Learn about how you can build WordPress LMS websites as a service with WaaS entrepreneur Michael Short in this episode of LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS.
Chris and Michael have met up at several different WordPress and business related events. Michael is an entrepreneur and visionary. You may be familiar with the term SaaS, meaning Software as a Service, that can refer to companies like ClickFunnels, WordPress, and LifterLMS. Michael’s products are focused around somewhat of an offshoot of SaaS called WaaS, meaning Website as a Service.
WordPress.com is a great example of a WaaS service where you can pay a monthly fee for a website you can start from a template or build out yourself. Wix, GoDaddy, SquareSpace, and Shopify are more examples in this space. Michael has developed WaaS.PRO which allows you to create your own WaaS service utilizing WordPress multisite. So if you wanted to create a way for people to purchase an LMS site similar to how Shopify works, you may want to check out WaaS.PRO.
One huge benefit to WaaS is that you can scale your business really fast. Once you have everything set up, you can sell hundreds of websites and not have to worry too much about support tickets. The first tool developed by WaaS.PRO was WP Ultimo, which allows you to create plans, subscriptions, and templates for buyers to choose from for their website.
The WaaS model can serve as a win-win for developers and clients, as developers can template out websites and make the process of building out sites super easy. And the clients can get websites for a much cheaper price. Rather than websites that cost $2,500-$5,000 to build, a client could sign on for $67/month, which is what Michael charges for his WaaS service aimed at helping business owners in the automotive industries build their websites.
Michael also has white labeling tools for various products such as LifterLMS. So if you are building out an LMS WaaS for any industry or type of online course website, you can white label the back end to make navigating as easy as possible for customers.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out all of Michael and his team’s plugins at WaaS-PRO.com.
At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!
This episode was sponsored by WP Tonic Managed WordPress LMS hosting. Click here to learn more, and use coupon code wptonichosting50 to save 50% on any annual plan.
Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tools for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, Michael Short from waas-pro.com. Welcome to the show, Michael.
Michael Short: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s great to run into you. I’ve seen Michael around at several WordPress related and business related events. He’s an entrepreneur, visionary. He’s got a vision on the future, which I’m super excited about. WordPress is what it is, and then there’s this traditional software as a service known as SaaS. You’re a leader in what’s called WaaS, which is WordPress as a service. Just in terms of, I come from the LMS industry where we have a lot of TLAs which are three letter acronyms. What does SaaS mean? What does WaaS mean? Take us to school.
Michael Short: Sure, sure. So software as a service is essentially, rather than downloading software is all inside the cloud. And so similarly with the WaaS, it’s setting up a process in which people can sign up to your solution and be able to just get a website without much interaction with the company, or without the salespeople. So that’s kind of what the WaaS is, and we do it utilizing WordPress Multisite at this time.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. How is the WaaS different than SaaS? What are some example projects that are out in the wild that people might run into or see out there?
Michael Short: For WaaS?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, for WaaS. What’s an example, and then explain how it works, what it does and how it works? Yeah.
Michael Short: The biggest WaaS actually set up on WordPress is actually wordpress.com they’re the biggest WaaS that there’s out there, but outside of that, you have Wix, you have GoDaddy, you have Squarespace, Shopify, all of those are considered websites as a service. They all are providing a service, you just sign up to their platform, you pick your templates and you’re off to the races, redesigning and customizing the site to your own specific needs. And so that’s exactly what we’re building with, we’re helping you create something like that, like a Wix but using WordPress.
Chris Badgett: That’s super cool. I believe it was Brian Castle. He’s talked about it on a lot of podcasts. Do you know Brian?
Michael Short: Yeah, yeah.
Chris Badgett: He had something called Restaurant Engine, which is, I think it was powered by WordPress partially, or maybe it was, but it was-
Michael Short: It was. It’s a WordPress one.
Chris Badgett: … where restaurants could sign up and they could get a predone restaurant site that they could then configure and match their brand, and their menu items, and stuff like that. So that’s kind of an example, right?
