In this Episode of LMScast, we have our chief guest Chris Martinez from dudeagency.io. He is an education entrepreneur and a savior of digital agencies. Here, Chris Martinez will be teaching us how to scale a digital agency in a Dude way.
How to Start a Digital Agency
Starting a digital agency is not as hard as it seems. By doing proper research and utilizing knowledge, you can easily start a digital agency.
First, you need to educate yourself through courses and training. After getting proper knowledge about digital marketing, find out your niche. Then you have to list down all of your competitors.
After that, pick up a business model and grow a digital marketing agency by making a presence on different social media. Finally, start getting your leads. This is how you can start a digital marketing agency.
Scaling an Agency in a Dude Way
Scaling an agency is quite challenging. You have to always focus on one thing and that is spending too much time on building a creative project or too many projects will going to delay everything. Besides, it will vanish the resources that you need to put into marketing.
First to scale your digital marketing agency, find the problem that you are facing and team up to solve that problem. To grow a digital agency, you need to put extra focus on marketing. Marketing can skyrocket your business in such a way that nothing can do.
Also, always try to keep track of your sold goods. In this case, you can go for HighLevel software as it is the best tool for showing ROI. Finally, don’t get tired of learning and implementing new techniques to grow your digital marketing agency.
Challenges or Obstacles While Scaling an Agency
The very first challenge that you will face to grow a marketing agency is matching the timezone with your clients. In fact, there is no way to match time with your clients. Besides, a large cultural difference will be noticed.
In this case, the best way is to build a team and allocate that team to that timezone client. Here you will face another challenge and that is, the increasing cost to build up a new team. You can optimize this cost according to your needs.
So, this is how you can scale your agency. If you need more help on how to scale a digital agency, then you can reach out to Chris Martinez through dudeagency.io. He will be happier to help you.
Here’s Where To Go Next…
Get the Course Creator Starter Kit to help you (or your client) create, launch, and scale a high-value online learning website.
Also visit the creators of the LMScast podcast over at LifterLMS, the world’s leading most customizable learning management system software for WordPress. Create courses, coaching programs, online schools, and more with LifterLMS.
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Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch and scale, a high value online training program, I’m your guide Chris Badgett. I’m the co founder of lifter LMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. stay to the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.
Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMS cast. I’m joined by a special guest, his name is Chris Martinez. He’s from dudeagency.io. We’re gonna talk about his journey as education entrepreneur, we’re going to talk about how to scale an agency. Welcome to the show, Chris.
Chris Martinez: Hey, what’s up, brother? Good to talk to you another Chris. It’s me. It’s 7:30am. So for me, so I’m gonna get going.
Chris Badgett: There’s a lot of Chris’s out there. So to just frame in the story of where you are today and where you started as both the agency person yourself to what you do today. Where did this story begin?
Chris Martinez: How far back do you want me to go? I was always entrepreneurial. I was never the kid that had like the lemonade stand. But I kind of always knew that I wanted to have a business.
Chris Badgett: So did you freelance did you start like with some kind of was online? Was it offline?
Chris Martinez: The agency, so the agency, okay, so I have to go back a little bit before I got into the agency to put everything into context. So I never liked anything. technology related. When I was growing up, I thought it was LAME. And so my dad died of cancer in 2007. And after that, I decided I wanted to start my first business. So I started a print soccer magazine, because I’ve played soccer my whole life, I loved soccer. And I made every mistake that you could possibly make, and I lost all my money. And then some I lost almost $200,000 in about 18 months. I don’t know if that’s a record. But it was very painful at the time. And you know, the thing about losing that much or just having that much failure, especially when you’re that young I was 27 28 when I basically lost everything is that you don’t really see how you’re going to get out of that hole. But eventually, you know, I was able to kind of work my way out of it a lot of therapy. And then I have this crazy idea for a website and a friend of mine who’s a successful entrepreneur. He’s a year older than me. He ran a bunch of restaurants and I had this idea for a website. And I noticed that his girlfriend at the time had like the WordPress logo. You remember back in the day in the sidebar there was like WordPress and there was like always like a search search bar. So I asked him, I asked my buddy, I was like it what’s WordPress? And like, can you build me a website on WordPress? This is like 2009, I think. And he’s like, Ah, man, just go online, you can figure it out. And I remember being so annoyed that he wouldn’t help me. But in the end, it was like the best advice because I was forced to go out and learn how to do WordPress website, build WordPress website. So over the course of a weekend, having zero technological background or skills whatsoever, I built my first website on WordPress,
Chris Badgett: How’d you do it?
