My computer broke so I had to upload this from my phone. I address whatever happened to local comedian Joe Howard and why he doesn’t do the podcast anymore. please leave a five star review on the iTunes if you get a chance.
My computer broke so I had to upload this from my phone. I address whatever happened to local comedian Joe Howard and why he doesn’t do the podcast anymore. please leave a five star review on the iTunes if you get a chance.
On December 2, 1968, in the Baltimore City Courthouse, Joseph Howard, the very first African-American ever to be elected to a 15-year-term as a judge serving on the Supreme Bench of Baltimore, was being sworn in. But before the afternoon was over, the newly appointed judge would have an experience that as a Judge he did not expect.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On this episode I talk to Joe Howard, the founder of WP Buffs, a productized service offering WordPress care plans. He's also the co-host of the WPMRR podcast and runs the WPMRR Summit. Joe is all about recurring revenue and if you're interested in how you can start to implement recurring revenue into your business you should listen to this episode.Links Joe on Twitter WP Buffs WPMRR Summit WPMRR Podcast Try Branch - Automated deployments for WordPressBranch is my company and the sponsor of this podcast. Branch helps agencies and freelancers set up automated deployments for all their WordPress client sites. Listeners of this podcast gets twice as many free deployments by identifying themselves in the live chat widget!➡️ Create a free Branch accountTranscript of this episode (automatically generated)This week, I'm super excited to talk to Joe Howard about MRR or monthly recurring revenue. Joe knows a lot about MRR. He's the host of the WP MRR podcast. He also runs WP MRR summit, and he's the founder of WP buffs at productized services business that brings in you guessed it monthly recurring revenue.You can find Joe on Twitter at. Joseph H. Howard and his business on WP buffs.com. Before we begin the episode, I want to tell you a bit about Branch. Branch is my business, and the sponsor of this podcast. It's the simplest way to set up automated deployments for your WordPress sites. We've got your back with the recipes for all the common workflows that the WordPress developers need making it super easy and fun, honestly, to build out your deployment pipelines.It's continuous integration and deployment without the learning curve. And it's free to get started. So go check it out. And if you open up the live chat widget and identify yourself as a listener of this podcast, we'll double the amount of free deployments in your account. Yep. Twice as many deployments without paying, you can sign up for free on branchci.com.I started this episode by asking Joe what comes to mind when he hears the phrase billable hours. Joe, what comes to mind when you think about the word billable hours? Ooh. It makes me think about how I need more billable hours. It makes me think that I'm trying to get billable hours somewhere. Man. I got to keep getting more billable hours to keep powering what I'm doing.Recurring pain. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It makes me think like, okay. If I'm focused on getting. Billable hours. Like there's a lot of pieces of my business. I got to focus on too. It's like, I gotta get more billable hours and then I actually have to execute those billable hours. So it's like, I kind of do some sales and I have to like actually do the operations of my business and then I have to, Oh, there's all the admin behind it.How do I invoice them? Like, do I have to like follow up on the invoice? Is that all automated, like kind of makes me think about like freelance work and how there's a ton of stuff to do around being a freelancer. You have to wear a lot of hats. It's not a fan. I wouldn't say I'm not a fan. I'd say, I think there are a lot of challenges around being a freelancer.I know a ton of freelancers who do great work, who run super scalable businesses by themselves. You know, maybe you'd call them like solo preneurs or like just, I don't know if they'd probably call themselves just freelancers and they run super successful businesses just by themselves. Maybe a couple of contractors.I'd probably know a lot of people who run those freelancers and very, very small businesses that are more profitable than businesses with say like 10 employees that. Maybe the media would say like, Oh, they've got 10 employees or 20 employees. Like, they're a bigger, better company now. It's not really how it works.You know, if someone else who runs a small business, you know, as well as I do, that's not really true, but I'm definitely a big fan of focusing more on a monthly recurring revenue and like subscription models. Pricing models, business models, as opposed to focusing on billable hours. I think if you can run a business where you can, you know, charge $500 an hour and easily get, you know, a ton of hours every month, that's great model, nothing wrong with that.But I think it's a little bit less stressful, a little bit more. Scalable. If you were trying to like grow your business, or if you're just trying to like want a small, comfortable business to set up a product, or maybe a productized service package plans, whatever that provides ongoing value for people.So it's something you're doing kind of month over month, so you can say, Hey, charge them every month. Now you're providing value over the long-term for people, which is good for you and good for them. And you're able to jump into the subscription model, which makes it a little less stressful to run a business.When you kind of can predict your revenue a little bit, as opposed to the billable hours thing where it's like, all right, I got this many billable hours. Okay. I got to get 20% more mobile hours next month. Like, how am I going to do that? Well, if you're a subscription model, you know, your churn. You know, your growth trajectory.So you kind of have an idea how much money you're going to make the next month. So you can predict who can I hire? What's my profit margin going to be mixed a little less stressful. I think. Yeah. I talked to Brian castle about productized services on this podcast and it sounded