PREFER TO READ? HERE’S THE TRANSCRIPT OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CINDY FERRIS.
Sylvie: Welcome, everybody. It's Sylvie McCracken from SylvieMcCracken.com. Today I have a very special guest, one of my incredible clients from my Streamline & Scale Program, where I take business owners that are already making money in their business to living with a little more ease and systemizing, creating processes, and outsourcing so that they can scale their business to the next level. Her name is Cindy Ferris, one of faves. Her company is Ray of Sunshine Senior Care in Texas. Welcome, Cindy. Thank you so much for being here.
Cindy: Thank you.
Sylvie: I'm so excited to share Cindy's story with you guys. First of all, what you're going to love about Cindy is that when she shares her wins, she's just very nonchalant and very just modest about her wins. Every time I've asked you for a win Cindy, you're like, “I don't know. I think I had this win.” Then you share something incredible, the most incredible thing I've heard in three months. You're like, “I guess it's okay.” That is one of the things that I absolutely love about you. Thank you so much for being here to share your story, because I think people will find it incredible helpful and incredibly inspiring. Just to jump right in, I just want to ask you, when we first met, when you first came across my Facebook ad, when the Facebook ad gods decided to show you my Facebook ad, what was your situation? What was the biggest struggle for you in your business, at that time?
Cindy: I was essentially working nonstop, seven days a week, sometimes 10 plus hours a day. I really was not getting any results. I mean, we were consistent if that counts for anything, but putting in 70, a few 90 hour weeks, you don't just want to be consistent. You want to be moving forward.
Sylvie: Wow. Yeah, for sure. I know you're in the middle of the office.
Cindy: It's okay.
Sylvie: It's all good. It's real life. It is what it is. Okay, so what were you all doing in those 70 or 90 hours?
Cindy: Well, we were having a lot of heartache over changes. A quick back story. I actually bought a business that had been around for 18 years. They also wanted the business to grow but knew that they did not want to do it themselves. I bought it with the intention of growing it. We had the same staff, some of the same mindsets, and we had a lot of heartache around making changes. We were very slow to make changes. We did not like systems. We did not like accountability. We were a mom and pop shop, and that was the way we should stay, even though we were going to grow.
Sylvie: Right. There was something that wasn't quite matching up there.
Cindy: No. That was why I was working 70 to 90 hours a week and staying in the same place.
Sylvie: Yeah, totally and completely. Your business is not a startup, either. You've been in business for, like you said, two decades, or at least the former owner started it nearly two decades ago. It's a reasonable-sized company, wouldn't you say?
Cindy: Yes, definitely.
Sylvie: I don't know if you care to share kind of a ballpark size of the business, but it's definitely not a startup.
Cindy: No. We have a substantial client load, anywhere from 40 to 50 caregivers, thousands of hours billed out a month and stuff. It's certainly not small by any means.
Sylvie: Right. Also, I remember that when we first talked that even though you're running this fairly large company and working your “patootie” off—the technical term–you weren't necessarily paying yourself that six-figure or multiple six-figure salary that you deserved. Is that right?
Cindy: Correct. As you pointed out for me, I was the unpaid intern.
Sylvie: I don't even remember saying that, but that sounds like me.
Cindy: Yep. I was the unpaid intern in my own business.
Sylvie: I tend to do that, guys. I tend to bring the truth. What can I say? Oh my goodness. The funny thing is, everybody starts their business not making a dollar, but at your level, when you're running this incredible company, for you to be the unpaid intern is just crazy pants, right?
Sylvie: That's incredible. Just in eight weeks alone, you've made such incredible progress. If you had to choose one strategy that you implemented, that kind of made the biggest difference for you, what would that be?
Cindy: It was absolutely controlling my time, tracking my time, seeing exactly where it was going, and guarding it. Everybody has the same 168 hours a week. We bill on that 168 hours per week. I should have thought that we all had that same 168 hours a week, but it was all free. It just didn't count. It was just my time, really didn't make a difference. Now that I guard it, I get things done. I'm productive. I work 40, 50 hours a week. I took all four days off for the 4th of July. Four whole days.
