How to run a done-for-you service company without going crazy

What today’s guest does is say to companies, Look, you hate handling all these email systems, landing page platforms, right?

His company handles it all for them.

I know everyone like me who uses marketing automation has a different goal and different set of software. Well, the company that today’s guest created works with all of them.

Carl Taylor is the founder of Automation Agency, a done-for-you marketing automation concierge service.

We’re going to find out how he did it and how he’s not going nuts running this company.

Carl Taylor

Carl Taylor

Automation Agency

Carl Taylor is the founder of Automation Agency, a done-for-you marketing automation concierge service.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com.

There are things that I’m fascinated by, as you’ve noticed in the interviews. One of them is consulting companies that productize their service. Being a consultant is a pain in the butt. You constantly have to figure out what each client wants. As I say this, I see Carl is nodding. You constantly have to figure out what each client wants. They all seem to want something different. You have to keep rebuilding your business, it feels like, every time you have a new customer and a new project.

Which is why I’m fascinated by these productized services, where this company will just–you know what? Actually, I’m introducing this all wrong. You’re not even productized service, are you, Carl?

Carl: Not quite. We’re kind of, but not quite to just buying this off the shelf. It’s not quite how we work.

Andrew: You know what? My instinct is to hit stop and start over but I’m not. I’m going to keep it in.

Carl: Okay.

Andrew: Because the way that you do things is I think I wanted to put you into a box in my intro and it wasn’t until I started explaining it that I realized you’re not paying attention. This is not the box that he’s in. What you do Carl is you say to companies like mine, “You hate handling all these email systems, right?” Yeah, I do. “You hate handling all these landing page softwares, right?” Yeah, I do. “You sometimes want a quick change and you don’t want to do it yourself.” Yeah, that’s true. Right?

So you say, “Andrew, pay us a little bit of money. My team will handle all of it for you. You’ve got Leadpages, we’ll do it. You’ve got ClickFunnels, we’ll do it. You’ve got ActiveCampaign for email, we’ll handle it. We’ll just take care of it. You just give us the email, we’ll log in to the account and email it using your email system,” right?

Carl: Yeah.

Andrew: Which actually is the opposite of productized service, which actually is crazy making to me because every–I know every client like me who uses marketing automation has a different desire, has a different set of software that we use and you seem to work with all of them.

Carl: Yeah. That’s true.

Andrew: All right. The person who just said that, his name is Carl Taylor. He is the founder of Automation Agency. Here’s what they do for companies like mine and if you’re listening to me, probably like yours. They give us graphic designers, web developers, automation experts and they do all that for less than the price of a virtual part-time employee.

Listen to this crazy making–this is what seems crazy to me. You work with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign–three different companies that essentially do the same thing in three different ways. You work with OptinMonster, ClickFunnels, Leadpages–again, three different companies that essentially do the same thing in three different ways, and every one of your customers can just expect you guys to know it and figure it out for them.

Carl: Yeah. That’s right.

Andrew: All right. We’re going to find out how you did this and how you’re not going nuts running this company and how you can take all of it and how much time you actually have to invest in being in this company to do all of it.

I can tell you it’s all thanks to two sponsors. The first is Pipedrive. I’ve been telling people about forever how Pipedrive helps salespeople close more sales. The second is ActiveCampaign. I don’t know much about ActiveCampaign’s ad with us on Mixergy. I’m only sliding them in because I know they’re coming up as a sponsor, but because you use them, I figured let’s just run them right now before I even know what to do with them because I want you to talk about ActiveCampaign and teach me and the audience about them.

All right. But I’ll tell everyone about the sponsors later. First, Carl, thanks for doing this interview.

Carl: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

Andrew: Revenue–you’ve heard my interviews. You know I ask about that. You feel comfortable saying it? What’s your revenue?

Carl: Yeah. So, right now, our revenues are about $42,000 a month, which equates to just over $500,000 a year right now.

Andrew: And you’ve been doing this for how long?

Carl: We’ve been going for just shy of two years.

Andrew: And how much time do you spend in the business?

Carl: In terms of day-to-day and delivery, pretty well zero unless there’s an emergency situation from a client or it’s a personal VIP client or friend of mine that gets me involved or it’s a super difficult task for the team to figure out themselves, day to day operational wise, my operations manager and my leadership take care of everything and I focus on strategy, marketing. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m always working in my mind, but I get to focus on the fun stuff and thinking about the future.

Andrew: And going to conferences like the one you and I met at.

Carl: Exactly.

Andrew: Are you profitable?

Carl: Yeah, absolutely we are.

Andrew: You are?

Carl: Yeah.

Andrew: So let me see if I understand this. Right now if I need a landing page created, the truth is I might go into Leadpages myself and create myself and then plug it in because it’s easier than explaining it to someone else on the team. I do have smart people on my team and I could just easily say, “Hey, we need a landing page. It should have this video, call to action with this button. Here’s some of the text.” I don’t exactly know what the full text is unless I write it myself, so I might tell them, “Here’s the gist of it,” and they’d create a landing page in Leadpages. If I were to work with you guys, how would that work?

Carl: Yeah. So the way we work is the way we were able to productize and our form of productization was to put a little bit of a box around what we do. The hardest part as a consultant–Automation Agency when we first started was a full-service agency. I was the one writing the copy. I was the one providing the strategy, designing out the ideal sales funnel, and we worked on high-priced projects.

The problem with that was the piece that required me. Even though I’d systemized and removed me from as much of it as I could, it still required me to get involved and do certain things. What we’ve done is we’ve put the strategy and the project management back onto the client. We are just the resources.

So the way that would work is in that scenario, you would need to have written the copy. You’d need to be clear on that copy. We’re not going to give suggestions or write that copy. We’re purely the tech of it or the design of it. That’s really kind of our piece, but you or someone on your team would be that project manager.

Andrew: Would I even pick the template in Leadpages?

Carl: If you wanted to or you can leave that to us. That’s totally up to you.

Andrew: But I give you the headline, I give you the video that goes on it. I give you the rest of the copy. I tell you what’s on the button and I tell you where the button goes, but I don’t have to do it myself, you guys do that.

Carl: Correct. We have a number of people as well, they like to with a pen and paper draw out the layout they see and they take a photo of that and they send that. If they do know the template or if they’ve seen an example, someone else’s page and they want one like that, the examples always make our job easier, but there are plenty of people who go, “Here’s the stuff.” It’s an opt-in page. The team look at it what it is and go, “This is probably the best template.”

Andrew: If I want the email address to go into my email system, you guys have to know how to connect that up and it automatically goes in.

Carl: Correct. So you would say, “I want that connected to ActiveCampaign, so when they fill in this I went them to go into this automation.” Or if they don’t have an automation yet, that would be another task to say when people fill in this form, here are the emails you’ve written that you want to have go out and when, here’s what you want them to look like and then we take care of all that.

