's say you have a client, they work with you in their contract, you provide the service, and then you want to continue working with them, and you say, “Well, I can provide this as well.” You have to know what the “this as well” is way ahead of time.
We don't determine that based on what the client asks for. Unless you are doing market research and all of your clients are asking for the same thing, well, then you might consider adding something in. But what we're saying here is not to be reactive, to be proactive. We want to set these things up in the beginning. These are my boundaries. Here are my offers. This is where my responsibility ends. And when you add things that you didn't pre-vet or pre-plan, it creates confusion for you and your client, even though they will be like, oh my goodness, thank you so much. But at the same time, you're sending that signal like, well, I thought she helped with just this one thing. I thought she was just a graphic designer. They might think, well, great, she's doing this thing.
But can you offer copywriting to the same extent and level as someone who focuses solely on copywriting? No, that's what we have to look at as well. If it's within your expertise, great. That could be your back pocket offer, or that could be part of your offer ladder, but that's it. Otherwise, you're just creating scope creep for yourself and extra work for not much in return at all.
[18:35] Deirdre Harter: Here's another story that we might be telling ourselves and believing that if we refer to another expert for the things that we don't do for our clients, then our clients will believe that we don't know enough and they won't value us. And so I think sometimes that's part of it. We are afraid of saying, I can't help you with that, but let me find someone who can help you with that. Or afraid of saying, well, that's not my area of expertise, but I know someone who can help you with that.
So this is something that we have to practice doing again. It's part of that caretaker role, really. We really want to keep them in the fold, right? And take care of everything for them. A lot of times, we look at ourselves as fixers. We want to fix everything. We think our job is to fix everything for our clients that we can possibly conceivably fix. But we have to, again, have those boundaries and know where do we draw the line in the sand? When are we going too far? We want to be able to fix things and help them with things that are within that scope of our expertise.
[19:39] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. And by simplifying, you alleviate the decision fatigue that wondering, should I add this or should I not? Wondering creates frustration, and that just adds to that whole decision-fatigue thing. We don't need more things to contemplate. I don't know anyone who would raise their hands to, yes, give me something else to contemplate.
We need to simplify, and there is so much freedom in simplification. You need to decide what you offer, and that's it. You set the boundaries of where your role and responsibility ends, and you stick to those. It means that you no longer have to waver or ruminate or stress out over what you should or shouldn't do for people. And that's what we want to do here.
The best way to create sustainable profitability is to simplify. And that doesn't mean that what you do is simple necessarily, but it means that you create a process within your business where everything is simple. You've got systems in place. You stick to your expertise, and only your expertise and you run it over and over again. We create rinse-and-repeat that creates sustainable profitability and ease in our business.
[20:50] Deirdre Harter: It does. And it is so true because we cannot have this rinse-and-repeat system when it changes every other client. If we are changing and offering something new every other day, or we're trying to explain how we offer these seven different things for people, it's just very stressful, and it's very confusing for everyone involved. And you cannot possibly have a system around it. And if you can't have a system around it, it means that you cannot ever scale to any other level than right where you are right now.
[21:22] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. That's such a good point, too, that we haven't even covered yet is that scaling piece. Because you don't have—like scaling means climbing, right? It means growing, moving up. You can't move up if you keep moving out. The more we do outwardly, the less we can move up. And that's what scaling is all about. So that's such a good point.
[21:41] Deirdre Harter: One thing we can do here to eliminate or avoid this problem is to accept that what you do is good enough. You don't have to do fifteen things for someone to prove your worth. You do not have to prove your worth at all. The expertise that you have and the service that you're providing is more than enough.
If you ever feel this way, then that's a clear indicator that you need to look at your boundaries and look at your self-worth and how you feel about things. If you feel like I'm a little weak in these areas, then there are lots of programs and books and people that can help you with setting these boundaries. It's important to invest in self-worth activities, those activities that are going to help you really value yourself as the expert that you are.
[22:35] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. The most important aspect of determining what your service boundaries are is that you create clarity in your business and simplification. As we're mentioning, when you have clarity, your marketing is very clear. If someone says, what do you do? You don't have to sit there and go, well, mostly I do this. But then, if you need me to do this, I could do that, and I could add that on. And I could add that on. When you start doing that, it sounds like backtracking and fancy footwork. And you create confusion for not only yourself but the person you're talking to.
When you have that clarity, you're able to say, this is what I do. This is how I help people. When you portray yourself as the generalist, where you're saying, but I could do this, and I could add this, and I could do all that, you dilute your messaging, and you attract the wrong people. We don't want people who are looking for an all-in-one solution for business. There's actually no such thing.
Deirdre and I help with business strategy, and while we cover the business-of-business, we like to say, and we do touch on sales and marketing and all that kind of stuff, but if someone says I need a contract, we don't say, oh, here's a contract. We say, here's where we recommend that you go get that contract. If they say, I need to create a sales page, we say, Oh, here's where we recommend you go to get help with creating a sales page.
We can't possibly do everything. If you think about going to a networking event or something and you're sitting there rattling off fifteen-thousand different ways, you help people, well, people are going to just be like, I don't know what she does, and I can't refer to her. Just as we mentioned earlier, when you're clear, it's easy to refer to you. So clarity for yourself creates clarity for everyone else as well.
[24:17] Deirdre Harter: Being that specialist makes you so much more referable. And no matter what kind of business you have, we all want referrals. We can have the greatest marketing machine in the world, but we all can use those referrals. And we really need a mix of both things. We need those organic leads, and then we need these referrals that are coming in as well.
And the fact that you're known for something, it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you in terms of your marketing, the messaging. It makes it easier for you, first of all, because you're not trying to make all these different little pieces and parts work together to come up with some cohesive message. It just simplifies everything. And then that marketing. It is the same message said in different ways over and over again. And it's kind of like the jingles with commercials, right? When we all used to watch commercials on TV, all the big companies had the little jingles, and we would all learn them and memorize them and run around singing them in our childhood. It was the same thing. It's because it was repetition. And they were specialists. We knew exactly what they were talking about, and we would remember it. And that's the benefit of doing marketing, and having that clear message will do for you.
[25:26] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: We discussed the value of systems because they work, they help create simplicity, and they help you scale, and systems work in all areas of your business. We have a simple three-step marketing framework that we'd like to share with you.
You're cordially invited to join us for our next Marketing Methodology Workshop, where you will begin with the end in mind, learn the ABC method of converting prospects to clients, and build a streamlined, effective, flexible marketing system.
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Register now at encoreempire.com/mmw.