Michael Short: Yeah, absolutely. And the benefit, I mean the real benefit of a WaaS is that you can scale your business really fast, because once you have it all set up, you can literally sell a hundred sites in a day and not really have to worry too much about support tickets, but if you did like your traditional agency model, if you got a hundred clients in a day, unless you have a huge agency to actually fulfill those needs, there’s just no way. But with this they can just go and pick out their template and they’re off to the races and handling everything themselves. So it’s kind of cool because it’s an easy and efficient way to grow.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. There’s a saying that the best software or SaaS companies evolve out of services. So when there’s a bunch of repeatable things happening, or patterns that just keep happening, you can start automating that, and eventually that becomes software as a service.
Michael Short: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: What are some examples in the learning context or the coaching industry? If somebody wanted to do a niche training platform, what would an example of that be, that would be a WaaS?
Michael Short: Yeah. We have actually people inside of our Facebook group, which is WaaS Pro Developer Network that are targeting actually coaches, and so they’re trying to figure out how to create an LMS within their WaaS. So coaches are one, any type of training, I guess, would be … Even not just coaches, but if your customers have their own product or their own services that they want to create courses around, I mean, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to create a WaaS around that. Absolutely.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. In the online education space some popular SaaSes are Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi.
Michael Short: Yes.
Chris Badgett: A WaaS is like having your own version of that but on WordPress, it’s kind of like you get to have your cake and eat it too. You have this SaaS company, but you also get to own it, and you get to leverage the incredible power and community of WordPress, which is kind of mind blowing when I think about it. There’s a saying I like, I’ve heard said that, at least in business, if you want to go fast, or go far, or go big, you got to build the machine that builds the machine, and it’s one thing to make a course, but what if you make a platform for other people to make courses and lots of them. It’s kind of like the gold rush with the pickaxes or whatever.
Michael Short: Yeah, totally. That’s exactly what it is. Once we saw that we’ve just jumped on it, and we started looking into how can we to make that process even better. The first thing we did is there’s a plugin called WP Ultimo. Actually, the first thing we did, is we obviously discovered Multisite and that’s kind of a scary thing. I think a lot of WordPress developers that may have heard of it, especially when you’re installing your WordPress, it asks if it’s a Multisite, but I don’t think many know exactly what that is, or the benefits of it, even more so than anything. They might know that as a single install you can do multiple sites on it, but why, why would I want that? The reason, obviously now, what we’re talking about is being able to provide a service like this that they can scale quickly and efficiently if you have the right tools in place.
One of those tools that I’m starting to mention was the WP Ultimo sort of foundational tool to set that up so you can create plans, subscriptions, and all those sort of things, and also create templates that your customers can select. That’s the foundational fundamental plugin that you would want to use for creating a WaaS, and then as we got into it, we started looking at different things, areas that needed more help, things that weren’t already in place. For example, the first actual plugin we created was called, WP Ultimo: ThriveCart Integrations. We wanted the ability to have, during that ordering process as they’re selecting their templates and everything, and setting up their site, we wanted to have the order bump in that process, and upsells, and downsells.
Because there’s other features, and other things that you could sell, and services that you can sell for your agency. This is just a foot in the door opportunity, because you can scale it too, you can lower your prices. You don’t have to be in $2,500, $5,000 websites. You can be 67 bucks a month is what we charge for ours. I mean, every niche has a different pricing range based off what their niche is willing to spend. But I mean, it really is a way to get into more people’s businesses and then offer everything else that you do. It’s an amazing business model.
Chris Badgett: So if you create a WaaS, does the end customer, do they ever see the backend of WordPress? Are they always on the front end or both? How does that work in terms of, you’ve already kind of given them a certain stack that fulfills a certain business niche? What level of customization do they have? What can they do? What can they not do?
Michael Short: Yeah. Obviously everybody’s going to have, because there’s different people having building WaaSes out now and so everyone’s going to have a slightly different strategy, but the majority of them are allowing them into the dashboard area, and then from there you have restrictions. For example, we created a plugin called Site Settings Pro that eliminates the need for our end users to have to access the customizer, Because one of the challenges that we faced was that the end user is, they’re busy doing their business, whatever that might be, and they’re not web developers. In order for, when you get into a WordPress website you have three different areas to customize your content. So you have the customizer, you have the dashboard, and you have the front end page builder.