to me like, You know, the recurring revenue part of it is a really key to basically why it allows you to just focus more on the business side of things.And like, once you're kind of close to sale, you can focus more on the delivery and you don't have to sell new people every month. Yeah. Shout out to Brian. Brian's one of those productized service guys and just like startup guys who I follow online. I love all this stuff. Productized course stuff that I followed for a long time, as someone who kind of like started doing this stuff after him, he was kind of, and those people who was that kind of, one of those people who I was like, I got to follow this guy.Cause he knows a ton of stuff. Um, runs a few successful, small businesses doing this kind of work. I would say this subscription model is super helpful. In terms of, especially like a productized service. So like my business does WordPress care plans, you know, branch, you know, you do WordPress work as well.This subscription model for me is easier than the website building. We do WordPress care plans. So we're managing WordPress websites and we have a white label program. So we work with some agencies and freelancers as well to help them. Make one monthly recurring revenue too. And I used to build websites.That was tough for me to kind of scale that and grow that as a business, people have done it before very successfully, right. There are a lot of agencies that do website builds and are super successful, but I just kind of couldn't crack it. So I figured it out. Let's do management instead, and that actually worked way better for me in a way better for us as a company.So I'd say focusing on that, it can be easier than a lot of ways. Yeah. So you were touching on it there, but like, I'd be curious to know a little bit more about your background and kind of your journey into recurring revenue because you guys, you mentioned you started out with more of like a traditional freelance or agency route.Yeah, definitely did the business model. Yeah. I've been at WordPress for like eight or nine years. Something like that. And, you know, I used to be a freelancer and most people start off in WordPress. You kind of learn WordPress, what is this open source software? And they learned to like put websites together.Oh, there's page builder. Oh, here's some themes I can use. Uh, what hosting should I use? And you know, most of that stuff for someone who has like basic tech skills is pretty straightforward. I consider myself a non-technical co-founder like, don't ask me to be a dev, like don't ask me to be an engineer.You don't want me to break your website? That's not my bag. Um, but I know basics of WordPress and how to get around the dashboard hosting basics. I know XML, CSS, basics. I know the foundational stuff. Um, and so I was able to put websites together for folks and that's where most people in WordPress start, they're like, Oh, let me find some clients to build websites for.And yeah, I mean, we talked about it a little bit in my other answer, but it was just like, And I have to like find new people to build websites for, and they got to build the websites and I have to do all of the admin for my business. I mean, it's just a lot to do as a freelancer. And I found that I was trying to think of a different model.I was like, what else could I do besides just the bills? And I kind of searched around, do some Google searching and found some other companies that were doing like website management through these like kind of website care plans and subscriptions. And I was like, Oh, that's what I want to do. Like, cause that's a much more scalable model for me.Like the maintenance and ongoing support. I can build a 24 seven team. It works perfectly into like me wanting to build a remote team. Cause I can like use 24, seven support as an excuse to like work from home myself. Like, Oh, we're a remote team. I want to work from home too. So perfect. Well I'll work from home and also build a team that's international.And I really liked that, that our team, you know, we've got like 25 folks now on the team. Maybe almost 30 now, but from so many different places, that's really cool to me. Anyway, you saw those companies doing that. And I was like, okay, I don't have to do proof of concept. Like these businesses do this, like, cool.I can do this. So my skills, I said, I'm a non technical founder. Don't ask me to dev by. You can totally ask me to do like content marketing and some growth stuff. Um, some sales by necessity, but only because I kind of had to at the beginning, but like I can do the growth part of things and the marketing part of things.I'll say that's my bag. I'll bring some people in who are better at the operational side. Yeah. We'll do this thing. And that was like, I don't know, five years ago or seven. Yeah, here we are. So you really started a business and you didn't transition your freelance work into this. Like you actually started that business with a product and something like people could sign up.Yeah. Honestly, when I started doing like these care plans, that's what I call it. I, you know, it was WordPress care plan. I still kind of call it that. And we do kind of as a company, but we recently went through a rebrand and we're kind of positioning ourselves as more premium. So we're talking more like language, like subscription support, WordPress subscription that powers your, your digital business.You know, that kind of verbiage at the basic core level. We're doing WordPress care plans and website support for folks. But I didn't have a lot of this language. When I started, I was like, care plans. I guess that's what we're doing, but I didn't know what a product high service was. I didn't know any of like the subscription metrics that I was supposed to be tracking like lifetime value of a customer, you know, MRR.I didn't even really know what MRR was. I just kinda knew, like, I want to charge someone. Once a month, you understood the concept. Yeah. And you know, you're part of the tiny seed accelerator. So, you know, the world of MicroComp shout out Rob walling and all the folks at micro confident, and we'll do all that sad.We couldn't do a real, you know, IRL MicroComp maybe we would've met up in microphone, you know, this year, but my