Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Dear Danielle: Do Clients Need to Know If I Am PT or FT?

Dear Danielle:

I am launching soon, but still have to work 9-5 to support myself so I don’t have to take a paycheck from the biz right away. I will cut back to part-time and give more time to the biz ASAP on my way to full-time with it. In the meantime, I don’t want to be thought of as someone unreliable, distracted, or who can’t get back to people in a timely fashion. Any ideas about minimizing how obvious it is that I am just starting out part-time? –JN

Ah, this is the beauty of making sure you don’t think of nor market yourself as an assistant, something I’m always preaching here.

I want to talk about that some more, but first here are some practical tips for being timely and professional in your business, whether it’s full-time or part-time (and really, anyone could tell you these):

  1. Only take on retained clients you can support or projects you can complete timely and professionally.
  2. Establish a communication turn-around policy and display that policy on your website (e.g., “I will return your call or email within 24-48 hours.”)
  3. Do what you say you will. This is a form of being consistent, and consistency is about reliability and dependability. So, if you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to do something by a certain date/time, do it by that date/time. Things come up and exceptions happen, but make sure they are RARE. Yes, life happens and by all means you are allowed and you should immediately communicate when you aren’t able to honor a commitment you made. BUT you WILL still be viewed as an unreliable flake if you constantly use that as an excuse or crutch. The solution–only make commitments that you are 99.999% sure you can keep.
  4. Along those lines, give yourself PLENTY of space to honor your commitments. Where people go wrong with making promises and commitments is that they allow clients to have wrong or unrealistic expectations and simply don’t give themselves enough room and time. Don’t box yourself into a corner. Manage expectations in clients by setting conscious, specific policies in your business when it comes to communication, work requests/management and turn-around times.

Now, let’s talk about some conceptual things that will really change the entire ballgame for you and how you approach your business.

Let’s first clarify the terms “part-time” and “full-time.” When I refer to part-time and full-time, it has nothing to do with the number of hours you put in or are available in a day or week. When I refer to part-time and full-time, it has to do with whether your business is your sole livelihood (“full-time”) or whether you are still working a job to support yourself (which makes your business a “part-time” effort/livelihood).

When you call yourself assistant, clients come to the table with the mindset that you should be doing assistant-like things for them and be at their on-demand beck-and-call.

That just doesn’t work in business (that is, if you are trying to create the kind of business where you can both earn AND live well without having what amounts to a J-O-B and having to take on hundreds of clients just to break even).

If you create a business like that and allow those kind of expectations, your daily PT or FT availability will be an issue. You don’t want your value to be dependant upon that.

So how do you change expectations around that and how you are able to operate your business in a manner more like a professional and not an assistant? It starts with not calling yourself an assistant. 😉

If you don’t want part-time or full-time status to matter, then you want to instead frame yourself as an administrative expert, not an assistant. As an adminstrative expert, you focus clients on the fact that your expertise and skills are all about administrative work, not in being an assistant. These are two completely separate concepts.

When you frame yourself in this manner, you begin to see your role in your business very differently. You begin to understand that like any other kind of professional who is hired for a specific expertise and talent, the fact that you “assist” clients doesn’t make you an assistant.

When you decide to be an administrative expert and not an assistant, you then realize that you do not need to operate and work with clients nor be available to them in the same manner as an assistant. Since you aren’t an assistant, you aren’t working with them for specified hours in a day or week.

And because you aren’t trying to be an “assistant,” clients don’t need to know whether you have a full-time or part-time business. The point becomes moot because you aren’t selling your availability of hours, you are providing a partnership of administrative expertise.

The other thing here that will change the game entirely is to sell your value and expertise, not your hours. Your value is about how your work and expertise ultimately helps clients grow and move forward in their businesses to accomplish their goals and overcome obstacles. If you keep trying to sell your time (hourly billing) or packages of hours, you will keep yourself enslaved to the clock, which will automatically put a lid on your earning potential.

When you make these shifts in your thinking about who you are and what you do in your business, you are freed from all kinds of burdens that those who are trying to be assistants find themselves saddled with. When you are not an assistant, you do not need to accept on-demand kinds of work and roles that others are enslaved by. (I always say, if a client needs an assistant, then they need to employ one. 😉 )

As an administrative specialist, you can instead choose to take on only work that can be scheduled and where you can give yourself plenty of space to complete. This is the kind of business model I teach folks how to build. When you operate this kind of business, whether you are full-time or part-time in your business becomes irrelevent because you aren’t marketing yourself like someone who is going to be available to clients like an assistant and you aren’t selling hours.