Andrew: What I like about this business is that it’s focused on something that companies like mine hate to do. It takes forever. I feel like I waste my time doing that instead of talking to potential advertisers, instead of figuring out where we’re going with Mixergy, instead of doing an interview, right?

So I’d much rather pass it to you. The part that shocks me is all the different software you use. You don’t just say, “We are the experts in ActiveCampaign. We will handle ActiveCampaign for you.” That makes it easier to run a business because you can train people in one piece of software and that’s it.

But let’s understand how you manage that and understand how you got here. You said you started out basically being more of a full-service consulting company where you did much of the work. The very first vision for the business was what? What did you think it was going to be?

Carl: The very first vision was always to build a team. So before this business, I used to run seminars and teach people about buying and selling businesses. I then decided that I wanted to stop teaching and I was going to stop buying and selling more online businesses rather than bricks and mortar businesses. So I thought to do that, I’m going to need a team of people who do all the digital marketing stuff.

So I always saw the vision of Automation Agency being getting other people to pay for me to build a team that I could use. That was always the vision.

Andrew: Oh, I see. You said, “I need marketers for myself, people who handle the software side of marketing for myself. I’ll just build this as a service for my clients and then I’ll get to tap into that.”

Carl: Yeah. Absolutely. So, in the beginning, what I had was time. I didn’t have–I’d spent a lot of my money, so I had time and was like, “What can I do? I’m really great at the strategy stuff. Building it, I can bring together a smallish team. We’re about just over 18 months ago, we were a team of about three or four, if you include myself and now we’re a team of 32.”

Andrew: But the offering that you had with Automation Agency that you were going to use for yourself but you were going to sell to other people was what? If a client came to you, you said, “We’re going to do what for you?”

Carl: We would design and build a sales funnel that was basically designed to attract their ideal clients, attract and convert.

Andrew: I see. Sales funnel meaning the landing page, the copy for the landing page, hook it up into an email system and the copy in the email drip campaign.

Carl: Yeah. It was figuring out what the best lead magnet was going to be. It was doing the Facebook ads. It was basically the entire campaign. If you had nothing, we even at that point used to build websites as well, like high-end websites, usually for speakers, coaches, authority people who kind of needed–they had high price points of what they were selling and they needed to build trust and build a database of people they could serve and educate.

Andrew: How’d you get your first customer?

Carl: Our very first client came from a networking group that I’d been involved in for a long time, and I decided to make the switch from being a coach to I’m just going to do it all for you. I kind of said, “Here’s what I’m doing,” put my flag down. It was an old friend and client of mine who kind of said, “I’d love to do that.” It’s actually funny. Sorry, actually, I’m jumping ahead. That was my very first client was just from my networks of people I knew.

Andrew: When you say put your flag down, what do you mean? Specifically, you went to a Facebook group and you said, “Hey, I’m doing this?”

Carl: No. I was attending an event and it was in that event that I’d kind of just the week before decided I was going to get rid of all my coaching clients, cancel doing coaching, keep my content online but I was going to move into done for you. So, at that event, I basically announced that to the room and said, “Hey, this is what I’m doing.” People came up to me and started picking my brain, asking what I was up to. It was that event that I got my very first client who said, “Yeah, I’d love to chat and just do a strategy.”

The way I used to do it is I’d have a 15-minute conversation to see if we’re a fit and then from there, if it looked like we were a fit, I’d say, “Great, we need to do a strategy session,” just put $100 deposit down so I know that you’re serious, but I’ll give you that back if we don’t work together or if we do work together, we can apply it to whatever the total project comes to.

And then I would do that 90-minute strategy to plan out their whole funnel, give them the whole plan of what to do. At the end of it, I’d just kind of go, “Cool, do you want us to do it. Here’s what the price would be.” It was usually around $10,000 to $15,000 projects.

Andrew: And you made up the funnel on the spot and you guys were going to build it for them. What was the event you went to?

Carl: It was called BlackBelt. It was run by a good friend of mine, Taki Moore.

Andrew: Okay. The reason I’m asking is we’re setting this up for what happens later on in this story. So, you get your first customer. At what point do you realize, “This is a nightmare–I can’t keep doing this where I’m the person who comes up with the proposal, I’m the person who writes it, I’m the person who guides it. I’m the person who does too much?”

Carl: I don’t think so much that it was a nightmare. It was frustrating. I often would get annoyed that there were deadlines or there was stress of, “We’ve got to deliver by this point,” or I do my piece but then maybe the clients hadn’t done their piece. Also one of the hard things when you actually give the strategy is you’ve been in marketing long enough as well to know that at the end of the day, no marketer or strategist has a crystal ball and can predict the future.

We can develop best practices, but we can never say with 100% certainty, “If you do this, you will get a flood of clients.” The challenge was some people, they would come to me and the project would almost be make or break. If the project didn’t work on first go, they would go out of business. That was tough because it was like, “Well, I want to deliver value. I want to help.”

So the projects would then often, if they didn’t work first go, I would be out of the goodness of my heart, trying to help them tweak and change without charging them more. That started to become a nightmare.

But ultimately, my background, as I said, I had sold some businesses and I’m a big believer in building businesses as a product. You’re building something that could, whether you choose to, could one day be sold. I looked at what my business was and I was like, “I could never sell this. It revolves around me. If I sold this business, not that anyone would buy it, but I’d be looking myself into a job.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Carl: So that was really the catalyst that said, “Okay, there’s got to be a better way.” That combined with the–I’m sure some listeners can relate–the up and down nature of project work, you’re going and getting the work, getting the work and then you get the work and you’re doing the work, you’re working really hard, but I got paid the money up front, so all the money came in, then we’re working hard doing the work, so then it’s like, “Now we’ve got to get more work so we get more money.”

So that up and down seesaw of projects was really quite exhausting and at times tough. Some months were incredible and then other months were like there was nothing coming in. The thing is I had this–this kind of brings me back to the guy. As I said, we had a guy, I think it was our third or fourth client. After we finished his project, he kind of said to me, “Oh, great. What happens now? Do I just pay you a flat monthly fee and you do this, this, this and this?” So, of course, I said, “Yes.” I said, “The price is $199 a month.”

That was the beginning of what is our now concierge service. It was all because the client said, “Do you do this?” And I just said, “Yeah, sold it to him,” and originally our current service was actually the upsell. After you’d done a $10,000, $15,000 grand with us project, we’d say, “We built you this Ferrari, but you probably don’t know how to drive it. How would you like to pay us just $200 a month and you’ll have unlimited access to our team and help you implement it and use what we’ve built?”

Andrew: I see.