Chris Martinez: I think I bought a theme.
Chris Badgett: Or how did you learn for YouTube?
Chris Martinez: So I went on some random blog that I saw and they had some random video player. And I was just literally like Play, Stop, play, stop, rewind, play stop, and then I would just do it. And then HostGator at the time had pretty good support for hosting. So they helped me out a lot over the phone. I’m sure I probably called him like 10 times in the course of a couple days. So literally, I started like on Friday night and by Sunday, I had a website up. And there’s so proud of myself it was ugly as sin. And I’m still not like a designer, you know, but I did it and then that it really inspired me and so I started just for fun, like building more websites on my own. And then I learned how to drive traffic because I was like, Okay, I got this website like nobody’s going to it How am I gonna get leads? And so Russell Brunson at the time, had a coaching program called dot com secrets, and I ended up paying like 500 bucks a month. Keep in mind I’m still broke. I’m still like paying off all this debt that I have from this soccer magazine. So I’m paying $500 to Russell Brunson. And then I did pick up I don’t even know if I’ve mentioned this on a podcast before I did pick up a client, a friend of mine. He ran a construction rental business and he needed somebody to help him with marketing. So he was paying me 500 dollars to do that. So I was like, Okay, I’m paying Russell Brunson with this $500. So it’s not really costing me anything. And I just started learning more about marketing. And, oh, I will say that I was doing all of this on the side. So after the soccer magazine, I was flat broke, like, no money. And so I had to get a job. And I’d always, my career was in sales at Red at a college, I started doing sales. And so I got a sales job working for this charter bus company selling charter buses, didn’t really know anything about charter buses, but I could sell. So I was doing that during the day. And then I started learning about online marketing, in the evenings, and in my spare time, and then eventually, the CEO, that bus company funded everything with a Ponzi scheme, the largest Ponzi scheme in Washington state history. So then that job went away. And I had these online marketing skills, they started working for reach local, doing sales for them doing Pay Per Click advertising. And then that eventually led to me starting the agency in 2012.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. So would you say that the beginning of this kind of agency marketing career started with learning how to build a WordPress website?
Chris Martinez: That was probably the catalyst.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s like the super skill. Like, I remember when I first learned it, it’s like, okay, you mean, I can create this thing that people can see from anywhere in the world? And yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s really mind blowing, when you think about that. That’s a pretty cool skill to have.
Chris Martinez: You’re bringing up lots of nostalgic feelings, because like, at the time, yeah, I mean, you know, considering that it was something totally outside my comfort zone. And I was able to teach myself that with zero help, because there’s, there were no like, you know, digital agency gurus, back then. YouTube was just getting started Uber didn’t exist, like all these online learning platforms that we have today didn’t exist. So yeah, that was a lot of fun. It was, you know, scary at the time, too. But looking back, that was actually a character building moment for me.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s like a website. At first, you’re like, oh, wow, I can express myself. And then you’re like, wait, yeah, businesses need to express themselves. They need leads, they need conversions. It’s it turns into this whole, like skill set that like almost every human and every business needs.
Chris Martinez: Yeah, 13 years ago. Yeah. So a lot of people thought the internet was a fad. So it was a different time too.
Chris Badgett: So are 2012. But before we go into that, where are you now? Like what happens at dudeagency.io?
Chris Martinez: Yeah, so we have to tell a little bit. So I’m going to skip between 2012 and 2017. Basically, in 2017, I had an agency and we had a couple 100 clients on retainer, I had discovered this hidden talent pool down in Tijuana, Mexico. So I live in San Diego. So I was like crossing the border every single day and this little team, and I said, I want to help other agencies get access to this hidden talent pool. So I listened to a podcast of Russ Perry, who started designpickle, and I was like, I can do unlimited development, using my team in Mexico. And we literally ran Facebook ads to try and prove the concept. And we started getting customers and I built that business up to you know, over 100,000 revenue very, very quickly. And so then we decided we were going to take a chance and get a booth at the trafficking conversion conference in San Diego in 2018. And that exploded, we got like $300,000 for the business from that one conference.
