The Importance of Formulating an Action Plan with Stuart Bennett
The Importance of Formulating an Action Plan with Stuart Bennett
Transcription of Episode
[00:00:00] Ryan Chapman: Hey, welcome to another Fix Your Funnel interview. I'm really excited about this one. Stuart and I got to know each other probably on a rocky ground at first because it was a little customer support thing I actually got involved in and we got to figure it out, but one of the things that that has really impressed me about you, Stewart, is your tenacity. If, if I had to use one word to describe you it would be tenacity and I hope you take that as a compliment, but I think that is one of the most important attributes anybody can have in business is the ability to stick to things even in the face of challenges. So the name of your business is K-Plan Automation. Tell me a little bit about, we were talking before we started recording about this, and I thought it was really fascinating. Why is it K-Plan Automation?
Stuart Bennett: Okay. So at the time I started my company last March, Keap just rebranded to Keap, you know, and so the K is for Keap. Yeah. As in the Keap range of products, keap and Infusionsoft. It's a hyphen, and [00:01:00] then you've got plan is in the planning philosophy that we've adopted from Six Division. You know, what you starting off doing things. You know, planning things out before you build and implement and then automation because we use automation to help people run their businesses more efficiently and in a more systemized manner.
Ryan Chapman: Yeah. That's great. I love that. You know, one of the things too, about you, Stuart, is you've been in this industry for a few years now. What is, how many years has it been that you've been working with Infusionsoft?
Stuart Bennett: I started working with Infusionsoft in early May 2009, so that's coming up to nearly nine years.
Ryan Chapman: Wow. How the time flies. Now you got your start in an interesting way you, you were working on a third party support company in the UK, right?
Stuart Bennett: Yes. So back in 2011, I was originally hired by Mark Summers and his company in the UK to provide outsource technical support [00:02:00] services to Infusionsoft because they, they were closed when, you know, most UK businesses wanted to get hold of tech support. So we was providing that for the UK, parts of Europe,and even to Australia.
Ryan Chapman: What's interesting about that Stuart, is that I feel like in order to do customer support, you have to really know a software inside and out, you can't just be a casual user of the software. So that kind of gave you a real advantage in your early years in this industry to get that, you know, solid foundation of what are all the features of Infusionsoft, what are the questions people have and how do I address those? I think though, if someone stops there, they just know the software real well and they're not really great at strategy. But you took the next step in that evolution and you started getting into strategy more. And I liked the way that you referenced a Six Division cause you kinda took something that they were doing right, which was the blueprinting and that, that's kind of part of your process, isn't it?
[00:03:00] Stuart Bennett: Yeah. That is part of our process. So yeah, we, we take the Six Division philosophy of, you know, find out as much as you can about the person's business to begin with. Look at all their processes as they are now. Look at how you can improve them. You know, come up with the minimum viable method for improving them, you know, how to eliminate where possible repetitive human tasks, and then devise a plan that both you and the customer are happy with for the cost that it's going to take to implement it. And once everything's agreed, you've now got a specific strategy to go and build into campaign builder and the software with any specific add on softwares like Fix Your Funnel or, plus this thing you may need. And yeah, you go and build it because if you don't plan out before you start, [00:04:00] what's going to happen is you're going to get carried away and you'll say, right, I've got to, I've done this, this is looks good, but what would be good if we do this, and we add this bit to it, and you get to the point of where my own way may not work because you're making it up as you go along. If you make it up as you go along, you have a tendency to never finish because you never know when you're done and you think well, you could launch this now, but well, what if I do this as well? I could make it even better.
Ryan Chapman: A really important point, Stuart and of all the interviews I've had, I've never had someone bring it up quite in that way. Which is a lot of people have talked about the fact that, you know, people continuing, continue and continue to develop and never launch, right? Never heard that explanation the way you put it there, which I really love is when you have a plan, you know when it's done and when you don't go to freewheeling it, [00:05:00] then you don't know when it's done. You know , you probably don't know this Stuart, but my dad and then my grandfather, and then my great grandfather were all builders, and so they built homes. And in homebuilding you would never think of starting a home without a complete set of plans.
Stuart Bennett: And you always get the architect to design it. And you, you follow the plans.
