Combining Intensive Service Offerings with Recurring Revenue with Hunter Niland Welling

Hunter has a way of working with her clients that, when I experienced it as a client, was so effective that I actually shifted my OWN work with my 1:1 clients to the same model.

Susan Boles
December 15, 2020
Quote: "I find that with recurring intensives, my clients get more strategic about what's actually important in their business and less time on fluff. They have such a focused window to get things accomplished by me that they really do a good job of self-filtering." - Hunter Niland Welling

Imagine your ideal way of working with a client.

For me, it's working ALL in on a single project. I'm someone who likes going 100% or 0%. I'm either all in or I want to shut my brain completely off.

What does it look like for you?

This month, we've been talking about creative offerings and pricing strategies this month and thinking generally about how we offer and price our services. I talked to Kate Strathmann in Episode 59 about using pricing strategies to create more equitable businesses.

I also talked with Rob Howard in Episode 60 about how to create offerings that build recurring revenue and strengthen relationships, even in an industry that's traditionally very project-oriented.

Today, I'm talking to Hunter Niland Welling, my business’ Chief Marketing Officer.

She is a marketing consultant and coach for women growing high-end service-based businesses. I wanted to bring Hunter on the podcast because she has a way of working with her clients that, when I experienced it as a client, was so effective that I actually shifted my OWN work with my 1:1 clients to the same model.

Hunter has created what I like to call Recurring Intensives. It is a PERFECT model for folks like Hunter and me who REALLY like to go all in and work in an intensive style while building long-term relationships with their clients and creating recurring revenue.

If you're unfamiliar with intensives or intensive-style offerings—which you might also hear referred to as VIP days or a Buy-My-Day kind of offering—they are short, very dedicated time blocks that are normally used to implement a specific project.

What Hunter and I do is create one of these VIP days every month for our clients. Each month, we spend an entire day dedicated to a single client. This format works well for us because we get to work in a way that feels right for us but it also benefits the client because they get to see results immediately without wasting a ton of time in meetings. For the client, it's short and sweet and then the results show up that same day.

If you want to get a better idea of some different intensive formats, take a listen to Episode 12 where I talked to Ashley Gartland and Hailey Thomas about the different ways they've implemented intensive-style offerings in their businesses.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to combine intensive-style offerings with recurring revenue
  • How Hunter developed intensives as the right model for her and her clients
  • The kind of impact she's seen on both her business AND her clients as a result of implementing recurring intensives

Learn more about Hunter Welling:

Episode Transcript

Hunter Niland Welling (00:00):

What I do is I come on with my clients one day a month. We have a 30 to 45 minute meeting to go over what's happening with their business, what their goals are, any relevant news they need me to know. And kind of lay out the plan for the day. I tell them what we need to accomplish based on everything we've just talked about. And then I go off on my own and spend the rest of my work day creating all the marketing deliverables that they need for the month. But all of the work happens in that one day, which is why recurring intensive is exactly the way to describe it.

Susan Boles (00:37):

Imagine your ideal way of working with client. For me, it's working all in on a single project. I'm someone who likes to go 100% or 0%. I'm either all in, or I want to shut my brain completely off. But what does it look like for you? I'm Susan Boles, and you're listening to Break the Ceiling. The show where we break down unconventional strategies you can use to save time, boost your profit, and increase your operational capacity.

Susan Boles (01:06):

We've been talking about creative offerings and pricing strategies this month, and thinking generally about how we offer and price our services. I've talked to Kate Strathmann about using pricing strategies to create more equitable businesses. And I talked to Rob Howard about how to create offerings that build recurring revenue and strengthened relationships, even in an industry that's traditionally very project oriented.

Susan Boles (01:30):

Today, I'm talking to Hunter Niland Welling. She's a marketing consultant and coach for women growing high-end service-based businesses. And one of the way she works with clients is as an outsource chief marketing officer. She's my outsource CMO actually. And she has a way of working with our clients that when I experienced it as a client was so effective, that I actually shifted my own work with my one-on-one clients to the same model. Hunter has created what I like to call recurring intensives. It is a perfect model for folks like Hunter and me who really likes to go all in and work at an intensive style, but also need to build long-term relationships with our clients, and love having recurring revenue and the stability that that creates in our businesses.

