107 new customers, 17% growth, starting a wait list, 7 new team members, Alex meets Dan – November 2014 WP Curve monthly report

To say November was a big month in Curve land would be a huge understatement. Let’s get stuck into what happened.

107 new customers, 17% growth, starting a wait list, 7 new team members, Alex meets Dan: Nov @WPCurve monthly report. – CLICK TO TWEET

Dan met Alex!

November started off with a bang with Alex and Dan finally meeting each other face to face for the first time.

dan_and_alex

Despite going from scratch to a half a million dollar annual run rate in just over a year, Alex and Dan still hadn’t met face to face.

They decided to meet close to half way between Australia and the US (Hawaii) to discuss the plan for WP Curve for the next year.

A lot of what was discussed will come out in these monthly reports in the coming months however here are a few of the themes:

  • They went through the strategy for the blog and how they would be utilizing my time as the Content Marketing Manager. Expect some updates soon on that.
  • They discussed hiring, how they can keep the momentum going, particularly in the US timezone.
  • The quality of the service is always a strong focus and a lot of decisions were made around how to keep the quality high. The main themes there are keeping us well resourced, particularly in the US, keeping the team motivated and building a system for clients to get better access to the team.
  • The way we hire, pay, onboard and retain staff was a key component. We are implementing more rigid systems for this now and doing more to encourage team collaboration. Part of it will involve getting the opportunity to meet some of the team face to face in 2015.
  • Retention is an ongoing challenge and a number of ideas will be tested to boost retention. This may not happen till 2015.
  • We have allocated money for building our own customer-facing system on top of Help Scout. This will give us full control over scheduling jobs and make it easier for clients to explain things to us ‘live’. We have effectively allocated one full time developer per month to work solely on internal projects like this.
  • We will be refreshing the WP Curve brand to keep us ahead of the pack design wise.
  • We will look to hire another project manager in Dan’s timezone to look after that side of the world. This will most likely happen gradually by finding someone to work part time at first. Because we are in December, we may not pursue this till next year.
  • We will try to get all of these things done (and more) with our revenue and not pursue funding for now.
  • We still plan on continuing more or less with the current plan until we get to a $1m annual run rate. The original target date for that was July 2015, 2 years after we started the business.

There are more things to come out, but this is our current thinking of some of the high level changes.

17% growth to $52,328 monthly revenue

We hit our 10% monthly growth goal in November increasing from $44,480 to $52,328 (17%). We’ve now hit that target 17 out of 18 months since launching.

This figure is made up of $49,626 in Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and $2,702 in one off jobs.

MRR November

We had 107 new net signups this month. Our previous best was last month with 64. This was especially remarkable given we only accepted new customers for 3 out of the 4 weeks of the month. At one point we had so many signups coming through that we simply couldn’t take on more.

We took down our signup form and started a wait list for new customers. Within a few days we had 150 people on the wait list. We managed to hire a bunch of new team members quickly and we opened up again.

total customers nov

People, Product and Process

People

To keep up with the new customers we hired seven developers bringing our total company size to 30. We were a little bit slow to hire when the signups kept coming, so we had a bit of a mad rush once we realized we couldn’t cover the tickets quickly enough.

The new team members are settling in well and we quickly got the tickets under control. The Thanksgiving holiday came at the right time too!

Product

The service quality took a bit of a hit in November as the signups increased. We simply couldn’t keep up with the tickets and our response time blew out to around 20 hours (we aim for 6).

You can see our first response times for service requests in November (green) below starts about five hours higher than October in gray. Response time gradually increases for the first half of the month with the new customer onboarding, and declines rapidly when we stopped taking new customers.

Response Times November

This also had an impact on customer happiness which, in the end is why we started the wait list. In October we hit 13% unhappy customers which is something we were hoping to improve on in November. Unfortunately in the end we were only able to reduce it to 12%.

This figure has improved significantly since we started the wait list and got the bigger team up to speed. However in hindsight we probably should have acted earlier. We are going to be paying closer attention to this in December, with a medium term aim of getting it consistently under 5%.

Process

There have been a bunch of changes to our processes in November. We hired a fulltime Virtual Assistant who is helping us with admin tasks. That will free Julie up for helping more with management and client facing work.

We have also been working on our own system for clients to log into. This will help us do a bunch of things that we can’t currently do with Help Scout. This includes things like allowing clients to prioritize jobs and having better systems for when jobs are becoming difficult (and we run the risk of clients being unhappy. We can do some of these things in Help Scout but for full control we really need that to be in our own system.

We will still use Help Scout but we will just add our own layer on top to give us more control.

That system has progressed quite well and should be ready by the end of December. In the meantime we have made a few changes that have improved things a little bit:

  1. We now have a ‘workflow’ setup in Help Scout that tags any ticket that is older than 12 hours. This makes it easy for the team to spot problematic tickets and escalate them to the team leader.
  2. We have created an ‘Admin’ mailbox to get all of the internal jobs out of the main support mailbox. This will make our metrics more accurate, and give us a clearer idea of what jobs we have active.
  3. Our admin staff do a weekly job of reporting on where our response times are at. From now on they will tag Dan and Alex in those updates (via Slack) and make sure they get a response from them on whether or not to hire. In the past they’ve missed a few of these messages which has caused problems.
  4. We have a new process and a budget for managing staff birthdays. We let the team know via Slack and we send them a small present.
  5. We decided to no longer offer PayPal as a payment option. It was making it difficult to standardize things when we have customers on multiple payment methods. So from now on, any new customers will be Stripe only.

We will be doing more little things like this over the next few months. We are hopeful they will have a small positive impact on the service, however we think having our own system will have the biggest impact. We are looking forward to that being ready.

Website traffic

We had another great month in November for website traffic with 44,418 visits. This was lower than October’s 54,905 visits, which came from the book launch. But it is still a substantial increase over September 2014 with 37,673 visits.

 

Traffic sources

Here are our top traffic sources. Comparing our top traffic sources from September and October we can see that most of the traffic is much more qualified, which explains the increased signups with less traffic.

The two top referrals came from Dan’s interview on Smart Passive Income, the podcast episode is nearing 700 comments, most of which involve website reviews. Smart Passive Income was already one of our top referrers.

Another top referral came from a landing page on Chrisducker.com. This page offered some bonuses to anyone who joins WP Curve through the page. One of the bonuses was a detailed website review by Dan.

We are really thankful to Chris and Pat and have had quite a few customers sign up through them.

Acquisition Nov

Top pages

The WordPress speed post is an evergreen post but performed better than average as a result of being linked in the show notes of the Smart Passive Income Podcast.

Dan’s new post on reviewing websites was very popular, especially considering it was published near the end of the month. The 7 Day Startup page is still bringing traffic. The wait list mentioned earlier got a lot of attention also.

Email List Growth

In November we had 984 new email subscribers, another record breaking number.

Content

We produced 3 articles on the blog in October, all of which were very popular.

Dan was also interviewed on 8 different podcasts during November. This brings our total content output to 11 pieces.

There were a few things that stopped us hitting our goal of 15 this month.

  • Dan and I spent a lot of time going back and forth on website reviews which weren’t published on the blog.
  • I’ve been getting used to working efficiently with Dan and that process has taken a while. Next month we will produce more I’m sure.
  • I’ve been working on a big article on visual content that will be released this week.
  • We didn’t pursue any guest content in November because we are still finalizing that process. That is almost done now, so we will be getting more guest contributions in December.

We are aiming to end 2015 with a bang with 15 pieces of content, and a couple of epic pieces.

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

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