For them it’s like I just want to change my logo, where the heck do I go to do that? There’s three different areas and it gets real confusing real fast, and so what we try to do is create tools to bring it all within the dashboard. Site Settings Pro is one of those tools, so there we’ve taken out the customizer, you can change your logo, you can put your company information there, colors, fonts, all that stuff is right inside the dashboard. And then we have shortcodes that you can place them into your templates, so that way when they fill out the information, it automatically gets applied all the way across the board to the website. So it’s really cool in that way.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s amazing. I think there’s a sort of a misconception in the WordPress world, especially if you’ve been around it for a little while that it’s easy. Anybody can do it. I mean, I feel like I know how to drive WordPress, but it’s a… I’ve been using it for 10 years and I remember… And I’m not a developer, I’m just a power user, but when I see new people using it, there’s a big learning curve, and especially it’s only 10 years old, and even though this is… It powers a third of the internet or whatever. There’s still a lot of opportunity for other businesses to come on board, leverage the technology, but not get stuck in the weeds and become a WordPress power user to get the benefits. There’s tools like Wix, and Weebly, and Squarespace that people like, but the options are so limited and they’re not necessarily niched, and all these different cool applications.
I love that idea of simplifying… Just think about the end user. If you’re thinking about building a WaaS because the opportunity is quite large, your customer is not necessarily the WordPress community. There’s all these other people out there and if you go to WordPress events and you’re in WordPress, Facebook groups, it feels like everybody understands WordPress, but most of the time that’s not the case. Right?
Michael Short: Yeah. So true. So true. I actually went to a product launch formula event, which is by Jeff Walker. Who I think many of you guys know about, but basically when I was there the one of the first things they had me do was meet your neighbor and talk about what your idea is, what product are you going to try to launch and that kind of stuff. Obviously many of them are not anywhere near the WordPress space. They have their own, whether it’s training courses, most of them are pretty much training courses, but in all types of niches, and they’re not web developers, so this is actually an opportunity for people to get in and help those trainers, coaches, but even then they can actually… I’d like to build it so that these guys can have their own WaaSes as well because they have a large audience.
Like for example, I might’ve mentioned to you that I came across one lady who did, she had a huge following in her blog space for knitting, and so they all want to be like her, they want to have their own blog, and they all want to show off their knitting stuff that they’re doing. What better thing for her to offer her customers, look, this blog is created just for knitting. This is what I use for my thing, and it will help you get more exposure, and get more customers, and all that stuff. It just seems to make sense for her to add that as an offering in her product line. It’s just, there’s so many things, it’s not just for web developers, it’s for anyone that’s, has an audience really.
Chris Badgett: Build the machine that builds the machine that builds the machine. That’s awesome. And there’s incredible leverage in that. Sometimes I listen to podcasts where people in the SaaS space, in my niche, in training and coaching, and stuff like that, they share all their numbers and everything like that. That’s a trend in Silicon Valley to just be totally transparent. In some of these SaaSes for coaching or courses, they have pretty large user bases, and I’m thinking, why aren’t more people using the WordPress option? And I think it’s because it’s hard, and it’s not as approachable as we inside the industry may think it is.
Michael Short: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But I just see the opportunity, and I can back it up by the numbers of what I see out there where… And then I hear the same people complaining about the lack of flexibility, and power, and control, and everything, which there’s a lot of middle ground that’s really wide open for the WaaS community. Especially in learning and coaching.
Michael Short: Yeah, absolutely. Like any niche for really, because those like Wix, and Squarespace, and all of those, they have limitations on what tool sets that they offer to their customers, and so, even if it’s photography, I know a lot of them are based on photography, but there might be some tools or some plugins that you could put in place that they don’t even offer. You know, there’s just way more opportunity for you to build something that’s specific and useful for the niche, than they would get from a Wix or Squarespace.