first micro conference, I went to three or four years ago. I remember going and afterwards. Being like, Oh, like this is the foundation. I can really build this business. I'm like, I understand what I'm doing now.Cause I understand like the basic metrics that I need to be tracking as a subscription business. And like that's my business model. It's like subscription pricing. It's kind of like what SAS products do. It's just happens to be we're a services company and we put our services together in a package. So that was super.Eye-opening for me, uh, after having gone to micro conference, I felt like I could see the path I needed to go on because I knew where I was. I knew where I needed to go. Whereas before I was some like character in a video game, like discovering the new like territory, like I don't, I don't really know where I'm going, but now I have a more clear path.So that was a big help for me. In my conversation with Brian, one of the things he mentioned when you're productized your services, it's much easier to market it because it's easier to tell people what you do because you've packaged it up. So it's easy just to present like what your service is, because you thought about like, this is who we're doing it for.This is what we do. Like, this is how much it costs. If you go to the extreme level with like a protest service, like people can just put their credit card on your website and buy it. I think you can buy your service with dopey buffs. Like you can just. Put your credit card in there and purchase a plan, right?Yes. It's interesting because you can do that. Most folks who work with us, they'll book a call with us before they buy. It's a little different than other subscriptions you buy because when you buy our subscription, you're actually. Giving us and allowing us full access to your website and your hosting area.Like we are managing all that for you. So, and that's like a huge deal, right? It's like if maybe someone has a small website, you know, it gets like 50 visitors a month, maybe not as big a deal. Like, Hey, can you guys work on this? But we work on a ton of websites now that are doing, you know, millions of dollars of sales.Every month that are getting two, 3 million unique visitors every month and traffic, and these are pretty big deal websites. So someone like that's probably not going to like, just buy their subscription and be like, okay, like, let's go here are your login credentials, right. They want to hop on a call.They want to probably talk to a sales person. They probably want to talk to someone higher up the company if they're a big company like that. So there's kind of a sales process and we're make booking calls really easy. So, I mean, that's one reason, but also because. We actually want to vet people too.We're at the kind of growth point now where we actually don't want to like work with everyone, nor are we a perfect fit for everyone. Some people just need a freelancer to do like one or two hours of work a month. That's fine. You know, we're not claiming to be the best fit for everyone, but we are the best fit for folks who like want a technical support team that helps work with whatever they want to do with WordPress 24 seven.So when we hop on calls with people like their sales calls, quote unquote, but they're really for like education and to like, Talk with people to like fit them with the right care plan for them. Cause we have multiple options to make sure care plans are right fit for them to make sure that working with us is going to truly benefit them in the longterm.That's really like what we try to focus our calls on. So yes, people can come. If people are listening to this and run a WordPress site, they can totally come and like buy on our website right now. But we usually push people to book a call just because we want to talk to people beforehand, too. Like your website's a big deal.Branch, cio.com is a big deal to you, right? That's your business, it's your passion. It's where you make your money from. Like, it's not something that you're like casual about. Right. And so it's like, we're doing video right now as an addition to audio. It's like, you want to talk to someone you want to see who's going to be working with your website.I want to make sure that they're authentic. You want to make sure that there's someone you can trust and building that trust is the biggest part of bringing on new customers and new white label partners for us. It's like, we're a team and that's important. I think actually for this audience, the white labeling stuff is probably more interesting.And, but we'll talk about that a little bit later.I wanted to ask you and this. This might be different between services. So you can maybe help me understand that one of the, maybe bad things about recurring revenue or not bad things, but one of the things about it is it's all about the lifetime value of the customer. So when you sell software on a subscription model, you don't ask for the entire lifetime value upfront, like you allow people to pay for it monthly, but then also I'm not saying this is bad necessarily, but then you also have to deliver that value.Every month because otherwise people are going to churn. So I don't know if you can make the same, like comparison to services, but is it always better? Like if you can get people on a subscription compared to just, you know, cashing in the whole entire lifetime value upfront, if you can, and like, how do you think about this?Yeah, that's a super interesting question. I love monthly recurring revenue, but I, for sure I'm not the person who is like. All the time monthly recurring revenue is better. It's kind of like remote work. It's like, I'm a big fan of remote work. I love working from home, but I'd never say like remote work is the only way to work like in office is over.Like for everybody, no one should ever work in an office. Again, there are a lot of benefits to working in an office as there are probably a lot of benefits to getting the lifetime value of a customer upfront. I think. If I've learned one thing, building a business it's that there are a thousand different ways to accomplish a goal.A lot of it is just like, I like to think about everything in this kind of lean methodology kind of circle. If you've