Carl: Not everyone went with it, but that’s what ultimately was the beginning. I knew I needed some sort of recurring revenue to try and help build the coffers.

Andrew: How did you describe what this, this and this would be to the first few clients?

Carl: We would just say at the time I had a graphic designer and a web developer and an automation person. At the time, a lot of the automation was still being done by me but the clients didn’t necessarily know that. So it was saying really the same similar pitch to what I do now. You would get unlimited access to our graphic designer, our web developer and our automation guru to help you tweak and change what you need.

Andrew: Was the automation guru you?

Carl: Yeah.

Andrew: I see. Okay. There was a little bit being done at the time by the developer, but she was still very new, very much learning. The automation skills came from me back then.

Carl: Do you focus on one email software, Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign or did you even from the start say, “Whatever you’ve got we’ll work with?” Pretty well from the start we did Ontraport and Infusionsoft. That was what we did. Our first client was an Ontraport client. Our second client was an Ontraport client. And then I’m pretty sure our third client had Infusionsoft. That was the point it was like, “Okay, I need to use Infusionsoft.” If you look at our market, those were the two main players.

Then ActiveCampaign caught my eye. They’ve been around for a long time, actually. They’ve been a company doing email marketing for a long, long time, but they were on premise software and now they, in more recent years, have become a software as a service and now competing with tools like Infusionsoft and Ontraport. I wrote a blog post maybe 18 months ago on my personal, CarlTaylor.com called “Why I’m Switching to ActiveCampaign.”

Andrew: Let’s do the message now then about them. Here’s the deal for you in the audience, usually when a sponsor books an ad, we ask them to fill out a form to tell me what they want to emphasize in the ad and what the URL is they want me to give out and a couple of case studies so that I can have something to talk about. In this case, they just signed with us, they paid super-fast for the ads but the ads aren’t supposed to start for weeks and weeks and weeks. But since you’re here and I know you use ActiveCampaign, I said, “Is there a way to make it work?”

So what we’ll do is I’ll ask you a little bit of ActiveCampaign. I’ll learn from you as a guy who’s done it way more than I have and then I’ll edit in later on whatever URL I need to give. So why do you use ActiveCampaign?

Carl: I use ActiveCampaign because I’m a big believer in best of breed software. So, for a long time, you had Infusionsoft and Ontraport as kind of the leaders for small business email marketing, CRM, marketing automation.

Andrew: For automation, right. I used to use a different email provider and all they would let me do is send out an email whenever I was ready or I could schedule it. That was like a cool feature they had. If they had any kind of drip facility or automation, is was a little clunky and it was something like the first day someone signs up, they get this, the next day that, etc. And I couldn’t say, “Well, if on the second day they get their second email but I happen to be emailing everyone this other message, don’t send this to that.” There’s none of that.

So marketing automation means when someone signs up, I can drip them this email so they get a nice welcome and if they click on a link, I can respond by sending them a follow-up email based on what they clicked, all that stuff is really smart. If they bought, I stop selling to them and I can actually just start talking to them like customers.

Carl: Exactly.

Andrew: So, Infusionsoft, Ontraport were big on that. Then ActiveCampaign got into it. Then ActiveCampaign got into it. So why did you switch to them?

Carl: So, yeah, it was far more than just the auto-responder that a lot of these people who said they have automation deliver. But ultimately you’ve got these other big players but they focus on trying to be an all in one tool. Here’s the problem that I see with all in one tools. I’ve got to say that some of the other tools are doing okay at it.

But here’s the fundamental problem I see with all in one tools. I’ve got to say that some of the other tools are doing okay at it. Here’s the fundamental problem I see with an all in one. At the end of the day, there will be certain features that maybe are really awesome and you’re getting like 95% best of in that particular feature. But all the rest of it, like your billing, your landing pages, this or that, you’re looking at probably 70% to 80% of the best. You’re not getting the best tool.
One of the things that I really love–there were two things. Firstly, I loved the starting price of ActiveCampaign. In the past, you’d look at Ontraport, which started at the time at $300 a month. You had Infusionsoft with their like $5,000 setup fee and starting at $200 a month and then you had ActiveCampaign that when I started with it had a free plan, but now it starts from $9 a month.

Any business owner that says I can’t afford to get into email marketing automation is crazy when you’ve got $9 a month for 500 contacts and you can be started with building a database and doing not just basic drip feed, you actually have the full suite of automation at that price point, where you can based on–

Andrew: What kind of automation?

Carl: So, based on site visits, if someone visits your site and you want to trigger an automation to start, you can do that, based on if they click a link or don’t click a link or open an email or don’t, you can’t start if/then rules, so it could be one automation, but if they’re a client, take them down a completely different path to if they’re not a client.

One of the cool things you can do is conditional content in an email. So you can send as a broadcast or in an automation one email, just one email that goes out, but you’ve created blocks, which have rules inside that email of if they’re a client, they see this block. If they’re not a client, they see this block. So you’ve created on email that goes up but you could have completely different versions of the email received based on the tags you know or the content that you have stored on that.

Andrew: I see, where with other providers, what I have to do is create two different emails even though there’s just one sentence that’s different or one link that’s different, like the customer gets a link to the actual product, the non-customers get a link to the place where they can pay and get the product.

Carl: Exactly.

Andrew: I see.

Carl: So ActiveCampaign, the thing I love about them and their vision–and Jason, their CEO, is a really great guy, his vision, one of the early conversations I had with him was, “Do you plan to become an all in one? Do you plan to build landing pages? Do you plan to do all this?” When he said no at that point was when I was most sold, that they were focused on being awesome at messaging, marketing and CRM.

They were going to be the best marketing automation platform and CRM platform for small and even enterprise business and they were just going to integrate with the best landing page tools, the best billing platforms and some of the new deep data integration they’ve got coming is amazing, which really makes all in ones irrelevant, in my opinion.

Andrew: Right, because these email providers who also create landing pages have the worst, ugliest landing pages. Their software always works best with their ugly landing page and they keep pushing you to use that. I don’t want that. I want to use whatever works better and I want you guys to focus on making it easy for me to use the email software.

All right. I’ll edit at this point in whatever URL we’re giving out for this spot. Thanks. Let’s continue with the interview.

Carl: Some of them I started out as just participants who paid lots of money to go and then over time I’ve built relationships or I’d been noticed for my skill sets and I’d spoken on stage and become a mentor of the program. So, one of the programs in particular, a good friend of mine, Dale Beaumont, who runs a company here in Australia called Business Blueprint. He also has a company called BRiN.

