In this episode Josh talks with Frank Bria, CEO of High-Ticket Program. They discuss what a high ticket program is and how you can make the most of it.

Frank Bria is the author of the internationally bestselling book Scale: How to Grow Your Business by Working Less. He is the go-to authority on scalable program design and execution, having helped thousands of entrepreneurs design and execute their High-Ticket Programs.

He started in the fintech sector launching several tech startups. Now he works with service businesses to craft a superior customer experience – through program and execution. He lives in Phoenix, AZ and is the father of 3 beautiful daughters.

In today’s episode you will learn:

  • What’s a high ticket program?
  • How to create it?
  • What does productize mean?
  • How to sell your service as high ticket?
  • How to create value?


Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                 Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick, and you’re at the sustainable business here today with my friend, Frank Bria. Frank, I met at a Michael Port Book Yourself Solid thing about nine and a half million years ago.

Frank:               Seems like that, huh.

Josh:                 Or seems like that anyhow. Frank, he’s always been one of those guys, every time I run across them. I’ve had these really, really interesting conversations that have sometimes been to the detriment of other people hanging around us. In fact, we were out to dinner, I don’t know about four or five months ago, with a group of people and we were well not physically separated. We’re told to shut up and stop talking about what we’re talking about. I was really [ inaudible 00:01:24]. We were having a great conversation. We’re not going to talk about that today. Today, we’re going to talk about— Frank is an expert at what he calls high ticket programs. Let’s bring Frank on and I’ll be the first question we asked what’s a high ticket program?

Hey, Frank. How are you today?

Frank:               Hey, Josh. Thanks so much. It’s an honor to be on with you today. I appreciate that. Yeah, high ticket program is basically a way to productize a service business. Most service businesses have some series of tasks essentially that need to happen, right? Either your client does them or you as the service provider, do them.

Those series of tasks lead to some outcome, ideally. So if you can find a way to scale those up, or find a way that when you put them together, you’re not stuck doing a lot of one on one work or a lot of custom project work, then you’re able to take on new customers at a faster rate than you otherwise would.

So the idea behind the high ticket program is number one, to be paid what you’re worth as a service provider and number two, to do it in a scalable way so that as you grow your business, you don’t hit a ceiling.

Josh:                 You just said one of my favorite words, by the way, which is productized. Can you give us a definition? What do you mean by productize?

Frank:               Yeah, so basically, what productize means is to begin to treat a service business or the service that you perform as if it’s a manufacturing process. It’s stage one, stage two, stage three, you go, everyone goes through the same process, the way that the output of each of those stages is fundamentally identical for every single customer.

Now, obviously, every client’s a little bit different. The idea is that the process that they go through is the same. What a lot of service businesses do, usually first because they’re trying to get as many clients as possible. But secondly, because they want to show that they have great skill set is they end up taking on lots of different kinds of clients with different kinds of problems. They kind of reinvent the process.

A lot of service business entrepreneurs get stuck in is this reinvention, like every single time they bring on a new client, that kind of reinventing the wheel. Maybe they’ve got a PDF in their directory someplace that’s relevant, but essentially, they’re starting the project brand new from scratch every single time. You can’t grow that way. You’ve got to have a repeatable process. That means you make some decisions about what you do and what you don’t do. That’s actually a very powerful marketing technique.

Productization is a powerful concept and for a lot of people, it’s a little bit of glue hesitation. I don’t think I want to go that way. It feels like it might commoditize me. It’s going to lower my value, but actually, it doesn’t. It creates a very specific service niche that you fill, and it allows you to grow. I think it’s a powerful concept.

Josh:                 It’s a hugely powerful concept. One of the things that I really like people do when they productize stuff is I have them name what they do, because people like to buy something with a name that easily be remembered, and they get a suite of services that comes with that particular product that you’re selling. Does that make sense to you?

Frank:               Absolutely, I agree with you. I say the exact same thing. I tell people, it’s the power of the capital letter. A lot of times people will have, you’re going to fill out my avatar worksheet. Well, imagine if you just wrote that in all capital letters, right?

You fill out the HTP avatar worksheet, and suddenly, it’s intellectual property. I agree. You want to name things. You want to create intellectual property out of the process. It builds credibility and ownership. It demonstrates, “Hey, this isn’t your first [inaudible 00:05:13]. You’ve done this before.”

That’s again, a very important part of the sales and marketing process is to build that trust credibility.

Josh:                 And another thing you just came up with, which I call one offs is that you want to make sure you stay away from what I call one off, and a one off is I’m doing this for you, and I’m doing something else for you.  I’m doing something completely else for you. The only way to stay away from one offs that I’ve ever figured out is to be what my buddy Rob Slee calls initial [inaudible 00:05:42].

