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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Simplifying the Consulting Experience: Strategies for Easier Client Engagement

Founder and Managing Consultant of Humagined, Bryce Arii specializes in scaling service-based businesses. They prioritize accessibility by simplifying consulting access and using automation for efficiency. We discuss how simple automation can be and Bryce’s unique fee models that make high quality consulting affordable for small to midsize businesses.

Notes from the Show

Bryce Arii is the founder and managing consultant at Humagined. Humagined focuses on scaling and building service based businesses. Bryce works with small to midsize businesses, and what is so special about his firm is their approach to reducing barriers to make access to a quality consultant easier.

Bryce and his team leverage automation to streamline processes and achieve efficiency. They use a variety of tools to save time and make the experience for customers easy and timesaving. And for those interested in embedding automation, we talk about its simplest form, a filing system. He highlights a common problem that everyone has, document management, and shares how creating an efficient management system one time and then using it repeatedly is exactly what kind of automation they leverage at Humagined.

Cost of service can be a big barrier for clients, Bryce shares two ways they position themselves as affordable to their clients. Instead of large, advanced paid contracts, Humagined works on a subscription fee model, focusing their work and goals on what can move the needle each month. Additionally, they offer a “foot in the door” set fee, where they essentially give away a strategy, and what clients continue to pay and invest in is the implementation. This can make a huge difference to clients who may need more to be sold on a need for service.

Bryce uses his experience in business and consulting to create a custom experience for his clients, based on his knowledge of the impact that quality consulting can have on building and scaling businesses.

What's Inside:

  • Removing the barriers to quality consulting at an affordable price

  • Using automation tools to simplify and make consulting accessible

  • The simple form of automation, for the non technical client

  • Creating a custom experience for small to midsize businesses

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:36

Welcome friends welcome back to stop the noise today my guest is Bryce Arii who's the founder and managing consultant at Humagined where Bryce works on helping his clients build and scale their service businesses.

Bryce Arii 0:53

That's right.

Susan Tatum 0:54

Glad to have you here today.

Bryce Arii 0:55

I'm glad to be here today.

Susan Tatum 0:59

Oh, well, I we have a really interesting topic, I think to talk about today about how about making it easier for clients to do business with you?

Bryce Arii 1:07


Susan Tatum 1:08

So before we go down that path, let's just say will you tell us a bit about what led you to start your own consulting firm and you know, how you how you got where you are and what you do for your clients?

Bryce Arii 1:18

Absolutely. You know, it's funny, the reason I'm smiling is because I think I knew I wanted to be a consultant when I was 13 years old. I asked for a sports cup for my fifth birthday, it was just like in my DNA, you know. So this is like, this is probably my third consulting company, to be honest with you. And when I was younger, just out of college, I was working for a Learning and Development Company, doing all sorts of technical training, I started as a receptionist and moved to their IT manager, corner office at 20 years old, whatever you like, it was pretty great. And my boss at the time said, you know, Bryce, we have these businesses that come in all the time, you should sell your consulting services to them. So that's kind of what got me into consulting in general. And then from there, I moved into different businesses, different enterprises, enterprise IT, call centre engineering, you name it in the tech space, and then moved into tech leadership ultimately moved into big consulting at one of the largest consulting companies in the world. And so as a senior manager, worked there for about five years, and then just really started thinking about this small to mid size market that is so underserved, I feel like lot of small to midsize companies wouldn't know where to begin working with a big firm like Accenture, Deloitte, or Bain or BCG or whatever and then our

Susan Tatum 2:46

not be able to afford it.

Bryce Arii 2:48

Right. Exactly, exactly. And not only that, just thinking about the businesses that I've had over the years, and how some of those might be successful. So I had access to consulting. So what we did with Humagined sat down with a team of really amazing people and just said, how do we really make it easy for folks in the small to mid size business range, work with us and get the experience of the big consulting, but not for the price? So we'll talk more about what that looks like later. But one of our big values is how do we make it really simple and easy to work with us, especially for those people that don't have time?

Susan Tatum 3:26

So this was a, this was something that you established early on as the differentiating factor for you.