At his program of Business Blueprint, they have these mentor roundtables. I would sit at this roundtable and you’d have a lot of business owners come and pick your brain, basically. They’d for free come and just pick your brain about stuff. So often there were people coming to me who desperately needed my services. They desperately needed what I did. The problem was they couldn’t afford me or at least they believed they couldn’t afford me. So, either they truly couldn’t afford me or they believed they couldn’t afford me.

So what they were doing is they were going and hiring virtual assistants and telling them to watch a video on Ontraport and letting them loose in their account or they were trying to do it themselves, building these really ugly-looking landing pages or cobbling things together that didn’t work properly or the email went out wrong. They looked bad to their client. It really wasn’t serving them. They had no other alternative solution.

That’s when I was like, “I’ve got this $200 a month thing I’m selling, but I’ve got this big barrier of a $10,000 to $15,000 project in the way. What if I flip my model? What if I offer the low price service upfront and then I upsell to the project?” So that was the original plan is that I would upsell into the bigger projects after I got them in on the lower end.

So that was one of the big things that triggered for me. I could see the need. I could see these people who desperately needed my help because they were struggling with freelancers or they were hiring virtual assistants who they expected to be these superhero designers, programmers, virtual general admin detail people, understanding tools like automation, which most of us, we charge $250 an hour or more for the people who really the know product.

So it was like these people didn’t know what they were doing. I knew I could help them. That’s what I did. I flipped the model. So, there was a transition where we still did some projects, but we were really focusing on getting our first–here’s the thing. I didn’t know whether our price point was going to work. I was actually really scared that I was going to build this business and I was going to go broke. We started at $200 a month. That was our starting price. It was like okay.

And my flat mate at the time, he said to me, “Carl, how many clients would you need to get before you know whether the price point works?” At the time, I thought, “If I get 30 clients, I’ll know whether this price point works.” The reality was I had to get to about 70 clients before I worked out whether the price point worked or not. He at least encouraged me to go, “Don’t worry about whether it works or not, just focus on getting your 30 clients.” That’s what I did.

Then when we got to about the 30 clients, that’s when I was like, “Okay, I don’t need projects anymore, I’m just going to focus on this.” The upselling of projects adds unnecessary complexity. It requires me, which concierge service doesn’t require me. I can focus on training the team, going out and finding the process and planning for the future.

So my role, especially in the early days, was just how do I take what’s in my head and give that to my team? How do I build a culture of constant learning and ultimately clone–how do I clone myself as much as I can to build an awesome team? I’ve got to say I’m really proud of how well that slightly on purpose but slightly by accident I’ve managed to do that with my current team.

Andrew: I want to talk to you about that. Let’s start with how you hired them. How’d you hire the first people?

Carl: So my first people came from Upwork. I posted jobs on Upwork.

Andrew: Isn’t that the exact same thing you said that the people who should have been your clients were doing, that they went to Upwork and got virtual assistants who didn’t know anything?

Carl: That’s the thing. They were getting virtual assistants or the difference is I’m technical enough to know who was good and who was bad. I’m also technical enough to hire the people who didn’t have the skill and give it to them, whereas the general business owner doesn’t or didn’t have that ability. They would just rely on here’s a training video, off you go and they’re kind of the blind leading the blind. The difference was I knew where to go and what to do and I could correct when they made mistakes or I could quality check.

But my very first team member came from Upwork and then actually probably one of our best team members now–she’s now our automation team leader, Susie, if you’re listening to this, this is a shout out to you–when we first went to hire her, I actually rejected her. She applied to be a web developer with our team. She didn’t actually have the full skill. I would get them to do a test task to see how well they programmed, how well they could follow instructions. For her particular round, I tested 10 different people. I looked at what she did, and she didn’t quite nail it. She didn’t have the skill. So I said no.

Then I continued looking and I talked to some other people and I almost hired this other guy. I can’t remember why or what compelled me to go back to look at her code or what she’d done. I realized that out of the 10 people she was the only person that actually followed the instruction that said, “Please comment your code cleanly.” When I looked at the code, hers out of all 10 people, while she didn’t quite achieve what I wanted to achieve, she’s the one that had the cleanest commenting. She had commenting. I ended up hiring her.

Andrew: Because she could follow instructions and keep organized results.

Carl: Exactly.

Andrew: What coding did she have to do that she needed to comment?

Carl: It was CSS and HTML at the time.

Andrew: I see. You were looking for someone who knew a little bit of HTML.

Carl: So, for our techie guys, we need a minimum of basic WordPress skills, they know HTML and CSS. That’s kind of our intro for someone to become a tech in our team. The automation side is purely trained. We don’t hire anyone who already has that skill because I believe they come with bad habits. I’d rather bring them in and give them the good habits upfront.

Andrew: At first did you train her and then everyone after her in everything? You guys do WordPress too, I forgot to mention that. You guys do payment processors like Stripe and PayPal. Did you train her in everything or did you say, “I want you to just be my Ontraport specialist or my Stripe specialist?”

Carl: So she started just on nailing OptimizePress, which is a landing page builder for WordPress. So that was the first thing. I wanted her to just nail OptimizePress and become super-good at creating great optimize press pages that work because when we did project work, that’s what we built a lot of stuff in, OptimizePress.

And then over time, as we got more requests from clients, I was really the one sticking to most of the automation in the early days. As far as the clients were concerned, it was someone else, but I was the one doing the work. And then over time as we started to build the team, we hired our next developer, who then took over the WordPress side of things and so Susie, I trained her up. I started training her on automation.

We started with the basic things, the simple things like adding a tag, removing a tag, creating a form, some of the really intro basic stuff that especially when we had less clients was the kind of stuff clients were asking us for. And then the most complex stuff came to me. Over time, I developed my own training program. Every time we got a super-complex training thing, I would always jump on a call with her.

So there were times when it was urgent that I would just do it, but whenever possible, I would always go, “Okay, how do I jump on a call with you, record the call and I’ll do the work but while I’m doing the work, I’ll create the training at the same time.” Because she’s live on the call, she could ask questions, so I could make sure I was explaining it properly.

Andrew: And then the next person, would that person end up watching the video or would you have to have that person trained a different way?

Carl: So we’d get them to watch the videos first and then they would usually do some work with me one on one. Over time, we built up not just those live trainings–as I started to have more time on my hands, I would sit back and go, “Okay, we need to do video on this,” and I would design a whole training program on that.

Andrew: Watching a video of you training someone else is pretty tedious, isn’t it?

Carl: Maybe.

Andrew: It’s not very methodical, the way you’re doing it. You’re kind of figuring it out as you go along, right? I know that’s the way I use a lot of software. I don’t go first step, next step, next step after that. I go, “What do I need to do?” I click a couple of things, I go, “Right, here’s the first button.” I click another couple of things and I go–and for someone to watch all that, it’s tough.