Susan Boles (02:17):

If you're unfamiliar with intensives or intensive style offerings, you might hear these referred to as VIP days, or a buy my day kind of offering. But there are a lot of different ways that these are implemented. But the basic idea is a short, very dedicated focus time that's normally used to implement a specific project. If you want to get a better idea of some different intensive formats, take a listen to episode 12 where I talk to Ashley Gartland and Hailey Thomas about the different ways they've implemented intensive style offerings in their businesses. And what Hunter and I do is create one of these VIP days every month for our clients. So each month, we spend an entire day focused and dedicated to a single client. This format works for us because we get to work in a way that feels right for us, but it also benefits the client. Because they get to see results immediately without wasting a ton of time in meetings. For the client, it's short and sweet. And then the results show up later that same day. During our chat, Hunter and I talked about how she developed this as the right model for her and her clients. And we talk about the kind of impact she's seen both on her business and her clients as a result of implementing recurring intensives.

Susan Boles (03:35):

Hey Hunter, thanks for being here today. I think this is going to be fun. So give me an overview, give me a bit of a rundown of the different ways that you currently work with clients.

Hunter Niland Welling (03:47):

Yeah, such a great question. So I work with clients as a marketing consultant and coach. So at this moment in time, the ways that I work with clients are either through The Exceptional CMO, which is my recurring intensive offer and the whole reason you've invited me here to talk. Or as a coach, just doing one hour sessions in an ongoing container. So that's the ways I work with people one-on-one, and then I also have some group offerings that I do for people who just want to get a bit of my perspective on marketing in a way that works with your energy, and your capacity, and what your body needs, all of that. I support people in some group settings in that way.

Susan Boles (04:39):

Awesome. Okay. So let's talk specifically about your one-on-one work, where you've positioned it as an outsourced CMO. So talk to me a little bit about what an outsourced CMO actually does, because I think it's unusual. It was certainly the first time I'd ever heard of it. So what's your role? What kinds of things do you normally do for clients as an outsource CMO?

Hunter Niland Welling (05:05):

Yeah. This is such a good question. Because I feel like as with most things in the online business world, there's so many different ways to do things that all get called the same thing. So I haven't met many outsource CMOs, but I have met a handful, and I think we all do things a little bit differently. So the way I approach being a CMO is being the person who sets the overall marketing strategy that's going to take you from wherever your business is right now to where you want to be. So it's all about bridging that gap, and actually setting the strategy for you. And then in my work, creating the deliverables, whatever the pieces of the puzzle are that you need in your marketing to accomplish bridging that gap.

Hunter Niland Welling (06:00):

So for me, what that looks like with my clients is things like, it's so varied and personalized to each client. But it can look like their social media content and engagement and outreach, or new sales pages for their offers, their email marketing campaigns, scripts for live streams they're going to do. Or even gift boxes to send to in-person referral contacts they want to make if they're a more local business.

Hunter Niland Welling (06:31):

But what I really focus on is actually I think a lot of CEOs get stuck on how do I even set the strategy to begin with? So I like to partner with them and say, "I'll actually help you do that heavy brainwork, set the strategy, and then take over building the pieces from there."

Susan Boles (06:50):

So with your one-on-one clients, you have this model that I'm kind of calling recurring intensives. I'm not sure what you call it.

Hunter Niland Welling (07:00):

That's exactly it.

Susan Boles (07:01):

So that's what it feels like. So you've got this recurring intensive model with support. Can you kind of just give us a rundown, kind of describe what that is?

Hunter Niland Welling (07:11):

Yeah. No, recurring intensive is exactly the phrase with it. So to break that down, I think a lot of people are familiar with VIP days or intensives, some sort of four to eight hour long depending on the person, day where you can hire somebody's time to accomplish whatever outcome you want. So how I kind of turned that on its head was I thought, "Okay, I love this is the IP day model." But A, my clients need me on an ongoing basis. They don't need me just once in a while. And I don't want to have to be going through a whole sales cycle over and over again every month.

Hunter Niland Welling (07:57):

So with the recurring intensive, what I do is I come on with my clients one day a month. We have a 30 to 45 minute meeting to go over what's happening with their business, what their goals are, any relevant news they need me to know. And kind of lay out the plan for the day. I tell them what we need to accomplish based on everything we've just talked about.

Hunter Niland Welling (08:20):

And then I go off on my own and spend the rest of my work day creating all the marketing deliverables that they need for the month. And then at the end of the day, I send over a recap, lay it all out for them to review, and pull the trigger on anything they need to pull the trigger on. And I'm available in between that via Voxer. But all of the work happens in that one day, which is why recurring intensive is exactly the way to describe it.