Ryan Chapman: And you've thought about every question that's going to come up. For the most part, there's a few questions that will come up in the finer details depending because in residential construction you don't tend to to do details on every single thing. You have a pretty good solid plan of, of here's the electrical, there's where the lights are going to go. You know, here's where the outlets should go. Here's where the switches should go. In commercial I know they go even more specific, so they'll have detailed schematics for everything, but in even in residential where it's not that detailed, you still have 20, 30 pages of [00:06:00] plans for every layer of the construction process from, you know, your foundation to your framing, to your plumbing, to your electrical, your insulation, your painting, your drywall, all of it is specked out in the plans. And because of that, the contractor can know when the house is done. I mean, they've done, they've built it like someone like you, you've built a lot of funnels, and so you know when the things should be done, but having that plan makes it so that the client and the contractor can both know, okay, this is how we're going to know when this is finished and when it's finished we should put it live and start letting it do its job. I love that.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah, exactly. And the other thing is, because sometimes some of these funnels require additional elements, like you may need things from Fix Your Funnel, or you might need things from plus this or you know, from other tools out there. Again , if you don't have a plan, how does the customer know what this is going to cost them? Because if you say you've suddenly make it up as you go along, you say, Oh, well the only way to [00:07:00] do this is with Fix Your Funnel and then you think, well, this other thing, but it's in a different tool. So then I've got to pay this other subscription now for this other tool. Whereas if you took some time and planning, you might find that all the features you need are in one tool, but because you weren't planning it out properly in the beginning, you spent the money on several different tools.
Ryan Chapman: That's interesting cause that correlation with home building goes right in there, right? So if you're like, okay, I need to, I need flooring for this room, you go to the person that has the flooring and you talk about all my needs, I need this and this and this, because your plan is already laid that out, right? So I need this, this and this. Can you guys do all that? Oh, you can. Oh, great. Whereas if you don't, if you just kind of shooting from the hip, you don't take that thought to go, okay, here's my checklist of what I'm looking for. Does this tool have it? No, it doesn't. Does this tool have, yes, it does. Okay. That's the tool I need to go with. You can save yourself a lot of time and headache by doing that, so I really appreciate you bringing that up because [00:08:00] I think a lot of people forget that's another benefit of having a plan. And why do you think it is, Stuart? I mean, I have my own thoughts, but why do you think it is that people avoid writing out the plan?
Stuart Bennett: Because maybe they think, well, I just want to get onto the fun part of building, you know what I mean. I want to get this going, you know. Sitting down and thinking about their business in real terms and you know, going through every single process and all that, it's a time consuming process, but it's a time consuming process that's worth it because like I said, it speeds up everything else because once you know what you're doing and have a plan in place, you know, you can get the right people involved for implementing every stage of that plan, get the right tools, you know, it saves you money and it makes the system work better in the long run.
Ryan Chapman: I was recently doing a video on our, one of our new [00:09:00] cheat sheets that we put out, that is called Prospect to Appointment. You know, it's to help people that are trying to sell by appointment or that's a, you know, part of their, their processes. They get appointments. I was about to say, you know, all the, okay, let me just do it. I'll just, you know, I'll just do it. And, and then I stopped. I said, now hold on. There's probably you channeling, you know me channeling you, right? Cause I was like, let me just write up a quick plan first. And I, cause I had started to go down the route of let's just build it and then I said, Nope, Nope. I can see I'm going to get myself into trouble here. Back up. I took about five, 10 minutes to write out the plan. So I just, you know, made a quick list of all the things that I needed. And then I was starting to think about the order. I'm like, Oh, you know what if I did all my tag creation first, but I can't do that until I have my questions laid out because our flow is, you know, text them to an assessment, have them go through some survey questions, then present them a link to set an appointment or a calendar. They set the appointment and [00:10:00] then boom, we're good to go. And then it's just followup to get them to show up at the appointment. But, I realized, Oh, the first thing I really have to do, and this is the first thing I'd have to teach people to do, is come up with all your questions and answers and then decide what your tags are going to be with those answers so that you can do all that in the very first stage. And if I said oh yeah, go to your tags first and then I was like, Oh no, you've got to do your questions first, it would've been all backwards. So by doing the plan, it helped me to get all my order right. So it's a very efficient, so instead of it being like a 30 minute project going back and forth everywhere, it ended up being a five minute implementation because I took 10 minutes to think about all the pieces. So I can testify to what you're saying that if you just take... Whatever time you take in planning is actually going to reduce your implementation. It's also going to do the other benefit you talked about and helping you to know when you're done so you can go ahead and launch and everything's going to be well thought out, so you're not going to be creating any holes. [00:11:00] So I love that approach, that philosophy. That's great Stuart. Thank you for sharing that.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah, not a problem. And it helps me in a way because my main clients for business we do do some stuff in Infusionsoft for them, but a lot of the stuff we do now is over the last five years, we've built a little mini sites in their, in their WordPress installation. Because it started with a need of, Infusionsoft's reporting was really, really basic and wasn't really pushing out the data that they needed reporting wise. So we just, we got a developer in to help us build some reporting systems for them and, you know, for the API and that site has just evolved from basic reporting into some pretty fancy stuff like an ambassador control panel and, you know, being able to put loads of information cause they, you know, they've got a very complicated membership system where you've got different tiers of memberships, different entitlements [00:12:00] on each membership level, and for example, with the way that they need to exceed, they'd have to exceed if you were doing this in Infusionsoft, the a hundred limit custom fields. Whereas the way we do it with the programming, et cetera, API development, is an ultimate member who can attend like 12 events a month on their membership, can have about their normal membership record plus about another 12 contact records in Infusionsoft to cover their other 12 event bookings. But, you don't see that from the end user perspective, it's all hidden by this front-end interface that we've used.