Sylvie: Wow. It's funny because for some people that might not seem as incredible, but knowing where you started, where you were working … It's just crazy to me. You basically reduced your work in half. I was just hoping to reduce your work by 20%. I would have been happy. You know? It's crazy because you took yourself to a normal work week, like a normal human being work week, which is incredible. Not everybody is in that situation, where they're working themselves to the bone. Obviously you, with the sized company and the amount of people that you're managing and whatnot, if you don't have some of these things in place, you will. You'll scale your time like you did, until you absolutely cannot work another hour. That is incredible. I'm so, so proud of you. I didn't even know that you had taken four whole days off. That sounds crazy, knowing you. That is amazing. I'm super, super proud of you for that. I love that you mentioned the time thing. I feel like there's so many strategies that we touch upon in Streamline & Scale. They're all important. I try and keep it to a minimum, actually, and really bring in just the few that are going to make the biggest difference. Y'all don't got time to be implementing 600 things. Really, if there's only one thing that I want people to get, it's that concept of your time is not renewable. It's not coming back. Every single day that expired, yesterday is over. If you can get a handle on that, there's almost nothing you can't do.
Cindy: That is true. That gets you thinking, like you said, strategically, like the CEO, acting like it, actually delegating out to others. I mean, you have to do that if you want to free up your time. It has to be done. I can't be bookkeeper, web master, HR, compliance. We had an audit. The only thing I had to do to get ready for it is sign a few papers. Everyone else took care of it for me.
Cindy: I showed up the day of and…..
Sylvie: Like a boss.
Cindy: Yes, actually.
Sylvie: Literally and figuratively.
Cindy: I didn't stay awake all night for it, worrying about it. It was taken care of. Our numbers, we had pretty much all 100s. The two areas where we had minor dings are the known problem areas in this industry. That clearly shows that, although I'm still getting a lot of the processes written down, that they're in place, they're working. Now we can finalize those, get those on paper so it's easier to distribute out, as we bring on new team members. We're pretty much set. We're actually getting ready to triple our service area.
Sylvie: That's crazy. I don't even know. I'm very seldom speechless, but I'm pretty damn close.
Cindy: I'm pretty surprised in eight weeks. Some of the little things that I rattled off, like we did a 36-page handbook in a week. Those are the things we're doing now.
Sylvie: That's incredible. What I love about this is that it really is kind of this snowball that takes on the life of its own. Once you can get traction, once you can just free up and hour even, it's used strategically and that helps you free up a second hour, and so forth and so on. You finally break that revenue plateau, but in your case, more importantly, kind of the backend of things. Paying yourself better, actually taking some time off, so that you can think strategically. As opposed to just constantly being overwhelmed, overworked, tired, and not being able to do anything other than put out whatever fire is in front of you. It's just incredible. I can't believe that you've done this in eight weeks. I mean, I can hardly wait to see what you do in a year. It's just going to be crazy. Honestly, it's just incredible. You basically went from a 90-hour work week, to what? A 40? Did you say 40-hour work week?
Cindy: 40 to 50 hours.
Sylvie: 40 to 50, okay. Much more reasonable. Half, which is crazy. What I love about that is it's not just about freeing up 40 hours. It's about the fact that those hours that you were there, you're so much more with it. There's no way that you can operate in 90 hours with the same kind of intensity and strategy and wherewithal than when you're only working 45 or 50. It's just not possible.
Cindy: Definitely, yes. Productivity is up. Then the other side of the chart there, I'm more present for family and friends and those after work activities. I still have my phone. That still comes with me, but I did turn off my notifications.
Cindy: I do have it analyzed. I know my top three clients, and they can pretty much reach me all the time. They are a huge chunk of our revenue. We had something come up the other day out at dinner. It took me five minutes to resolve it. That was it. Everything continued on. It wasn't a long drawn out discussion. We knew what the issue was. We knew how to respond, and it was done. It's so much easier. I must say though, getting rid of a staff member, for me at least, was a key item. I know that not everybody needs to make those types of moves, but in my case, I did find out that it was a very positive move. It brought the group together more so. It allowed us to make those changes and stuff. I don't want to just say, “Oh, it was all great. It was all easy, and it's perfect now!” I did have to make those hard decisions.
Sylvie: Tough decisions, absolutely. That's the thing. You're in that path. It's not always picking daisies and unicorns and rainbows. That's what you get. That's the pros and the cons of being the CEO is you have those tough decisions to make. A, what I found in you was that, first of all, once you were alert and awake enough to even be able to make those decisions from not a place of exhaustion but a place of CEO strategy. Once you were able to not only look at the value of your time but the value of every single one of your employee's and contractor's time and say, “Wait a second. What are we doing here? What is your job exactly, and what value are you bringing?” Those are the hard decisions that you need to make as a CEO sometimes. You went in there, and not only did you realize “I think we can actually replace you with an app,” but you executed literally and figuratively I guess, in a way that was really saving your company. It's about not only saving your company in terms of revenue and I guess more importantly in this case expenses, and really looking at that bottom line, that profit. Which is so much more important. Also, like you said, kind of one rotten apple will really mess with the cohesiveness of that company.