Susan Boles (08:50):

Yeah, I absolutely love it. And as the recipient of it, it was really impressive to me the impact that you can have with kind of just the intensive model. But also from a client perspective, as I have kind of adopted this model after working with you, it's been so amazing to see how fast you can really deliver value versus a traditional model where you're going through this process, and it takes six to eight weeks or whatever it is. Being [inaudible 00:09:27] very quickly say, "Here's what we're working on. Here it is. And it's done," is just on both sides feels so good.

Hunter Niland Welling (09:38):

I'm so glad that you are [inaudible 00:09:39] you're so fun to work with. I was a client. But yeah, I love hearing how you've gotten to experience it, both as a recipient and now providing it to your own clients. I love it. So the reason I created this is actually before I started doing this, I had been working with people just on retainer as their marketing strategists, marketing pro. Just handling everything on this ongoing basis. And what it felt like to me was just I was on call for them 24/7. I had to start putting it into my email signature. My auto-responder, marketing is not an emergency. I'm not a first responder, and I'll get back to you during normal business hours. And I know that sounds comical. But really, I just felt like a doctor on call and I was like this is crazy. I'm doing your Instagram captions. Why do I feel like this?

Susan Boles (10:40):

Yes, I can totally relate.

Hunter Niland Welling (10:42):

Yeah. It's so easy to get into that when you're on a retainer model. So I just knew that for me, that was a mismatch for the energy that I had to give and the way that I like to work. I was totally burnt out. I manage a chronic illness as well. So it just was not working at all.

Hunter Niland Welling (11:02):

So I knew I couldn't do it. So I just quit. I just quit. I was at my wit's end. But then in the interim, all I was doing was half-day or hourly consulting. Which is fine and I love to do it. And I know there's a lot of emphasis right now in the online business world of how to start doing VIP day consulting or hourly consulting. There's a lot of people pushing this. And what I feel like doesn't get talked about is then you have to go through sales cycles for all of those one-off projects over and over and over again.

Susan Boles (11:39):

Yeah. It's exhausting.

Hunter Niland Welling (11:40):

It's almost as exhausting as doing retainer work. So I was doing that and I was totally burnt out. So I was having a call with one of my coaches, and she was just like, "Why you just put this on repeat? Why don't you just do this half-day or a day long thing on repeat." And I was like, "Oh, I could do that." So within two weeks, I was just so excited. I knew it was the right thing. And I just pulled the offer together, emailed all of my best clients, said, "Are you interested in this?" And was really quickly booked up.

Hunter Niland Welling (12:15):

And I was just talking to another friend who does the VIP day thing. And it's really awesome to be able to sell them. But it can be hard to sell a VIP day at whatever you're selling it for, 2,500, 3,000, 4,000, $5,000. One-off can be a tough process. You usually have to do a sales call in all of this, let alone having to do it over and over again. So by putting everything on a recurring model, I was able to do one sales call, one set of outreach. And be just as booked up as I would be from doing countless sales calls every month.

Susan Boles (12:56):

Well, and I think a lot of how we work with clients overlaps being both outsourced C-suite people. And so much of the value that you can deliver is based off of really understanding very intimately what's going on in that business. And I think that's really difficult to do in a VIP day. There's only so much you can dig through in an initial conversation, even if that conversation is a half day or whatever. That the real value of working with an outsourced C-suite kind of person is that strategy, which I think only comes from a longer term relationship.

Hunter Niland Welling (13:37):


Susan Boles (13:38):

And like you, the retainer model didn't work and I loved working in an intensive format. But the need for recurring revenue and the stability that comes from having a retainer model is really hard to dismiss. Both from an efficiency perspective, but also just so you don't always have to be selling people.

Hunter Niland Welling (14:05):

Yeah, absolutely. I don't know how you felt when you made the switch. But for me, what I just noticed is my energy levels and creativity levels changed completely when I suddenly could count on this fully booked out intensive calendar every single month. Without having to worry about hustling or finding new leads or anything else. That just changed how I approached marketing my business, how I felt about my to-do list every day. Because the pressure of lead generation was off.

Susan Boles (14:43):

Yes. It was very freeing. And the part that I like is that at least for me, and I'm not sure if this is true for you. I'm kind of naturally a builder. I want to build things. I want to spend time building things. And this model means that one day a month, it's my time to build things for this client, or it's my time to build things for this client. But it also frees up so much space for me to be able to build things for my own business.

Hunter Niland Welling (15:11):


Susan Boles (15:12):

That is where I get so much of my energy from.