Bryce Arii 3:31

Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the things that I experienced in my consulting career, and but by no fault of their own, there's their large complex engagements a lot of times, but stakeholders asking, you know, what's the status of the project? Where are we at? Where's the latest document? You know, like, can we get this in our brands? Can we just so many questions about like, making it a custom experience for your client? And I took note of those over my 20 years of experience consulting, and just said, how do we take away the pain of working with a consultant, and that became one of the values of Humagined

Susan Tatum 4:07

So what I just heard you say about that, when you were describing how you saw clients struggle a little bit and working with the big consulting firms that you were at? This is where it comes into streamlining processes. And it sounds like you're using technology to to do the streamlining, I guess or tell us about that.

Bryce Arii 4:32

absolutely. So one of the biggest pain points I had was I spend a lot it's fine training clients on concepts, training clients on here's the purpose of why we're here today, you know, or training people on new terminology, establishing a common language, things like that. And when you're making those big rates to do that kind of work, it just didn't. There was something about it that didn't feel right is like I'm a consultant, not a trainer. So what I found was that I could build a learning management system, where combined with automation, so we mapped out the entire sort of value stream, if you will, of delivering services to clients. So what does what does each of the service and delivering our services so the clients look like? Now? How do we leverage automation, and workflow management to make it super simple, so that as we're progressing through our engagement, our clients are getting access to the videos about, hey, we're here for strategic plan, here's what you need to know. So we don't take the first 20 minutes to an hour explaining all these concepts to the client, we're showing up and actually doing the work instead of training. So that was one thing that our clients will really really love as a for example.

Susan Tatum 5:48

so, if I can, if I can, I don't want to put words in your mouth. But I think you're saying, and when we talked to before, so I come from this, it's all about the human touch. It's about the human interactions. And you and I talked about, but there's ways to use technology, and not to replace human interaction at all but to make these repetitious things that really don't change, like the or your example of the definition of whatever it was, that so you record that so that they can on their own time, at their convenience, and go and look at these videos.

Bryce Arii 6:26

That's right. That's right. And it's one set better than that, as we're advancing kind of our project status, if you will. So if we have, for example, I was talking about that. I think that workshop, right, the mission planning workshop, as soon as we move our cart into doing client gets an email with a video that or videos that say, here's what you need to prep before we go into this meeting. And so what is really nice is we send that out, but a week ahead of time, and then send reminders so that the client is fully prepared before we go into that meeting, versus us sitting there explaining something for half an hour, the client frantically searching for whatever information may well, or the the meeting, right? And then we ended up running an hour and a half overtime, because it just took that long to kind of get our, you know, bearings and get in motion around whatever it is we're doing. We just didn't want our clients experience that.

Susan Tatum 7:24

So how do you make sure that the clients look at that stuff ahead of time?

Bryce Arii 7:27

You know, it's awesome. So we have a great product that we're using, it's called Rocket lane. And for all these service providers, we are a reseller as well, the rocket lane. It's an amazing product, it not only has accountability for you as a consultant, it's kind of a project management system, where you can put your clients into it, and tag them with responsibilities. And so there's this back and forth between you and client, there's chat included. And so what we do is we get notices clients haven't clicked the email or haven't clicked the links, so that we can go and follow up with them and say, Hey, no, we're happy if you want to do this in person, we can do that. But what we're trying to do here is save that time and cash from you know working with us. So

Susan Tatum 8:15

I remember the first time we talked you had mentioned that. And you said earlier on this conversation that you wanted to provide consulting services at a lower price than the big guys so that the small to medium sized businesses can afford it. And so these were things that I think what you said to me was, I had to figure out how I can charge these lower fees, but still has the profitability for myself and my company.

Bryce Arii 8:47

Yes. Yeah.

Susan Tatum 8:48

So it's was really it's like it was I can imagine this conversation you had about what can we how can we use technology to replace some of these things that would be pretty expensive if you had to put a high level person in all the time.