Carl: Yeah. The benefit for us, I suppose, is I’ve been doing–so, before I started Automation Agency, as I said, I was doing coaching and speaking and part of what led me to do Automation Agency is most of my friends and clients who also ran speaking coaching businesses, they would all come to me and ask me, “How’d you set up that webinar funnel? How’d you set up those automations in that landing page that stalled your event?”

So I’d already been doing a lot of what most of our clients, because we started with the coaches and speakers in particular. So they already kind of wanted things I already knew how to do and I’d been building for years by myself. While yes, there were times where you’re like, “How do I do that?”

Most of the time, I was just building what I already knew how to do and I was explaining how to do it. I already knew what to do, so there was actually kind of, “All right, we click here. We do this.” And it was more me explaining why we do this, why we do that.

Andrew: Okay. And now your library, the video library of how-to’s that I would get if I started working for you, what’s that like?

Carl: The video library, as a client you don’t have access to any of our training–

Andrew: No, I mean if I worked for you. What would your employees see?

Carl: We have a very different training methodology now. About six months ago, we had a big scaling issue. All of a sudden, we had lots of clients signing up and our service quality dropped. It became a real issue, specifically we had one of our best clients. He’s also my mindset coach. She called me up–I knew how much she loved our service–but she called me up telling me she was really frustrated. That was the moment I knew something needed to be fixed.

At that point, we stopped taking on new clients. We put a waiting list in place to–it was a tough decision for any entrepreneur to say, “Okay, we’ve got all these clients wanting to pay me money. I’m going to say no, I won’t take your money,” but I knew it was the right decision if we were going to last and be a long-term company and not just a flash in the pan that people hated long-term.

So I put this waiting list in place. And we then basically had to reengineer our whole internal. We just focused on making sure we did a great job for our existing clients and we reengineered our entire hiring process. We reengineered our entire training process. So now every new hero that we hire, they go through a sidekick process and that sidekick process is a three-month, in-depth training, which includes training videos, training practice tests on our dev servers as well as shadowing more experienced developers while working on client stuff.

Andrew: You’re spending months with people?

Carl: Yeah.

Andrew: Where are you hiring these people?

Carl: So most of our team are in the Philippines. We also have some team members in Eastern Europe, in Serbia. So a lot of our team come from referrals, from existing staff. We make use of things like OnlineJobs.ph, just like you would try to hire anywhere in the U.S. or Australia or wherever you are, you use the local resources.

So we still sometimes will use Upwork as well, because sometimes there’s great talent on there. I’ve found that Upwork in particular, either the quality is low or the people who are really good are expecting what I think is kind of unrealistic prices.

Andrew: I’ve found that too, unrealistically high if they’re good but not great. They want to be paid like great people but they’re good.

Carl: Exactly.

Andrew: That’s a lot of people. Do your people focus? Do you have someone who’s just the Infusionsoft person, someone else who’s just the PayPal person, etc.?

Carl: Yeah. So we have basically design heroes. So we have a team of design heroes that all they do is Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Acrobat, Canva, that kind of stuff. They’re just the designers. We have the web heroes who just do WordPress. Inside the WordPress team there might be some that are really great at CSS, someone who knows Gravity Forms, for example, really well or someone who knows Thrive Content Builder better than someone else who knows Divi. So there are specialized people within the team.

But as much as possible, we always try to remove or reduce that key man requirement of one person knowing more than the other. So we have a big culture of sharing learning. So, if someone has skills when we hire them or they develop skills that makes them specialized, we very quickly identify that and we look for them to create training or run a live training internally to transfer their skills to others in the team.

So that we don’t get stuck with that situation of scaling where all of a sudden one team member was like awesome and let’s say that team member left or that team member is busy or they’re sick that day, then we have five tasks come in that required their skill set and the clients left hanging, which is not good for us and it’s not good for the client.

Andrew: I can’t get past the fact that you’re just doing so many things for such a low price. Frankly WordPress alone usually would go for like $100 a month, right? If I wanted to hire a company like yours to just tweak my WordPress, maybe $150 a month, and you’re doing WordPress as part of this giant collection.

Help me understand why my thinking is wrong here. My thinking is you pick. You guys only do sales pages on SamCart, only do landing pages on Leadpages, only do email using ActiveCampaign–only pick the best of breed and that’s part of what people come to you for, that you pick the best of breed.

Maybe in a few areas where you can’t pick on their behalf, you allow a little flexibility. Like maybe payment–because different people need different payments based on the country they’re in and because it’s hard to switch, you say, “Great. If you can’t do PayPal, we’ll of course support Stripe and we’ll support Stripe and we’ll support three others. Why not say we are going to give you the best of breed and that’s it?

Carl: We thought about that and you’re right. There are definitely times that our life would have been easier, scaling would have been easier if we were even more specialized. Every time someone else contacts us and asks, “Could you support this?” or asks us to add it to our supported platform list, it’s always that feeling of, “Here we go expanding the bow.”

But here’s my ethos. At the end of the day, doing that makes my life easier. Doing that serves me better. It doesn’t, in my opinion, actually serve the client better because here’s the thing. When someone comes to me and they say, “Which should I pick–Ontraport, Infusionsoft or ActiveCampaign?”

The answer is depends. I can’t say emphatically for you, this is the tool you need to have. It really does depend on their specific situation, what they’re trying to do, their budget, their market, a whole bunch of different things. Also, we have a lot of people who come to us–to be honest, most people who come to us either already have Infusionsoft, Ontraport or ActiveCampaign. They’re already using one of those tools. They’re not coming to us with a blank slate.

Andrew: I imagine that they would even–I know me. I don’t like my email provider. If you said, “Look, Andrew, we only work with this one company, I would say, “Great. As long as you migrate me into this system, take it away. Take my bad system away.” If you said, “Look, we don’t do Unbounce Pages,” whatever, Unbounce, “We only do Leadpages.” Great. Maybe you can just like keep the current ones going and switch the ones that are important to Leadpages.

Carl: That’s true. We actually do.

Andrew: I feel like that would be better for me. I want the simpler choice. I want you having known all these to pick it for me.

Carl: Yeah. As I said, the hard part in my mind is I don’t feel that there’s an easy, “This is perfect for you.” There is choice and it really does depend. It seems to be working for us. Definitely our life would be easier. But for a lot of our clients, there are times like that with landing pages where we say, “We don’t support that, but we support this,” and people do say, “Okay, can you rebuild them in this?” And we do.

But Infusionsoft, here’s the funny thing–when it comes to Infusionsoft, Ontraport and ActiveCampaign, from our side of things, it’s actually not that different in that if you can–as long as you grasp the fundamentals of what can be done, the harder part is just knowing where the setting exists in each. Those tools can generally do the same things.

