This week, my assistant almost cost me $5,000 because of a simple mistake.
As part of my advisory retainers, I provide access to my list of implementation specialists (designers, developers, writers, etc.) to do the implementation work.
Usually, it’s a direct referral. I don’t middleman the transaction nor mark up anyone’s time, I just make the intro.
But there’s on exception. My web developer in the Philippines—whom I have worked with for going on seven years and is amazing—does not take on new direct clients anymore.
However, he will do work for my clients if I pay him directly and invoice the client myself. So, if you’re on an advisory retainer with me, I offer access to his services at direct cost. It’s a flow-through expense.
Anyway, he worked on a big project and invoiced $6,000 for that work, inclusive of some other client work he performed. My assistant, for some reason, didn’t bill my advisory client the $5k, thinking it was going to be handled elsewhere.
A complete oversight, but it happens. I caught it, which is the main thing.
But rather than asking her to be more dilligent next time, I asked her to update the system we use to handle this stuff. I asked her to write down a new process in our Systems Document to prevent this from inadvertently happening again.
We decided that before paying the developer, my admin would create invoices for all the clients who had to be invoiced. She would then check to make sure the invoices matched up with the amount we were paying out.
Once all the hours were accounted for, and the totals added up, she could then remit payment to the developer.
This didn’t delay his payment in any way. I always pay promptly. But what it did do was ensure my revenue was secured to offset the accrued costs—before paying those expenses.
Sometimes, making a mistake and learning from it is sufficient. But if you document all of your recurring tasks and fix the system, it solves it at the root level and is more likely to prevent it from happening again.
The takeaway: fix the system, don’t reprimand the person.
But have the system in the first place—whether for your admin work or your clients marketing program.
Learn more about how I create systemization in my advisory engagements in the Mindshare community.