Bryce Arii 9:00

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That that was a big challenge. So there's two ways we do that. One is the automation, we're talking about, where everything we can every interaction that doesn't require a human sitting in the room with you, holding your hands together, we're trying to pull that back and do that from automation and tool. It's kind of the other way that we are doing this is we have this approach where, you know, people can't afford these $30,000 month contracts and this small to midsize business market. Right? Nor do they have the time. And when I was a business owner, I barely had, I don't know, a day a month to work on the operations in my business. Most of it was delivering making sure everyone else is delivering, you know, man.

Susan Tatum 9:45

Yeah, yeah

Bryce Arii 9:46

the whole thing insurance, you know, and so it doesn't make sense to for these folks to even hire a full time person. So the way that we make it simple for our clients is we go and do our strategic planning our mission planning session. break down all the things that you need for your business to scale with that does two things, it takes it out of your head as a business owner. So you don't have to have that swirling in your head, as well as managing your company, managing your employees, all that stuff. Now you have a representative roadmap of what you need to do to get where you need to go. And the second thing that helps us do is for a low monthly price, we can knock off a few things a month, so that you don't have this huge capital and time Expense all at once. We can like iterate month by month. And what's amazing is I always say little things kind of snowball into these big results. And we've seen that with our clients.

Susan Tatum 10:42

So how far are out when you're doing this plan? So what I'm hearing is you create this plan. So I'm, we're at point A, we want to be at point B. And then here's the steps that are in between how far out is point B? How far out are you planning,

Bryce Arii 10:57

we usually do annual plan at a high level, and then break it down to the next quarter. More tactically, that way, we have kind of the vision of where we're headed for the year, and then the subwaves pieces to get there. One of the things that I think we do really well in talking with our clients is the roadmap is going to evolve over that here, there's going to come up we're going to need to change. And it's so that's why our our subscription model works really well for that, because we're knocking off just a few things at a time. If we need to pivot on the roadmap, we can pivot what our deliverables are, too, because we don't want to go build something with you or build your business in a way that doesn't get results

Susan Tatum 11:39

True that would not make people happy.

Bryce Arii 11:42

That would not be easy to work with either. Yeah.

Susan Tatum 11:46

So that just the subscription costs, does it change it's monthly depending upon what the workload is for that month?

Bryce Arii 11:53

No, it's a fixed fee. So typically, we knock out five to 10 deliverables, what we found is our clients, like like I said, they're already cash and time constraint anyways. So it really works to just identify those five to 10 things we're going to do together each month, make it so that your accountant knows, every month you're getting this bill for the same cost, where we've seen some additional revenue is when somebody says, Okay, now it's really time to go, I need your full time help on this, you know, then we can have customising customised pricing plans, if you want full time consultants to come bang this out with you, you know, instead of the drip approach

Susan Tatum 12:31

Yeah, yeah. So does it also provide your clients with the ability to check for themselves with the status of different things? Or do do you use it that way, too? Yes,

Bryce Arii 12:43

absolutely. So our tool rocket Lane comes with a dashboard. And we always start with objectives and key results, because we really want to make sure that we're achieving those results. Like I was saying before, like it, if our consulting isn't achieving results, we've invested more. So what are your Yeah, so our dashboard shows our clients business goals that we've agreed to together as a constant reminder that to both us and our clients, if we're not doing something this month, that moves the needle on those goals, we shouldn't be talking about it. Or we should be adjusting those goals if we need to. Right. It also has visibility into the status of the project the documents all in one place, which we really love. Like I said, you know, where's the latest document? Is it in my email? Is it on the SharePoint? Is it where it is?

Susan Tatum 13:35

Exactly, and which is the latest version of it?

Bryce Arii 13:41

So our tool handles all that for us, and it makes it way easier or better experience for our clients to be honest.

Susan Tatum 13:48

So you were your clients are mostly service providers?

Bryce Arii 13:53

Uh huh.

Susan Tatum 13:54

What is this? What at what point in their business does this kick in? Is this like, become a viable thing?

