About Michael Short Waas-pro & Blitz Industries
WHAT I DO: Since 1999, I’ve helped PAINTLESS DENT REPAIR (PDR) PROFESSIONALS, AUTO BODY SHOPS, AUTO DETAILERS / MOBILE DETAILERS and OTHERS leverage online marketing strategies to generate leads, add clients and increase revenue.
HOW I DO IT: My team and I developed a “done for you”, conversion-focused mobile-ready website system…ProSites by Blitz Industries. (http://industry-pro.com)
We also help our clients with other digital marketing services such as; proven Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) management and Social Media Marketing (SMM) to get more customers, increase influence, and free up their time. (Learn more at: http://blitzindustries.com)
WHO WE WORK WITH: I’ve personally redesigned/built and optimized websites of A-List Companies, Entrepreneurs, Non-profits and Consultants including.
great guest. I say that every week, but we actually have been really looking forward to this discussion. We’re going to be discussing all things Waas; that’s WordPress as a service. And we’ve got one of the chief shakers and movers in this interest in area, Michael Short. Michael, would you like to give a quick introduction to the listeners and viewers?
Michael Short: Sure, and like you said, my name is Michael Short and first of all, thank you for having me here. So we’ve developed a system for helping you create a website as a service. It’s not just with us, but we integrate with WP-Ultimo, which is another plugin that works for WordPress multi-sites. So basically the concept is to just be able to create an efficient way to scale your business utilizing a WordPress multi-site.
Jonathon: That’s great, and I’ve got my great co-host, Adrian. Adrian, would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
Adrian: Hi everyone, my name is Adrian. For those of you who do not know me, I run a company called Groundhogg. We build marketing automation and sales plugins for businesses that use WordPress.
Jonathon: That’s great. And before we go into the main content of the interview, I just wanted to mention one of our great sponsors, our main sponsor, which is Kinsta hosting. Now, Kinsta only host WordPress websites; they use the Google platform as their chief technology. They’ve just increased the speed of all their websites by almost 200%, amazing. They were pretty quick anyway. And basically, there’s been a lot of controversial discussion recently which we are going to be discussing on our round table show tomorrow about WordPress being slow. And I can tell you based on my experience, the main thing that makes WordPress slow is bad hosting. So if you’re looking for yourself or for your clients, really fantastic speed hosting for your wooCommerce website, for your walls, for your membership site, you need to go over to Kinsta.
They’ve got a fantastic interface. One of the best and the mine thing also, is you get some the best 24/7 support on the market at the present moment; it is truly fantastic. They’ve been hosting the WP-Tonic website for the past couple of years and they had been a continuous supporter of the show. Show your support by going over there and looking at one of their plans. And if you do sign up, tell them that you heard about Kinsta on the WP-Tonic show. So Michael, can you give us a brief outline of what was is and how you got into this area?
Michael Short: Yeah, absolutely. So we actually were an agency for 20 years; a local marketing agency and we’ve always been trying to find new tools or new ways to scale our business. It’s always a challenge and something new comes out, we’ll follow those shiny objects. When we finally came across this concept of creating a website as a service; at that time I wasn’t, at least I didn’t know it does that. We came across WP-MUDEV and saw some of the tools that they were building at the time. One of them being called pro-sites, which they recently abandoned, but we tried building a Waas with that, realizing that we can create a system that we had in mind that we wanted to build so that we can scale our business quickly and efficiently. The thing is, it’s like with a digital agency, you can only get clients one at a time, right?
Like it to scale and it’s very difficult, so let’s say if I’ve closed five accounts in one week, without having a large team behind me, it would be difficult for us to fulfill those clients efficiently. So with a Waas, the concept is that your customers are going to sign up through your website and they can select a plan level that they want to purchase, and then they can select a template that they want to use for their website. And then from there, we have a bunch of tools that Waas-pro that help the entire process, make it more efficient and just a better experience for our end users. So that’s how we got started there.
Jonathon: Oh, that’s fantastic, over to you Adrian.
Adrian: There we go,[inaudible 04:20] myself. So what kinds of businesses actually benefit most from having their own website as a service? So are there like specific industries that greatly benefit and are there others that kind of just like throw in the towel and say stay away?