There are some slight nuances, but generally they can do the exact same thing if you just know where those settings are and how to do it. That’s where our library and our resources have come together to really make it so we train people up over time. Like we don’t set–as soon as we get an automation hero who comes from the web team, when we make them an automation hero, we don’t go, “Here you go, access all the tools.”

Their training process is specialized. They focus on one. We typically start them with active campaign and then once they’ve mastered active campaign, then we introduce them to Ontraport and then from there we might introduce them to Infusionsoft. But ultimately we want them to have that knowledge of all the areas of the business so that even if they’re not the one working in that tool, they’re aware of what’s going on.

I don’t think that we’ll–we often get people asking, “Will you add this? Will you add that? Will you add HubSpot? Will you add all these other tools to the automation bow?” At the moment, we keep saying no. Ontraport, Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign is enough.

Andrew: You’re not going to do AWeber?

Carl: It’s 99%–what was that, AWeber?

Andrew: You’re not going to do AWeber, for example.

Carl: No.

Andrew: No way.

Carl: If someone’s on AWeber, you may as well be on ActiveCampaign because ActiveCampaign works out cheaper and you get more functionality.

Andrew: Yeah. There’s so many different–if you’re on AWeber, just pick a different–I’m going to say this, this does not come from you–if you’re on AWeber, just pick a different company. You’ve got to. They charge way too much and they do none of the automation. I know they keep saying, “Look, we’re finally getting into the automation space.” They’re kind of getting into it kind of reluctantly. They’re not great at it. They missed the boat for a long time.

Tom, the founder, I like a lot. I did an interview with him. I tried to bring up that he was falling behind at the time and he wasn’t going for it. They fell behind. I was a customer of theirs for a long time. I spent hundreds of dollars a month and paid more than I would a competitor. All right. I don’t want to get too much into AWeber and ragging on them. I think they’re a great company. I just feel like unfortunately they’ve fallen behind a little bit and it’s a little disappointing.

Here’s one company that you guys don’t support and I think actually it makes sense that you don’t support. It’s Pipedrive. But you do know Pipedrive. What do you know about Pipedrive?

Carl: I used to be a customer of Pipedrive. Back when we did our project work, I would use Pipedrive to manage that pipeline of who was up to where.

Andrew: That’s perfect. You don’t use Pipedrive if you’ve got an online sales funnel the way that you do, where the whole sales process needs to happen when someone goes on your website and buys. You do need Pipedrive when there’s some human interaction absolutely necessarily and ideally if it’s like a phone or email interaction.

Here’s what Pipedrive does–actually, can you describe your process in Pipedrive? I want to learn that. What did you guys used to do with Pipedrive?

Carl: So we basically set it up with a number of different columns. We had the 15-minute pool, the people who were kind of looking for a quick chat, so when they first looked in, they would end up as a deal inside the quick chat.

Andrew: So, as soon as they came to your site and said, “I want a 15-minute phone call,” boom, they’d go into Pipedrive.

Carl: Yeah.

Andrew: I imagine what you did was you probably had a form on your site. It could be anything. Let’s say Gravity Forms, but it could be anything at all, including Leadpages, I think. Automatically using Zapier, you take that contact information and you throw it into the first column in Pipedrive because Pipedrive forces you to say every step of your sales process gets a column. So, go into the first column in Pipedrive, meaning they said they’re interested. What happened next?

Carl: Then it was to assign a task to call the person to meet. So then I would go in and when I would jump on the phone with those people, it was a quick 15-minute chat but if there were any kind of standout things I needed to note down, I would write that as a note on that particular task so I knew that when I talked to them next, I could re-reference what did we talk about. Sometimes weeks could go by. Me being me, I wouldn’t remember. I needed a refresher. We’d kind of tick that off. From there, if it was not a fit, I’d say not a fit and I’d remove them. I’d say, “We didn’t win this deal.”

Andrew: And what they want to do is Pipedrive, if someone’s not a fit, you take whatever card from whatever column they happen to be in and then you drag it to the lost button. What it does for us is as soon as you drag it to the lost button, meaning you lost this deal, it says, “Here’s a form. Tell us why.”

Now, you probably didn’t need to do that. For us, I ask everyone on the team. If someone is lost either because we turned them down or they didn’t follow up or they turned us down or whatever, I want to record why so that once a year or several times a year, we can go in and look at all the reasons why we lost deals. Why did we lose them? Did they say we didn’t have a big enough audience, big enough name? Then we can improve that or shift the way we present ourselves so we don’t keep losing in the same way. Sorry. So, then what would happen throughout?

Carl: Yeah. So then if they were a fit, we would move them over to the next step, which was to book in a strategy session. So, I’d move them over there. Then by booking the strategy session, it would then kind of remind me to double-check if they’d actually booked in. The first task was confirm whether they booked in. Not everyone would say, “Okay, great, here’s the next step.” I would add the extra hurdle because my approach to sales is to not be a pushy salesperson, as a, “Hey, look, I’ll be here if and when you need us. It’s your call.” And so I would then say, “Great, here’s what I think should happen next. It’s $100 deposit. Here’s the form you can go to, to book in.” But I would always then want to be reminded to double check that if I hadn’t booked in within a week, I could just send them a quick note to say, “Hey, just checking in. I noticed you haven’t booked in. Is everything okay?” Just to see if that would open a new dialogue or whatever. So, there was that note. And then if they did book in, I would go, “Cool, they booked in. Then it was another task to call them for the strategy.”

Andrew: And it automates it. Pipedrive really systemizes this whole thing. If you’re listening to me and you haven’t tried Pipedrive, you’ve got to. If you’re listening to me and you say, “I already have a CRM. It’s good and it has all these features Pipedrive doesn’t have.”

I get it. Stop being a nerd, though. Pipedrive does not have as many features as Salesforce and all these other different CRMs. Pipedrive does have one thing going for it that makes it better than others in this one area. It’s all guiding you towards closing the sale. The first thing you see is not the record of the contact with their phone number.

The first thing I see when I look at it is my big board with everybody that we’re trying to get on to do an interview. I get to see them and what stage they’re in and I know who’s moving them along and who’s not. And like you said, you used to leave a note to yourself after you talk to someone.

I don’t talk to everyone here. But if Ari, for example, talked to you in the pre-interview process and she discovered something about you like you don’t like for us to say your pas company failed or whatever, she’ll leave a note in Pipedrive. So, I’ll know not to say that. If she knows that you like to have something else brought up, she’ll leave a note and I know to handle it that way.

Anyway, go check them out. I have a special URL now that they’re a sponsor. Where is it? It’s Pipedrive.com/Mixergy. They must really be doing well with us because they just bought a bunch of ads for 2017, which is awesome. I like to hear that. I like new business, but also I need validation that my ads are going well.