Chris Badgett: And this is like so if you don’t know what design pickle is, it’s I’m a design pickle customer, I actually know Russ as well. It’s unlimited graphic design for a certain amount per month. So you, which is cool as a business over owner because you’re like, Okay, I can understand my costs. And then I can, you know, I have to get organized, but then I just feed my design needs to this company. So you’re saying you did that with development like for
Chris Martinez: Yeah, the idea was that we would just mimic design pickle, almost exactly. Which in retrospect was a big mistake, what at least it got us moving. Our businesses are very different. So from a design standpoint, is much easier to standardize the deliverables on design. Because essentially, like, just think about the software, right, you’ve got a well excluding like sketch or anything like that, essentially, you have Photoshop, if you’re doing mock ups, you’re doing Figma I’m sure there’s other design, or mock ups that you can do or things that you can do on Figma. And then you’ve got XD, you know, like, those are the only software’s for the most part, and they have other things that they’re doing as well. But with web development, you’ve got themes, sites, you got different themes, you got different platforms, you have custom development, like there’s nobody does anything the same. This is the thing that the agency space doesn’t understand the way that you do so Something literally nobody else on the planet is doing it the exact same.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Chris Martinez: So that’s when I learned that through experience, though, so we tried to follow the design pickle model. And then very quickly, we learned there are some unique things that we have to do to adapt to our customers. So the business is similar in the sense that we’re offering an unlimited type of service, but the way that we provide it, and then the operations that happen behind the scene are incredibly different. And our customers are different. We only work with agencies where design pickle will work with pretty much anybody.
Chris Badgett: So it was more like an agency is kind of outsourcing development…
Chris Martinez: Agency outsourcing, that’s exactly what we were known for.
Chris Badgett: And that’s why you sold it, the traffic and conversions booth is agency owners were like, I need developer talent.
Chris Martinez: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And so we offered development and design, we didn’t do print design. And we started getting a bunch of customers was flat rate. And so then, what happened next is we started to learn about the agencies, and one of the first things we learned is that agencies are really, really bad operations. And it’s, you know, by no fault of their own age, I think a lot of entrepreneurs in general are not operations minded…
Chris Badgett: More creative.
Chris Martinez: Yeah, more creative, just kind of like, you know, just creating amazing stuff, things that I can never create. But it creates a lot of delays, and it’s very difficult to get their stuff done. So we started to coach them and give them advice on operations, giving them templates for SOPs, showing them what are the inefficiencies and why things are breaking down, something that we never had any intention of doing. So we were doing that, and then we started to learn, oh, you know, these, these successful agencies, they’re doing a lot of revenue, but they’re not very profitable. And that’s creating a lot of other problems. Because that’s, for example, like, they bring on a lot of projects, or a lot of new clients. And then there’s no budget leftover to hire the people that they need, because they’re not monitoring their margins. And so and they don’t have a plan in place, so we started giving them advice and coaching and mentoring on that. And that’s led us to today. You know, our company, we have almost 100 team members got clients all over the United States and Canada. You know, I think in December, we finished right around 200k monthly recurring revenue, so I don’t care you know, if people care about them, um, you know, the company has grown tremendously. And we won an award last year, we were the we want to study for Minority Owned Business of the Year and second place for most innovative company under 100 employees. So things are going well. And we’ve repositioned ourselves. So we’re not outsourcing people, because our clients kept saying, like, Man, you guys do way more than outsourcing. And I don’t know, if you see all the ads that are running like everybody in their mother’s trying to staff, you with people from the Philippines, from India, from you know, like, I see probably 15 ads a day now, I’m probably looking at different sites and a lot of other people. But still like that’s like the thing. And we recognize this coming along a while back. And now the next evolution is or what I believe is that the agency space because of COVID. And because of rising labor costs, it’s really squeezing the smaller agency owner. So you’re being forced to step into the role of a true CEO, if you really want to run an agency in 2022 and beyond. And so we’re helping those agencies accelerate to if they’re under if they’re between, you know, under a million if around a half a million, we want to help them get to a million within a year, and then accelerate from a million to five plus, after that. Still staffing, still providing operational support, helping to build SOPs, create operational efficiency, and then maximizing that profitability. Because way too many agency owners out there are not making the kind of income that they deserve. And their companies are not worth anything. So if they ever want to have an exit one day, it’s really disheartening to recognize that you’re doing 2 million in revenue, and somebody’s going to pay you $750,000 for that business, because it’s not profitable.