read lean startup, you'll know that there's kind of this, you know, you build an MVP, something small, you test it and you measure it and then you make changes and you try it again and simple way of describing it.You just do that over and over again. And so if people are thinking about doing what the recurring revenue, or like trying to get lifetime value up front, I'd say like, try one of them and see how it works. And you can always shift down the line, especially when you're starting off. When you're small, you can do whatever you want to pretty much like if we change our whole business model, now it'd be a total pain in the butt because we are like a million dollar a year business.Like there's more at stake. There's more complexity in our business, but if you're just starting off, try something for a month who cares now? No, one's going to see it. No, one's going to care, but you can figure out what's gonna work best for your business. Everyone's in such a different context. It's hard for me to say like, you should definitely do monthly recurring revenue.We should definitely do lifetime value upfront. But I would say, I think that I actually see the, having to provide ongoing value to achieve that lifetime value of a customer. While doing a monthly recurring revenue sort of pricing. I actually see that as a positive. Yeah. I think that it makes us better to have to sell this ongoing care plan on a month to month basis.We don't do contracts. We're not like, you know, Comcast like sign up for two years and you get this deal. It's like, no, like you work with us month to month. Then if you want to cancel anytime you can cancel no big deal. Um, and I think that actually makes us better because it kind of creates this like, No pressure, no diamonds sort of situation for our operations team, where they have to find more ways to continue to provide better ongoing value for people.So that hopefully we're even actually providing more value for people on month 12 and month 24 and month 36. And we are on month one. And that allows us to one, just become a better company and do a better job. And to bring more to our marketing and sales team to say like, here are the things that we do here are the ways we've said.Maybe we weren't doing the best job. We actually improved all these things. Now, you know, we're actually a better company and allows our sales and marketing team to kind of put more at the forefront of like, here's all the great stuff we do that we probably wouldn't have been able to say or do or use in our sales and marketing team.Had we not kind of put a little pressure on our operations team. So I kind of think of it as, as positive pressure. It doesn't always work out that way. Right. There may be more stressful situations in which, you know, that'll be. More stressful or more difficult than not been easy for us. Of course it's been a challenge, but I think that's actually been a positive for us in our context.Okay.What about expansion revenue? Yeah. Expansion revenue is huge. Yes. Actually, when I went to micro conference, I learned about, okay, there's this thing called net negative churn. And there's this thing called you can upgrade your current customers and that's kind of part of growth and part of sales at that point, I was starting to think already.Okay. We probably need to have like a customer success team. Um, we need someone who really focuses on our current customers, not just to make them happy, but to make them successful, but to upgrade them from, you know, their plan level into new plans to help our white label partners add more client websites to their plans.That's where a lot of expansion revenue comes in trust. How would you explain that negative churn to people? You can get a little bit complex, but I'll give people kind of a simple version of it. And honestly, how I think about it, because I think about everything as simply as possible, if it gets too complex, like I'm not gonna understand it.So I try to keep things simple just for myself, net negative churn is if you say, if you have a hundred customers and you have 10 of those customers turn out in a month, that would be kind of. 10% a user churn, but if you think about revenue, it's a little bit different than user turn. So use your turn is kind of like the percentage of users that drop off.Maybe those 10 customers are dropped off for all small customers. And the revenue churn is actually pretty small. Maybe they were your biggest customers and that's a big revenue turn and that would be not as good. But if you think about that revenue turn from those 10 customers in a month, take that as one number.Okay. Listeners, let's set that number aside. Let's say it's a thousand dollars of revenue turned out of your business. Okay. Let's set that thousand dollars aside. Now let's think about the other 90 customers or your business. Maybe you were able to upgrade. 10 of those remaining 90 customers, maybe now those 90 customers, instead of paying you $50,000, they pay you $70,000.So you've raised that number $20,000 of your remaining customers. Okay. So now let's put those two numbers together, minus $10,000 and plus $20,000. That would in essence, be net negative churn because your upgrades and expansion revenue is bigger than your churn revenue month over month. Now, if you can achieve that, this, this is kind of sounds silly, but it's like kind of like the Holy grail, like growth for a business subscription business.And if you can do that and maintain that and month over month over month, Ooh, you're in a really good position. That's in essence what net negative churn is. And. People probably most important to like start off and figure out what your turn is, where your user journeys. So your revenue journey is what your expansion revenue is.I figured out all these things and you're not going to have probably meant negative turn from day one. Right. But no, all these numbers and over months, and maybe over years, you will figure out how to form it, those numbers into a way to hopefully get you to net negative term. I don't think it's super common and it takes a lot of work to get there, but that's something we're working on right now.We've actually had. A few months of net negative churn, and now we're working on keeping