If you listen to my early interviews, just like I didn’t hide the bad intro to this interview, I didn’t hide the fact that my early ads sucked. I called myself out in the ad and said, “That actually stinks.” I’m sure some people thought, “Andrew is so hard on himself. Andrew doesn’t love himself.”

I don’t know what they said. But I’m sure they said something along those lines. No. It’s not any of that. I just want to call it out when it’s not good and I want to work on it and I do think our ads are getting better and better and the feedback I get on that is my sponsors are now like racing to lock in dates and fighting with each other.

Literally I have a competition in my Skype–I’m not setting it up as a competition–with one person who’s trying to say, “Is this other guy out? I want to buy his spot and we’re competitive.” That’s how well it’s doing.

Carl: That’s great.

Andrew: Back to your story. Here’s the part we haven’t gotten to. Now we’re finally understanding what your product is. We’re finally understanding how you’re getting your team to fulfill it. Let’s talk about where you’re getting your customers and talk about this breakdown in how you improved on it, the breakdown meaning that you couldn’t handle all the customers you were getting and also you wanted to make sure you were routing everything properly to the right team members. We’ll talk about all that soon. First customers–how’d you get your customers at Automation Agency?

Carl: So a big part of what really helped kick start is I’m a big believer and I want to say this to any of the startup entrepreneurs just starting is that really realize that business is a journey and that even when you think you’re off track, you’re probably on track, you just don’t know it yet and you’ll know it in five or ten years.

For me, automation and what we’re doing has come together in the last 15 years of me being in business and all the different businesses I’ve had along the way. But not just the businesses and what I’ve learned through that, but the relationships I’ve built. So, what really has helped kick start and launch automation agency has actually been those relationships that I’ve been able to build.

As I said, previously I was a coach and speaker. So the fact that most of my initial clients were very much coaches and speakers was because they came from my initial network of people who already knew me. And then as I said, I have attended and been attending for many years different business masterminds and groups and I’ve been fortune enough to move up into becoming mentors within those programs.

So by having that kind of positioning of authority but then getting people coming to me, now I had a product that when people were at that roundtable, if you remember before I talked about these people coming to me who needed me but couldn’t afford me, all of a sudden not I had an offer to say, “Keep doing what you’re doing if you want, but I now I had this other solution. Here’s how it works. Here’s what the price is. If you’re interested, let me know.”

So my very first few clients and even now today, most of my clients come purely through referrals from either ppts that I’ve either formalized or partly formalized and then referrals from existing clients who just love us. Because we work with a lot of coaches, I’m really fortune that we have a lot of coaches who sign up for themselves, who happen to have a business community of 100 or so business owners they’re teaching to do online marketing and then it makes their life easier because they’re a client, they know how awesome we are.

They want their clients to become clients because they know it’s going to help their clients win, implement more, which ultimately means they’ll succeed in their coaching program. They end up referring their clients to us as well.

Andrew: The formal agreements–who do you have a formal agreement with who sends you customers?

Carl: So we have an affiliate program. We have a number of people who there’s some people I’ve met and some people I haven’t who have signed up to our affiliate program, who have either blogged about us or they–I remember I met one lady at a speaking–her name is Janet Beckett. I apologize if you’re listening to this and I forgot your last name. I know it starts with B.

But I remember where we met. I remember we met at this online marketing event with Greg Cassa. She’d been speaking on stage and then I actually sponsored that event. I tried sponsoring events. She came up and we were chatting. She loved what we were doing. She quickly signed up to the affiliate program. We recorded the video together. She posted that on her website. Even to this day, I know we’re paying affiliate commissions to her for people who have been referred. So we have a number of affiliate partners like that.

Most of my other bigger joint venture partners if you like who refer the most, we actually, because of my relationship with them, we have what you may call semi–what’s the word I’m looking for, like professional agreements in that it’s more like–so, one particular is a good friend of mine Taki Moore. I mentioned him before. I’m a big part involved in BlackBelt, which is his program.

If you’re a coach, you should definitely check him out. It helps his clients win. He was one of our first clients as well. He’s a client. He absolutely loves our service and he knows it’s going to help his clients win. I was just recently in LA at one of his programs. It was a great opportunity for him to say, “Hey, look, all you’ve guys in LA, if you’ve not met Kyle, go talk to him, he’s got this amazing program. Here’s how it works.” As I said, that usually gets people coming up to me either signing up or going, “I don’t need you but I think my clients need you.” That’s been a big part for driving.

Andrew: He teaches them how to market themselves as coaches and part of marketing yourself as a coach is having a good email program, not just one that sends out a regular newsletter, but one that’s marketing automation oriented, one where based on what people I have done, you send them a different message, one that has a nice landing page, etc. or a lead box. You are the guy he’s recommending that all them setup, use to set this up. That helps. He gets nothing from that?

Carl: Well, he gets the fact that his clients win.

Andrew: That’s it?

Carl: If you think about it, if his clients were–they come into his program and they learn that they need these landing pages or they need to run a webinar or any of this stuff and they’re technophobes and they can’t do tech at all. That’s just not their skill set or they’re so busy doing one–he helps a lot of people move from one on one coaching to a leverage coaching model and so if they’re so busy doing one on one coaching, they never have time to actually build, even though they have the skill, they never have time to build the landing page themselves or set it up.

They’re ultimately not implementing what he’s teaching and therefore they’ll come to the point and go, “Taki’s program doesn’t work.” He’ll then lose the client. It’s in his interest to help those clients win, get it implemented so they get the result and they go, “Wow, Taki’s program is amazing,” because they actually realized their investment by implementing and doing the work, which you have to do if you join these programs. If you don’t do the work, you won’t get the result.

Andrew: His name is Taki, T-A-K-I, huh?

Carl: Taki. Yeah. He’s just recently released a book you can find on Amazon called “Million Dollar Coach.” It’s a great book.

Andrew: I see the affiliate program. If I were to actually have an affiliate link in this interview, I would get paid $150 for sending somebody to you.

Carl: $199 one time Australian dollars.

Andrew: $199 and then they pay you minimum $250 a month or what was the higher price. What were you guys charging?

Carl: $325.

Andrew: What’s the difference between that, the concierge solo versus the concierge plus?

Carl: Concierge plus–so, basically concierge solo is great for people who have just one WordPress website and they’re okay with just one task being worked on at a time. So, the way we work is we have these one–we have active tasks. You can send in unlimited requests, but if you’re on solo, you’ll only get one task worked on until we complete it before we work onto your next one.

If you go on concierge plus, you can have up to three WordPress websites that we’ll work on and that we manage. We do backups every day. We manage the security. We do all the WordPress updates and plugins and all that stuff that most business owners don’t do that they really should do. You get up to two active tasks worked on at a time, which means that you could have a design task being worked on as well as a web task.