Ryan Chapman: Your getting into too is one of the great benefits that Infusionsoft by Keap brings, which is this ability to extend the functionality. They have a really... I, I actually enjoyed their API quite a bit, and I think it's a great way to be able to customize it as the business matures, a lot of these baseline [00:13:00] tools that Infusionsoft offers. So I think that's really cool that you guys did that.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah. So where, where this helps me, this planning interface, is that, I know in my head when I'm looking at, you know, the client comes to me and says, I've got this particular needs that I need added to the system and I'll be able to tell them, okay, this is the parts that I need to do inside Infusionsoft to make this work. This is the parts that our developer in Bangladesh needs to do in the API to make it work. This is how I will trigger the stuff he's doing in the API. This is how he will trigger stuff back in Infusionsoft. This is how it all goes together. I get costs from him and pass them on to the client. I tell him, tell him what my costs will be for my side of it, and they come into it, you know, they know exactly what's going to happen in detail, how all the little parts fit together and what the costs for both the Infusionsoft side of things and the development side of [00:14:00] things are going to do.
Ryan Chapman: See and it's gotta be nice for your clients to have you because you organize it so well. Do you feel like, you know, one thing that people may not know about Stuart that, that I know is that Stuart is visually impaired. Now he's still able to get inside of Infusionsoft and and do all this work, but you're doing it with that hurdle of visual impairment that you have to leap over. I feel like that has developed within you this tenacity. You know that the word I use to describe you in the beginning, because you have not given into the challenge and said, well, because the challenge, I can't do anything. You said, no, I'm going to do whatever I want in spite of the challenge and I feel like that that is demonstrated in your approach to everything is just your ability to not only see what the problem is through a different perspective, but also your, your certainty that there's a way to [00:15:00] overcome that and get to what you want, no matter what the obstacle may be.
Stuart Bennett: Yes, definitely. Cause I mean, I use a higher screen resolution. I use some screen magnification software and a colored mouse pointer. And actually the colored mouse pointer has a secondary benefit, not only just to help me see the mouse on the screen to have a large colored mouse pointer, but if I'm doing a screen-share on Zoom with a client. And I'm teaching them how to do something or demonstrating how to do something, it shows up a hell of a lot better if it's large and purple. You know, large and green rather than the basic white one that's gets lost in the mix of a normal screen.
Ryan Chapman: I'm always shaking my mouse to try and find it.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah, exactly.
Ryan Chapman: Well, that's great. That's great Stuart. You know I think that, you know, one of the things I get out of this whole discussion, that's the biggest [00:16:00] deal is the, the value and importance of making that plan before you start working. I mean, I don't think there's anybody that would really debate with you on the value of that. But so few of us actually do it on a regular basis. How did you develop that habit? I mean, obviously you, you credit Six Division with giving you that, that idea, but you've made it a part of your process and I think there's a lot of people that know the idea, but they don't make it part of the process. How did you get it? Or are you even aware of how you made this such a part of your process?
Stuart Bennett: Well, I attended one of their webinars where they, where they showed this approach, and I thought, you know, this is a fantastic idea, and it was right about the time we were starting to do our consultant, you know, couple of days before the initial demo with our businesses to show them our systems. And I thought well, actually, we need to use this. This is how we're going to plan things out properly [00:17:00] from the, from the start. And when I look, because they'd already built some of their campaigns themselves , I had to learn all of their campaigns as they were at the time. And then, you know, work out, how am I going to make these better? And, and improve upon them from, you know, and, and fix the holes in the leaky bucket. You know, cause at the time, the way their system was designed is that someone could sign up for a free guest pass, but then I'm up for sale cause I could sign up for it again and still and still get it for free. You know, we wouldn't detect that they was abusing the system, whereas, you know, I found ways to improve upon that, you know, there was an initial system I built to deal with it in the early days and then and deal with date selection for all these different groups, which involved multiple campaigns and having the dates in [00:18:00] different forms in campaign builder eventually outsource that to a very intelligent API based form that can... Yeah. That you hold the dates in a separate SQL database in WordPress and based on what group name is passed to it, it works out what dates are available and you pick from, from that.
