We’re happy to interview Joe Howard, founder and CEO of WP Buffs, the 24/7 WordPress website maintenance services, as part of our series on WordPress SaaS founders: Weglot SaaSy. You can find Joe on Twitter. Thank you Joe for the great interview!
Q#1: What is your background, what should our readers know about you?
Hey, readers! Glad you wanted to learn a bit more about me and what I do with WordPress 🙂
First and foremost, I’m the Head Buff at WP Buffs. We’re a 24/7 WordPress website maintenance services for serious website owners & white-label partners. Whether you’re looking after 1 site or 1000, we’ve got your back!
I also run WPMRR, a robust video course that teaches WordPress professionals how to implement, sell and execute ongoing care plans for their clients and increase their revenue every single month.
Finally I co-host The WPMRR WordPress podcast entirely focused on growing successful WordPress businesses and monthly recurring revenue without taking itself too seriously. Boom!
That pretty much covers it 🙂
Q#2: What’s your main activity within WordPress today?
Honestly, most of my time is spent managing leading our leadership team at WP Buffs. Nick is our COO and Dean is our Head of Customer Success, so they have most of our operations handled at WP Buffs. Caylin is our Head of Marketing and we split most of the marketing responsibilities, although she’s taking over more and more as time goes on.
I spend a lot of my time helping them be better leaders so they can serve the rest of the team, our super talented team of WordPress developers. They are the heart and soul of our business and the ones who go above and beyond for our customers, so they really deserve all the credit.
If I’m not working with the team, I’m probably recording a podcast or speaking at a WordCamp. I love being active in the WordPress community and WordCamps are a great way to do that!
Q#3: Why did you choose a SaaS (subscription service) model? Did you change your model from your beginnings? and if so, why?
I used to do what most people do in the WordPress space, build websites as one-time projects. But I had a lot of trouble scaling that model. I’d have one great month where I sold and built 3 websites then a down month when I was trying to find new clients; not being able to predict my revenue was a real challenge in growing a business.
So I decided to look into managing websites through a monthly subscription instead of looking for one-time project-based work. This made all the difference! Not only are we increasing MRR every single month at WP Buffs, we’re teaching other freelancers and agency owners how to do it with their own businesses through our video course.
Q#4: What’s the key metric you’re closely watching on a daily basis?
We don’t watch any metrics on a daily basis. It’s just too small of a sample size so we’re really looking at data on more of a weekly and monthly basis to look for improvements.
The biggest metrics we track are:
Lifetime value: this is an educated guess at how much you can expect to make from the average customer before they churn. Knowing your LTV will help you decide how much you can spend to acquire and support each new customer. The higher, the better!
Revenue churn: If we’re looking at the last 30 days, this is the percentage of MRR that has been lost in the last 30 days relative to your total MRR 30 days ago. Churn of any kind is bad, but a high revenue churn rate means that high value customers are leaving at a higher clip than others. You need to watch revenue churn like a hawk!
MRR growth rate: This is the rate at which our monthly recurring revenue is growing over time. The higher the growth rate, the faster we’re growing our customer base and the more people we’re helping with WordPress!
With regards to support, our team is also closely tracking things like reply and resolution times to make sure we’re continuing to go above and beyond for our customers and white-label partners.
Q#5: How do you handle support? And how important is it to you?
Support is everything! Our customers love working with us for a few different reasons, but our support really does differentiate us from others in the space.
We have great systems, tone guides and procedures in place to make sure every single customer receives top-quality and friendly service. But beyond that, customer success and ridiculously awesome support is baked into our culture here at WP Buffs. If you don’t love putting smiles on customer faces, you won’t fit in very well with our team haha.’
We handle all our support via email and livechat. No phone support means we can keep our operations lean and agile, a big win for any small business. Some people need phone support, and that’s cool! We just may not be the best fit for them 🙂
Q#6: What will be the next big moves for you within the WordPress ecosystem?
I’d really like to see WP Buffs become involved in the global conversation around WordPress support partners. We’re starting to make more of a name for ourselves, but we still have ways to go towards being a household name in the WordPress space.
WordPress powers such a large percentage of the web, which means there are plenty of website owners, agencies and freelancers who we can help manage WordPress websites with. Continuing to push forward in this area so that “WordPress help” and “WP Buffs” become synonyms is what I’d love to see come to fruition 🙂
Q#7: What’s your favorite SaaS reference?
Probably the Startups For The Rest Of Us podcast! I listen every week. WP Buffs is a productized service, not a SaaS company, so not every lesson applies to what we do. But because we’ve adopted the SaaS pricing model wholeheartedly, many of the conversations around growth, hiring, pricing and much more are conversations I need to be part of to see what’s next for WP Buffs.
Q#8: What was your toughest challenge in your entrepreneurial journey?
Definitely when I was lost in the startup ecosystem before starting WP Buffs. I was working on multiple startup ideas at one time not only trying to make them work, but figure out what I wanted to really work on.
I think a lot of people look back on this time of their entrepreneurial life with appreciation. Not me; I really hated not feeling like I was moving forward on anything significantly.
I felt empty. I felt directionless. But most importantly, I felt unimportant.
Eventually I got a full-time job as a government consultant here in DC. I didn’t particularly like this job, but it did help fund the start of WP Buffs so I wouldn’t change a thing 🙂
I have been extremely lucky. The tough parts really have been to deal with the fact that we have been very lucky and the doubt it creates around controlling our own destiny.
Q#9: Whom should we interview next & why?
I have a few suggestions!
Christie Chirinos! She’s my co-host on the podcast and is one of the coolest people around, not to mention super high-level business person. Did I mention she helped grow Caldera Forms to 1M+ downloads?