Hunter Niland Welling (15:16):

Yeah, I'm exactly the same way. It was really fun for me. This year, I actually just finished doing a recap of this to my email list. But I actually kind of gave myself space to just play around with creating lots of different kinds of products and different kinds of offers that I'd never done before. Because I'd never had time or energy to experiment back when I was doing retainer work or all these hourly sales. I just wasn't capable. And this year, since my revenue's really stable, my clients are really locked in. My calendar fills up really easy, because I don't need very many of these recurring intensive clients to be booked out.

Hunter Niland Welling (16:01):

So since that's all taken care of this year, I just got to play around with ... like I launched my first course, and I'm doing a new group coaching program at the end of this year. I played around with different kinds of consulting and different kinds of VIP days in the in-between time. Just because I have that space to get to be creative now.

Susan Boles (16:23):

I love that. So let's talk about the logistics of this. So on any given client day where you're having this meeting in the morning, what does that look like for you behind the scenes? Is it just you doing the work? Do you have team members that you're delegating stuff to? What does the workflow look like from your end versus from the client's end?

Hunter Niland Welling (16:46):

Yeah, such a good question. So everything is done by me and my assistant. I have an amazing assistant who helps out with things. But on the client day, it's me. I show up with my notes. We keep everything organized in a Trello dashboard for each client. So I always have a running tab of what we've talked about in the past, what they're working on in the future, what deliverables have been made.

Hunter Niland Welling (17:13):

So when I show up for a client meeting, I can pull up that dashboard and really quickly be caught back up to speed on anything that I haven't looked at in a while. And then I show up for the call. I usually have a list of questions based on what I've seen as the month has gone on. From check-ins we've had our Voxer conversations. I usually have some questions, they have some questions.

Hunter Niland Welling (17:41):

And then I go and during the actual intensive day, all of the work is me. I'm setting strategy, creating content, writing copy. I do all of that. Now in between times, in between our sessions, my assistant actually helps me with all of the social media management for clients. It's really important for me that my clients have a white glove experience where when they hire me to do their marketing, they just know all the little bits and pieces are taken care of. And they're not having to worry about details, or worried that they have to do a lot of tasks in between to get good results. So I have my assistant actually check their social media accounts, respond to comments, make sure that Instagram stories go out regularly, things like that. So she's on the ground in anything that needs to happen in the day to day. And that's really helpful for me because it makes sure that I don't have to get involved in day-to-day stuff, but the client still feels like everything's taken care of and running smoothly.

Susan Boles (18:53):

Totally makes sense. So let's talk about those in-between times where clients are communicating with you via Voxer. What does that workflow, that relationship typically look like for you with the client?

Hunter Niland Welling (19:09):

Yeah, it's interesting. It's so different for each person. And I know you've just started making this transition, so I don't know what experience you've had with different clients and how they utilize these things. Because I have some clients who just love to utilize Voxer. They check in with me constantly. Like a couple times a week, we're always chatting back and forth about what's going on. And then I have clients who they're really content to just drop me a note if something major happens and otherwise see me next month.

Hunter Niland Welling (19:40):

And I kind of tune in and play off of their energy. I do try to check in about once a week if I haven't heard from them. But otherwise, I kind of let them lead the tempo of that.

Susan Boles (19:53):

And I imagine it kind of ebbs and flows as well as depending on what's going on in their business. And if, like right now, I have a course launch. We've been focusing on course launches. But then I disappear because I'm like, "I got to go build things. You got it. I'm going to go build things. I'll talk to you in a couple of weeks."

Hunter Niland Welling (20:10):

I'm not talking to anybody right now. Yeah, absolutely. When people are in the middle of an active launch, like we are often talking a lot, like what's going on, who's applying or purchasing, we'll have a lot more back and forth. So some of it ebbs and flows. And for me that's really funny because I always tell people if I could only do two things in my business for forever, it would just be talk to people and write for myself. So like I love to write and I love to talk. So those Voxer messages in between, they don't even feel like work to me. People could vox me all day, every day, and I'm totally fine. I respond in the moment. If there's something that I need to not forget, I drop it in a note on my phone so that I make sure it gets into their Trello dashboard and scheduled for myself. But otherwise, for me, it's just a really free-flowing conversation that doesn't really eat into my day. So it's easy for me to navigate.

Susan Boles (21:12):

And do you have any boundaries set up around how you use Voxer, how you instruct clients to use Voxer? How have you approached? Because it can be one of those things where you have little notifications popping up at 3:00 AM as somebody is like, "I thought of something. I need to tell you right now." How have you set boundaries around that kind of communication?