Chris Badgett: So how do you help them?
Chris Martinez: Yeah, so we have created a process actually, we called the dude way.
Chris Badgett: What’s the dude way?
Chris Martinez: So the first step is staffing. We got to get you the right team. So we look at who you need. We staff here with people.
Chris Badgett: That still is that is that staffing, like helping them staff themselves or you’re providing the outsourcing like you like through Mexico or wherever?
Chris Martinez: Yeah, typically, it includes us, providing them the team specifically so they don’t have to go through the interviews and all the craziness. Like it’s really hard to hire people by the way like we interview to 42 people for every one person that we hire most age, and that’s why we have such amazing people. So most agencies don’t have the resources to be able to do that.
Chris Badgett: Do does your talent pool share an office? Or is it remote or
Chris Martinez: We’re remote because of COVID, we do have an office, we just downsized our office, we have this huge 8000 square foot facility that we had planned on having 100 people in, and then COVID head and we all had to go remote. And then, because we’re so good not to toot our own horn, but because we’re so good at working remotely. We said You know, you don’t have to come back to the office. And we expanded our operations outside of TJ, during COVID. Right? So we’re like, well, we can’t go to the office. Anyways, let’s look at other cities in Mexico, and also expanded into South America. So we started finding all these little pockets of talent that nobody even knows exists. And we know how to find great people. So the staffing get back to your original question. The staffing is typically still in Mexico, as well as South America, we still have some people in Asia. But at the end of the day, like we just find amazing human beings, like people that are willing to move mountains for clients, which is a big challenge that a lot of agencies have. So whether the agency comes to us and they need a shared team, or if they need a team and a few people that are dedicated to them, it doesn’t matter. I mean, we have some agencies that have, you know, close to a dozen people with us.
Chris Badgett: Where’s the project manager staying, Is it on your side? Or is it on the agency’s side?
Chris Martinez: Great question. So usually, the agencies have a project manager.
Chris Badgett: Because the project manager is the interface between the work and also the end client, right?
Chris Martinez: Absolutely!
Chris Badgett: That’s kind of the main service the agency provides, at least from but
Chris Martinez: Yeah, and a lot of the times the project manager is one of our biggest advocates, because they’re just drowning in work. They’re like, yeah, like you’re bringing me these projects. And like, you know, Johnny billion, and Jake are all slammed, like, who am I supposed to send this to? So then they find out about us or the owner finds out about us. And so we figure out who they need, we give them the team. Right? The project manager is usually the one that delegates work to us, we bang it out, we have all these internal processes to make sure that we’re hitting deadlines, because we’re obsessed with hitting deadlines. And then so that’s phase one of the dude ways, giving them the right dream team. The next thing that happens is we start to work together. And we start to look at what are the inefficiencies in our processes, we have a few different things that we do, we do a process map, we do an audit of the processes. And we start to what we call unstick their processes. So we look at what are the bottlenecks, and then we give them mentoring on things that they can do to be able to fix those issues. So let me give you an example.
Let’s say that we’re building out a website. And the client says, in order to have it listed in their contract, they provide two rounds of revisions. And we recognize that when we create the first draft of their mock ups, they scrapped the entire thing. And now we’re having to do another round, and then another round. So we’re exceeding the number of rounds or revisions. And I’ll tell everybody this, like you do not lose money on first drafts, you lose money on revisions. So you need to figure out how what can you do to eliminate revisions, that’s the whole goal. So if you’re that off on the mockups, then we need to look at what’s going on in the onboarding process. How are we not capturing the expectations of the clients that are leading to us having to throw out our markups? Or maybe the clients bringing in team members and they have different opinions or whatever we are in control of that we have to control the process. And so then we’ll say, hey, like, Let’s see your onboarding documents. What are you asking with templates for that, that we can give them? Just give them some advice, and then incrementally, we start to fix those issues. So what happens when you do that is that you’re now buying back more time, you’re freeing up more time, so you can actually take on more work without having to hire more staff because you’re getting more efficient. Does that make sense?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, yeah.
