Brian Casel is many things: blogger, podcaster, instructor, and founder of two different agencies. But, first and foremost, he is an organizer, a man who builds processes that keep working even when he takes his hand off the wheel.
In this episode, Casel (who can be contacted on Twitter or via his personal website) gives Inbound Agency Journey the story on how he built up solid, repeatable processes within his two agencies—Restaurant Engine and his current project, Audience Ops—and how he passes that value on to others.
The Captain Jumps Ship
- Restaurant Engine started as a set of tools that would allow restaurant owners to develop their own websites, but soon, restauranteurs were asking Casel to do it for them.
- "Over a period of time it clicked that the done-for-you aspect is the real value prop here." - Casel
- Done-for-you web design was added as an option and eventually became the only option.
- Basically, Casel says, they took the tools they'd designed for the customers and just used them themselves.
- During this time, Casel became interested in productized services and applied that model to every aspect of his business.
- When Casel decided to sell Restaurant Engine, he received three offers within one week.
- The agency's stable revenue model (that emphasized retainers over one-time projects), growth trajectory, and well-defined processes gave buyers confidence that Restaurant Engine wouldn't wither and die without its founder.
- "How can you make the service itself so standardized that you’re focused on just doing one thing and solving one problem for one ideal customer and not doing everything and anything for everyone, which is what most agencies do? Once you get into that mindset, then it becomes much easier to build up those systems." - Casel
- By the time he decided to sell the company, Casel was spending less than three hours per month managing Restaurant Engine's day-to-day operations.
Playing for a new Audience
- Audience Ops is a done-for-you content marketing service for online businesses that provides an end-to-end content marketing strategy, which includes...
- Researching audience and ideal customers
- Writing and editing posts
- Designing custom graphics for each post
- Scheduling posts via WordPress
- Writing and sending an email newsletter
- Queueing social media posts
- Promoting posts
- Audience Ops offers a weekly or semiweekly article package, but other than that the pricing is essentially one size fits all.
- The price includes all of the services listed above. If the client wants to handle one of those elements (Iike social media) on their own, the price still stays the same.
- "My whole philosophy when it comes to pricing for anything is just keep it as simple as possible." - Casel
- This simple pricing model reflects Casel's passion for standardization.
Those Who Can...
- Casel is also committed to passing on his knowledge, through his blog, his Bootstrapped podcast, and his online course, "Productize," which guides students through the process of creating, launching, and sustaining a productized service company like Restaurant Engine or Agency Ops.
- Notable alums of Produtize include Jason Resnick, who grew his revenue tenfold within six months of moving to the productized service model, and Josh Frank, who runs the web consulting agency Test Triggers.
- The course consists of case studies from across the productized services industry as well as the tried and true methods and processes Casel developed at his own companies.
- For those wary of committment, Casel also offers a shorter, crash course version via email.