Cindy: It really was. It was really dragging us down. Every decision was this long, drawn out process and just had to be analyzed. “No, it wouldn't work because of this and this and this.” Right, not everything is going to work. I'm still tweaking some things. There are some things that might only be at 50%, but you know what? I was at 0% eight weeks ago, so 50% is better than 0%. I'll take that all day long.
Sylvie: Yeah. I love that. I love the way your mindset has grown, too, in just eight weeks, just in terms of the fact that you're even looking at those wins. You're not beating yourself up for the 50% that's missing. You're looking at the 50% that you've accomplished. I have no doubt, because of how I've seen you operate, that you're going to continue to do that. Which is going to be absolutely incredible, and I can't wait to talk to you a year from now. I can only imagine. In terms of revenue, I know you were kind of working much more on backend stuff than on increasing revenue, which was already quite amazing. Is there any percentages or whatever that you want to share, in terms of growth of revenue, or profit, or anything like that?
Cindy: It is actually coming up now. We have gotten like five clients from the new areas. We're not even really focused on that yet. They've been one-offs, just special services and stuff. We're already seeing the demand there. I now have one of my staff members pretty much doing all of the standard servicing for our existing clients. That has been a huge help. They're all loving her. It's just a great combination. Sometimes you just have to be willing to let go and step back.
Sylvie: Totally. I love that. Realize that you're not essential is something I kind of harp on a lot, right? We're not essential. If we're essential, that's a problem. You're never going to go on vacation if you're essential
Cindy: That is so true. That's one of the things that we wanted to do, to be able to travel, to have that flexibility. That's why you want to own a business, so you're not working for somebody else 24/7. Well, if you can't delegate, then that's just not going to happen. We would have just paid a lot for a job.
Sylvie: No doubt. You would have bought yourself a job, which doesn't sound like a good deal.
Cindy: No, not really.
Sylvie: All of the risk and none of the reward. That doesn't sound like a good deal.
Cindy: I could have just stayed working if I would have wanted that and stuff. Actually, I just increased them today. We had monthly marketing meetings. We're now having them every other week because I freed up time to look at that strategic step, to start doing all of that. I think maybe in the 18 months before this, I had maybe one marketing meeting.
Sylvie: I sense a correlation here. Wow. This is incredible. I didn't even know that you were doing it that frequently. That's incredible. It's so funny because you're one of those quiet ones where I really had to be like, “Cindy, do you have any questions? Cindy, do you want to share any wins?” On the group call, it was so funny. You're over here quietly implementing and just showing up coachable, just implementing and applying. Here's the deal. This is partly why I love doing group coaching so much is that, look, I could probably write five books on this. Maybe some people would read them and take action and get results. Maybe. I love being there to really be able to hold you accountable and be like, “What happened last week? Okay, how are we going to fix that problem? How are we going to get to the next level?” Really kind of make sure that you implement. Information is great if you implement. Some people do, some people don't. The implementation is really where the magic happens. With you Cindy, I feel like there was one big opportunity cost that you had … Oh, I remember what it was. It was at one point you had clients basically banging on your door that you had to turn away. Do you remember that moment? Do I have that right?
Sylvie: Everybody's business is different. In your case, because you're a service-based business, if you don't have the right staff in place or the right systems in place or the contractors in place to be able to deliver that service, as much as you want to take on that client, you gotta say no essentially. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
Cindy: Yes. We lost 100 hours per week. I remember that one very, very well. I was upset about it for a day. I think I even posted that I was going to allow myself to be upset about it for a day, and then you pick up, you brush yourself off. We are now doing a new process where we're bringing on board four to six people per week.
Sylvie: That is incredible! You're the perfect example of this is really what it costs you to not have that backend streamlined, to not have those processes and those systems and really an onboarding process and a hiring process that you can be like, “Oh crap, I need some more people. Let me do this quickly.” As opposed to, “Let me trial and error it for six months.” For you, it was costing you clients that you had to turn away and I guess went to your competitors, I'm assuming. Where else are they going to go?
Cindy: Yeah. They had to go to our competitors. It's care. You're not coming to us because it's fun. You're coming to us because you need us.
Sylvie: It's not a pedicure that they could do without.
Cindy: We lost that 100 hours per week.