Chris Martinez: Yeah. So that’s the second part is the unsticking the processes. The third part is as these agencies are scaling up, and most of them have crossed the 500k threshold, so they’re starting to build a, you know, decent sized business, in the agency world. They’re doing a lot of things, right. But the agency owners, we’re all like accidental entrepreneurs, like none of us went to business school. I got a degree in sociology, I think you got a degree in anthropology, like, go to Harvard Business School. So in some ways, this is an advantage, but in other ways, we are at a disadvantage. because we don’t understand things like gross margin, we don’t understand things like net income, we definitely don’t understand things like average revenue per unit. You know, like, these are very basic business principles that we don’t understand. And we definitely don’t understand leadership as well as we need to. So now we’re starting to build a team. And we’ve got these people following us. And it’s a much different experience when you have 5, 10, 20 employees versus being a solopreneur, with a couple of freelancers. So you need to you and all of your leadership team needs to develop into the leadership roles, the C level roles, and that’s the next thing that we do is we start to provide training for all those nonsexy roles that we have to roll that we have to play, you know, finance, operations, customer experience, and then of course, you being the CEO, like we have to typically learn how to become a better CEO. One of my favorite phrases is that the agency is a reflection of you. So if you recognize that there’s a lot of inefficiency in the agency, or that we’re losing customers, or that nobody is organized, that is really a reflection of you as a person. And I’m not saying that in a mean way. But let’s just be honest with ourselves and recognize that there are things within myself that I need to adjust, I need to grow into this next level, if I want the business to grow, if you want the business to stay where it’s at, then you don’t change anything. But if you want the business to grow and scale, then you also have to look at the things you need to change within yourself. So that’s the third part of the dude way. And the fourth part is basically just running the numbers give you show you how to actually create your performance. So you can look at the numbers create your budgets. And that way we ensure that the business is going to be worth something. And we when you follow the dude way we guarantee that you’ll grow your profitability but by at least 30% within the first 12 months.
Chris Badgett: Wow, this is super cool. I love the dude way. You help them build a dream team, unstick their processes, develop as an executive or executive leadership within the team and then run the business by the numbers. That’s awesome.
Chris Martinez: Yeah, cool. That last one earned an exit. So we’re sticking with the dude. Oh, nice.
Chris Badgett: Nice. And so when you say help, like you’re helping people connect to staff, that’s kind of like a service. Yeah, I know, you have the dude school, which has some courses or passive training in it. Is there like a coaching element? Like, what’s the transformation stack here?
Chris Martinez: Yeah, so we run a few masterminds. Part of that whole development arm is we get them into our first mastermind, just we don’t have fancy names, we just call them level one, level two, level three. So the first one is getting into the level one. And let me see if I can remember the curriculum for that it. So the first part is learning good habits, right. So we have a habit system, we teach them that, eventually, we will love our agencies to roll it out to the rest of the team because it helps to develop good habits both for you as a person, but also you as a business owner. And if all your team members are following the same thing, you’re going to crush it. So that’s week one, and two, week three is going over the numbers and the finances. So creating that performa learning how to read the numbers. And what I would love for people to do is just pass this information over to the bookkeeper. Because one of the biggest, I think mistakes that agencies make is that they’re not tracking their cost of goods sold. So to end there’s a million different ways to do this. It’s it’s an art and kind of like a science. But what we like to teach is that your cost of goods is typically anybody who touches a deliverable that goes out to the client. So you need to be tracking their hours and their and the costs associated with that. So every project you sell, you know exactly how much labor cost went into that. And there’s like software and stuff to you. But labor is typically the big one. So and we want you to be able to complete those projects for 30% of what you sold them for. So if you sell something for 10 grand, I want you to be able to get that project down and we’ll use websites again. I want you to be able to build that website, that $10,000 website for 3000 bucks. That includes development, design, copywriting, project management, anything else that goes all the revisions, everything I want that your time I want that done for $3,000 or less. That’s the objective. And so we teach people how to do that. And then ideally, they take that information and they pass it over to their bookkeeper or their finance person. And then they can start tracking the numbers better. And then yeah, so that’s that What we cover in like week three of that training, then we go into like customer experience how to improve your retention. I can’t remember what else future planning some other things. So that’s kind of like the hands on where we get them into a small group and we start working together. That’s really, really fun. I loved I’m the one on the runs that still, I love doing it. It’s it really, really excites me helps keep me motivated personally as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What what’s the big roadblock that kind of key that people have to get through to go from, like, say, 500 to a million in annual revenue as an agency owner, and then again, from like, one to 5 million in annual revenue? Like, what are these hurdles?