Hunter Niland Welling (21:37):

Yeah. I'm kind of famous for being the business boundaries clean, and that's not a lot. A lot of my work that's group focused is around. So I have a lot of boundaries. So for one thing, I don't use Voxer for anybody who's not a paying client. So I have friends who love to hang out and message, and I'm always just like, "Sorry, but you're going to have to text me or Instagram me." Because for me, Voxer is just a place for paying clients. And that's just the way I keep it neat and tidy for myself and my own brain. I'm not saying that's the way everybody should do it. But it works for me to have really clear containers.

Hunter Niland Welling (22:12):

And the second thing that I always tell my clients is I don't get notifications for any app. There's not an app on my phone that I get notifications for. So they care free to message me 24/7 as much as they want, and I will only check it during my office hours.

Hunter Niland Welling (22:28):

So that helps because I have clients all different time zones. I have international clients. They don't ever have to worry about trying to match time zones and stuff for me. They can just communicate when it's on their brain. And they know they're just going to have to wait until my office hours to get response.

Susan Boles (22:46):

Yeah. I love that.

Susan Boles (22:51):

It's that time of year. Time to set some new goals for consider your New Year's resolution. And if you're like a lot of business owners I know, you might be thinking that this is the year you're going to get your shit together when it comes to your money. You're going to start reviewing that P&L statement you get every month. You're going to be more intentional about how you spend, and closely tracking the ROI you're getting. You're going to get clear on exactly how you're making money, and how you can make more of it without working yourself into the ground.

Susan Boles (23:23):

Now, if you're both nodding your head and feeling the anxiety rise in your chest as I described these financial goals, I see you. We all have the best of intentions about how we're going to manage our business finances. But few people actually follow through on learning how to manage their business' money, or execute the financial plans they create. You want to feel like you're on top of your money stuff. But it's tough to climb over all the questions, and reports, and bank accounts, and spreadsheets.

Susan Boles (23:54):

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Susan Boles (25:20):

So talk to me about the impacts you've seen either on your business, on your life, as you've been shifting to this style of work. What have you noticed that's different?

Hunter Niland Welling (25:34):

So as I'm trying to answer that question, I want to make sure that I answer without sounding hyperbolic. But it has changed everything for me. And that's not an overstatement. This way of working, it just clicks for me. It's like when you find something that is just perfectly aligned for your personality, your values, your energy, the way you want for your business. That's just such an amazing thing and a rare thing. I've been in business for a long time. It hasn't happened for me very often that something clicks so totally. And this has been that thing because it's the only way I found that I can give clients the level of a really intense one-on-one all-inclusive support, where they just feel really taken care of. And also, my time is still my own. My energy is not drained. I have freedom to build the things I want to build in my business. That is such a special combination.

Hunter Niland Welling (26:35):

So it changed everything. I've arranged the schedule really well. I only work with clients in this capacity on the first and last week of the month. So it's even changed just little day-to-day things. Like my family and I travel more. We just got back from a week camping the other day, and I didn't cut into any client time. It didn't change anything. I didn't have to reschedule any appointments because we just did it on an off week.

Susan Boles (26:59):


Hunter Niland Welling (26:59):


Susan Boles (27:00):

I love that.

Hunter Niland Welling (27:01):


Susan Boles (27:02):

Yeah. And I have found the same is as I've shifted to this way of working, it's been spectacular. I am somebody I love working. I'm either all in or I'm all out. I want to go 100 miles an hour or I want to not move. And I always really struggled with the idea that I really wanted to work intensively, but that it didn't make sense as a recurring thing necessarily. And if you're doing just one-offs, it's really hard to keep that pipeline full. And balancing that with a retainer model and wanting to build that relationship, that partnership. And yeah, I agree with you. For me, it's been a complete fit in a way that I've not found anything else that way.

Hunter Niland Welling (27:52):

Yeah. I'm so glad to hear that. It's also for me, what I've noticed is it's such a big, positive change for my clients. Particularly, I have clients who have stayed in this relationship really long-term at this point for a year or so. This is a newer service to me, so I know that's not a super long time. But it's about the whole length of the service. And as I've watched the partnership develop, I've watched the great results they get, because they have somebody in their corner all the time. And I'm all in, like you said. I really resonate with the zero miles an hour or the 100 miles an hour. So it's really hard for me to maintain energy when I'm just on retainer for somebody, because I just don't have a constant flow of energy like that, to piecemeal things throughout the month.