Michael Short: Yes, that’s a good question. I would say that actually, I think a lot of business; I think more businesses than just developers are going to be our target audience going forward in the future. But currently, it’s really the agencies I think will benefit the most at present time; someone that has some sense of development, a level of development. We’re actually working on some tools and stuff that allow other people to get into the game without having to know as much on the development side. But that’s not quite here yet. So for now, I would say our target audience is going to be agencies. And I would say as far as niches go I would target like, if you are an agency and you’re targeting a specific niche now and you have relationships, that would probably be your best place to start, I’m assuming.
So obviously there’s going to be some niches that may have a better opportunity out there for a certain environment. But I would say like, there are a lot of people out there doing it for churches, but ours is for actually for; because we had been in the automotive industry for 20 years, so basically ours is based on auto care industry, and that’s how we start. Because again, our clients were all focused on the auto care stuff, so not all of them, but we had a mass, a good majority of our customers were auto care. So anyway, I would just say that if you already have a niche that you’re already servicing, I would start there.
Adrian: Right on, am I unmuted? Okay, thank you for that, back to.
Jonathon: Oh, so this goes in because we’ve used a lot of terms already when you discussing something it’s unavoidable. So basically can you give [inaudible 06:12], because you know, your own example. So you’re using multisite and you’re basically offering websites and services for the automotive industry. What’s in it for the client? Why would the people in the sector that you’re focusing on; why would they sign up for your product rather than just going and having a traditional website designed by a local agency?
Michael Short: That’s a great question too. The reason being is in theory when you set up a Waas and because you’re able to scale your business quickly, then ultimately you are able to also lower your prices. And so your customers are able to get a professional level website at a fraction of the cost. So that would be the reason why, because there’s more, once you set it up, it’s kind of a hands-off situation. Although, like in our specific case, we’ve noticed that we’ve had customers that would sign; like we had a situation where we set it up where it was a do it yourself and they would just pick their template and be off to the races on their own. But however, what we found is that the majority of end-users, our customers have their own businesses to run and they’re not web developers.
And for them to get into the system, learn it and have it to make the edits and changes themselves, it was a bit of a daunting task for them. And even no matter how easy we made the system be, they still just kind of like a wall they see, they have to learn a lot in order to make it happen. So what we’ve done is, we require a setup as a part of our process, and so this way we’re getting in all the fundamentals, essential foundational things done for them in the beginning. And then they, from there, they can make easy changes as they need going forward. So the thing is, they’re saving a lot of money in the long run. Like for example, our Waas, we recharge; we have three different plan levels. One of them is $7 it’s just an entry-level landing page.
And I want to also actually, as I’m saying my plan levels, one of the things that benefits you in a Waas is that we because you’re focusing on a specific niche; as at least that’s what we recommend when you create a Waas that you do. As you’re not trying to become another Wix or Squarespace where you’re like going after the general population. You really want to hone in because it’s easier to target your market when you have a specific niche. So because you can, because you’re targeting a specific niche, you’re able to also put in the bells and whistles that are specific to their needs. It’s good to have a good understanding of what your customer’s needs are, as you’re building this out. So that way is not just a generic website that it truly is.
For example, we have an estimator on ours, where they can get; that they have damage to their vehicle, they can take pictures, upload it, and then goes through the form and the form basically, can get sent our customers. So there are certain things that you wouldn’t necessarily get built out or you have to pay extra for if you’re going to have other businesses do it for you. So all of these things you put in thought, and then our second plan is 67 bucks a month and that’s basically a full website that has all the features that they need. And then the next level is 267 bucks a month, which will include Groundhogg and all the automation. So those are the three levels that we have.
Because there’s a setup of only 500 bucks, we actually in our business model, we waive it if they were willing to pay a year in advance. So we waived two months of their monthly fees as well. So for 6.99 on the 67 bucks; for 4.99 they this, oh I’m sorry for $670 if they pay that upfront, they get their set up for free and they get two months free. So it’s a lot less expensive than paying someone $2,500 at minimum to build out a website.
Adrian: It sounds like you got like this really, really, really nailed down to a fine art. But for someone or for example, an agency who has a niche but currently, their model is onboard customer install website, get all plugins, themes, whatnot do design back and forth, your typical like agency route for them. What’s the spin-up time to achieve something that you’re talking about where it’s like all of the templates and the plugins and it’s just all set up ready to go? What’s the spin-up time for someone who’s looking to get into this and start scaling their agency with websites as a service?
