6% growth and a new process for quality – February 2015 monthly report

February was a good month for us. We put some new systems in place that should help increase the quantity and quality of our jobs. Let’s dig into what happened.

“6% growth and a new process for quality – February 2015 monthly report @WPCurve” goo.gl/JHkvcu – CLICK TO TWEET

6% growth to $64,220 USD monthly expected revenue (MER)

NOTE: We define MER as our monthly recurring revenue at the end of the month plus any one off jobs throughout the month.

We missed our 10% monthly growth goal in February increasing from $60,624 to $64,220 (6%). This is typical for being a slow time of year and a short month.

We reached 834 total customers with an increase of 38 customers for the month.

There was also a week or so during February when we stopped taking on new customers because response times were getting out of control. We wanted to ensure we maintained a great service for existing customers. The signup form was offline for about a week and we replaced it with an email opt in to be notified when we re-open. We had around 200 people opt in to be notified when we re-launched.

Total-Customers

People, product and process

People

We are up to 38 people on our team now. We have begun more active recruitment of developers to keep up with our growing customer base. We’ve created a developer’s page and we are about to start running Facebook ads targeting developers with the help of Vincent Nguyen at Growth Ninja.

We are also seeing our team grow personally and achieve their own goals. One of our developers, Charles, has been saving to buy a snazzy new bike ever since he started working with us. This month he finally met his goal and shared his victory with us.

c

Congratulations Charles!

Product

Out happiness score came out at 84, this month up from 81 last month. This is a good improvement and brings us closer to our long term goal of 95.

Featured Happy Customer –  Don D.  Andrew – You have done a great job on the last two issues. You really went the extra mile to help me out and explain the solution. That is GREAT, GREAT work! I have been stuck with this problem and banging my head against a wall – and you fixed it beautifully and permanently! Thanks so much!”

903 jobs completed – This total number is slightly lower than last month (916) but our overall productivity is up since it was a short month.

Responding faster to customers is one of our big challenges and targets to improve. We reduced our average response time by over four hours from 15 hours 57 minutes to 11 hours 25 minutes.

We aim to have this below 8 hours. Right now the weekends are where most of the longer responses are happening.

  • Average first response – 11 hours 25 minutes
  • Lowest response time – 6 hours 33 minutes – Feb 16
  • Highest response time – 21 hours 20 minutes – Feb 15

Process

We have the whole team now using our own system for managing jobs. It’s still work in progress and it doesn’t have all of the functionality of Help Scout, so team members are having to go back in there from time to time. It’s been a bit of a process getting people across to use it and working out the integration with Help Scout (hit the API limit a few times and had to increase that).

We have successfully implemented a few things which we couldn’t do before, including:

  • Prioritizing troublesome tickets.
  • Support for VIP service (we will be announcing a new VIP plan soon).
  • A quality assurance process where developers who haven’t hit their happiness metrics, send their jobs to QA and we have a QA team to review each ticket before it’s sent.
  • We now auto assign developers jobs when they finish a job (we used to have someone assign a job to them or they picked it themselves).

We are just scratching the surface with it but we are using it now so we are making progress.

Performance management

There are 4 changes we’ve made with performance management.

  1. We have 2 testimonials of the week where one team member from the US and one from Asia-Pacific teams wins for the best client testimonial. This is announced to the team via the general Slack channel.
  2. Developers now have a target for the number of tasks they have to get through in a day (averages 1 task per hour). We have a report each week that shows us their performance and we chat to them if they are under target. We use Lighthouse to document conversations with staff.
  3. Developers have a target happiness score of 90 (‘great’ % minus ‘not good’ %). Every Monday we have a team member provide us an average for the previous 3 weeks. If they are over 90, they can deal with clients directly for the week. If they are under 90, they have to use the QA process and have their tasks reviewed by the QA team.
  4. If customers leave a review of ‘not good’ we review the ticket specifically and if the developer is at fault we have a chat with them and explain how it could have been done better. We use Lighthouse to document conversations with staff.

It’s too early to really see if we are getting improved results from these changes, but we are hopeful it will result in higher quality and more productivity.

Website traffic

February saw a 13% decrease in traffic with 49,897 visits (down from 57,639 visits in January). We had an isolated spike in direct traffic last month and three extra days in January, which makes February’s numbers look small by comparison. Though traffic is down, there’s a lot of good news for content this month. We’re seeing a steady week over week increase in traffic, and more conversions.

Special thanks to Animonks for the cool animated GIFs for our graphs.

Traffic sources

We started tagging the links in our email to get a better idea of where our traffic is coming from. We implemented the tags mid-month however, so the WP Curve Weekly Email tag won’t be accurate for February.

Top pages

Our most popular new post this month was 12 remote workers reveal how to be happy, effective and valuable. Last month’s post How we effectively use Trello for project management has been driving organic traffic this month.