Ryan Chapman: Similar with our first company, we did a training company. We always had like, you know, 15 trainings on the, on the horizon. And so we'd have to use a number of different factors and pull from SQL, you know, my, my SQL database, you know, that custom information, merge that into the form. That way we could reduce the amount of stuff that we had to do with Infusionsoft, and it was, it worked really well for us too. You know, that just shows me the level of thought and also your awareness of the options, which increases your value to the marketplace. [00:19:00] Because a lot of lot of people don't, aren't aware of the options that the API brings to the table to do some enhancements for not very much money, right?
Stuart Bennett: Yeah, exactly.
Ryan Chapman: They create a much more dynamic system that can just work much better with less weight on Infusionsoft cause I think a lot of people throw too much weight on Infusionsoft to try and make it do some of the things that they want to do where it can be a lot simpler if they just passed one little piece out to a little custom development and having that person that you work with that you know how to communicate with, you know what they can and can't do. I think that adds to your value to the marketplace. So have you found that to be true?
Stuart Bennett: Yeah, I, I do think so. Yeah. And going back to the thing I was saying earlier about the different tools you've got, you know, we, for business use, Fix Your Funnel for their text messaging. That's the main thing we use. [00:20:00] The logic links we use, we use PlusThis SmartLinks because they have things like in order to test if someone's a member, you've got to see, do they have a person type of member? Is their membership status set to active, etc.? You know, do they have certain tags...
Ryan Chapman: Or advanced stuff.
Stuart Bennett: And you know, Fix Your Funnel logic links. While it's a great tool, it only works mainly on tags. It doesn't do all this complicated. If this, and this if not, test for that. That kind of thing you get with the PlusThis system. So there was more complexity in one tool offered then, you know, you could get in...
Ryan Chapman: No, but that's important. So what you do is you evaluate what are the needs that we have ahead of time so that you're not trying different tools you already are familiar with what are [00:21:00] the strengths and weakness of each one. And so you can pick the right tool for the right problem. And the reality is, is that if your business is making any money, you may need a couple of tools, and that's okay because the cost will be crated, you know, offset with the value created for the business and its ability to automate these key processes that humans normally would mess up.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah, and I've experimented with, you know, the funnel bots and the logic links and all that in your tool. I've experimented with things in PlusThis. Yeah. I'm familiar with all of the strengths and weaknesses of the main few tools that are out there for these things.
Ryan Chapman: It helps you to be aware, you know, as a contractor too, you know, if you're building a home, you want a contractor that's familiar with all the different materials and their strengths and weaknesses, so that as the client comes to them and says, Hey, here's what I want to accomplish. They're not having to worry about how that's going to happen. They know that Stuart, as the contractor is familiar with all the tools and he'll figure [00:22:00] out the right combination to make what they want to have happen, happen and not let them worry about getting tied up in those details.
Stuart Bennett: Exactly. It saves the client having to worry about, have all that stress. You know, you've got an expert here who knows the whole system, front foot, backwards inside out. You know, they know every tool. Every setting. Which is great. The only danger with the way obviously that I know everything, is that you know, someone obviously is going to have to read through all the documentation and if I ever got hit by a bus or died or went into a coma or something, someone's got to read through this documentation to get caught up with our vincades where, you know, because I've designed everything myself, I know all the systems from memory.
Ryan Chapman: Yeah. Well, but you do, you do create plans for your clients, which can help them, [00:23:00] orient them.
Stuart Bennett: So you know, we do have the redundancy of it's all documented so, you know, that's the other reason for making the plan and documenting everything is if someone does get hit by a bus who's key to knowing everything someone can take over.