Michael Short: Yes, so far as we can spend something up in a week, but that’s not how; it has taken us a long time to get to this point. I would say that it took us several months, if not over a year, to really dial in our stuff to get to where we are. So without the tools and stuff that we’ve put together, it could take you a very long time. We’ve actually created some tools since we’ve started building ours that actually make that process go a lot quicker. It just, instead of having to develop a lot of these things on your own, I mean there’s a lot of things that our tools will do that you can probably do with ACF or pods or whatever.
But, we built the tools to make that process go faster and something that you don’t even have to think about, all the ideas are already built-in. So I would say, and realistically to answer your question, for the people that are getting started, it would probably take about a month, maybe two months to get up and running within nice efficient Waas.
Adrian: With like your minimum viable thing that you could sell.
Michael Short: Yes, probably.
Adrian: [Inaudible 11:39] continued–
Michael Short: I think the majority of the time’s going be spent on thinking out what you want to do. Like, what are the templates are going to include, what you’re not going to include that kind of stuff and you targeting; what market are you going to target and that, and designing. That kind of stuff takes a little bit of time, but yes, I would say within a month you could probably do it if you take out the thinking process out of it because obviously thinking can get paralyze you sometimes it makes you–
Adrian: Paralysis by analysis.
Michael Short: Exactly, yeah.
Jonathon: So, how do you deal with a client? You’re selling a service a Waas, and you’re selling predesigned templates. How do you deal with that client that wants to pay like $500 or $600, I think it’s between six and seven, but actually wants a full custom design and they signed up for you, they say, can’t you change that home page can’t you change some of those other pages? Are y’all going to charge me extra for this, I thought I was going to get something that really suits me, I’m not very happy. How did she deal with those types of customers, Michael?
Michael Short: The beauty of Waas actually is they can see what they’re going to get before they actually buy it because they can see the templates, they can see exactly what it is. And then in on our landing page for a sales page, it basically spells out exactly what they’re getting. So if they ever come to us with those sorts of challenges, which we haven’t had that happen very often; we really pride ourselves on our customer service. And I’m sure most people do. So we’re going to take care of our customers the best that we can. But if it really isn’t a sticky point, we do have it’s spelled out very clearly on our website.
Jonathon: So it’s really about that making it very, very clear what the offering is in place in your experience.
Michael Short: Yes, exactly. And I think because it’s a Waas already, I don’t think it takes much to make it very clear. They truly get to see all the templates they can see how they function. You’re just telling them we’re going to change; have the ability to change your content and change your logo and make some modifications and change the colors to match your brand, but it’s really not a custom site. And I think it’s very clear when you get to their site and see that that’s not the case. Now obviously, this is a foot in the door opportunity, this leaves you; if they do want something super custom, then it gives you that opportunity to have that conversation with them and bring them on, as more of the agency work if that’s something you want to do. I haven’t had that issue to be quite honest and I haven’t heard very many people in our Waas group, saying that they’ve had that issue either.
Jonathon: So just a quick follow-through question before we go for our break. Are you using a framework to build your themes off? And if so, is that in house or did you choose something like Astro Studio Press or Genesis, what you are building the themes off of.
Michael Short: Yes, that’s the beauty of the Waas setup in building it yourself with WordPress is that you really have as many options as you want. You can use anything that you want to use. We recommend and there’s a few of them out there. We have a plugin called site settings pro that integrates with specific themes, some of them including Astro, which is the one that we use. Page builder framework is a great one that, one started because of Waas. I don’t know if people, many people know that, but page builder framework then Devi is another one that some people use, not many people, but some people do, who are Waas, Ocean WP and those kinds of things. So we have a handful that we recommend that actually work and integrate with our tools. But then, if you’re not interested in using our told, you don’t obviously have to, so you can use anything that you’d like to use.
Jonathon: That’s fantastic. We’re going to go for your break folks. We’ll be back and we’ll be discussing more of this fascinating world of Waas WordPress as I service; something you should be thinking of. You should be thinking about doing in the New Year. We’ll back in a few moments’ folks.