it consistent. And so if we can really figure out how to keep that really consistent month over month and do it every month, as opposed to like a month here or two months here, then we'll be in really good shape.Yeah, that's really good. I think another thing that people don't always understand about subscriptions is the number of people you churn. It's a percentage of your customers. So like, let's say 10%, but the amount of people you bring in every month is dependent. Not on how many customers you currently have, but on how many customers you get into the top of your funnel.So that's a fixed number. Let's say 10 customers a month, not 10%, just 10 customers. So like eventually if you don't have expansion revenue, your churn will just be bigger. Then the amount of people you bring in and you'll hit a plateau and you won't be able to grow. So then it's very important that you have this expansion revenue kind of build into the entire, like cohort of where customers.Yeah. I honestly, another reason I'd say it's important is from what we were just talking about, which is like, you want to provide ongoing value for people. That's how you're going to keep subscriptions going and how you keep your churn low. A lot of that involves continuing to make your product better.Like, there are a lot of ways to grow a subscription business. Right? You could get more, like you said, customers, top of funnel, do a lot of sales, get a lot of folks in, but a lot of people probably know this analogy. If your churn is really high, you have your bucket with pouring more water in, but there's a big hole in the bucket.A lot of water is pouring out. You're never like adding water to bucket, right? So adding new customers is one way to increase your monthly recurring revenue subscription business. But if you can lower churn. That's just as valid way of growing your business. I guess I'd caveat that by saying like mathematically, you have to figure out what is more impacted full for your business.Right? Like every business, the dollar figures are going to differ on like, what is reducing churn this much? How does that affect your business? How does this many new sales affect your business? How much does this expansion revenue affect your business? I would tell people to go like, get a bare metrics, subscription, use that to like pour all your Stripe.Revenue in there and they can tell you like what your lifetime value is. You need your lifetime value, your churn rate, your customer acquisition costs, all those different numbers to work with. Yeah. And I love lifetime value. Like that's one of my favorite metrics because our direct customers like a small business or not coroner who has a WordPress site that comes to us, you know, pretty good lifetime value.But our white label partners who come to us, like some of them come to us like 50 sites, 75 sites, like. Those lifetime values can be really big. And so that allows me to say, okay, here's our average lifetime value for all of our white label partners. Okay. Now it's pretty easy to have a good sense in my mind of how much money we can spend on acquiring a certain customer.Okay. If we're going to try and go out and get a big customer, that's going to be a hundred thousand dollars lifetime value for us. Okay. Well, like I can spend $20,000, like trying to go get a client like that. It makes me less hesitant to grab a high. Ticket price item to conference. Cause I want to go meet some big agencies or to hire a head of growth so that he can do a lot of outreach and make sure that he is maintaining good relationships.And that's actually like part of his, and it can be a little bit hazy to be like, I want you to spend 20% of your time on like relationship management. Like what does that is that growth? Like, that's kind of like a hazy thing, but to me, it's not because I know the lifetime value of a big client. And I know how much time it requires to put in to sometimes get some of those big clients.And so that's another reason these metrics are really valuable because it really gives you a clear view into like how much value does it a certain kind of customer. So bring into your business that way you kind of have a really good idea of like, I can spend this much on things that he's talked about, but like how much can I spend on like Facebook ads?Yeah. What can I spend on Google ads? I don't really like either of those as customer acquisition channels personally, but like, just as an example, like, Hey, if you want to do Facebook ads, like, well, how much do you spend? Like, I don't know. 500 bucks, like no, have a good idea of how much it costs to acquire that customer with aleck.And by that customer is that'll give you a good and less stressful way to say here's so much money. I feel like I can spend you have a good idea of kinda like what margins look like. Yeah, that's good. And I think even for like traditional freelance businesses or agency business models, people could still think about the lifetime value of a customer.Like how big is the project? And like how often do they come back and do more projects? I mean, it's not easy, but it's. It's a nice framework. I think, yeah. Measuring this is not easy. All this stuff is not easy. I mean, I mentioned like tools, like bare metrics. There's like ProfitWell as well, where you can port your Stripe subscription into their products.And it just gives you a really clear picture of like, what's your lifetime value? What's your turn. But that's like level one, like that's like the first step of it. There's so much more to be able to measure and all this stuff, right. It's like to calculate what your customer acquisition cost is, is like super difficult.And it's really. Based on everyone's business, but like there's so much to measure in terms of like what your sales funnel is. Right? Like our funnel is like most of our traffic comes from like content marketing, right? So people come in via search, they'll read a blog post and then like 3% of those people will like join our email list or book a call and then people book the call and then we'll talk to them and then we'll send some up emails and maybe some of those people will join up.And so that's our funnel. So how do we like measure, which of those pieces of content are doing