There’s some people that their strategy is going to be try to build something, a WaaS like a Squarespace or Wix where you’re all things to all people. You can certainly do that. I wouldn’t recommend it though because it’s just… That’s one of the, I think, the most beneficial things about a WaaS too, from an agency perspective and it makes you, kind of forces you to pick a niche and niching down is not a bad thing. It’s actually a really great thing, because now you know how to target your audience, you know exactly what their needs are. You really get to hone down on everything so that when they see your offering, they know that’s, they understand my needs, they understand where I’ve been, or what I need to have on my website, and all that kind of stuff. So I think it makes it for a much easier sale.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, totally. I’m an idea person and I’ve spent a lot of time in the learning space, and I can’t possibly execute on all the ideas that I have, so I’m giving you that’s listening, some WaaS ideas in the learning space. We have lots of different use cases or business cases, people using LifterLMS to build these types of sites, and I’m going to give you five right here if you’re listening.
One is just the traditional course and training based membership site. That’s the most popular version of what people use Lifter for. You could build a WaaS around that. There’s a blended learning situation where people are, they have in-person classes and events and they also have online components. Some people call that the flip classroom. You could build a WaaS around that.
One of the questions we get all the time is how do I build a Udemy clone? I’m like, “All right, you can do that. You can do that with Lifter. You can do it this way. You can do it this way with our eCommerce system or you can do it with Integrate WooCommerce. Use the multi-vendor plugin and add an affiliate program, and boom, you just built Udemy and it was… They had $7 million in funding to get off the ground and you did it for, I don’t know, 500 bucks in plugins, but it’s still hard to set up because you’re combining all these tools. But if you made, if somebody wanted to make a niche Udemy site, like a course marketplace in a certain topic area, you mentioned arts and crafts, knitting, an Etsy style niche Udemy, you could do that, you could build a Waas around that.
Then there’s internal training. This is where companies… There’s big companies using LifterLMS to document internal training inside their businesses, and they don’t care about eCommerce, they just care about retaining the knowledge inside their organization. So their needs are a little different and they’re all about locking it down. They don’t want… it has to be super like tight. There’s a whole niche around that.
Then there’s the entire continuing education or CEU niche where our use case, where people are specialized in certain industry, continuing education, credit earning things, and they have particular needs. They need a particular stack of plugins and particular type of tracking. You could build a WaaS around that.
For those of you… And within all five of those, there’s also, lets to go with the three big niches, wealth and finance is one, then you can do health and fitness, that’s another one, and then there’s all the relationship and personal development stuff. So there’s 15 ideas out there for people to do. If you want to build a WaaS, I’d encourage you to join Michael’s Facebook group. What’s it called again?
Michael Short: It’s the WaaS Pro Developer Network. If you search that up, yeah. It’s actually a different name, but that’s the URL, so it’ll find it.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s cool.
Michael Short: Search WaaS Pro, you’ll find it.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I see this train coming, this is a really… I mean, the technology evolves, and really it’s all about removing friction, and making it, that’s what WordPress did in the beginning with publishing, and it’s evolved into all these other things, eCommerce, LMS, whatever, directories, all these different things, forums that you can do now where you don’t have to code a site from scratch. But we’re getting to the point where SaaS is on the table. This is really, really interesting.
Michael Short: Yeah, it’s super interesting. There is so much that we could do with this. One of the things that, what we tried to do with our plugins is to make it more like a SaaS like experience. So for example, we just recently came out with one called Reduce Churn PRO. So if someone goes to cancel their subscription rather than just letting them cancel and be done, we’ve taking them through a feedback funnel, and just asking them all the questions like, what did we do wrong? How can we improve? What was your experience? That kind of stuff, and so if nothing, if you can’t salvage the relationship through that process then at least you can get the feedback to improve your services.
It’s just trying to take the things, the tools that are available within SaaS and make those available for people that are creating a WaaS. We have quite a few, we have over 20, I think it’s about 22 plugins now. We’re releasing two more this week, so it’s getting there, it’s going to give you all the tools. For example, we just came out with the one for LifterLMS where you can rebrand it. I’d like to talk about that a little bit. Why…
Chris Badgett: Yeah, let’s talk about rebranding or white labeling and why that’s important, and yeah, go for it.
Michael Short: Absolutely. If you think about the WaaSes that are out there, the big guys like the Wix and Squarespace that we’re talking about, if you jump into their systems, you’re not going to see an LMS by so-and-so and a form builder by so-and-so, different plugins or different different tools. You’re going to see specifically it’s just all around their unified brand, and so that’s what we want to create within the WaaS experience. It’s not that we’re trying to hide great tools like yours, the names behind them. In many cases that transparency is also good because it just shows that you’re using tools that are top notch premium tools in the marketplace. But in a case of a WaaS, I think a majority of those customers don’t even know, they’ve never even experienced WordPress, or very few of them have.