Bryce Arii 14:01

Yeah. So there's two, there's two places we really like to work. One is a service businesses that's been around for two to four years, usually half a million to a million in revenue. We, we work with them in the strategic mission planning and then starting to scale and ramp their business over time, like I said, with our fixed subscription fee model. And then again, when they start to get to that place, where now it's really time to scale and grow their company, so maybe around five to 10 million. Again, we're starting to just put in structures. What we found is a lot of times when people start to, you know, hire a 100 first 100 employees, first 150 employees, somewhere in that range, like one to 300 employees, they start to put in those traditional org structures. They start to create silos within their business. They start to hard code, some really bad operational processes. And so that's our specialty is taking the couplexity out of selling your business.

Susan Tatum 15:02

So what is what advice do you have for those that are? I mean, maybe they've been maybe they're in the two to four year timeframe, but maybe they're maybe they're younger. I mean, maybe they're, they're really just getting started out, I think that there's still a lot of good to be to come out of streamlining your processes using automation where you can part of it. So I get a lot of clients pre client asking me, How do I balance the time that I spend supporting clients and the time I need to spend doing business development? And I certainly believe that you have to do business development you get cut back on that. Yeah. But you also have to support clients. So if you have in eliminating things that you eliminated, it is less time that it would take, say me to support my clients. Well, so what can be done on the front end? Like how can those of us that are not ready to have a full on automation programme put into place? How can we take some of your philosophy and apply it to for us?

Bryce Arii 16:14

love that question, Susan. That's amazing. You know, that's, that's why we call the company who imagined the whole human centric part of things and the whole human and tech interaction and your processes. And so there's some things you can do even before you buy your tech that are very simple, like grading document management. So many times I've been working with boutique firms, and it's like, where's the sales deck? Oh, I don't know where it is.

Susan Tatum 16:38

Somewhere in Google Drive. Yeah.

Bryce Arii 16:42

Yep. Right. Or where's where's our clients? Templates? You know, where's our client flat and branded PowerPoints? Or whatever? Where it is? Where is all this information? Where's what we've done before that actually worked? Where's our intellectual property? It's like, well, it's somewhere in the drives. And it's typically like the names of the folder, it's just, it can be crazy. And so what happens is, you end up hard coding, making your consultants just make stuff up all the time. And then what happens is your brand identity gets lost, the way you do things isn't repeatable anymore. I mean, it's proven these large consulting companies, they do have at least some level of repeatability, when they're delivering. And that's how you can apply a college student and train them to be a consultant. Because there are those templates and tools and all the good things and you know where to find them?

Susan Tatum 17:39

And you have a process Yeah,

Bryce Arii 17:42

most of the time.

Susan Tatum 17:43

So how, how xo I get that we're losing files, because I do it. And if I didn't have, you know, my assistant would tell you that I'm constantly slacking her, where's the Where do I? Where is this> give me the link? How do you create a document management system that, you know, a simple one that works?

Bryce Arii 18:02

Yeah, I think it's really important to look at mapping out your end to end process like we did with Humagined, like, what documents do you need at each step of the engagement. So for example, we have marketing documents. And so when we go to trade shows, or we go to, you know, bizdev calls or whatever, we've got all of our marketing content, we've got our LinkedIn campaigns, all that stuff in a specific area, then we have our sales tools in this specific area, we have taken our onboarding process pretty seriously. And so what we've discovered is like our consultancy, to know like this much, you know, like the six foot given wide, and like six hour training, our clients maybe need the two hour version of that. And then our social media, like the 32nd version of of all the different pieces of that. And so what we've done is record the longer trainings and kind of split them up so that we have this, just like thinking about things in that way, or ways that you can start to leverage automation, right, do something once, but use it 20 times as a, for example.

Susan Tatum 19:11

So it could be as simple as a template that you continue to use. I mean,

Bryce Arii 19:15

yeah, we're just seeing a document that says, Welcome to XYZ company. Here's how, here's where to find all this junk. Here's all the links, here's each step of the process. And when you're consulting with the client, here's all the things you need to be thinking about. Yeah,

Susan Tatum 19:30

right. Yeah. So it's a I mean, it's its simplest form. It's kind of a it's a, it's a filing system, basically.