Andrew: It’s unlimited, but only one at a time which means I can have a max of 30 a month. If I ask you to design a new add for me or a new image for one of my landing pages, does that take you a day or would you guys just spend seven days on that because you know that the longer it takes the less work I give you?

Carl: No. Our interest is always looking at how do we reduce turnaround times. The nature of what we do makes it hard for us to give guarantees on turnaround times. But our interest is to help people use us the most. And you say that some people, they can only get 30 tasks done in a month. We’ve had people where we did 20 tasks in one week because it really depends on the complexity of the task. If you make your tasks really small and they’re easier for us to do, the longer the task, the more complicated the task, the longer it’s going to take us.

Andrew: What’s a task that would take three days, for example?

Carl: A three-day task could be that you’ve asked for an email automation sequence that has a lot of if then rules. So it’s not just like a normal, “Here’s five emails dripped out.” It’s about 20 emails and, “If they click this, I want this to happen. If they don’t click that, I want this to happen.” Three days later, I want this to happen. I want that integrated with deadline funnel so that if they go to this page, they only have 24 hours to take action or they get redirected. That kind of thing is going to be far more complicated and require more setup. There are more moving parts. Something might go wrong but we have to talk to deadline tunnel support.

That’s the kind of stuff that gets more complicated and can take longer. It also does depend on the kind of load of our team. So you might just happen to send in a task to the automation team and they just happen to be smashed that week and that means that it’s going to take longer. We’re always working hard to avoid that.

Right now, we’re completing–we just did our meeting yesterday. Every team is completing their tasks in less than two days at the moment, which is awesome, whereas back at our time of our needing to put the waiting list in place, that was definitely not the case.”

Andrew: So is the waiting still in place right now because I’m on your site? I seem to see it.

Carl: We’re no longer at the point where we’re not taking on clients. We managed to fix that about three months ago. We slowly dripped in people from the waiting list and then now we’re at a point where we’re able to open a spot within around 24 hours. So we’ve kind of taken lead from the guys from MeetEdgar from the event that we met at.

Andrew: I saw her. She was so good. Laura Roeder at the conference said, “Whenever I see a website that says, ‘Request an invitation,’ I’m more likely to sign up, as opposed to a big button that says buy now.” So you’ve got that on your site now. I see.

Carl: The good news about that for me is it gives us that flexibility that let’s say we double in the next few months, like if all of a sudden we doubled, I can’t say with certainty we’re not going to hit another point where we have to put a waiting list in place. My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, but I’ve been in business long enough to know I’ve got to be able to have that flexibility.

The new requested invite process means that we still have the ability to capture people, put them into a waiting list of longer if we need to, where we might open up a spot every seven days, but at the moment, we open a spot within 24 hours for people, which is really great. Those who aren’t ready means they can at least still stay in our world. We can keep to educating them and keep them informed about what we’re doing and where we’re up to.

Andrew: When we talked at that conference–this is the Converted 2016 conference–one of the things you told me you were proud of is the way you route projects to the right person internally. How do you do that? What did you finally figure out to route it to 30+ people?

Carl: So what we do is basically–while I’m a big fan of automation, I think there’s still a lot of value to be said for people. We utilize Freshdesk is how we manage most of our tasks, which is a ticketing system. When a task comes in, the very first thing that happens is it is reviewed by our customer service team and dispatcher. Their first job is to go, “Can I handle this? Is it just an inquiry? What is it? Can we handle this?”

And then from there, they’re identifying which team does it need to go to? Is it a web task? Is it a design task? Is it an automation task? Does it need to go to the security team? Is it about a virus infection or something like that?

Then from there, it gets assigned to those teams and then we have a dedicated reviewer in each of those teams who their job is to actually–because the customer service people aren’t designers and they’re not techie people, they don’t know whether or not the task that’s been requested is 100% something we can do or within our scope or whether they’ve provided all the information and it would just be crazy for me to train these people to know everything about everything.

What we can do is we can have specialists from each team who know that information and their job is to review. Usually our very best team member on that particular shift is the reviewer for that team. Their first job is to gather all the required information, make sure it’s there and be able to give a fast response to clients so that if a client is sending a task that we won’t do, they won’t be waiting days for us to tell them that it can’t do be done, which is something that happened back when we have to put the waiting list in place.

We had people who had a task in and because of our challenges, it would take two days before we’d contact them and say, “Sorry, we can’t do that.” Now, I know if that happened to me, I’d be pissed and frustrated as hell. So, that was just unacceptable.

For me, I’m always trying to build our business. I am my own customer. I use automation agency myself when I want things done. I send in tasks and so for me, I’m always thinking am I okay with that. Would I be prepared to wait with that? Is this acceptable to me? If I say no, then we have to find a solution to fix it. So, that’s where our whole dispatcher to reviewer process worked. And then the reviewer assigns the task to the correct hero.

Andrew: I see. So it’s just helpdesk software. You guys happen to use Freshdesk. Email comes in. They route it to the right person, which is what all the helpdesk software does, assigns. So every single member of your team needs to be on helpdesk software.

Carl: Correct. Yes.

Andrew: Wow, which is kind of a pain.

Carl: It definitely adds up to our software expenses.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s also more expensive, as opposed to like Slack or something. You guys use that too?

Carl: We use Slack as well. Yeah. We use Slack internally. That’s like our internal office. We all work from home. I work from home. Everyone within the team works from home. And so yeah, very much Slack is our virtual office. Wherever possible, we want everything coming in to Slack.

But yeah, Freshdesk is the system that we’re building upon. We’ve been building some custom software that sits over that top of that as well because it didn’t have all the functionality that we needed. That’s been a 12-month project, which has been frustrating, but I’m super-excited when we get to launch it. It’s already saved a lot.

So for me, it’s all about, as you say, how do we do what we do? I’m a software systems kind of guy. That’s how I think. So I’m always looking for how do we systemize this? How do we standardize it? How do we automate that process if we can to save time? Because we’re a fixed-price service, I learned this back when I used to own an IT company, that if we charge by the hour, it’s in our interests to take a long time.

The fact that we don’t charge by the hour, it’s in our interest which aligns it back with the client’s interest for us to do what we can as quickly as possible because we actually make our money by taking less time. That’s where our profit is. The less requirement on us to do the work, less time spend is actually where our profit is. So, we’re always looking for without sacrificing quality, how do we deliver faster responses, turnarounds, results for clients.

Andrew: All right. The website is AutomationAgency.com for anyone who wants to check it out. And my two sponsors are ActiveCampaign, my first time with them as a sponsor, ActiveCampaign, and Pipedrive. I’m glad to have both of them on as sponsors. Thank you for being here. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye, everyone.


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