I would say, I’m sure some have, but point being it’s just that they don’t know. They don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s better to just keep it so that they don’t get distracted by all these other tools, and what is this and what is that? Instead, if you create it around your own brand, and image, and logo, then they just think you created a massive system, that you had funding for $5 million or whatever it is to build something like a Wix or whatever.
That’s why we’ve actually, a big part of what we’re doing is building a lot of rebranding plugins now, and so that way, whatever tools you want to include, at least you can start implementing them with your own image, your own brand. Also, I want to point out too that all of our plugins actually work on single sites as well. Even if you’re working on your own thing, and you just want your back end and you have customers access it for one reason or another, you can rebrand it using our tools as well.
So that’s kind of a neat thing because it’s not always all about Multisite. We want everyone to get the most use out of our plugins. There’s only three plugins that we have that are specific to Multisite. The two of them are Integration and direct integrations with WP Ultimo, which is a Multisite deal, and then the third one is License Activator PRO, it basically allows you to… There’s certain plugins out there that you would have to install the license on every new install of a sub-site, and so our License Activator PRO allows you to put the license in one time and then it automatically would apply it to every new sub-site and stuff.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Checkout all these plugins there at waas-pro.com.
Yeah. Rebranding and stuff, it’s all part of the WordPress and the GPL thing, the right to modify, redistribute or whatever it’s about. I mean, people can do whatever they want with your… I mean, there’s some stipulations to it or whatever, but it’s just part of open source software, and it’s cool to see other plugins interacting with other plugins, and creating a unique experience. It’s awesome.
Michael Short: Yeah. Creating an ecosystem around a plugin is even cooler too, I think. Right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Michael Short: Several plugins around the LifterLMS, which is really neat. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I see this conversation coming up more and more, especially in open source software, where we’re not so much doing it alone. The more you focus on the ecosystem and not “How can I add the most value?” But if it’s like, “Who can we partner with and who can we create triple wins for between other companies and the shared customer overlap?” Where are those Venn diagrams overlapping? Those are the companies that grow the fastest. Their customers have the most options, their brands are the most defensible. That’s what I look for when I evaluate tools in the WordPress space anyways, is how’s the ecosystem around this product? I mean, look at something like WooCommerce, I don’t know how many WooCommerce add-ons there are, but it’s pretty established. It would be pretty hard to disrupt WooCommerce. Not saying it’s not possible, but also for the end user, whatever they want to do with WooCommerce, there’s probably an add-on for that. I mean, they can always get custom coding done, but it’s crazy how big their ecosystem is.
Michael Short: Yeah, it is. It’s super crazy, and then you look at Gravity Forms. I think that’s why they’re still successful because of their ecosystem. It’s like you said, it’s hard to knock someone down when you have a nice solid ecosystem.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely.
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I just want to go back to what you said earlier about wordpress.com for those of you that… It is a little confusing, so I’ll just do a quick explainer. wordpress.org is the free WordPress that you really don’t download it from.org anymore because the hosting companies make it easy to have a, start with a blank WordPress site, but that version of WordPress is wordpress.org, then there is a wordpress.com which is like a “hosted” version of WordPress where you sign up for a free account on wordpress.com and then they have paid plans that does things like you can put your own domain name on it, or whatever, and lots of other features that come with the paid accounts, and then they have a VIP level for big enterprise customers or whatever. WaaS has really been around from the beginning of WordPress, which is fascinating.
Michael Short: It really has. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Can you speak to that at all? Around the freemium model? If you’re going to do a WaaS, do you recommend having a free entry point, or is that dangerous? What do you think?
Michael Short: Yeah. Personally I think it’s a little dangerous, because you have to go in and clean out your database often when you have tire kickers. We also found, from a marketing perspective, from my experience too, is that when the people that want things for free are not always the ones that are willing to spend the money ultimately at the end of the day, they’re just looking for free things, and they’re just going to collect free things forever.