The Ol’ Time Management Question

How do you manage your time and juggle everything.”

A common question, particularly in our line of work. Most of the time, responses to this question have to do with tools and programs and systems. Which is absolutely helpful and definitely part of the equation. But for me, the heart of things always lie in the very foundation. What I mean by that is, I go back to the beginning, the root, the very reasons I am in business.

When I went into business, it was so that I had more control over my own life… you know, live my life on my own terms. It was so that I could exercise and hone the skills I had that I take immense pride in and enjoy using. It was to do work and work on things and with people I found interesting. It was a means to have an entirely different quality of life, one that allowed me to travel and live differently, to have more and different experiences that the ol’ 9-5 life of an employee simply doesn’t afford. And of course, the fact that my skills and work actually helps those I choose to work with is tremendously gratifying.

What becomes not so gratifying and liberating is when I am working only to manage things, to keep my head above the waters of work.

This is when I have to question what I’m doing? Why am I working this way? Why am I being put in a position of juggling? Is this the way I really want to be working.

This is why you frequently see my using the phrase “working with clients in ways that will bury you.”

Part of the cause of working with clients in ways that will bury you is in trying to be the same kind of “assistant” as they’d have in an employee.

The answer: Don’t try to be an assistant. And you really can never truly be an assistant if you are running your own business. It just isn’t going to work. Because to run a business that will make the kind of money you can actually live on, you have to work with other clients. So you are going to be pulled in different directions. Always.

The trick is to stop trying to be an assistant, and instead be someone with a special expertise. In our case, that’s administrative expertise and support. You don’t have to be anyone’s assistant in order to deliver that expertise. You also don’t have to be their personal assistant or concierge. And that’s the other part of the solution. When you stop trying to be their personal assistant and concierge, you eliminate work you don’t have to be doing. Which in turn creates less juggling, better focus and more time for your own life.

The other part of the solution is to stop trying to do everything. Obviously, your market must have a need for the solution you are in business to offer. And you need to pay attention to your market, study it and understand their needs and challenges so that you can identify where your solution will fit and frame it in ways so they will see how it will fit as well. That’s not to say that your market has the last word. You can’t live your life with everyone else leading you around the nose. As a business owner, you get to decide what you offer, what you don’t and how you offer things, which presumably, are going to be in ways that allow you to give superior service to all of those people you work with. Offering things and doing work that ultimately bogs you down and prevent you from delivering that primary objective defeats the purpose entirely.

It’s the reason I have never, ever managed any client’s email. Ever. It’s always why I have never answered any client’s phones. Because that work would bog me down to the point that I would not be fulfilling my primary reasons for being in business and that kind of work actually prevent me from giving superior support to clients on the work that I am in business to provide–administrative support and expertise.

You get to define what constitutes support in your business. If you don’t intend to be a receptionist, you get to decide that. And I would really advise you to not be a receptionist or manage emails because it will totally bog you down in your business and keep you enslaved beyond what you may have intended. Your value has nothing do with the things you don’t do. Your value lies in what the things you actually do and how it helps your clients move forward. You don’t need to ALSO be a receptionist or manage their emails in order to do that. But what you can remind clients is that the time you free up with the work you do do, they can more easily and effectively manage those things you don’t do (or hire someone else who does them). And you can also help them set up systems and automations to make those things easier for them to manage on their own.

A Little Concentration Never Hurt Anyone

Oh, the irony! So many of the things we do in the name of “better service” actually prevent us from delivering just that.

So often we do the things we do without really thinking about it, without examining why we do them the way we do.

I say, it’s always good exercise to examine our habits and practices and evaluate whether they are really helping us accomplish our objectives, live up to our values and standards, and better serve our customers.

I mean, if you’re red and bloodied on the floor from killing yourself to serve well, does that ultimately do any good — for anyone?

The health and well-being of both you and your client is absolutely necessary for extraordinary service to occur.

Did you know that it takes 20 to 30 minutes to transition into critical thought?

That means every time you pick up that ringing phone or stop to check emails when you are working on something important, it will take that long to get your concentration back.

Talk about unproductive!

I’m guilty myself to some extent. I love checking email!

But for some folks, it’s not a matter of choice.

They feel they HAVE to answer that phone or check for new emails or they aren’t providing good service.