Hunter Niland Welling (28:51):

But when you got me on that intensive in your quarter every month, you get my 100 miles an hour over and over, and over, and over again. So it has a cumulative effect, and I'm just watching the milestones now that my long-term clients have been hitting. And they're just breaking so many records for themselves and accomplishing so many big things, that that is really fun for me to get to see.

Susan Boles (29:16):

Yes. That was my favorite part about working with clients long-term instead of one off projects. Because when I started, I was doing one-off software implementation. So you're like, "Here's the software, we implemented it. Here you go. Bye." And you never really got to see the impact of it, you know? Sure you touched base, but you weren't still in the organization watching kind of that cumulative, that snowball effect happen as things got better, and better, and better.

Susan Boles (29:47):

Because marketing and systems is very similar where you have to build the foundation before you can actually start that snowball. You have to have the basic stuff in place. And most people don't on either side.

Hunter Niland Welling (30:01):

Yeah. Well, and it's so fun from that exactly. Getting that foundation, getting to work with people who are willing to invest in the ongoing relationship. Because it means they're serious about getting that foundation in place. They're serious about working on things for the longterm. And that's so fun and gratifying for me, because it's things like the client who's willing to invest in building their audience, and all of the foundational deliverables, and client experience pieces that they were missing. And then we get to a six month mark and it's like okay. You have every asset that you could possibly need. We just have to work the system now, and watch it pay off. And I'm thinking about I have one client in particular who we've been doing that. And it's just been record breaking launch and record breaking month after another for the last several months, because we got to put in all that foundational time. And getting to still be on the team as that's happening, that's usually something that I would already be long done with the project before it happened. So I wouldn't even get to know they were having those kinds of results.

Susan Boles (31:12):

Yes. I think that's maybe my favorite part.

Hunter Niland Welling (31:14):

Yeah. It's so fun. I love it. As a service provider, it's so fun. It's so fun to see your work pay off. And it's also, it's a good confidence booster. Because sometimes we come along and we partner. And when you don't get to see the end result, you're kind of like, "Well, I wonder what happened there."

Susan Boles (31:37):

"It felt good to me. Did it feel good to them?"

Hunter Niland Welling (31:41):

Right. It was good. And now it's like I'm there on the team checking the stats every month and going, "This is working so well." And that just feels amazing.

Susan Boles (31:52):

Yeah. I love that. So is there anything you think we should talk about or touch on that we haven't yet?

Hunter Niland Welling (31:59):

I think the thing that I would just say is if this is exciting, if any of the pain points that we've touched on before. If maybe retainer is a drain for you or the sales cycle of VIP days and one-off intensives is not been working out for you. Just give it a go. I don't know, you are the systems queen, I would talk to you about the systems. But for me, it's just an easy thing to experiment with. I use a really simple booking and payment system. And it's a really low tech, low time investment thing on my end at least to be able to put together. So it's something that you can kind of try out without having to redo your whole business. When I started, I didn't have a sales page or anything. I literally just sent an e-card to my favorite clients of, "Do you want to have a go at this?" [inaudible 00:32:57]. And they did. And when you're doing something like this, you don't need very many clients to be at fully booked, you know?

Susan Boles (33:06):

No. That's the best part is it gets to be very low systems set up. Like you, I kind of experimented. I went, "Well, this feels good as a client. Sounds good to me as a provider. I'm just going to pitch it to the next person that comes through and see what happens." And it worked fabulously. It was so much faster to onboard them. Because the structure was set up is. We're going to have this call, we're going to go implement something. And off we go.

Susan Boles (33:40):

And the cool impact is that very rarely with my work with clients on a regular retainer model, it always felt like we were trying to accomplish something that never quite got finished. Because we would start, and we would get 80% of the way there, and then priorities would change. It would become much less important and we had to start the next thing. And as an outsource person, it's really hard to combat that. Even though you know you're like, "We need to finish this. Let's finish, come on. Take it across the finish line." But when the business owner's priorities change, it can be really difficult to say, "Hey no, we got to wrap this up." And the part that I love about the intensive piece is that you decide pretty much that day what is the most important thing right now. And then you take it across the finish line that day, it's done. Even if it's not the most robust version it needs to be, it's done, it's there, it exists. You can start using it. And the watching the impact that had with my clients where the first day we're working together, you hand them something. You're like, "Here we go. It's done." And having been a client working with you, the first day when you're like, "Hey, here's all the stuff." And I was like, "Wait, it's all done? It's just there? It just showed up? We talked this morning. It's just there?"