If you’re servicing the same group over and over and over again, there are two things that happened in my experience. One is you get to be really good as serving that group. And two, you become really efficient at serving that group because you’re trying to learn what it is they do every time you talk to them.

Does that fit in with what you’re doing?

Frank:               Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m a little more, I guess, I tell people, you’re not Burger King, they don’t get it their way. It’s just the way it’s going to be, but again, it comes down to making choices. I think most service business providers are really nervous about making the choice and standing in for that choice and saying, “I work with this specific audience and the kind of things that we do and that’s kind of all we do.” There is some power in being able to say, “This is all we do.”

By the way, if you want something else, I can point you to some providers who provide that, but that’s not what we do. Yeah, there’s usually fear and leaving money on the table, or I’m not growing as fast. If I say no to this person, they’ll never come back to me again. That’s just not how big corporations’ work. I mean if you look at the largest corporations, and you’ve got to look at the them as examples, oftentimes for how processes work.

They got big for a reason. You just see that there’s not this idea of take all comers, if you really do have to kind of fit into that process. For the right person, that’s exactly what they want. They want you to lead them down a very specific process and for the wrong person. It’s never going to be right. I often find that when you’re making exceptions for people. You’re saying, “Well, we’ll do it this way.” By the way, technically, what that’s called is called an increase in scope. In the in the contract world, and it’s usually not a good thing.

Josh:                 We call that project creep.

Frank:               Yeah, exactly. That sort of one off thing that you do is oftentimes, you’re not getting paid exactly what you should for it. There’s going to be a feeling of resentment that comes up, because you’re doing this extra thing that’s taking extra time, and you’re not getting paid. All you did it was as a throw in a freebie in order to get the deal. Those don’t end well. I mean, in my experience, they’re just usually not pleasant experiences, and they definitely hamper your growth.

Josh:                 Yeah, that’s been my experience also. Let’s talk about pricing models just for a second. There’s basically three ways people can charge if you’re in the device business. Those three ways you can charge, at least that I’m aware of is you can charge an hourly basis, you can charge on a project basis, or you can charge on a retainer basis.

Frank:               Right.

Josh:                 Is there anything else that I’m missing there as far the ways you can charge?

Frank:               No, I mean, I think that those are the tactical ways to do it. Each one of those areas still, you end up with the fundamental question, which is, “What’s the number?” What’s the hourly rate? What’s the project rate? What’s the retainer rate? I’m not a fan of hourly rates almost ever. The only exception I think to that is if you really are doing kind of a very short one off project. But even then, there are very few times that I think an hourly rate makes sense. I think a project rate or retainer makes sense.

The way I look at it is at the end, you have to come up with a number. The way I teach pricing is I basically say there are three legs of a stool. Your price has to sit on all three of these legs. The first leg is delivery cost. You have to figure out how much it costs you to deliver the service. If you’re a agency, or you do a lot of done for you services, then this is where you need to sharpen your pencil.

Josh:                 When you say done for you services, what do we mean by that?

Frank:               What I mean for that is, remember that any service business is a set of tasks either the client does them or I do them, if I do them, it’s a done for you service. For example, let’s say that I’m a marketing agency that tries to get you up and running on social media, I may choose to set up all your social media accounts for you.

I may do that for the purposes of helping you get to the outcome faster than a lot of people think that done for you services aren’t scalable. They can be if you find exactly what the process is, and you do it the same way every single time and it becomes a manufacturing process.

The problem is most service businesses think done for you services mean custom project work, and that will never scale. I’m always cautious about that component, but there are agencies that do a really good job with, “Hey, we do this one thing as part of an overall flow, and we just help you get it up and running quickly.” Either way, whether you have it done for you service or your coaching or whatever, you are consultative, you have travel expenses, whatever it is.

You need to understand what your delivery costs are. So once you’ve calculated that, I say, double it and make sure that you’re never below that number. You want to build in at least a margin into what you’re doing. Just calculating it is usually more than most people do, when they think about pricing, most of them have never actually done the math to actually calculate what that delivery cost is. That’s the first leg, the second leg, which I prefer, and for most service businesses, swamps the first leg completely.

That’s value generation. So I am very much a fan of what kind of value you’re generating for your audience. If you’re in the making money or saving money business for people, it’s easy, right? I generated a million dollars of savings for you so it’s million dollar value. So when you have that number, it’s pretty straightforward to be able to understand the value. What’s not straightforward, is when your service business is in a what I like to call better life category.

Josh:                 [Laughs] The health coaches and the weight coaches.