Email List Growth

We had 956 new subscribers added to our email list, up from 743 last month. Some of that was from the wait list, but our content and conversions have been strong.

Content

We hit our content goal of 10 posts this month. This is the first month we’ve hit this goal. I have started to find my groove creating and managing our content. I have been refining our processes and editorial calendar, which is making content creation easier and faster. After four months I am starting to have a grasp on our systems, tools and culture, which helps with my efficiency, and with ideas for content. Putting the podcast on hold let me focus on written content and working with guest writers.

We consider 50+ tweets to be a break out hit. In February we had 4 break out hits. Our best posts were community driven content. They brought in ideas from many different influencers which added a lot of value to the articles. Having them share the posts with their audiences helped boost the engagement as well.

Any questions?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Info about this report

We do these reports to help other entrepreneurs get real information about running a startup. Dan did the 1st report in 2012 when he was earning $0. Here is the full archive. Here is a post we wrote recently on some monthly income reports from other startups. If you like the reports we’d love you to share it.

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About

Kyle is the founder of Conversion Cake . He is the author of "The College Entrepreneur" A book for students who want to break into entrepreneurship. Follow him @kylethegray

  • Charles, that IS a sweet bike! I’m pretty jealous because I’ve been back to driving a car for the past 3 months. Really missing my little 125cc moped in Chiang Mai…

    Thanks for the mention, Kyle! Also glad to see the remote worker post was a hit. 🙂

    • Of course Vincent! That remote worker post was excellent, and I had a lot of fun putting it together. I’ll make sure to reach out to you to collaborate more in the future.

  • great Kyle. Thank you for being awesome 🙂 Those animated GIFs are really looking great 🙂 @Dan, thank you buddy

    • Thanks Praveen! I look forward to working with you more in the future!

      • Sure 🙂 Dan have something to talk with you regarding this 😛

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  • ram

    this is a nice share

  • Outstanding transparency – super appreciated. I would love to know more on WP Curve’s thoughts on scaling. Perhaps … lessons learned from two years of scaling.

    • Hey Mike! Thanks for reading! I would love help you out with your scaling questions. What specific questions or problems are you hiving with scaling? I’ll try to answer them here, or we could make a post dedicated to it.

      • Hi Kyle, My vote would be for an article. I see a biz that scaled drastically over two years. I wish to do something similar. I suspect there are a lot of lessons learned in that process and that is super valuable to me. I suspect its super valuable to other readers as well.

        My interests would be: struggles and solutions to removing one from the business. Mistakes made with employees. How to protect the valuables of the biz (customer list, etc). That sort of thing. What are the important items that a founder must stay involved in. How does founder split time amongst the different areas such as customer service, content marketing, hiring.

        Does that make sense Kyle ?

        • These are all great ideas, I’ll see what we can do to turn it into a few posts. Dan gave a really good response in the comment below about how we handle expenses which might be a good start to this. Check it out.

  • These income reports are great! It would be good to understand more about the expenses side of the business and increases in profit (as a %) month on month. I understand you might not want to share dollar figures but the % proportion of revenue invested in labour costs must be fairly significant. Are you breaking even yet?

    • Hi Kim, we have been profitable (i.e. not losing money) since day 23.

      http://www.startupdaily.net/2013/07/tech-startup-becomes-profitable-in-23-days-31072013/

      I started with one developer in the Philippines and we were covering his pay and some small systems costs after 23 days. We didn’t pay ourselves for the first 3-4 months, then when we had enough money we gradually started paying ourselves the majority of the profit in the company. At first it was a tiny amount, and it’s now at a reasonable amount for someone running a business of this size.

      We have always aimed for a margin of around 50%. However a few things have gotten in the way of that. Expenses for example are a lot more complicated than revenue to include in something like a monthly report.

      One reason is, while our general margin might be around 50%, we only pay ourselves a certain wage and if there is money left over we generally put that back into the business. We are thinking very long term with this business, so once our wage hit a reasonable amount, we froze it there and have started putting the rest back into the business.

      These outlays turn up as expenses and makes the margin look a lot worse. For example we’ve travelled overseas to conferences and meetings up about 5 times in the last year, we’ve spent 10s of thousands on re-designs and building systems, we’ve hired many people well before we could really afford them (to maintain the 50% margin).

      These complexities aren’t really easy to articulate in a monthly report so we haven’t included expenses to date. There are also some things that, for the benefit of the team, we have decided to keep private, including the pay and rewards we give to the team.

      On top of that we have struggled a bit to hire in some countries driving our hiring costs up which has also impacted our margin significantly. The recent price hike is a reflection of that.

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  • I continue to be very impressed with your openness and also your attention to improving quality.
    Well done.
    Dale.

    • Thanks Dale! It’s good to know that this is helping people.

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