Bryce Arii 19:36

Yeah. It On, isn't it funny that we still don't do that very well. I'm not at all, you know, the thing is, especially because these services companies, whether they be, you know, the Salesforce consultants, whether they be some sort of, you know, developers, whether they do operations, whatever, they're creatives, and what I know about creatives, because I am one is we're not very organised. It's, it's

Susan Tatum 20:06

Yes. Yes.

Bryce Arii 20:07

So I've really had to train myself. And in doing that, that's how I learned how to really show up well for our clients.

Susan Tatum 20:12

So we wonder if there's some source out there that they can kind of guide folks through it in an early stage of just how to how to what to name your files, you know, and how to group them together. Sounds like a good start. I like your idea of saying, of looking at your business and each area of your business and identifying what all of the tools and resources and documents are that go into that.

Bryce Arii 20:40

Yeah, no, absolutely. Like I said, you know, if we're not doing the things that we tell our clients to do, it kind of feels a little bit backwards, right. So it's been a really big focus. And honestly, it took me about three to six months to even map out all of our processes, make sure that our file system matched those processes, look for different ways to automate the different pieces. And honestly, we got really lucky, because we found great tools right away.

Susan Tatum 21:11

So yeah, can see how that would be very helpful. You know, and also, I think one of the clever things that you're doing, and you just touched on it a little bit is you are showing your clients, they are experiencing what it should be like for their clients to work with them they really get what you're talking about, and what the advantages to their clients.

Bryce Arii 21:35

Yeah, absolutely. One of the big differentiators for us is, you know, a lot of times you work with consultants, and you end up with some deliverable a doc, a piece of paper, video, whatever it is, yeah, you know, and you go to implement whatever is on the piece of paper. And it's kind of like, well, wait, where do we start? Again? How did this made sense when we were working with the consultant? And now we're on our own?

Susan Tatum 22:01

Right? Yeah, yeah.

Bryce Arii 22:02

And so then it's for us, we really are human centred, we want our clients to learn to do what we do, so that eventually they don't need us anymore, or they need us in a different way or a different capacity. That's, that's one of the biggest differentiators is you work with us? We're working shoulder to shoulder I mean, I've been in so many conversations where VP of XYZ is, you know, Bryce, you're just going to come in, and we'll take all our employees out of the way, we'll fix this for us. And I'm like, Nope, that's not it. I'm actually going to ask for more of your employees time to work with us, because we need it to swing and change the SEC. And we need results. Right? So

Susan Tatum 22:40

yeah, it's got to work for them. So another way that you've made it easier for clients to start working with you, is that you I think it was the last time we talked, you mentioned to me that you had started cutting off, like chopping off the very first step of your process, and providing that to them at a fixed fee, sort of get your foot in the door and see what it's like to work with us kind of thing. Tell us about that

Bryce Arii 23:08

Yeah, absolutely. So that the thing is that I discovered, because I came from big consulting, and a big consulting. For those of you who haven't worked in big consulting, that are watching this, you kind of get thrown out at any problem, and you just figure out how to solve it. That's just about how it works. And so you kind of develop this, like god complex of I can solve any problem. And so then he goes, start your own consulting agency, and you say, Well, I can solve any problem. Well, sure, you can, but your clients aren't going to believe it. You're you're not you're not the whole of the firm, you came from you don't have the collective experience of that firm behind you anymore, even though you think you do. And that's a bit of a reality check. It was for me anyways, because I would talk to people and be like, what problem do you have? I'm going to solve it with you. And they would look at me cross eyed like, You're crazy. Yeah. So what we've really figured out is it's really about identifying what the client needs, their goals, objectives, the dreams they have for their business up front. And so that's our mission planning workshop, you're right, for $1,000 will sit down for four hours, take all that great stuff that we were seeing was like flying around in these creative people's heads, put it on paper with you come up with a plan, you can go implement that yourself, that's our gift to you. So $1,000 Usually we charge way more for that, but right now that's where it's at. And then if you choose to use our help and implementing and breaking it up, like we're talking about earlier, then you just might fold into our subscription model, but it's very easy for clients to say yes to one of a $1,000 workshop. So you take everything out of your head and put on paper that's worth at least 20 grand, you know,

Susan Tatum 24:47

oh yeah.