Here’s the thing, though: You aren’t helping anyone if your productivity is compromised constantly.

It takes you longer to get things done. Interruption causes stress. Stress causes procrastination. More mistakes happen. You forget where you left off and waste time trying to regroup.

If that’s you, I’m here to give you permission to RELAX! And I’ve got some strategies for you.

  1. The first thing to do is to stop answering every phone call and email while you are working. Put the phone on Voicemail and turn off your email.
  2. Schedule blocks of time for work that requires your undivided concentration. During those blocks of time, focus strictly on the work or project at hand.
  3. Set a routine of a specific time or times each day to check Voicemail, return calls and reply to emails. Some folks find an hour first thing in the morning and last thing at night works best. Others check in once a day at midday. Find your own groove and then stick with it.
  4. Save busy work (that is, simple, routine tasks that don’t require a deep level of thinking and concentration) for times outside your productive blocks. I tend to like to do this kind of quick, easy stuff first thing in the morning to get it out of the way and off my mind for the day.
  5. At the end of the day, take a deep, cleansing breath. There now, didn’t that feel great to work without interruption? Don’t you feel like you got more done?

I’m willing to bet you feel more energized and satisfied. And your communication and service hasn’t suffered. It’s just been systemized so that you can do better work for clients.

Isn’t that the whole point?

Cracking the Whip

When you go to the store, do you blow in like a hurricane and start barking out orders to every person who crosses your path?

Why not? You’re the customer aren’t you? They are in business to serve your needs, aren’t they?

You are the very reason for their existence. What does it matter that there are other customers there before you? Shouldn’t they be doing everything you want, exactly how you want it, when you want it?

The customer is ALWAYS right!


What would happen if your business worked that way?

What kind of resources would you need in order to deliver service like that?

I imagine you’d need an awful lot of staff, for one thing, in order to cater to those kind of expectations.

Which, of course, would cost a pretty penny.

And then you’d need people to manage that staff, which increases your overhead and administration even more.

You’d also have to stay open 24 hours a day. If a client has a whim at 2 in the morning, you’ve got to be prepared at a second’s notice to take care of them!

Next, you’ve got to have another group of people to oversee things so nothing falls through the cracks.

You’ll probably also need someone in HR to deal with staff turn-over and burn-out issues (it’s not an easy job catering to client needs and whims round the clock day after day).

You’ll also want someone who can be documenting all the attendant workflows and training materials because they’ll be changing from one minute to the next as you bend over backward to meet each and every customer’s unique demands and terms.

To coordinate and brainstorm and stay in sync with all these people and departments, you’ll have to have meetings, lots and lots of meetings.

And emails.

And memos.

And then you’ll want a dedicated customer service team to smooth over ruffled feathers and unhappy customers when you fall down and can’t deliver.

Because that’s exactly what will eventually happen when the customer is always right and you can’t and don’t say no to anyone or anything.

If you’re a solopreneur, you can’t run your business like that. You simply don’t have the means and resources.

What’s more — you can’t afford to run your business like that. Not only for the sake of your own health and sanity, but also for the sake of your clients.

What I want you to know is that you are not a conveyor belt or drive-thru window.

You do NOT have to take everything that is dished out (and particularly not from crappy clients) in order to be of service and value.

You’re not their servant, you’re their administrative partner.

Let’s be honest, most people in our industry are women, and women are natural born nurturers and helpers.

However, women in our society have been conditioned to put their needs last, to placate instead of assert, to bow down instead of stand up.

They too often think that helping and being of service means not having any standards, requirements or expectations of their own for clients.

I really, really want you to hear me on this:

If your practice isn’t capable of delivering on the expectations you allow clients to form, consistently and reliably 99.9% of the time, you’ve got to establish different expectations.

One of the ways you do that is by creating systems and setting policies in your business.

For example, you can’t work 24 hours a day, and I’m sure you don’t want clients calling any ol’ time they please at all hours of the night.

So what you do is formalize some office hours that you advertise to clients and develop a communications policy.

That doesn’t mean you can’t work when you want, regardless of the day or hour.

Rather, it helps you preserve your sanity and manage your business effectively by establishing healthy boundaries and client expectations so that you are able to provide fabulous, wonderful, capable support to your clients.

Here’s the truth of the matter:

You can’t be on your best game and truly help and support clients if you are constantly pulled in conflicting directions trying to please everybody at the same time and your life is a free-for-all with everyone else making up their own rules, doing things their own way, in YOUR business.