Sylvie: Of course here's where I come in with my very unconventional coaching style, where I'm like, “I'm glad this happened.” I feel like sometimes you have to learn it that hard way. It's like, “You know what? This will never happen to Cindy again. I can guarantee it.” You have that lesson hard-wired into you. All of a sudden, the processes that nobody wants to work on because they're not sexy or they're not fun half of the time, it becomes like, “Oh crap. If I don't do this, I will continue to lose 100 hours a week of business.” Which is not good.
Cindy: Yes. Like I said, the next morning, that was when it started. We started using an online tool. The three of us involved in recruiting can now all share information. We can all see where everybody is while they're going through the process. It's transparent. We know what's going on. We have two morning a week dedicated, set aside to bring people in, interview, get them signed up, get them moving.
Cindy: It used to just be whenever someone called us, we'd do it.
Sylvie: Right, the winging it strategy.
Cindy: Just go with it. It's kind of going to work out the way it's supposed to work out. Until you lose 100 hours. Did I mention that's per week? That was a huge, huge sales hit right there.
Sylvie: Yeah. That's incredible. That is absolutely incredible. I know once you set this up, growth is inevitable. You already have clients sort of coming to you, but then now you also have the time and the marketing. You re-appropriated that mis-hire towards a marketing person. You appropriated some of those funds to that. It's a growth machine now. You have turned your business from surviving to inevitable growth, which is incredible. I absolutely love the wins that you've had in revenue, both in profit and paying yourself. The time wins are always my favorite, the fact that you went from 90 hours to 40 to 50 is ridiculous. That's absolutely incredible and what people are very interested in. I also want to ask you and have you share with people the personal transformation. Not only have you transformed from the unpaid intern to the CEO, and that process is even still in progress, but tell us a little bit more about a couple of those wins that you shared that were some of my favorites, in terms of stuff that you've done, time that you've taken for yourself. Things like taking care of yourself better. What has been your biggest personal transformation?
Cindy: It's just been truly treating myself like the CEO. I think it was what you said, that it's not me an individual going for a walk or going to the gym, it's the CEO. It's the CEO taking care of themselves and making that important. I deal with some ongoing health issues. They still show up some, but it's getting better. I am working through them. I'm trying different diets, different alternatives for them and stuff. It's as simple as sometimes taking the time for myself and going to the spa and getting a half spa day.
Sylvie: I love that.
Cindy: It's all part of it. If I'm not sleeping at night, if I'm not eating well, if I'm not taking take of myself, then it follows me around 24/7. I've never made myself a priority. Everybody else has always been the priority. A lot of us do that. It's not unique to me.
Sylvie: At all, yeah.
Cindy: It's a different feeling. I still work through it. There are still times where you have the bad day, but as we all know, you can have the bad day, you can't have the bad week.
Sylvie: Perfect. I love it.
Cindy: I've got that down good. That's right. You brush yourself off the next day, and you get back at it.
Sylvie: Totally. I love that. It's so funny. I'm the most unconventional business coach because I'm like, “Okay, great. You have 40k more in revenue. That's excellent. You went and got your hair done! What!” It's the truth. I feel like the fact that you're taking care of yourself, that you're in that CEO mindset and that you're building yourself as the CEO, that you're building self-care into your business plan, essentially. IRS, don't worry. Don't come knocking. I'm using this somewhat metaphorically. It really is you're taking care of yourself, and if it takes looking at yourself as, “Look, you're the CEO of your business. If you hired a CEO, you would never allow them to work themselves to the bone and not take a day off and come in where they're working half-effectively and whatever else.” If that's what it takes, that's incredible. I know it's not unique to you, and that's why I bring it up. I think a lot of people watching, especially if I may gender stereotype a little bit, I think us women have an even harder time for whatever reason. Let's not get too far down the rabbit hole, but I feel like we have a harder time in that it's so common for us. I used to be president of the martyr mom club and taking care of everybody else before taking care of myself. The truth is, once you realize there's a reason on the plane they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first. You're not going to be able to do anything for anyone if you're not taken care of. The fact that you've switched that is quite honestly my favorite win. I feel like there's almost nothing you can't do if you've got that part down. That is absolutely incredible. Maybe a little bit of an obvious question, but is there any chance that you're thinking that you might go back to working a 90-hour week and doing everything yourself?
Cindy: Absolutely not. I'm already thinking about what the next hire should be, when they should come on board. I'm reverse engineering all of those numbers to meet our short and long term goals so I can monitor how we're growing, who we need to bring on board next. Yes. No, I'm not going back into that.