the best and like how much of it. Cost to write that piece of content and then like, Oh, should we write more content like that? And then do we have to look at like Google analytics to like figure all this out.We have to create all this customer portrait. I'm making this a little more complicated on this audio podcast. Sorry, everybody. But like, that's how it is in a lot of cases, you add these layers of complexity and it's hard to like have one single dashboard where like all your stuff is. Um, so if people are trying to do this, I I'd definitely say like, It's okay.For things to be a little bit disjointed, to be a little bit complex. You can always work on improving and always work on trying to bring those things into a singular area, but it's not going to be perfect to start. The most important part is to start and to like take steps forward. Eventually you'll, uh, maybe grab some new software or do some more things to go and get some analytics help to bring all that stuff together.I wouldn't focus on like being perfect with your data. I would say actually what you said. A little bit ago, which was like, you want to have a window into seeing kind of the trends and in general, the performance of things, like the exact number to me is not the most important part to me. It's like, okay, sales last month, like we got 30 new accounts in last month.Oh, we got 40 new accounts in this month. So that means 25% growth from last month. This month, the trend of it is what I'm more interested in as opposed to like the exact number, which. Can be kind of arbitrary. Yeah, for sure. It helped me unpack the white labeling stuff you offer with your business. Maybe I don't understand this the wrong way, or I get this the wrong way or why this is valuable to agencies, but is your wide labeling solution as a way for agencies to build recurring revenue into their businesses as well?Or is it just to add value to their customers for both? So. The white label program pretty much allows an or a freelancer. Let's say you're running an agency, Peter, and you've got 20 clients you're working with. And most of your money comes from like the marketing stuff for the design work you're doing, or maybe the website builds.So you're focusing on, but you have, I have these 20 clients and they keep asking you for. This and that on their website, and maybe you're not charging them or maybe you're charging them billable hours. Maybe they're just kinda like, that's not really where you're making a lot of, of your money as an agency owner.So WP buffs would come in and that your agency would come and work with us. And you'd hand off the 24 seven support to our team. But it's a white label solution. So we hook your support inbox in the, our help desk. You know, we have your logo and your signature at the bottom of all our emails we send, we pretty much allow you to resell our care plans, our 24 seven support to your client base.We also, and it was a white label partner. We give you a discount on all their plans, so you can read it, sell at some margin, which actually helps it become a profit center for your business as an agency. So let's talk about before and after. So after you're, you're working with us. You are continuing to be able to dedicate all the time you want to, your website builds your marketing or design anything.Your agency is doing what you're doing as a freelancer. You're still managing 20 clients sites, but you're making profit on all of those care plans that you've kind of resolved through WP buffs and. That has become more of a profit center for your business. That's more monthly recurring revenue that you're driving with.Your business actually has become part of your business model to resell care plans. After you've done, the website builds most importantly of all that stuff is really that your clients are super happy. You know, we've done 24 seven support for years now. We're kind of at the, you know, I guess I'd say at the forefront of this area in the WordPress space, We know how it's done.We have excellent systems. We take care of our clients and our clients, clients, our partners, clients, and your clients get this awesome 24 seven support that maybe you as a freelancer or an agency, like, do you have time to like go hire an international team or like team around the world to do this stuff?Well, you can also just plug and play into WP buffs so we can do that. So some people want to do it themselves. Some people want to build out. Internally. That's totally cool. I'll help you. If anybody wants to do that, come talk to me. I love talking about this stuff, but if you want an easier kind of more plug and play solution, and honestly one where you don't have to like, worry about speed or security of your client sites, or like doing all the updates or like if a client comes to you and it's like, Hey, like I need this color changed on my head.Or you're like, ah, like, do I charge them for that this five minutes of work? It's like, no, just sell the care plan that comes with unlimited 24, seven website edits through us. And. Make profit on it and your client's really happy and it just works. So, yeah, that's an essence how the white label program works.There's some services where I could see people do this themselves, but for 24 seven support, like that would be really hard for even the big agency. Like that's a business in and of itself that they would have to build. Another thing like this makes me think of is some hosting companies like flywheel, for example, They allow agencies to resell their hosting.So there's actually quite a few different services like yours with the and maybe the hosting company you use. Like, there are many ways that you can actually fairly easily, like where you you're almost like an affiliate partner and you just take a cut because you bring in the customer, but you're also providing a great experience for your customers, but you're also starting like to see.Just a little bit of that recurring revenue, which is really good. Yeah. Peter, you're a smart guy. You should come with me and tell more hosting companies about this stuff. Cause I've been thinking about it in the exact way you have for a long time. Like we run an affiliate program through WP boss so people can earn commissions for