Hey, thanks for tuning in to another Partner Interview at EcomBalance. At EcomBalance, we’re all about creating win-win partnerships where we are able to grow with other companies in the ecommerce space.
In this exclusive interview, we have a conversation with Alyson Caffrey from Operations Agency.
Alyson is the founder of Operations Agency, co-creator of the Operations Simplified™ Framework and best selling author of The Sabbatical Method: How to Leverage Rest and Grow Your Business. She’s commonly called ‘The Wolf’ among her clients because she just gets sh*t done. Alyson is best known for helping streamline the back-end ops for many brands and digital and creative agencies.
As a fractional COO for many high-growth businesses, Alyson fell in love with the results that clear ops bring to a service business. She and the team at Operations Agency are determined to help businesses thrive profitably, serve more clients and create high-performing teams.
Alyson is a mom to two sons and enjoys spending time at home with her growing family.
Connor: Hey Alyson, thanks for taking the time to chat with us here. We love getting to know our partners better so that our community can benefit from what our partners are offering and doing in the industry. To get started, can you give us a high level overview of the Operations Agency and how it got started?
Alyson: Operations Agency has been partnering with small business owners over the last five years to get their most impactful work down on paper. We love to help return Founders back to their most important work, and to their families by helping them create a business that’s independent of any ONE person.
I started back in 2017 when I was an operations manager at a growing organization. My time had come to move on.
Connor: That’s awesome! Can you dive a bit more into the systems support services that you offer? I’m sure our audience would love to know exactly what problems you could solve for them.
Alyson: Sure! There are 2 ways we currently help owners.
The first is our DONE FOR YOU On-Demand SOP System that is like Design Pickle, but for processes. You need clarity and consistent processes for team members to follow, but no one wants to sit down and write them. And they always get thrown to the end of the queue when a client fire comes up or something else urgent pops up in the business, am I right?! We create a frictionless experience to get things documented so that your team doesn’t feel the burden and your knowledge base for your business is maintained.
For companies that need a little more support, we offer Private Client services where we work with Founders that have a scaling service business that is in need of 1 on 1 operational support. We work with Private Clients by application only.
Connor: Jumping off of that…if there was one problem you’d say that Operations Agency solves best for your clients, what would it be? Why?
Alyson: Peace and consistency in their life and in their business. Let’s face it, most entrepreneurs start their businesses to solve a problem and they end up… running a business. It either doesn’t come naturally to them, they don’t have a business background but all of a sudden they need to plan quarterly rocks and develop a time-off policy and get insurance.
It can get messy quickly and live rent free in your brain until it’s either figured out or all of a sudden everything feels like a dumpster fire. An easily accessible knowledge base for all the internal functions of the business helps provide that clarity around what’s going on behind the scenes, how to solve problems without the founder’s direct input and really just allow the workday to be a little more peaceful.
Connor: As the company continues to grow over the next year, what are your plans for expansion? Any new products or offerings or enhancements to your current products?
Alyson: Yes! We are always expanding our tools for founders and meeting them where they are with solutions around operations. We are releasing The Sabbatical Method which is a guide for business owners to remove themselves from the day-to-day operations and weave in strategic rest to grow their business.
A lot of the greats will tell you that momentum is everything. The next phase in the growth trajectory is to implement strategic rest points to increase overall health and longevity.
One of the most critical reasons folks who seek to summit Everest don’t make it is because they don’t give themselves enough time to acclimate to the oxygen levels at altitude. Rest is a critical piece that lots of entrepreneurs miss and it’s devastating to see things fall apart because of burnout, health issues, or a family struggling to stay together.
The Sabbatical Method helps entrepreneurs understand the benefit of weaving rest into how they operate and our core methodology to making sure they create an ecosystem that supports them long term, not a business that drains them of their time and resources.
Connor: And how specifically would you say that the Operations Agency and your team is different from other similar businesses in the industry?
Alyson: Lots of other operations consultants or advisory companies, like the Entrepreneurial Operating System for example, focus on a one-size-fits-all blueprint. EOS takes a long time to implement, it’s full of red tape and lots of meetings. I think it’s great for a company that is 30-50 team members.
But what about those small shops who are getting really cool stuff done with 5-10 team members? There should be a simple solution for them. Because, guess what, implementing just a handful of things I teach in my Operations Simplified framework can make a huge difference for their work life balance and their bottom line. There’s really no need to overcomplicate operations, we can do a handful of things really well and it’ll lead to massive impact.
Connor: What made you decide to get involved in the ecommerce support space? What’s your starting eCommerce story? From what we’ve found, a lot of business owners in the ecommerce support have fun stories of how they first started…
Alyson: Working with digital agency owners over the years, I became really familiar with how a service business operates traditionally. We were getting lots of really cool results for our clients. And over the years they would approach me and say, hey, I have a client I run ads for and their ops are a total mess. Can you help them? So I’d sit down with a handful of eCommerce folks and see what their problems were.
99 percent of the time, it came down to customer support and satisfaction and just simply not having the plays to run when something either went wrong or proactively to stay out in front of issues. We had one client who implemented Intercom and we saw about 700 unread customer inquiries spanning three weeks time gone unanswered. My jaw dropped and I was thinking… ok, this is going to be a huge difference for them.
We implemented a few plays to run to stay out in front of customer communication and they began addressing customer inquiries within 48 business days. So, we started expanding who we helped a few years back. A knowledge base in an eCommerce environment is absolutely critical.
Connor: Love it! Talking more about the eCommerce industry, where do you see it going in the next 1-2 years? Any unique predictions that you could share?
Alyson: Over the next few years, I think it’s going to become more expensive to acquire a customer, but it’ll be simpler than ever to keep one. In the age of convenience, we see people doing things like setting up subscriptions and returning to companies who share their values and vision for growth.
Getting super clear on where your best customers are and creating a journey that really serves them long term will be the gateway to eCommerce business operations and profit.
Connor: Giving you an open mic for a minute, what is something you’d want the EcomBalance audience to hear?
Alyson: **open mic…How does a computer get drunk? It takes screen shots.**
But actually: something that I’ve become really vocal about is taking rest from your business to provide perspective and give it a chance to rebuild after big pushes. Consider any high performance training plan: running a marathon, summiting Everest, or even completing an Iron Man.
They all have elements of rest strategically woven in to make sure that the body and the mind have opportunities to rest and rebuild. In our business, this can look like creating boundaries to shut our computers at 6pm, not work weekends and even take extended time off to make sure that our business can thrive independently of the founder. It’s one of the most critical elements of running a business that lots don’t talk about and some ignore completely.
Connor: Changing gears a little bit…When it comes to bookkeeping and accounting, what do you think the biggest pain points for business owners are? Feel free to speak from personal experience as well.
Alyson: I think a lot of owners don’t have clarity on their numbers and they’re scared to reconcile them. Pun intended. They’ll ignore the numbers for too long until they get hit with a huge tax bill or they reflect on their P&L at the end of the year and things aren’t exactly what they thought. Knowing your numbers is critical to having a high performing and profitable business. And that goes beyond the P&L and the balance sheet.
Connor: As we close this out, I just have one more question. Where is the best place to find and follow you and the company online? Also, if you have one, is there any special offer that you’ll be offering to the community today?
Alyson: Sure! I’d love if everyone grabbed a copy of my new book, The Sabbatical Method: How to Leverage Rest and Grow Your Business. It’s available on Amazon. We also have a free toolkit that distills all the big ideas and critical actions from the book. Available for free at https://www.operationsagency.com/tsm-toolkit