Susan Boles (35:17):

The feeling of that as the client is so amazing and powerful just to know hey, I said these things in the morning, they happened in the afternoon. And it's completely off of my shoulders to think about this or to have any part of the execution of having to make this happen is just really powerful.

Hunter Niland Welling (35:39):

I love that you brought this up, because you are so spot on about the shifting priorities and things always just being 80% there. I once had a client who I was on retainer for tell me that the only advice I ever gave her that didn't pay off was all the advice she didn't take and do something with. But there was so much of it, the [inaudible 00:36:05] of, "Okay, but that 20% of never getting there cumulatively has a massive negative impact because it's usually the pulling the trigger on the thing that will really set all the positive results in motion."

Susan Boles (36:21):

Yeah. It's the piece tying the strategy to the execution. The strategy always happens, and the execution gets 80% of the way there. But missing that last 20%, you're right. Has such a huge impact on how effective that thing is in the long run. And sometimes, it means it doesn't even exist. That last 20% is push and go.

Hunter Niland Welling (36:47):

Yeah. So for me, I love the focus that the container of the intensive gives. When you're my client, and you are one, so you know firsthand. But you know that you're investing a pretty substantial amount into this one day. So my experience as the service provider is the level of preparation, and clear-headednes, and direction that clients show up to that monthly meeting is unlike any other time that I've ever worked with clients. Because you know that if you don't bring all your ideas and all of the threads that you want to make sure get tied up, and all of your questions for that one day. Then it's not going to happen again for another month, right? You're not going to get to call me next week and go, "Oh crap. I forgot. Let's actually do an email campaign about this." It has to all be there.

Hunter Niland Welling (37:56):

So I find that it makes my clients get more strategic about what's actually important in their business and spend less time on fluff, on imposter syndrome, on let's just try this because everybody else is doing it. They have such a focused window that they can get things accomplished by me, that they really do a good job of self-filtering.

Susan Boles (38:24):

Yes. I agree with that both from the client perspective where I'm like I make my list throughout the month. And I'm like okay, I came up with an idea that can go on the list. I came up with an idea. Nope. Oka that's not as important. And it really does force you to prioritize. And, at least for me to plan ahead a little bit more than I normally would. So forcing me to think more strategically. But also because you're creating constraints, you're creating the container. So it has to be just what is the thing that we can execute now? And the same for my work with clients. Maybe it's not the full system that we're trying to implement, but we do a much better job of breaking it into specific containers of this is what we're accomplishing. We're particularly focused on this. What information do we need to know to make this one piece happen? And later down the road, we can do improvement on that system, or addition to the system, or the next piece of the pie. But the box forces focus. And at least for me, energy. It forces energy on both sides, both the client and the provider.

Hunter Niland Welling (39:37):

Yeah, absolutely. My experience is totally the same. And sometimes I have clients start Voxing me mid-month. "Well actually, I'm thinking about this idea. Actually, let's do this next time." Because there's that really solid constraint, I'm able to say, "Okay yeah, that sounds like a great idea." Or I'm able to say, "Well, we can do that. But you've already laid out that within three months, you want to accomplish this. And we've already said that to make that happen in three months, all of this next month has to be devoted to these other projects. So if we decide to pull the trigger on this, you have to know that we're actually giving up the other deadlines and other prioritize priorities you've set." Which is not to say that we don't ever make that choice. As the CEO of your business, you get to make those choices. And sometimes there is fluidity. But I think being able to frame it that way with my clients really makes them take a better look at how important are these things that I want to try. Are they really worth giving up these other priorities I've set.

Susan Boles (40:50):

Yeah, absolutely. I remember when we were on our sales call, right before I hired you, I specifically said I'm going to need you to tell me not to do things. When I come up with a crazy idea that is not in line with my actual priorities, because I will come up with them. That is what I do. Don't let me derail the train.

Hunter Niland Welling (41:13):

[inaudible 00:41:13] part of my job. And quite honestly, I've always thought that that is an important part of any high level C-suite level of [inaudible 00:41:23].

Susan Boles (41:23):

Super important part of the role, that people don't really think about.

Hunter Niland Welling (41:27):

I don't know about you. But when I was on retainer, I found it a lot harder to fight. Because I felt like I would have that same conversation twice a day ad nauseum to it got to the point where I would sometimes tell my assistant, I remember I had a couple clients who were like this and I'd be like, "They just don't pay me enough to fight with them." There's a level of you're just going to have to pay me a lot more for me to spend this much energy arguing with you about why this isn't aligned with your priorities. Whereas-

Susan Boles (42:04):

But I think that's an important role to have. It's an important role as a business owner to have someone to say, "Hey, remember the things that you said that you wanted to do? This doesn't fit."