The BEST way to help your clients is to help yourself first by creating the optimal conditions that allow you to deliver that wonderful support you want to give.

Policies and procedures and systems are what allow you to HELP clients, all of them, equally and consistently and reliably.

Most people are reasonable and will understand this.

They can certainly relate to why you must have some structure and protocols in your business.

They understand that even more when you show them how that foundation ultimately helps you help them better.

On the Topic of “Variety”

When you ask people in our industry why they started their businesses, one of the top reasons they’ll give is to have a lifestyle that allows for more free/quality time for family or taking care of loved ones.

So it always surprises me that these same folks end up creating practices and operating conditions that allow them to do anything but that.

One of the problems is that they resist the idea of narrowing down their focus to a specific target market.

(Note: A target market is simply an industry/field/profession that you cater your administrative support to. For example, financial advisors or attorneys or coaches or speakers…

It’s so crazy because it’s the one thing that will make everything in their businesses easier and more profitable — in terms of money and time — in marketing and running a successful administrative support practice.

One of the rationalizations I always hear is some variation of the theme, “But I like lots of variety; I’ll get bored if I do the same thing all the time.”

This is when I know I’m dealing with a newbie and/or someone who has no clients.

Because when you have clients, particularly in a specific target market where you specialize in supporting their particular industry, the LAST thing you are is bored. That’s because the more you specialize in supporting a specific target market, the more interesting the work is, the more you can uncover more meaningful and valuable work to do for clients, and the more kinds of work/ways there are for you to support them.

These newbies/people with no clients mistakenly think that in order to have variety, they have to have all these different kinds of clients.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that per se.

But what happens in having all these widely varying kinds of clients is that they have to shift so many mental gears in doing the work, that it actually make the work more difficult, more time-consuming and keeps them from making more money.

So my question is always this:

What’s the point of “variety” if you’re working yourself to the bone trying to scrape together a living at this and that while never have any time to enjoy the fruits of your labor?

Because I have news for ya: spreading yourself all over the map in an effort to have “variety” is going to keep you from creating the kind of administrative support business that comes with more ease, more time and more freedom to spend with friends and family and live and enjoy your life.

None of us wants to be bored or unchallenged in our work. And if you choose the right target market, you won’t be.

You will have lots of interesting work and variety and experiences within a target market. Because one of the things that a target market should be is one where you have an affinity for and enjoyment of the kinds of people and work that is involved.

If you choose a target market on that basis,  variety will never be an issue.

Another benefit to focusing on a target market is that you get really good at doing the kinds of work that that market really needs. In the process of that, it allows you to become the go-to expert.

Not only will that make your business easier to run, thus allowing you more freedom and time away from the work, but you can also command higher fees.

When you command higher fees, you don’t have to work with as many clients to make what need/want to make.

When you have a clearly defined target market, it gives you direction. You can better study your market, talk to its needs and frame your offering in ways that are the most resonate and attractive specifically to it.

Your efforts are more focused and more effective as a consequence. You’ll be able to build your practice more quickly and easily.

Some people worry that focusing on a target market will exclude other markets.

But here’s the thing: it’s not going to.

The irony is that the kind of clarity that grows out of extreme focus only makes you more attractive to all kinds of other markets besides the one you’ve chosen to “speak” to.

Your message becomes more differentiated and more attractive and compelling.

And even if it was true, what would it matter if other markets were turned away if you were already getting all the clients you needed and more within your target market?

Put It on Autopilot

So much to do, so little time to do it. That’s business, right?

We could work 24 hours a day if we let ourselves. There’s always something else to do.

What if you’re looking to see more of life beyond your desk and computer screen, though?