Jonathon: Were coming before Halloween, the ghost, I was going to resist mentioning it but I just couldn’t so, over to my co-host. I’m not saying [inaudible 16:03] he’s a nice Canadian boy, over to you Adrian.
Adrian: So, if you’re an agency right now and you’re like, alright, this is all sounding really, really, really good to me. Because since you were an agency, and maybe you can share with us your personal experience, but being that agency for 20 years, and I’m sure you have a whole repertoire of clients. What’s the strategy to move those clients that have their sites? Or do you even move those clients over to your Waas? Is that something that you even attempt, do you leave those clients alone; what’s the strategy from adopting this from a long-term agency standpoint doing this for the first time?
Michael Short: Yes, I can only speak for myself because our agency would work, our clients are spending a lot more than what they would be spending on our Waas. So it’s not something that we would necessarily want to transition them over to. But we’ve been able to establish relationships and connections inside of the industry that we’re targeting. And so those new customers are the ones that were more specifically concerned about adopting into it. However, obviously, if that’s part of your strategy, you can certainly do so; it’s going to take a bit much. I’d probably use something like all in one migration tool to bring them into your multi-site environment. The beauty of a multi-site though is the fact that you can manage all your plugins and everything in themes and everything in all in one place, and also it’s on a subscription base.
So, they’re signing up to a plan, you’re signing them to a plan and then they’re paying on a monthly retainer or a monthly fee. And so if they don’t pay, which is great about this; I know, I’m sure other agencies have had this challenge where you’re chasing your money after you finish building on a client site; its bad blood, you go and shut their site down. Well, if you put them in a system like a Waas and they don’t make a payment, then their site’s going to go down because the system shuts them down, not because you made a personal call on bringing their site down. So I feel like it’s going to help you collect your money better. It’s going to help you maintain a good standing with your clients that don’t pay very well because just like having a service like Netflix or Hulu and all those other things where it’s a monthly recurring fee, that if they don’t pay, then their service gets shut down.
Adrian: I’ve seen some pretty interesting attempts at collections for money from freelancers or agencies. One time I went to a site, I don’t remember what for, but just in big bold letters on a white screen in the middle of the page was like this person and it said like their full name, who lives in this city at this address, owes me this amount of money and I have shut down their site until they pay it.
Michael Short: It sounds like you visited one of our ex-customers. I’m just kidding.
Adrian: It’s like super-great, because it’s like, why did you set down my site? It’s like, oh, sorry, you didn’t pay your bill, and the system shut it down. I’d personally I did nothing; I was on the beach somewhere.
Michael Short: Yes, right, exactly.
Adrian: That’s awesome.
Michael Short: Works great for that.
Jonathon: So I’m going to ask you a pretty and I’m notorious for asking multi-layered questions, but with Adrian’s help I think I’ve cut it down Michael, but this is going to be a big question. So maybe you can just give a couple may be real tips. So you found a niche, you found your products, you’re going to build a multi-site, and you’re going to build a wall aimed at this niche market. How do you publicize it? Do you have any tips about how you get the message out to the people in that particular niche industry?
Michael Short: Yes, absolutely. There are obviously multiple ways that you can do that. You can run Facebook ads and some of the simpler things because you could target a specific industry or a specific type of job. But one of the things that we like to do is, we’ve created a Facebook group, it’s important to become a key person of influence within your space, in my opinion. And so by creating a Facebook group and just starting this conversation and just being a part of that and letting them know that you understand their needs. And not necessarily trying to pitch them, but just being a part of those conversations and eventually, you can start pitching your stuff and just helping them out and lead magnets and things like that. And that’s a good way.
Also one of the things that helped us in creating partnerships with other companies that is in a similar industry but not necessarily competing. I think that’s a great way of doing it as well. Like for example, we have a client that is a school that teaches guys how to fix dents on their cars, it’s called painless net repair. And so we’ve partnered with them because he’s got students coming in and out of his school all the time. And so he’s pitching our stuff because there are new companies or there are existing companies that need websites, or there are new the entrepreneurs that are trying to get a start and learn a new profession, so things like that. Just kind of keep your eyes and ears open to the sound of some of the partnerships, I think those are the best ways.