What you really obviously want are actual paying customers, and so it’s best to even charge them a dollar. If they’re not willing to even pull their wallet out for a dollar, then they’re probably not a customer that you want to have, and that way at least you can weed out the people that are not serious about what it is you’re offering. That would be my recommendation.
There’s a lot that goes into cleaning up the database and getting rid of all the plans and subscriptions that are not actually paying. At this point in time anyways, maybe we’ll build a plugin or something in the future that will help automate that process, but as of now, it’s all manual and it’s not a manual process that I really care to do.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s good advice. You brought up marketing a WaaS, free is a marketing thing that people do, but what other advice do you have for people for marketing a WaaS? I know that’s a big question, but…
Michael Short: Yeah, yeah.
Chris Badgett: If I was doing a knitting WaaS, a knitting education WaaS or whatever, how would I go about marketing my WaaS?
Michael Short: Well, there’s obviously several channels to market something. I mean, you could do Facebook advertising and target your specific niche or audience, but outside of that you can create a Facebook group and become a… And either create one and/or join other Facebook groups that are within that niche, and just become a key person of influence, and just let them know what it is that you’re doing and just be helpful. That tends to get people over to your product or services, whether it’s a WaaS or anything else for that matter. I guess it all really kind of crosses over, right? Any kind of marketing is going to help with the WaaS. I mean, I’ve even with our WaaS, we target the auto care industry and I’ve even made cold calls, and that’s been very successful.
Another thing too is partnerships, let’s talking about ours, auto care, we found people that do, teach training courses on how to do paintless dent repair, and so we’ve partnered with them and offering their students the ability to have a website for a fraction of the cost, and then they become our affiliate partner, and they make a little bit of money off of it. It gives them incentive to do it as well, so if you create partnerships in other noncompeting companies that have an audience that can bring customers to yours that makes sense, then that’s a good way of doing it as well.
Chris Badgett: What’s your auto care site like? What problem does it solve? Is it like, I’m a mechanic shop and I need a website, kind of thing, and I want to take appointments, or what does it do?
Michael Short: Exactly. All of that. So it’s the mechanics, it’s auto detailers, paintless dent repair technicians, car washes, things like that, and we focus on the tools and features that they need. We have an estimator, a pro estimator that basically their customers can take pictures of the damage for the body shops, or the paintless dent repair guys. And they take pictures in multiple locations and it shows them exactly how to do it, and then they get the notification and it’s just a whole complete process that we created for them.
We also recently, actually are starting to integrate it with Groundhog, if you’re familiar with that. It’s a plugin.
Chris Badgett: No.
Michael Short: That’s a CRM, that software, and so we’re actually making automations now that will just make it so that they don’t have to figure out how to create those finals or automations in their own business, that we already have them predone, preselected, and we charge them a lot more money for those, but we do the work once, and now we can duplicate that over several times, and these guys are getting a discounted deal because they are getting a full on stack system, and they’re not having to pay the resources to actually create that. They’re just paying us monthly to utilize our services.
Chris Badgett: That’s really brilliant. I mean, I think that is a good example of the big opportunity when you think about main street of any town or whatever, let’s say at least 5,000 person town or something, and there’s a lot of those in the U.S. and beyond. What kind of businesses are there? There’s a pizza company, there’s auto repair, there’s laundromat, there’s… I mean, I could go on and on. I won’t list every business in the town.
Michael Short: Yeah, gardeners and house cleaners, and I mean there’s just so many different, so many different opportunities to reach out. And it really comes back down to being able to solve their specific problems. Obviously these people can go on a Wix or Squarespace and get something for free or very super cheap. I wouldn’t recommend even competing on their price level either. I think you, when you cheapen, you cheapen your services if you’re trying to compete on price, obviously they got us beat on price. They probably have us beat on their customer service. Most of us probably can’t do 24/7 tech support or anything like that, so how do you compete with these big guys? Like GoDaddy or whatever. I think that’s do by just super niching and just really given them a service, or a feature set that they really, really need and understanding them.
