The Secret to Scaling a Professional Services Firm

In my last article I shared a precise and detailed 6-step template to map out your core expertise to make your company more profitable, stable, and profitable.

Here was the biggest question that came from readers: “David, there’s no way we can scale. We can see how what you teach would apply to other businesses, other industries, other models, but not to ours.”

Essentially what I heard from my professional practice readers – those doctors, lawyers, highly paid consultants, etc. – who most needed the help to scale their production capacity by building and institutionalizing their “expert system”, was that they didn’t see how they could apply the formula to their industry.

This is common even from my business coaching clients, who say the same thing – initially.

Let me address this common struggle by sharing a first hand experience of how I’ve applied the 6-step formula I mentioned at the start of this article to scale my coaching firm, Maui Mastermind. We had to face and solve the exact same challenge you face—how to replicate and scale in a profitable and consistently excellent way the expert-reliant skill of our professional services firm.

The secret is that if you are willing to challenge the assumption that only you or a hand-picked cadre of pedigreed specialists—whether this be in medicine, or in IT infrastructure, or in accounting, or in law—can help your clients get whatever results or outcome they came to you for, then you can find scalable ways to better serve your clients.

The best experts systems build a great deal of the “expertise” into the system itself.

Two decades ago when I first began coaching business owners I was the coach. And I helped my clients get great results, customizing my approach to that individual’s business situation and needs.

Over the past 20 years we’ve captured our methodology in a concrete, comprehensive coaching system that works for a broad range of businesses.

Over time we’ve taken the feedback from working with thousands of coaching clients to refine our core process.

At this point we’re probably on coaching system 210.0. Not only have we had a large number of clients who’ve helped us sharpen our methodology, but we’ve had dozens of capable, experienced business coaches who’ve helped us hone our system along the way.

This large body of clients and coaching talent, combined with a commitment to build a scalable model that can serve thousands of businesses, has helped us get to the coaching program we have today.

While we’re not done improving yet, nor will we ever be, the program as it exists today is by every measure we track more effective and valuable to our clients.

Our average client today enjoys an annual growth rate of 64.2 percent per year, double the annual growth rate we helped clients achieve several years ago, and 9-times greater than the average growth rate of the typical privately owned company in the United States last year.

And at the same time our average client increases his or her company’s “Owner Independence Index” by 97.4 percent per year, 20 percent better than our success rate years ago.

And while I do personally still coach a small stable of clients, most of whom have been with me for years, the vast majority of our coaching clients work with our coaching staff to get these results. How is this possible?

Sure, we found talented coaches; no doubt about that.

But the real secret was to build the “secret sauce” into the system itself.

• How many coaching sessions each month should we do?

• How long is the optimal session?

• What are the best coaching formats and interventions to make these coaching sessions produce maximum impact?

• What specific questions and discovery trees would best help pinpoint the root challenge or cause?

• What tools do we need to empower our clients to build a business, not a job?

• What in-person, live training formats and schedules leads to the best outcome?

• What is the best strategic structure to keep a business accountable, but not impose too high of a “paperwork” or administrative tax on the company?

• How do we best involve a client’s staff so that he or she has us coaching the team to implement these methodologies and strategies to improve the business?

• Etc.

We baked all of this into the coaching system itself.

Again, to be clear, your expert system is never going to be a finished product, because you will constantly find ways to refine, improve, redesign, and enhance the program, just like we’ve done for our clients.

This is something too many business owners who have a business wherein they are selling their expertise don’t realize—the very process of systematizing your expert way of doing something helps you to improve the value you deliver to your client or patient, both by refining your methodology and by improving the consistency and quality of how you implement, apply, and transfer that value to your clients.

Good luck and for more ideas on how to scale your business may I suggest you access our free business owner toolkit. To access this free toolkit, including the 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, just click here.

Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for and, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.