How to Combat Scope Creep with Jenna Lombardo

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By Ben Robinson. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Jenna used to work as an auditor, but the position involved being surrounded by negative people as well as physical demands that didn’t work with her family’s schedule. After getting denied when she tried to adjust her work schedule, Jenna realized that she should probably venture out on her own. She found the Bookkeeper Business Launch program and once someone she trusted vouched for the content, she signed up.

[5:00] Jenna currently has 10 clients and is not looking to build an empire. She’s pretty happy right now just working with her clients and doing the work, but that may change as her children get older.

[6:40] When Jenna was starting her bookkeeping business, she was looking for someone to handle the tax work, and the person that she previously worked with told her that the bookkeeper for the firm that he worked for had given their notice and they needed to find a new bookkeeper for their clients. Many of the clients that Jenna now has have come through this referral relationship.

[8:20] She also has had some clients come through Facebook. It’s important to not have to rely on a single channel to attract clients into your business.

[9:40] Jenna’s biggest challenge was mindset and the belief that she could do this on her own. She realized that everyone is afraid, but they just do it. That’s the first step in overcoming your fear. A lot of things that we’re taught as children to protect us end up as limiting beliefs that you need to break down or reassess as an adult.

[11:35] Jenna wishes that she realized how much time it would take to get started. A lot of people start a business thinking that it will give them more time, but that’s not true right away. The reverse is the case, you’ll spend more time working in the beginning than you would if you just had a job.

[13:30] Setting limits with clients is one of Jenna’s biggest challenges. She doesn’t want to nickel and dime her clients, but she also doesn’t want to work for free. This is known in the industry as scope creep and is a real problem when you bill a flat fee.

[15:20] Jenna doesn’t have to take on clients to cover her expenses so that puts her in a better position and can really slow down the process of vetting a new client. She can be very methodical in determining what the client wants and what kind of outcomes they are looking for, as well as set expectations for the relationship.

[18:30] One of the great things about becoming a trusted advisor for your clients is that they will come to you when they need something. When they reach out to you, they are probably coming from a positive place, but you still have to be methodical about establishing the scope of the work.

[19:50] The most recent scope creep came in today from a client that wanted Jenna to call a vendor and learn more about a bill. There are a couple of ways to handle this kind of stuff. The first thing is to immediately set the expectation that the task is outside the scope of the work. Send them an invoice for your time and then zero out the amount as a courtesy discount to orient them.

[23:40] Next time a client asks you to do something that happens frequently, you are either going to have to start charging for that or reevaluate the scope of the work you are doing for that client.

[25:35] Be very clear about things that fall outside your engagement and be willing to have that awkward conversation and be honest. Most clients are not intentional about this.They just rely on you as a trusted advisor.

[28:20] Keeping the client informed is very important. Let the client know at the start before it becomes the norm. If you keep them involved, getting paid for additional services won’t be a big deal.

[30:40] A lot of misunderstandings come from not really knowing what the client wanted. This is why the vetting process is so important, so that you can understand your duties and they understand theirs, as well as expectations in general.

[31:45] Scope creep can actually inform services that you can offer to your clients. When it happens often, they are explicitly telling you they need that service and you can create packages around that to offer to other clients.

Mentioned in this episode:

ACE Accountable Bookkeeping

34 episodes