referring folks over to us.We have a few significant. Partners in the WordPress space, you know, whatever theme companies that need overflow support, Hey, go to WWE, get some help, some plugin companies, same thing. Um, hosting companies as well. We've got some of the bigger hosting companies in WordPress space using WP bus has overflow support as kind of a referral relationship.Some actually don't use our affiliate program. They're like not our style. We just, you know, here's a resource for you. We'll go use them. But some do what my thought about all of this is. I love this world of kind of managed WordPress hosting. Like I love the idea of paying a little more for hosting and like not ever having to worry about the hosting.That to me is a really cool idea. And what I've been thinking about for years is like, let's take the next step of that. Like manage WordPress hosting. Great. What about managed WordPress? Take the hosting out hosting companies. I like, I've been wanting to roll all of this into one service for a long time.And I think hosting companies are starting to get this. Honestly, a lot of hosting companies don't really want to give them the services game because sometimes it's not a scam. Like they want to stay in the like product area and they don't really want to be responsible for services. Hey, you can refer those folks over to us.That's fine. But in terms of like adding as well value for customers as possible, and for folks running WordPress sites, like I love the idea of just managed WordPress. Like the hosting is taken care of. You get a WP bus care plan with this. It's a monthly subscription and it's all one monthly subscription up until now.We haven't sold any hosting. Like we don't resell hosting. We don't include hosting in our care plans cause actually want to partner with hosting companies. I love the idea of like, We're the best of 24 seven WordPress support. They're the best at hosting. Right. But like we're experts in our areas. Let's combine those into one package and roll with it.Yeah. I like that vision. Cool.So besides support and hosting, do you have other ideas for where people could get started with this? Like what are things that they could try to like switch to a subscription model to kind of get their feet wet? Yeah. Do they need to start a product from scratch or like a productized services or like, is there a ways that they could more like step-by-step fashion or like try to get some recurring revenue with their existing customers or, yeah.Um, I would give our summit that we just did a little shout out. Um, we just. Through the WP MRR virtual summit. So people know I like monthly recurring revenue, WordPress, monthly recurring revenue, WP MRR, virtual summit. Um, we have a YouTube channel where we put all the videos up for free. So people are more than welcome to go check out the WP buffs, YouTube channel, and just watch some of the videos from that summit.I thought they turned out excellent. It's all about monthly recurring revenue and building a WordPress business focused on subscription. Services product, et cetera. I love productized service. The biggest reason I actually really like it is because I think it's the easiest place to start a subscription business without necessarily being highly technical.And for me, like, I am not technical, like building a SAS software product is really hard. Like there's some technical like requirements. Maybe you could hire someone to do it, but like, if you don't know any technical stuff, like how do you hire somebody to manage a product? If you don't know what. Building and like, maybe I'll look out, but like probably not.Right. So I think that product I service is really interesting to me because I would say people are thinking about like doing subscription stuff, like start with consulting, like start with a one time projects, help people with their websites. Do website builds. Like I did, you'll learn the pain points for folks.And all you have to do is I kind of take that and like put it into a package that sounds simple. And it's not that simple, but. You'll figure it out along the way. That's pretty much like if I'm saying it simply, that's how I did it. That's how everybody does it. If they're moving from kind of consulting to a productized service, you figured out the pain points for people you learn from people you use that kind of consulting to like talk with people and like maybe get your first few clients.And then you put this package together with all those learnings. And that's pretty much what a productized services it's like solving pain points for people through a services company, by putting a package together. That's like an anti-pain point package, then that's pretty much what it is. So I like that because it doesn't require a lot of technical knowledge.Like I knew a little WordPress when I started WP bus, I guess, a good amount of WordPress. So I knew a little bit, I knew a good amount, but I didn't need to be highly technical to start WP Bluffs. I just took kind of my website build knowledge and I kind of put it into what people need. Speed optimization, security optimization.They need their updates done. People don't want to do this. It is, they don't know how, or they just don't want to find a tie, but they don't. They're like, don't want to dedicate the time that has to deal with this stuff. And that's how w buffs came about. So I would say for people starting, like. If you're like, whatever consulting right now, we're doing one time projects.There's nothing the bad about that. That's where you should start. If you're thinking about going subscription, like use that knowledge, like that's actually a super easy bridge to move into a productized service sess, maybe a different story. I think there's a higher technical floor to building a SAS company.That being said higher risk, higher reward. I mean, I think SAS companies, because it's purely a product you can scale it probably better. You probably have better margins on average. Not all the time, but on average with a SAS product I service, but I'd rather have no a big bite of something that actually exists.Then a big bite of I'm not saying because I couldn't build a software product. Right. So. Yeah. I liked that when I spoke to a veto