Third-party referrals are the best way to get business, so that’s what I would recommend. And then now obviously you can go back and you can go to just getting online, doing some Google searches and looking at people’s sites and seeing how bad they are. I know there are tools out there that help you with that as well. I think one is called lead scope or something like that that we’ve used in the past. But there are tools out there that you could utilize, that make it efficient to go. You can even hire one those people call it tele–, what are they call?
Michael Short: Telemarketers, I don’t know why that slipped my mind, but yes, you can hire telemarketers. I’ve tried that, that didn’t really work well for us, but it’s a possibility if you nail it, figure it out. So that would be my recommendation.
Adrian: Some niches are more susceptible to telemarketing than others for sure.
Michael Short: Yes, totally.
Adrian: I just want to make a comment. It’s amazing on the path, everybody is like Facebook ads, PPC, email marketing, there’s no substitution for the power of word of mouth marketing. As an email marketing company and digital marketing company, I can vouch for the fact that literally like 90% of all of our customers, have just come through people saying, hey listen, you should go check this out. So if anybody is wondering on where to start and where you should spend your time in terms of marketing I used to be like, we should do PPC or we should do email marketing. All of those things just start with word of mouth and building those relationships, [inaudible 22:19] the influencer in your niche.
Jonathon: I think you’re spot on there, Adrian. I really think paid advertisement is the kind of gasoline on the fire. But if you haven’t really notch down your business proposition and your internal systems and the clear marketing message, it’s probably going to be kind of semi-wasted money really. Because you really need a little bit of time and to really clarify what your marketing message is and you’ve had that road and I’m sure Michael as well. I’ll just want a quick follow-through question about partnerships. You mentioned this [inaudible 23:01] company and that; can you give some insight about; if you don’t want to go into real specifics about what your business arrangement is, with a specific partner, I totally understand Michael. But if you can give, first of all, how do you approach, how do you identify possible partners and then how do you the initial approach and did you learn any lessons with the first three possible partners that you approached?
Michael Short: Yes, so my partners have come from relationships that I’ve already had. I have reached out to actually a couple and they’ve actually turned into partners too, now that I think about it. So basically, you’re showing them that the service is; and ours, we have an affiliate program so it’s trackable and you can see exactly how many leads that they’ve sent to our system to purchase a website. So I would say, you want to have those things in place because having to trust word of mouth or I’ll rely on somebody else to say, yes, I brought somebody and trying to keep track because that’s difficult. So we actually integrate with affiliate WP for our specific Waas. So yes, we also have integration for Thrivecart with one of our plugins. And so if you want to use their affiliate program in our system, you could do that as well.
Adrian: Just from my own personal experience, because I feel like over the last year of doing the whole Groundhogg thing, I’ve built up a few partnerships. And just from a personal, like, anecdote standpoint, the best thing you can do at least to start the conversation, is just to become someone’s friend.
Michael Short: Yes.
Adrian: And offer value to their community first. There is a great quote out there from a guy named Zig Ziglar’s. Like if you help enough people get what they want, you can have what you want. So even if it takes a little bit of time and you’re kind of like putting out more than you’re receiving, don’t worry, the universe is built in a way so that it’ll come back to you. But the best thing you can do is just go and enter somebody else’s community, offer value, become someone’s friend. And then more often than not, they will approach you as to how they can essentially reciprocate in terms of value, so that, at least that’s how I’ve approached partnerships.
Michael Short: You bring up a good point. That reminds me how we’ve done the same with Facebook community group of administrators and we’ve given discounts on, sometimes we even give away a free website just so that they can utilize the service for themselves and test it out and see how much they like it. And they ended up becoming raving fans, and they have access to a bigger community and they have trust and all that stuff. They’re the influencer in their community. So that’s the best way actually to get the early start.
Adrian: There’s no substitution for being someone’s friend and offering value. Like there’s no amount of money or like cold emailing contact pages being like, become an affiliate, can replace offering some form of value. And even an affiliate link won’t even be required in the transaction at that point as long as you’re just providing value to each other.
Michael Short: Totally.
Jonathon: I’ve just got a quick question before we wrap up the actual podcast about the show and then we’ll go on to bonus content, Michael. Basically so you set up the site for the client; this is a slightly two-part question. So they still got to provide the content have you got any tips or insights about how to get them to get the content into the new website as quickly as possible, because the quicker you can do that, the less chance there is of them bailing out, if they’ve not paid for a yearly contract with you? And secondly, do you use a page builder or [inaudible 26:42], how much flexibility do you give them to actually change things on the websites that you’re providing?