It’s time, then, to automate and streamline a few things…

  1. Use your calendar. Schedule all that can be scheduled. Don’t take meetings on the fly. Follow a basic routine and honor the boundaries you’ve set for your time such as stepping away from the business and into family time at a certain point in the day. It’s much easier to prioritize your work (and your life) when you’ve got control over what’s on your plate.
  2. Organize incoming emails. Utilize whatever tools are provided by your email client to the fullest. If you use Outlook, make use of flags and rules. You can set things up so that emails go straight into particular folders. It’s much easier (and less overwhelming) to sort through and prioritize messages when they’re already organized for you.
  3. Automate your bills. If you have recurring bills each month, set them up on autopay. Whenever possible, pay annually—you may even save a chunk of change that way as well. For other bills, take advantage of the ease and convenience of online Bill Pay, which comes with most checking accounts these days. It will save you the steps and cost of writing checks, addressing envelopes and paying for stamps.
  4. Use an RSS reader. Blog-reading is a great way to expand your business knowledge and keep up with your target market and industry info (not to mention a nice distraction when you need a mental break now and then). But it can also easily turn into a full-time job trying to keep up with all of them. Instead, use an RSS reader to organize all of your blog reading (my favorite is NewsBlur). You can create categories or sort blogs by importance. Tip: Schedule your blog reading into your routine so that you don’t miss a thing, but aren’t being wasteful with your time and energy reserves.
  5. Set your listserv subscriptions to digest mode. Instead of a constant incoming stream of (often irrelevant) messages that you have to spend time deleting, elect digest mode instead. You’ll save time and the threads will come to you already organized. You can then click on just those conversations you’re interested and ignore the rest.
  6. Use a tickler file. This is a system where you have 31 folders representing all the possible days in a month. This is a great way to organize to-do’s and clear paper clutter from your desk. This will free your mind from worrying about anything that isn’t in that particular day’s folder. Weren’t able to take care of something that day? No problem; simply move it forward to the next appropriate day’s folder. TIP: You can do this in your email client as well. Simply set up folders for each day of the week and move messages and to-dos around accordingly.

© Copyright 2009 by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links intact.

Dear Danielle: Should I Hire an Employee, Work with a Colleague or Bring in a Partner?

Dear Danielle:

I wanted to know your advice on growing. I am just on the verge of maybe needing help. Do I hire a colleague with her own company, hire an employee, or bring in a partner? I just don’t know. I feel like hiring is taking me out of the industry that I hold so near and dear to my heart. Also, do you have advice on how to select a person to bring into your business. I have had some offers from people, but they’re not familiar with the industry. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing. Could be good to teach someone from ground zero, but also time-consuming. –LE

Here’s what I find myself reminding colleagues of frequently:

Just because you’re solo doesn’t mean you need or should be working alone.

Being a solopreneur doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself.

It simply means that the stock you’re trading is in your own intellectual capital and your unique personal skill, talent, know-how and experience.

Those aren’t things you can delegate, but you can certainly surround yourself with the right professional support so that you can focus doing what you do with your clients and let those who support you do the rest.

Those supporting you might include:

  • A bookkeeper so that you aren’t expending your time on that work (and also ensuring that it’s done correctly);
  • An accountant to make sure you stay in compliance with any financial or taxing agencies and to give you the best financial management advice; and/or
  • A business attorney to draft and/or review your contracts (both those in your own business as well as those others may want you to sign), run your legal questions by, and get advice on situations that hold potential liability for you and any other business matters that arise.

I also recommend that colleagues get their own Administrative Consultant, staff or a combination of both.

When you work with someone who you develop a relationship with over time, the possibilities are endless with regard to the support they can provide.

As they get to know you and how things work in your business, they’re able to support you in a way and to a degree that you just can’t get by outsourcing individual tasks here and there to people you don’t work with consistently.

On top of that, there’s greater ease and efficiency when you have someone you work closely and continuously like that.

You may even identify non-critical parts of the work you do with clients that don’t require your particular brand of expertise that you can have them do for you.

Of course, the relationship is always between you and your client and I never recommend outsourcing that.

When clients hire you, it’s for your brain, your critical thinking, your creativity and your expertise. Never abdicate that. It’s part of your value and part of the thing that makes your business distinctive.

But that doesn’t mean that parts of the work can’t be delegated within your own house to an employee or your own Administrative Consultant whom you have hired because they have impeccable skills and in whom you have absolute confidence. In fact, I will tell you that you will always be stuck within a certain income level if you don’t ever get your own help.

As already mentioned, another way to get support is to hire an employee or two.

You really don’t need much help in order for that support to make a hugely significant difference in your business. And there are all kinds of ways to get that kind of help.

You can hired paid interns from local colleges. You can participant in state work-study programs (where the state will repay you a percentage of whatever wages are paid to the student employee).

Of course with employees, there is more administration and taxes and reporting requirements involved, but if you have a professional bookkeeper, you should have them take care of processing paychecks and so forth.