Sylvie: That is incredible, yeah. It's obvious. It's kind of crazy to even think, but every once in a while. Okay, in addition to the fact that you've had incredible business wins, the financials look different, your team looks different, people actually like working together, all of that jazz, you are taking care of yourself. Your health is improving. You're sleeping well. You're feeding yourself well, all of that jazz. You're going to the spa, which is awesome. Is there any other areas of your life that this has had a domino effect on? Like your relationship with your husband, time with your husband or your family, or anything like that, that it's also affected?
Cindy: Yeah, it has definitely helped. How great is it now that probably three nights out of the week I do not even open up my computer after dinner? It's done. It's over with. It's family time. I'm not sitting there behind the computer. Even though sometimes I wasn't always working. No, I was working most of the time. I'm a better wife, a better daughter, just all-around more present. I'm bringing the techniques I'm using in the office to be focused, to be on point, and then actually leaving it. As much as you can leave it behind. Like I said, our three main clients have my contact info. They contact me directly. I mean, it's been once in eight weeks. It's really not that bad.
Sylvie: Yeah, no. Absolutely incredible. I love that because it is one of those things where it's like you have that sort of balance. If you're willing to take on those three clients, give them access and whatever else, cool. You can have it exactly the way you want it. It doesn't have to be one extreme or the other. It can be custom-made business to you, essentially. That's what you're in the process of doing, which is incredible. Not only have you streamlined your processes, you've gotten your time back, you've grown your business, you've got a team that is cohesive and that you love, you have these personal transformations in your health and in your sleep, and all of that jazz, and in your relationship both with your parents and your husband. I remember from the very first time we talked that those were so important to you. That makes me so, so proud of you. Someone that is overworked right now, who is making decent revenues in their business but working like a crazy person and perhaps not paying themselves how they deserve to be paid and are just kind of stuck at that plateau and need to streamline and scale, what would you recommend to them? When would you recommend that they take care of this and make this a priority?
Cindy: I would absolutely recommend working with a coach. I think you actually said I called you on it, but I thought that it was more of a complement. I told you, I had looked at some coaches before you. I talked, and it just didn't work. It didn't work for me. It was all like, “Oh yeah, that sounds great. Do that.” You're like, “No, you're actually the unpaid intern. Why is a CEO doing graphic design? I'm thinking that's not a good use of your time.” That's the type of person you want, though. You can't do the same thing and expect different results. You have to have somebody that's going to push you out of the comfort zone. You could probably hear how nervous I was when I came back, though, but it was a win because my staff took care of everything. I wanted to call, but I didn't. I mean, that was a huge step for me. I needed to be pushed. I heard you in the back of my mind, even though you weren't there, telling me, “Don't call. If it's important, they will let you know. Otherwise, let it work the way it's supposed to work. Trust that the process is there.” Sure enough, it was. It worked just like it was supposed to.
Sylvie: That is incredible. I appreciate you so much for saying that. I take that compliment very, very graciously. It's true. I really don't like fluff. I don't feel like there's just any point. Ain't nobody got time fluff. I do like to bring the truth and call things like it is. It's not always comfortable, because it's not always “you're doing amazing!” Some days I'm like, “No.” You know what? I have to turn that right back on you. I have to say that I can only do that with people like you that are coachable, that will be open-minded to really saying, “I've been doing it my way for a while, and it hasn't been working. I need to admit that there might be a better way.” You're coachable. You're resourceful and committed to your outcome. You're kind of non-apologetic about, “No, we're going to get these results. It might be hard. I might have those bad days, but I won't have bad weeks.” I appreciate you so much, Cindy, for showing up and really doing the work and really being resourceful, committed, and coachable. You really exemplify all of those things. I appreciate you so much, and I cannot wait to see what you do beyond eight weeks because this is crazy. Really, this is crazy and well beyond what I would consider, “Okay, those are great results.” I feel like you are an outstanding example. I mean, you had a lot to improve. Of course you had 90-hour weeks, so pretty extreme. There was a lot of room for improvement there, but quite frankly, I would have been happy if we had gotten to 70 hours in eight weeks. You know what I mean? Anyway, congratulations on all of your wins. I know that there are so many more in store for you. I cannot wait to see that progress.
Cindy: Well, thank you. Yes, I do look forward to working together again.
Sylvie: Absolutely, girl. You know what? You are the ideal client for our yearlong master mind, so I cannot wait to be a part of that success. I feel like there's always improvements, and all of your wins are fueling your next win. I absolutely love that. Anyway, thank you so much Cindy, for taking your time to share with everybody today. For anybody that is interested in our Streamline and Scale program, I will put a link below this video so that you can check us out and have a conversation if you think this is right for you. We would love to help you streamline your business. Until next time, thank you so much for joining us.
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