I think that’s what really people want. They want convenience. They want to know that they’re understood, and they want the kind of tools that are going to get them where they need to go faster. They don’t want to build that stuff out. You know what? I’ve actually learned through my product experience of our WaaS auto care. We used to have it where it was a DIY. They just sign up, they go get their thing and then they just put their own content, their own images, their own logo, all that stuff, and as easy as we thought that we made it, the process for them. They still, three months down the line was usually the target at the time, we found that we got a lot of churn, because people just, they get busy in their day, and they don’t have the time to do it, and no matter how easy it is to do it still takes time.
It’s still collecting that information and putting it up there and trying to figure out where the tools work and stuff. I could see how it could be frustrating for a non web developer, and so what we’ve done is we require a set up process in ours, and we use it from a marketing perspective too. Basically our setup process for us is 499 as required, but if you buy, if you pay in advance, so our average cost is 67 bucks a month, and so that comes out to… I don’t know math, but if you pay 12 months, we give two months for free, so 670 bucks and we waive the 499. So it’s like a total no brainer, for 670 bucks and I don’t have to pay the $500 to set up too, I’m going to get it.
What that does for us is it allows us to keep our customers for at least a year, and that makes sure that they get on the system and they’re not canceling right away, and they get, and it makes them happy, because we’re doing the work then, which only really takes us five, 10 minutes, maybe 15 at most to implement the changes that they need us to change, because we built a system that is that easy, especially for us to do. I mean, you’re making, it’s just a easier way to scale and make money quickly.
Chris Badgett: Are you doing that set up live on a call with them? Or just for them off the call?
Michael Short: Here’s the thing. Yeah. What we’ve done is we created a plugin called Settings Wizard PRO. It ties into with that Site Settings PRO, and [inaudible 00:30:30] pitching all these different things, but this is the two that we’ve made and why we made them. What they do is when they’re going through the sales process, after they’ve paid, we’ve added this extra wizard. So we have the wizard that in the initial setup process or going through a WP Ultimo wizard that’s like what’s your website, what’s your company name, all that stuff? Then after they pay, we don’t want to ask them too many questions, in my opinion, my experience, you don’t want to ask too much before you get to the checkout, before you get the money. Once you get the money, all right, now that we’re here, let’s get you set up.
So what’s your company details? What’s, cut with the font that you’d like to use? What’s your logo? What’s some content, all these different things, we ask them up front, so that way our team actually just gets it and most of it’s actually, already automatically implemented into their site through shortcode, so it’s all just done automatically and we’re just maybe tweaking a couple of things. That’s why it only takes us 10, 15 minutes to actually set up a site for a client, which if they don’t go with the $670 one time fee deal, and they do pay us the 499, we’re making good money. I mean, it’s for 15 minutes, $500 for 15 minutes, it’s not bad.
Chris Badgett: I think that’s a brilliant way to create a win-win for everybody. The customer gets a onboarding experience, it’s going to reduce churn. You’re able to get the annual upfront as opposed to being on the monthly treadmill, and the customer gets a better experience, because they’re definitely going to be set up correctly, ready to roll, and they’re not going to have to worry about paying and at the end of the year, they can focus on, well, how much value, how many leads or whatever did I get from this website, becomes a no brainer. They probably renew annually again, and you’re onto infinity.
Michael Short: Compounding, on top of it. [crosstalk 00:32:13].
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s super cool and I think a lot of people, what’s really interesting about this conversation to me, especially in the web space, is people, if you’re building sites for clients or selling products, it’s easy to get reactive, but most, everything we’re talking about here is proactive. We’ve already thought a lot about what they need. We’re putting a solution in front of them. We’re removing friction, and even like the setup experience, I think a lot of services miss that, where we used to call it, when we did it, we would call it hypercare. Right after it launches, we do all this stuff to make sure they’re successful, and super attentive, and make sure that they get activated into the new site, or web application, or whatever.
It’s really important and people think about customer support, but more than they think about customer success. Really, customer support, it’s a job under customer success, which is a bigger picture, how do we get the customer to the value as quickly as possible? That’s what reduces churn, and makes people happy, and reduces support, and everything. So I love what you’re doing there.
Michael Short: Yeah. It’s good.
Chris Badgett: Anybody who builds websites for a living, especially if you’ve done it for a while and you’ve kind of, you end up developing, me personally, I’m not a natural designer, but over time I’ve developed a… I can tell a good design when I see one, even if it’s not personally my style, but it always amazes me when I’m traveling and I go to a website like how old, or outdated, or how bad the design is so you can… It’s not like this has all been done before. For me, this looks like this, the world is just waiting.