Ryan Chapman: Or they want to go on vacation or you know, something comes up that's really important that they need to step away to. I mean that's, that's always, and I'm glad you bring that up cause that's always something that in my business I'm always doing is saying, okay, do we have cross training? Do we have redundancy? Do we have a backup plan? Because the reality is, is that in a business are a bunch of humans and humans are prone to change, that's one of our benefits as well as something that can be annoying for people. But because of that tendency to change, we also have things that will change in terms of priorities. And so I know that at any point in time, a member of my team could come and say, you know what? I decided to go a different direction in my life. I've enjoyed working here. It's been great, but I'm going to go a different direction. And so you always have to plan for that in any business. And I think when you, [00:24:00] when you do things the way that you've talked about where you're documenting things, where you make sure everybody's clear on the flow of this, of the data and the process. Everybody wins in the business because now as long as you stay there, it's, your job is easier for you cause you know where all the pieces are and we want to enhance or modify something, you know, the, the ramifications. And if you know, for some reason we want to move on, we can do that and everybody will be okay. And I think that's a very, not only intelligent, but very responsible way of approaching this whole thing.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah. And it's not only redundancy for like if something happened to me and I needed to leave, someone could take over. But it's also a case of the client's employees. If you know a new employee, he's onboarded and someone left and they were placed with an employee. They've got all the documentation on all their processes and how things work. So essentially an all purpose training manual for the new employee to get them up to speed very quickly.
Ryan Chapman: That's a really great point. It really enhances the [00:25:00] value of the business as well, if the business were ever wanting to sell because it's, it's a self contained unit, right?
Stuart Bennett: I was saying my client was, a year ago, looking at starting to go down the franchise route. Yeah. Franchising out into 12 countries. Now, they had some problems getting some franchisees, you know, people to take, buy out the franchisees and run them in other countries. So they have, you know, in the last year, made the decision to run everything from the, from the UK for the one Infusionsoft app. One set of tools. So it's running all the data, you know, they've got some groups in Denver launching some in Florida.
Ryan Chapman: On that note Stuart, what I've seen too is I've seen some franchises that were having inconsistent results with their franchisees. And then they moved to hiring somebody like you to [00:26:00] manage all the franchisees. And so like, one of our, one of our clients that uses Fix Your Funnel as well as Infusionsoft. He runs a hundred franchisees businesses through each of their individual Infusionsoft's because in that case they wanted that privacy of their stuff, but he runs all of their, their businesses cause he knows, you know, what each of them needs, and if he had a, you know, I'm assuming he's got a plan, sort of like you do, but with your kind of situation, you'd be great to run a franchises organization. And run all the, the automation for the franchisees because of your approach.
Stuart Bennett: Exactly. I mean, if you think of successful franchisees like Burger King and McDonald's, you've got these things all around the world in every country. And one of the things about franchise is, when you decide to buy into the franchise and set up your own McDonald's store, you know, you're a McDonald's restaurant in your local high street, you have to [00:27:00] wear their uniform. You have to use their recipes. You have to spec the store out, you know, with their designs and their things, and you have to sign up to a obeying their processes, their health and safety rules, everything.
Ryan Chapman: Would you belive that I went and ate at a McDonald's across the street from Ramsey's temple in Egypt, and it was you almost couldn't tell that you were in a different country other than, you know, they had the different languages on, on the wrappers, but if it weren't that, you almost couldn't tell it was run very similar to how you'd find it in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah. I mean, I've eaten in Burger King in the UK, I've eaten Burger King in Spain, and again, it's the same. It's tastes exactly the same. It's all the same stuff. Yeah. You've got the different languages to, you know, to cater for the fact that they speak a different language in Spain to what they do in the UK. But like you said, otherwise, it's exactly [00:28:00] the same. Both pitched out the same, same sort of branding. It's all exactly the same. And you know, this is one of the things that Sam Carpenter from work, the System Academy, teaches you to document your whole business, everything you know, your mission statement, everything. So your whole business is fully documented and like you say, it can be sold onto someone else. You can franchise it, you know, everything is documented that you can copy that business and make it, replicate it successfully all over the world.
Ryan Chapman: Well, I will tell you this though Stuart, it's a very daunting thought for any business owner to start doing that. But if they had somebody like you, it would make their job a lot easier because you're, it's not something you even think twice about. It's part of your DNA. Stuart, this has been a fantastic conversation. I'm so glad that you were willing to join me on the podcast today. If somebody wanted to get ahold of you, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you?
[00:29:00] Stuart Bennett: Okay. So the best way to reach out to me is via email. It's Stuart, which is [email protected]
Ryan Chapman: Great. Oh, I love that email too. That's a great email address. Thanks so much too. It's really been a pleasure. Appreciate you. Appreciate all your work that you do for people in the community. And, just your tenacity. It's a good example to all of us of how we can do better at you know, not letting hurdles become roadblocks, but just seeing them for what they are is just things to overcome and, and just to make life successful.
Stuart Bennett: Yeah. Thank you for having me. You know, I look forward to, you know, any business that comes on from this. And like you say, yeah, this is perfect for franchisees. If there's any franchise owners listening to this who want my advice on how to, do things, I'm happy to work [00:30:00] with you guys.
Ryan Chapman: Okay, fantastic.