I personally like a combination of both. I like to have someone in-house who can take care of filing and other things that just require a physical presence. Once a week or two for a few hours, just light clerical stuff. Someone like that you might not even end up paying more than $600 in a year in which case you wouldn’t be required to formally process that person as an employee.

But for the bigger, more important meat-and-potatoes work, if you will, I definitely recommend hiring the best, most highly skilled person you can afford.

Training just takes too much time and energy. And it doesn’t happen overnight.

Think about your own background. It took years to establish the kind of skill and expertise you now possess. How much time and energy will you have to invest before that unskilled, untrained person becomes a real, viable asset to your business rather than a drain? Just something to think about.

Which is why hiring a colleague (who is themselves a business owner) is the better option in my book.

As far as bringing on a partner, I can only offer my opinion which is emphatically: NOOOOOOO! Don’t do it!

Seriously, I have never seen a business partnership end well.

There are far too many agreements and understandings and potentialities to take into consideration.

And it seems it’s always the one thing you didn’t think about ahead of time that ends up causing a rift.

There can really only ever be one captain of a ship. Two will inevitably bump heads, want to steer in different directions or be the boss.

And regardless of legalities, the person who started the business always feels (at least emotionally) that they “own” more of the business and that feeling of “more ownership” often causes resentment with the other partner.

Decision-making, conflicting workstyles, having to compromise, differing visions or opinions… all of these things become more tedious and cumbersome. They complicate and slow down the business.

On top of that, the business now has to earn for two owners instead of just the one: you.

I don’t think you need a partner. I think you just need the right professional advisors, and business support and strategies.

Dear Danielle: What List Management System Do You Recommend

Dear Danielle:

I have enjoyed learning about becoming a better administrative support business owner through your newsletter and forms. My question now is I have a client that wants me to manage his membership database and newsletter formatting and sending. Is there a system that you have used or recommend for this? His database contains over 800 email addresses and names and is done as an excel spreadsheet. His newsletter content is coming from another source and it is expected that I manage that. Any Hints? Recommendations? Thanks –BD

I’d need a bit more information about the context of his membership database to share any thoughts there (e.g., who is added and how and when, and what are his objectives for collecting and using the information?), but as far as ezines, I always encourage clients to go with a list management, autoresponder and distribution tool such as Aweber.

Managing ezine subscribers via an excel spreadsheet is so inefficient and archaic.

Tools like Aweber not only automate the function of opting in subscribers, it provides the tools to create ezine templates, schedule them ahead of time for publication, utilize autoresponder capabilities, allow subscribers to manage their own subscriptions and the client to leverage and maximize their networking and marketing to a greater, more consistent degree.

With Aweber you can use one of the many basic ezine templates they provide for free, modify one of their templates or upload your own ezine format in HTML. It’s super flexible and easy to use.

You can also upload as many issues ahead of time as you wish and set each of them to publish automatically according to whatever dates you have indicated.

The broadcast messaging allows you schedule ezines or any other kind of one-off communications you wish to go out to your lists. And you can have as many lists as you wish: one for your ezine subscribers, one for your members, one for teleseminar registrations, etc.

The autoresponders are another great tool you get with Aweber. With autoresponders, you can set up a series of follow-up communications to go out automatically in sequential time intervals rather than specific dates.

For example, some people use autoresponders to offer e-courses. Subscribers who are interested will opt-in to the list and the autoresponders will issue the first lesson, then the second lesson 7 days after that (or however many days interval you indicate), and so on.

Aweber’s tracking, reporting and analysis tools are incredible, and it’s got the highest whitelist ratings and best delivery rates of all the other services.

So you see, simply storing names and contact info in a spreadsheet really doesn’t do much for you. With an autoresponder/list management service such as Aweber, not only are you streamlining all the work and processes that go into list building, but also automating and making dynamic use of the information and actually putting it into action. I would definitely encourage your client in that direction.

Aweber will allow him to import an existing list, but it must be washed clean first of any obsolete email addresses and the subscribers will have to confirm their desire to opt-in again.

Moving to any new system like that he can expect to lose some of the people on his current list (some experts say the rule of thumb is about 50%) so it’s not entirely painless.

However, you want to help him understand that communicating or trying to maintain a relationship with folks who aren’t interested in the first place isn’t effort that is well-placed.

Aweber will help him build his list back up and what’s better is that he’ll be gaining people who really do have an interest and want to hear from him (as opposed to continuing to send out messages to people he’s merely collected business cards from who may not have any interest in his business or hearing from him).