Michael Short: Your oyster for sure. Absolutely. And that’s the good thing about web design as well. Obviously you can see who needs a website very clearly and easily and you can get the contact information, you can make the call, you can get telemarketers to make those calls for you. I mean, there’s just so many ways to… I mean the first thing is obviously you need to build this foundational platform, and once you have all the pieces in place, and then the selling part I think is the easy part, honestly.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. And if you pick a niche, a small niche, not a general niche, but let’s say you’re doing guitar teachers in main street, main street guitar teachers, that’s a niche you can target with a Facebook ad. And I talk a lot about this concept of what people need to get results and transformation, which is what people are really buying when you’re selling a marketing course or a membership site. They need more than a course, I call it course plus. So there’s course plus coaching, community services, productized services, software, physical products. You don’t need everything, but there’s usually a stack. So there’s a big opportunity in what we’re talking about here, if you’re a business coach for main street guitar teachers, you can help them be successful, and you can also deliver a website solution that’s going to get you that recurring value onto the future, and help them get more leads, and have… There’s all kinds of stuff you could add, other services you could add around that, because you’re super focused on that particular niche.
Michael Short: Yeah. And they all appreciate it that much more too, because they see that you’re super focused on them and they feel like this guy obviously knows what he’s doing and he can help us out. It makes a big difference then being like all things to all people, and going somewhere like, “Oh we also have guitar ones, and we also have knitting ones here.” That doesn’t speak to most people.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Michael Short: Some of them. [crosstalk 00:35:41].
Chris Badgett: And if you’re going to do that, build separate brands, I mean you can, once you’ve got it on lock, okay, well then go do the laundromats or whatever. I find just being around a lot of entrepreneurs, there’s the serial entrepreneurs, they keep moving around and I’m actually more of a deep dive, I’m going a million miles deep, I’ve got laser focus and it’s not better or worse. The serial people, this is a big opportunity because once you figure it out, you can just change the niche slightly or jump to a completely different vertical and do it again.
Michael Short: And you only have to change a few things out and then you’re off to the races.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah.
Michael Short: Once you’ve got that set up. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Well, your company, the core company’s called Blitz Industries. You’ve done services and now you do WaaS. Can you tell us just a little bit of backstory of how you transitioned? How, if somebody’s doing services and they want to get into the WaaS world, like what’s it like, or how do you go from services to WaaS?
Michael Short: Yeah. Well, when I started there was not much out there for us. Right? Even the tools weren’t there, but now we’re actually, by the time you watch this, we have launched a training, we call it WaaS camp, and so you can learn about the planning stages, the publishing, and how to create it, using step-by-step the tools that we recommend. Then the, how do you promote that? That’s what our training covers. Then outside of that, you’ve got the tools that we have. I mean, there’s different ways to skin a rabbit, but I think we kind of got it dialed in now. You can either spend a lot of time trying to figure it out yourself, or just kind of go with what’s already been proven, and go from there.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, once you see a lot of patterns, I mean, this is the thing with making a course. If you’re doing services you can get to the point where you can help somebody do it themselves, but there’s more than just DIY courses that evolve out of your service offering. You can also get the same results for your clients through web technology, whether that’s lead gen or whatever, and get yourself out of the way. Get them on a monthly recurring plan on your software technology is super cool.
Michael Short: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, Michael Shore, he’s from waas-pro.com. That’s W-A-A-S. Checkout WaaS camp and also join his Facebook group. I’ve been seeing it grow. I’ve been watching the awesome conversations and you’re a super engaged entrepreneur, and with your community, which I really appreciate. That’s been the secret to part of our growth and also, I think product market fit, because we really listen to our customers, and we want to make sure we’re solving the right problems and on pace and everything like that. Also, check out rebrand LifterLMS Pro. Is there any other final words you have for the people?
Michael Short: No, I think we’re good. I think we’ve covered everything. I appreciate you having me on. This has been fun.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well Michael, thanks so much for coming on the show. We’ll have to do this again sometime.
Michael Short: Yeah, we definitely will. That was great.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.