Chris Martinez: I’m going to use one of my clients as an example of how to go from half a million to a million. Because this gal is like, going to be there any minute. She came to us, she had an agency before she failed. She started working for somebody else, and then wanted to revamp her agency. So she started picking up you know, a little bit of business. But we took a chance on her normally, we don’t work with anybody that size, but we it was a referral. And we just had a really good feeling about her.
And immediately she jumps into the masterminds. She does every single thing she does every part of the way that we put in front of her. And I think one of the one of her superpowers is that she had this failure with the agency before she got her teeth kicked in. And she recognized like, hey, it doesn’t mean any good to have this big, big ego, I need to learn from other people who are already doing what I would like to do one day. So she was very, very coachable. So she comes in, she runs the numbers, she creates the right average revenue per unit, like what she’s gonna sell our products for channels, a bookkeeper and she has the bookkeeper like track my numbers give me reports every single week, I want to know where we’re at and starts running the business like a true CEO, this guy goes from basically zero to 50k MRR in six months, she’ll be at a million in the next 90 days, 100% She’s got a great niche, too.
She’s working with technology companies, I actually just talked to her like two days ago, I think she was about to bring on a huge client, that will put over the million mark. But she just did every single thing that she was that we told her to do. And here’s the thing is she didn’t just want to work on the fun, sexy stuff. She didn’t want to just be creative. She didn’t want to just sell. She was willing to do the work that is not necessarily fun having to learn how to actually run a business, running the business by the numbers. My opinion is that if you run an agency, and you’re getting your clients results, meaning you’re helping them to get more leads, get more sales grow their business agency work is like the easiest thing to sell.
Hey, you have a budget, this is what I can guarantee you’re gonna get in return. What do you say I have all the back the you know, the testimonials to back it up. You want to do this? Do you want more money? Yes. Okay, cool. Let’s go. It’s a very simplified way to do it. But if you’re getting your clients results than agency work is very, very easy to sell. So she was getting the results, she never had a problem getting results, it was all the other stuff. That was the challenge. So she started learning from us. And that’s what’s getting her to a million.
Now, from a million to multiple millions on, it’s a matter of building out the team. And really establishing team, a leadership team for one that can start taking a lot of these decisions off your plate. Because we got 2 million are very close to a million, but I was still doing everything. And the business was not very profitable. As soon as I made that shift. And I recognize, actually because Ross showed me this, that I was the bottleneck, that all these things that were going on in the business were always my fault. And then I was the one preventing these different departments from growing. And as moved people into those different positions. That company started to take off. So we had a major churn issue in 2019 and 2018. business grows tremendously. 2019 business grows tremendously again, we’ve essentially doubled like every single year. But we had this big churn problem. So we had just as many clients going out the door as we had coming in. And I recognize I needed somebody to work exclusively in customer experience and make sure that our clients are happy to get this turned number down. And so I put Erin, I promoted her. She was just running my entire agency. And I promoted her to customer experience director. And she slashed the churn in one month from 16% down to 10%. And then last year, we got it down to 4%, which in my business is like insane. Nobody has under 10% churn in my business. So that was a perfect example of how when I identified that I was the problem I Need to find a leader for this specific role, I moved her into that role. Everything takes off. We had another agency this past year, they weren’t in the dental niche. They went through our masterminds, where theyi learned about the numbers they handed out literally, the biggest change for them was the numbers part of it, learning how to run the business, but from a performance, husband and wife team, they build it from nothing, got it to 3 million, they learned from us, they go to three to 5 million in a year. Now, we weren’t totally responsible for that they like they kick ass in general. But just little tweaks along the way. And you see the things that you didn’t even know were issues, and then you make the adjustments and then move forward. It’s simple.
Chris Badgett: So, you mentioned you mentioned the dental niche there. How important is like niching for an agency in terms of like?
Chris Martinez: Yeah, I mean, everybody needs to find a niche of agencies that are going to be successful in our niche. Do you have to stay in that niche, of course, but you have, it’s so much easier to be an expert and to find clients within a specific niche. And then just trying to be a generalist. The age of the generalist is pretty much over in my opinion. The like, you might be a generalist, and you specialize in a specific technology, for example, so like Shopify. Shopify has exploded, obviously, over the past two years. And so maybe you can kind of niche to the technology, but eventually those are going to go the same way. Everything’s going to become niched. So it’s better to just jump ahead of it now.
