1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
Hi! I’m Kevin, from California, USA and currently in Austin, Texas.
After spending some time in the corporate world and hating it, I got laid off and was forced to either find another job or start something myself. The idea of another job didn’t interest me, as I couldn’t seem to fit in with work/corporate/office life.
I instead went with my passions at the time with fitness and sport and started coaching a local masters (adult) swim team making $12/hour for a few hours of work a week.
This lead to giving swim lessons, and designing programs for triathletes (swim, bike, run) to accomplish a distance or open water swim.
I started taking this online, and I eventually got my start in the world of online business with triswimcoach.com – swimming training for triathlons. I hired VA’s, then teams, to help build and run my niche business.
In 2017, after years of hiring admins, developers, and designers, I started Work Hero. My original plan was to offer these three categories as a productized service, where businesses could pay monthly for the design/development/VA services, instead of having to go out and hire everyone themselves.
I quickly realized this was a little too much to take on and not what I wanted to do. I dropped the admin portion and focused on design and WordPress development.
However, I eventually realized that trying to do design AND WordPress support was not only not ideal for my customers, it was very hard to sell. In November of last year, I hit the reset button and dropped the unlimited design.
So we focused in on WordPress support and maintenance, doing the small edits (less than 1 hour), and helping businesses with all the headaches they experience with WordPress sites.
Our pricing plans are here: https://useworkhero.com/pricing
$149 for unlimited edits, $79 for 5 edits a month. All plans include
– Weekly updates
– Weekly reports
– Daily scans
– Off-site backups
– Speed optimization
– Mobile optimization
– Security optimization
– 24/7 uptime monitor
We landed 1 customer in December.
In January, we picked up 2 more.
February we got 2 more.
In March we added 3, and April so far 2, losing 1 as well.
Most customers are paying the unlimited fee of $149/month
Revenue is currently ~$1122/month.
I’m running a small team of 4 developers, and a designer.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
The customer acquisition methods I have used that have worked have been:
Referrals: We have referrals from previous customers. Most of these are not from our affiliate program, but we are ramping that up now.
In-person networking: Typically, there are people who need WordPress help in most small/solo business communities. Meeting people in groups like the Dynamite Circle has resulted in new business.
Cold social outreach: We have campaigns going out to related group members on Facebook. These open up conversations and can lead to business.
We have recently started some content marketing, posting weekly WordPress-related articles on our blog.
For customer retention, the best thing that is working is amazing customer service & support. We are very fast in replying to customers, and give each of them the best treatment. Also, always being willing to get on the phone with customers. We’ve had customers leave, and come back, leave again, and come back again. It’s important to really understand what their needs are and to also be okay with “letting them go”, knowing that they could be back.
Lastly, we have a few autoresponders going out to customers to remind them that we are here for them, and send out any new info that may help them succeed in business.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
Challenge #1: Not having a tech/development background myself. I knew from the start that this business will come down to hiring, and the team I surround myself with. I made sure that I had people who knew what they were doing in WordPress right from the beginning, and that we could work on a wide variety of issues businesses face. It was worth it to pay a little extra early on for talent in this area.
Challenge #2: Competitive market. When we moved into being a WordPress support company, we had the challenge of not just becoming another of the many companies who offer this kind of service. To stand out, we focused on coaches and digital nomads, and put lots of attention on our few customers. Sometimes two developers will work with one business. We also accepted that there is endless amount of work out there, so there’s still nowhere near enough businesses who offer WordPress support. Plenty of room for more!
Challenge #3: We had customers in Hawaii, Asia, and East Coast US. We’ve had to hire developers from the Philippine and Eastern Europe to provide coverage for all of our customers.
Challenge #4: Despite trying many systems and help desks, every once in a while, a task would slip through the cracks. Now that we use Teamwork, this is no longer an issue. We connect Teamwork to Slack, and have a customer portal where all tasks go called SPP. The systems have finally been worked out to where it is much easier and transparent, so everyone can see where tasks are, who’s working on them, when they last worked, and the notes.
We pivoted from being a productized design and WordPress company, to just focusing on WordPress maintenance and support. The reasons we made the switch: Design was much more difficult to execute. Customers have so many various tastes and preferences. We also found that we could not go below about $300/month, and the sales process could be quite long- whereas, with just offering WordPress, we could be more focused, and bring in the below $100/month customers without a lot of back-and-forth.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
- Getting organized at the beginning with SOPs. I used a lot of the methodology from a book and course called Work The System. This allowed us to automate and organize the business right from the start.
- Using the tools available to make work easier and more efficient. We use Slack and Zapier all the time.
- Hiring for attitude and training on the rest.
- Staying updated on the latest ways to run a productized service. The Productized Startups group has been an amazing resource.
- Being a member of the Dynamite Circle, and making great contacts through it. Some have become customers, others have given super helpful advice and feedback.
- Following companies who have already been there, like WPCurve, WP Buffs, Design Pickle, ManyPixels, etc.
The best decision I made was bringing on my Brazilian partner, who has been the innovative as well as technical mind behind Work Hero. I took a huge chance as he’s a young guy without a lot of experience going in, but has been incredibly valuable in the building and managing of Work Hero.
5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?
Get out there and talk to people. Talk to as many potential customers as you can. Find out as much as you can about their businesses.
Single biggest learning would be that things take a LOT longer than anticipated, but it’s worth it to have patience. I had times when I was losing a decent amount of money every month and was ready to quit, however, we made it past the dip and are on the upward slope now. I thought we’d be profitable far sooner than we were, but there were some learning curves that I did not expect.
Also, be ready for brutal feedback. After 2 months of building we released a beta, free version of our service, and it did not go well. Many complaints and some constructive feedback. Some of the complaints got me down, but I used it all to learn and grow instead of be defeated.
6. What are your plans for the future?
We are almost to 10 paying customers now and that is a big milestone. At that point, I will be hiring someone to take over the management of task distribution (PM role).
We just started offering hosting, and will likely branch out into other areas like SEO, which is a fascinating area to me.
Our next goal is to get to $10,000 of revenue a month. From my estimate that’s about 80 customers. This will be done by:
-Expanding our affiliate program
-Hiring a PM
-Beginning a Facebook Ads campaign
-Continuing our content marketing and SEO efforts
-Podcast advertising and offers to groups like Dynamite Circle
Challenges will be keeping the right number of developers to match with the amount of work we have coming in. It’s easy to over- or under-hire as things grow slowly, or if they grow quickly.
7. Where can we learn more about you?
Personal site: https://freedomlovin.com
Question for the community: What kind of challenges did you face AFTER you got your first 10 customers? How did you expectations align with what happened in reality?