Bryce Arii 24:49

And that's like a gift. You know, the only reason we're charging for it instead of giving it away for free as like Bitly or something is we need their skin and the game at least a little bit, you know? So it's not like a dog and pony, imagine show so.

Susan Tatum 25:06

So I guess it's some of the listeners may be thinking the same thing I am that you are for the price practically giving away the strategy when they need to be doing and then asking them to pay for the implementation. Have you found that they're hesitant to pay for strategy?

Bryce Arii 25:26

Sometimes it depends. So the some of the creatives that we work with realise that strategy is a challenge. Because they're dot connectors, they're always like, there's this constant cloud or nebula in their head. And when you change one little star in the nebula, the whole thing kind of explodes. And then you get really tired. And so they realise that they have a problem and they're willing to pay for strategy, then there's people like me that came from strategy then a big consulting firm, that think you have it all together. You know. And that's a harder so.

Susan Tatum 26:03

some meaning that, that they're like, We don't need that we need to jump into action. Let's just do this.

Bryce Arii 26:08

Yeah. And typically, our narrative around that is fantastic. Let's see what you have written down. And then it's usually like, though we we don't actually, we don't, we're not we're like, Okay, well, how about we help you do that? And for $1,000, you know, that's not a huge investment, it's at least get your strategy on paper. So

Susan Tatum 26:30

well, you know, I think it's, that's, that's very smart. We, we use that a lot ourselves and with our clients during COVID, when, you know, it's these sort of the big, the long, longer term contracts just kind of came to a halt, and you needed, but you needed that way to, to get in the door, that was as, you know, priced at a point that they could just throw down a credit card for it. And, you know, it was not, they didn't have to get all kinds of permissions and stuff. And that, and that worked very well. And I think that it continues, it continues to work. I think you could probably charge more for what you're talking about, frankly. But I think that it continues to work because it gets you it gets you the information that you need to have whether they're willing to pay you to do the work or not, you've got to get this information from them. And and I think that's really important. And one of the things that I'm I'm seeing a lot of is in clients, the the consultants that I talked to have the strongest pipelines, in addition to doing a lot of networking, they're extremely agile, and flooded and willing to pivot was we, you know, whatever it is within reason that it takes to get in the door.

Bryce Arii 27:44

Yeah, no, absolutely. It's true, it's true. And one of the things that I find amazing is with these agile and smaller companies, one of our first clients in this model, you can watch their testimonial on our LinkedIn page. And on my LinkedIn page, the first month, I think we took out 150,000 in costs for my subscription piece, it was like a 300x return on investment. So the impact that you can have all with a client, you know, it's, it's so amazing, because they can't have it like that they haven't put in those rigid org structures. You don't have to go get alignment between 17 stakeholders. Yeah, I know, six divisions, you know, enrol all the teams and everything you can really just get going. So you get faster results.

Susan Tatum 28:33

That's very true. Very true. Byrce this has been really interesting. And I could sit here and talk with you much more about it, but we're up against our time. And I thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that want us to follow up with you and learn more about what you're doing or you know, what your what your approach is, what's the best way to do that.

Bryce Arii 28:51

You can always visit all the links will take you to book an appointment with with us that's free to you. We'll sit down for 45 minutes and chat about whatever's on your mind. And yeah, that's our that's our free gift to you so free to come on.

Susan Tatum 29:08

so let's spell it this will be in the show notes but Humagined is H U M A G I N E D.

Bryce Arii 29:15

Yes, that's correct.

Susan Tatum 29:16

.com and then your Bryce. I'm going to spell this out too because it's a little B R Y C E Arii A R I I

Bryce Arii 29:25

That's right.

Susan Tatum 29:26

on LinkedIn. All right. Okay, well, thank you Bryce. This was very informative, and much appreciated.

Bryce Arii 29:33

Absolutely. Well, glad to be here. It's been fun.

Susan Tatum 29:36

Take care.



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