Michael Short: Awesome question. So we’ve actually developed–
Jonathon: I’m doing quite well, don’t I?
Michael Short: You really are, you really are at least setting me up here.
Adrian: Very specific, I love it.
Michael Short: Very specific. So to answer your question about which page builder starts backward I guess. Page builders, and being able to have access to them, we’ve created a tool it’s called live editor pro for Elementor and we have one for Oxygen and we have one for Beaver Builder. And basically, it’s given them just enough limited access to make the changes that they need to make on the front end of their site, with just the content they can change out the images, that kind of thing without moving things around and stuff. So, you get less customer support tickets and things like that, because they’re really not designers. They just want to make the edits to the templates that they have, so we have those tools.
We also have a site settings tool that gives them the ability to put in their company information change their colors; they change the font styles, things like that that you would normally see inside a customizer. We brought it into the dashboard so that it’s just easier. Because one of the challenges with WordPress is that a new user and a person that’s not a WordPress developer is having to learn three different places to make changes to their website. You’ve got the customizer, you have the dashboard and you have the front end of a page builder. And so we’ve tried to create tools to make it all, like take away some of those things so they can make easy changes to their site. So we got rid of the customizer by bringing it into the dashboard with site settings pro.
Also during the setup process we’ve made another plugin called settings wizard pro that integrates with our site settings pro that basically asks them the questions through a wizard signup process. So that way by the time they’re done signing up, their site is actually almost done. I mean, there’s literally almost done, and that’s one of the benefits. Like, they don’t realize that they’re paying us $499 to make very, very small changes because they’re doing most of the setups themselves. What we do is our plugins will give us a short code for our templates and we put those short codes there. So whenever they fill out the information, it automatically goes to where– the information goes exactly where it needs to be on their website.
So really, they’re doing all the heavy lifting by the time they’re done with getting set up, so it’s really easy. And I was going to say all of these tools and because I haven’t mentioned it yet. We have a website called waas-pro.com. So if you’re interested in any of these tools I’m talking about, he can pick those up there.
Jonathon: I was going to ask; what was the main place that they can find more information about your services and what you’re up to, but you’ve just said that.
Michael Short: I was also going to say Facebook. I’m sorry to cut you off; the Facebook community too, you probably want to check that out. If you have any interests, there are a lot of people in our Facebook group that are always talking about just strategy, talking about development questions, and things like that. It’s just a really active group and it’s pretty cool to be a part of it. And so that’s at Waas pro–
Adrian: Waas Pro Developer Network.
Michael Short: Yes, that’s how you can look up, that’s the keyword, yes, you can look that up, and you’ll find it. [Inaudible 29:39] Changed their name, but that’s what basically it is, yes.
Jonathon: Well, I was going to say Michael; I feel that you’ve got the right set up at the right time, actually. I think all luck needs a lot of work behind the scenes to get into that lucky space. But I actually think you’re in a really, really interesting area with the right tools and knowledge at the present moment. So I think 2020 is going to be a great year for you Michael. So, Adrian, how can people find out more about you and what you are up to?
Adrian: So if you’re in need of marketing automation for your website as a service or just your business in general, you can head over to groundhogg.io. Today, if you’re listening to this on Halloween, October 31st, today’s the last day. You can purchase, what is essentially an extreme amount of value for a very low amount of money. It’s our all-access pass, and that is only available to the end of today. And then tomorrow we have some new pricing in, but if you go and purchase it now, you’re basically just locked in for life and it’s a super awesome deal that will never be available again, so yes, marketing automation, email marketing, sales pipeline, Groundhogg.io.
Jonathon: That’s great.
Michael Short: Awesome, I have to say.
Adrian: Thank you.
Jonathon: And if you want to support the show, the main thing you can do is go over to iTunes and leave us a review, it really does help the show in the ratings. And it helps us get great guests like Michael, and have great conversations that give you some insight, about how to build great things in WordPress, learning management systems and marketing. We cover a broad stream of interests between me and Adrian. We’ll see you soon folks, we’ll be seeing next week where we have another fantastic guest. See you soon folks, bye.
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