Frank:               Exactly life coaching or, and there are some business coaches that think of themselves as better life people because they’re actually much more around sustainable aligned living than they are about actually making money. Either way, if you’re in the better life industry, you can calculate the value of what you do. It’s just harder. You have to ask a lot of questions.

This is the work that I think a lot of us shy away from is to actually have interviews with ideal clients that ask them what this value proposition is. If you can articulate the outcome of what you do in a very succinct way, you’ll get a good answer to this question. But if as a lot of times is in the personal development space, if you’re still a little fuzzy, and you’re saying things like, “Well, I help people feel fulfilled,” or I help people like align with their energy, or whatever it is. You’re not going to get a clear answer on the value proposition. That’s the bad news. The good news is, is that articulated appropriately, people pay more for a better life dollar over a dollar than they would for just the cash itself.

If you can articulate a really good outcome, and you understand the value proposition because of the personal development space is so bad. Like, there are so many bad offers out there, if you can nail this that you really can take over. Coming back to value creation, once you understand that value, I believe that a service business owner should offer between a 10 and 20 times return on investment.

If you’re helping someone make a million dollars, you ought to be able to charge between $50,000 and $100,000 to do that. Be careful about how you calculate value because a lot of times, you’ll set up a system, and it runs long after your engagement is over. Don’t just think about the value that you create during the engagement. Think about the long term.

That’s the second leg. The third leg is where reality hits you upside the head, its market tolerance. Of course, you just have to ask this and we encourage people to do validation calls when it comes to pricing. We asked them to do seven interviews during the validation process. We want three people to raise their hand and say, “Yeah, the price is correct.”

We don’t need all seven to say the price is good, because if you do, the price is probably low. You’re going to have some people say the price is too high, that’s okay. We’re looking for three to four of those seven to say yes on price, and then we feel like you’ve got that figured out.

Josh:                 There’s something there that’s really important in my experience, which is the size of the pocketbook you’re selling to.

Frank:               Correct.

Josh:                 Meaning that if someone’s making $100,000 a year and my fee is $50,000, there is no way in the universe no matter how much value I can provide that they’re ever going to hire me.

Frank:               That’s correct, right.

Josh:                 If I’m going to charge $50,000, they need to be making at least a half a million dollars. That’s a big deal in my opinion.

Frank:               It is. It’s a very big deal. A lot of times we ignore it, when we think about avatar development. What I like to say is find the audience that you can serve with the highest pain. Oftentimes that is very much correlated to those folks with the cash. You have to think about— one of my clients previously, she’s a dietitian. She works with women who deal with IBS issues. When she started off, everyone was asking her like, “Can I do hourly rate? 50 bucks an hour? Oh, by the way, do you take health insurance?”

It was just frustrating because people were coming in and, and they were like, “Well, my tummy kind of bothers me when I eat this that the other thing.” That wasn’t the highest paying audience. She started to focus on women who were losing five to 10 hours a week due to symptoms when she started talking about it that way, people weren’t asking anymore, whether they take health insurance or not. It’s just when you find that highest paying audience, then it makes some sense.

Yeah, you have to align the value proposition. The other thing is, is kind of natural. If I have somebody who’s just making $50,000 a year, I probably can’t create a million dollars of value for them, like they just probably not in a position to leverage what they have to create a million dollars right this very minute. It’s going to take some time. There are other milestones along the way. You bring up a really good point, like we have to think very clearly through what we can sell to. One of our mutual friends, Francine Graglia, used to say this really well. She said, “Stop selling to broke people.”

Josh:                 [Laughs] That’s a good thing. The other thing that you touched on, which I’d like to go into a bit further, which is you have to have a conversation process in your sales routine that helps the customer discover what your value is.

Frank:               Yes, the psychological framework for selling requires your customer to kind of go through a couple of different phases. A lot of times we as marketers, we don’t think about it that way. We think about it from have they opted in, have they done this. We think about sort of the tactical stages of doing things, but there’s actually a psychological journey that one goes on. We kind of have to start off with what’s in it for them first.

A lot of times in the service business industry, we sort of have like fallen in love with our secret sauce. We talk about our process, our special three step process, or whatever. We’re wonder why no one’s interested in our amazing new secret sauce.

Josh:                 I don’t even mention what I do until I’ve been talking to somebody for an hour and a half.

Frank:               Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Josh:                 I mean the way we do it is we say, “Where are you now? Where do you want to be in the future? What’s the gap between those two?” Here’s the big question, if you could fill that gap what’s the value? They tell you the value a lot of times they say priceless and when they say priceless to me, I say you can’t have priceless as a—you’re not going to give me everything you have so give me your number.