Hunter Niland Welling (42:16):

Yeah, absolutely. So what's interesting is one of the things that I experimented with this year was offering one-off intensives. Because I already had the stable revenue. I just wanted to play around with that. And actually why I wound up not loving it is I found that when I checked in down the road, clients weren't implementing it super well. Not because they didn't have, and what I was doing in intensive was making their marketing plan for them. And they had the team and the capability. It wasn't a lack of execution skills or anything like that. But it was all those side ideas that pop up after the fact, or all of the self-doubt about, "But should I really do this big thing that I told you I wanted a plan to accomplish?" All of those together and not having ongoing support of somebody saying, "Nope. [inaudible 00:43:12] the ship is going this way. We can't steer it another way right now." Not having that person, they just kind of abandoned the whole marketing plan. And that was really interesting to me to notice. And it just reiterated to me how important it is to have somebody constantly in your corner, one Voxer message away who can say, "I hear you, but this is what your big picture goals actually are."

Susan Boles (43:40):

Yeah. It's interesting that you mentioned that. It reminds me of a client that, one of my clients where he specifically hired an outsourced CFO and he hired an outsourced COO. And that's the majority of what his actual team is. Right? But when he hired us, he said the same thing. He said, "I will derail the train. You both are here to keep me from doing that. Here are the priorities. Tell me no when I'm about to mess this up." And it made a huge difference in his business. I mean, when we started working together, I think he was somewhere in the realm of $750,000 a year. And we are talking through a plan now for $4.5 million dollars a year, because he stopped derailing the train. He put systems in place and really people in place to keep him from running down all those little ideas that are interesting. And as a business owner, really fun. All those shiny things when the real meat and potatoes is just like you were saying, you just work the system. You set it in place and you work the system, and you don't derail the train.

Hunter Niland Welling (44:53):

Yeah. I love hearing that example and that massive growth. Because that's what I see too with my clients. And I want to say I experience it myself. Because as the role of what you do as a service provider for your clients, and then your role as CEO of your own company are different. And I surround myself all the time. And luckily-

Susan Boles (45:16):


Hunter Niland Welling (45:17):

My right-hand woman, my assistant who sometimes is like, "But aren't we still finishing up this other prospect?" And I'm like I need that. I need people who the most valuable people in my life are the ones who remind me of my big goals so that I don't derail it, because I'm my number one distraction.

Susan Boles (45:36):


Hunter Niland Welling (45:38):


Susan Boles (45:39):

All right. I think that's a fabulous place to wrap it up. Where can our listeners find you if they want to connect or learn more about what you do?

Hunter Niland Welling (45:46):

Yeah. So I would love if you would come say hi to me over @theagentshe. That's A-G-E-N-S-H-E on Instagram. It's the only social media place I hang out, but I'm always there. So come say hi. And they can also find me at

Susan Boles (46:08):

Awesome. Thank you so much for coming and geeking out with me about business models, essentially. I think it was really valuable for me just to hear how it works for you. But I think it'll be very interesting because I think it's a business model that everybody sort of forgets. I spend all of my time thinking about business models, and it didn't occur to me until I started working with you. So I'm super grateful for you coming in and sharing that with us.

Hunter Niland Welling (46:43):

Thank you so much for having me, Susan.

Susan Boles (46:46):

This idea of recurring intensives as an offering is a great reminder that sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to create something new. On the surface, it seems super obvious. If you like doing intensives, why not just create a schedule around them? But Hunter needed a business coach to remind her that she could. And I needed Hunter to give me an example of a new way of working with my clients. That's one of the reasons I wanted to create this theme around different pricing and business model strategies in the first place. To spark some creativity for you and to model some examples that might seem a little out of the box, but might help you ultimately create the ideal way of working in your own business. I say this a lot on the show, sometimes just because I need the reminder myself. But there aren't any limits on how you build your services or your offerings. Innovation is one of the coolest things about having a business. You get to do things however you want to. And that might mean how you work with clients, how you decide to package your services, or the different revenue streams in your business. Those are all your choice, and you get a permission slip if you need it to think creatively and innovate if you want to.

Susan Boles (48:04):

Break the Ceiling is produced by Yellow House Media. Our executive producer is Sean McMullin. Our production coordinator is [Lou Blaser 00:48:10]. This episode was edited by Marty [Seatbelt 00:48:12] with production assistance by [Kristin Rundick 00:48:14].