from Adobe feedback, basically the way they launched. So you already had basically an agency and they did like a big flash sale lifetime deals, which was basically the seed funding for their product.And that allowed them to work for it for awhile. But I think for most agencies and you're like working by the hour, it's hard to just set aside time to just. Build a product, but a productized service like Dan Norris, which I think basically had a competing product with WP buffs. He wrote the seven day startup.And I think it's right. Like you could literally just start something in a week or even shorter. Like you could just put up a website with some sort of offer and see if people want to buy it. Yeah, Vito. Awesome. Dude. One of my good friends in the WordPress space, like his product a lot. I've had him on my podcast too.So, uh, he said when I picked the brain of a lot as well, um, Dan is someone who I may have emailed Dan, when I was starting off W2 buffs, just saying hi, honestly, I can't remember. Maybe I didn't type. I have no idea. Maybe I'm making that up. It feels like I did. Sounds like something I do anyway. He's someone who started WP curve before I was even thinking about doing this and actually grew WP curve before I even was like, kind of in this area.So he's someone I actually probably have to thank for kind of being one of the first in this area. And growing the first business that really did this, I think a lot of us came after him. Yeah. I think he sold that business, which is another nice point about like building a subscription businesses that you can actually sell your business.It becomes an asset, all these subscriptions, it's now GoDaddy support services or something like that. But yes, WP curve is now part of GoDaddy and Dan's no longer part of WP curve. Yeah. The selling of a productized service business. Is kind of complicated. I'd say you probably have more success trying to sell something like a software company or like a SAS product that a productized service.If you're selling a productized service for the profit margin, maybe over the last 12 months or something, how successful the business is maybe for some folks on the team, maybe like us having an international team that might be a benefit to someone who might want to buy something like that. A software product though.Now you're talking about like, I'm buying this. Actual code of this. Like, we don't have a WP buffs. We worked at WordPress, right. It's open source and we don't have any like code that is ours. And so. There's no value to that. Like our value is in how successful we run our business, our systems and how tight our systems are.And then also there's additional areas. Like all the traffic we drive to the website, I guess the website itself, right there is our YouTube channel. There's, you know, our, our summits that we throw, like, there's a lot of other additional things as well, but we don't have any like proprietary software that we built as someone would come and buy.Like they would come to buy the success of the business. Not necessarily like the code that you wrote probably unless you. Wrote some code alongside it. So yeah, people are thinking about running a productized service. Like if you're thinking about doing it to sell a business, it's definitely going to be different than like selling a SAS or selling a piece of software.It's probably going to be more difficult. You're probably going to have a harder time finding a buyer, but it's not impossible. Like if I wanted to sell WWS today, like I could. Do it, it probably wouldn't be too difficult also. Like we're pretty successful. So yes, we could probably find someone, but I love what I do.Um, uh, I have no plans to do anything. That's gonna be rough stands around. I think this was a really inspiring chat and I hope it inspired some false true check-out. Recurring revenue and see if there are ways that they can think of building that into their own business and mix up those billable hours with some recurring revenue.And if they want to do that, you have a lot of different places. They can go to follow all your different MRR branded projects. Do you want to plug a few of them? Short website, WP boss.com, WP mrr.com for the summit and for the podcast. That'd be few boxes, our business as a company. So people can go there.If they're interested in the white label program, they can come and live chat on the website and ask questions, or you can book a call or any of that. Everything else is there. You can scroll to the footer and there's all the usual footer stuff and all the social Shannon's so awesome. Awesome, Joe, thank you so much for coming on the show.I really appreciated it. And then join our conversation. Yeah. Thanks for having me, Peter. It's been fun. Take care. You too.
Building a Powerful Remote Workforce Culture with Joe Howard of WP Buffs
Press This WordPress Community Podcast
"As many of us in the WordPress ecosystem know, finding the right talent located in your home town is often very difficult. In order to get around this, agencies and brands build remote teams filled with people from all around the world. While this gives us an advantage by allowing us to attract great talent, building a powerful culture with far flung team members is a huge challenge!In this episode of PressThis, we interview Joe Howard of WP Buffs around building a powerful remote workforce culture. Joe shares his thoughts on the strengths & weaknesses of remote teams, how to ensure you build a powerful culture, and what you can do as an individual if you find yourself on a remote team.Joe runs WPBuffs which is a WordPress services based business that helps business maintain and optimize their WordPress sites. The WPBuff's partially remote-workforce must run at maximum efficiency and collaboration in order to keep customers happy.Listen now to hear Joe's working-remote war stories and learn advice on building a powerful remote workforce culture!
49: Joe Howard on Maintaining Your WordPress Website
Joe Howard, the founder of WP Buffs — a 24/7 WordPress website maintenance service, examines the advantages that service companies have over product companies, lists the most common support tickets they receive and shares his experience with hiring remote employees.