Frank:               That’s funny. Yeah, exactly. It is very much what’s in it for the prospect. Before they even get on a call with you, before they’ll even pick up the phone with you, they need to understand that you can deliver an outcome that makes some sense to them, that is desirable to them. It’s really focusing on that end state, the outcome, the vision.

Josh:                 Part of this is and I think we’ve been having a problem in the client acquisition world these days, in that marketers think that marketing are sales.

Frank:               Yeah.

Josh:                 And they’re not. Michael Port says is about as well as anybody marketing is to create awareness.  I added sales as a creative customer. Sales is not marketing and marketing is not sales. Then those people will think those two have to be combined are really missing the boat.

Frank:               Right, that’s true. In fact, I’ve stopped using marketing and sales as a framework internally.  I just called them lead generation and lead conversion because that feels like two different processes to me. I think you’re right. The issue is, is that a lot of new marketing of whatever you want to call it, is focused on not marketing, and not selling.

There’s all this like, discussion of how do I market without really marketing? And how do I sell without really selling? I think the reason is, is because people have these two things confused. There’s this concept that, I don’t want to sell too early in the process, of course not. You should be marketing now not selling. Why are you even thinking of selling at this stage? I think there is a great deal of confusion about those two concepts.

Josh:                 Especially in small businesses, I can’t tell you how many small businesses I go into, which either market or they sell, and they rarely do both. As a result, their customer acquisition process is severely broken, or at least has been my experience. Then we get to my favorite part of that whole what I call the alignment conversation, which is Michael Port’s, really complicated quotes. He’s really complicated quote was would you like help with this problem? And then they’ll say yes or no, if they say yes. He says, “Would you like me to help you?”

Frank:               Yep, it’s pretty simple.

Josh:                 It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. We don’t have to go through the nine steps closer, the 14 step process whatever it is. You have a conversation especially in the service business. Create your value. Ask if they want help, and then see if they want you to help them.

Frank:               Yeah, I really feel like so many sales processes that have become complicated, have become complicated, because the product lacks the ability to create value for the customer.

Josh:                 Well, that’s a great point.

Frank:               And so you have to go through all of these psychological, emotional whatever to get people there. I just feel like, you should be focused on Okay, like, you know, “Here’s how we create value. Is this outcome, something that you want? What’s it worth to you to create that outcome?” What’s wrong now that you don’t have it? How much is it costing you that you don’t have it? Okay, great. Like, do you want that outcome? Is this a problem one help solving is pretty much as straightforward as Michael laid it out.

Josh:                 I actually use it, I use it.

Frank:               Oh, I have, too, absolutely.

Josh:                 I use it all the time.  I’ll tell you, it’s unbelievably successful. Hey, Frank, we are, unfortunately, out of time. I know you have something you want to offer our audience. Why don’t you do that? We’ll find out how they can find you and get more information from you.

Frank:               Great, yeah. My team actually spent the last probably two years working with a lot of people’s behind the scenes programs, group coaching programs, agency programs, etc, working and helping them fix stuff. In that process, we learned a ton. We learned what works, what doesn’t work. We boiled it down to what I like to call Best Practices.

There’s no one right answer, obviously. There are several best practices. We put those together in a manual. We like to call Black Book. It’s like our secret recipes, but I’d love to offer that to your audience. If anyone’s interested in taking a look at that, it’s called the High Ticket Program, 12 week, Black Book. It essentially gives the standard operating procedures for everything that you would need to do to design and run a 12 week core high ticket program. You can grab—it’s totally free. You can grab a copy of that at, just one word black book and grab a copy of that. It represents a great deal of research that we did and putting all this stuff together. Hopefully it’s useful.

Josh:                 Cool, I assume the black book, there’s a way for people to contact you.

Frank:               Oh, yeah, absolutely. If you have questions, or if something is like, “Hey, we want to implement this.” Inside the black book, absolutely there are ways to do that.

Josh:                 I also have an offer for you. There’s one thing that I know is true with almost all private businesses. I would probably say all private businesses, except I’ve been taught that [inaudible 00:22:50] never really exist, is that we’re all worried about cash flow. The truth is cash flow goes on a success path from having no cash to having an abundance of cash in your life. We put together what we call the Success Path for Cracking the Cash flow Code, where you get to become financially free from your business.

It’s really easy to get. You just go to our website, You click on the button, and we’ll send you our infographic of what it takes for you to crack the cash flow code. I’m sure you can find some value there.

Hey, this is Patrick with Frank Bria. You’re at the sustainable business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an email at

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

Topics: sustainable business podcast, Sustainable Business, frank bria, selling services, service value, how to grow your business by working less, high ticket program, scaling business

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