Chris Badgett: How much is WordPress have involved in your business and your clients businesses and there’s lots of different technologies for delivering websites or marketing campaigns or whatever but what’s, what do you see on WordPress out there as?
Chris Martinez: Easily 80% plus WordPress, you know, we support other platforms as well and you know, keep in mind, I don’t do the day to day work. So I just get what I hear in our, you know, weekly leadership meetings, but it’s still overwhelmingly WordPress. That digital agency that I was telling you about. They’re exclusively on Webflow. So we are seeing a surge in webflow, which is nice. And then I love high level was kind of coming on the scene if you’ve heard of the high level. I love that software. I think it’s a really, really great platform, and it helps you to show ROI a lot better than other things and you have to string together a bunch of different tools. What’s the other one? We have a couple agencies on Duda. Not a lot though. But WordPress is still you know, the, what do they call it the 800 pound gorilla. It’s still WordPress.
Chris Badgett: What I’m shifting gears back to just people and talent you mentioned you have a knack for discovering talent and and nurturing talent and areas where people don’t necessarily look or know about or notice or tell us about. You know the talent in Latin America and Mexico, South America. Like what are these hotspots of talent have in common? Like what was happening early on that you saw in Tijuana as an example for tech talent?
Chris Martinez: Challenge that I was having with my address or with the team in the Philippines like most people, and the challenge for me was the timezone and like, right, so like, you know, I’m on the West Coast 15 hours time difference with the US in the Philippines. For the first two years in my agency I was working from like 6am to one and like every single day. It takes a toll on it takes a toll on a man. So like I couldn’t anymore, and that’s the kind of like the, the point where I was like, I have to make a switch is that the the revisions, so I would send something to them. I would think that they get it right. I wake up in the morning. It’s not right. I gotta pay them to do it over right, very inefficient. I’m losing money there. And then I have angry customers because they’re not getting their stuff done on the timeline on the deadline that I said that was good, because I gotta wait, you know, because they’re asleep. So that was the chat. I was kind of like the motivation for me to try and find another resource for talent. And I tried everywhere even try the United States, and everything sucked. And then I was like, Okay, well, I’m in San Diego. I bet you I can find a team to have in Mexico. I really speak Spanish. I was able to find some people. You know what went through some bad hires like most people do, but then figured it out. And the fact that they’re on the same timezone and then I could talk to them in normal business hours, was amazing. There’s, you know, I don’t know if it was Ken Ferris or somebody, but there’s this concept that you can find a team that can work while you sleep. In some ways that’s true, but in my opinion, for the most part, that’s bullshit. Game time for us in North America is 8am to five. That’s when we’re having our conversations with our clients. All of our A players that are located in the United States, they are working that timeframe. We need everybody at the game at the same time. You can’t have your defensive line showing up after the game like we’re gonna lose. It just does not work. It’s a nice idea, but in reality, it’s just one of those things that just doesn’t play out the way that you had that you penciled it out. So the first thing for me was the time change. The fact that I could just see talk to them had an office in Mexico too, so that was like an advantage. And then the cultural things was a lot more similar Asian culture just different than North American culture. Mexican culture is still very different than American culture. But at least on the border in Tijuana, they understand a lot of our cultural references, the designs that they do come back and they feel more like Western or whatever that means. You know, like, there’s just a significant difference and all of that helps the work to get done first, like done the first time. Remember, because we always want to get things done. The first draft don’t we lose money on the revisions? So that helped our operations to be much more efficient or clients were happier, we started getting more referrals. So that was like the biggest thing and then in terms of like pockets of talent. The border areas are always going to be the best because they just have such a closer relationship to the United States. But the downside is that a lot of those border areas are more expensive to live in. So the cost to hire labor in those areas is going to be higher. And then the second part is that a lot of companies in the United States have already come down into Mexico, and they are already hiring talent. So you’re having to compete with them and so oftentimes they’re willing to pay a lot higher salary because they’re, you know, billion dollar corporation multibillion dollar corporation. Interesting in the being is that those billion dollar corporations never tell anybody that they’re down in Mexico, because they’re afraid of, you know, with the last president, they’re afraid of getting blasted by Trump. So but they’re here, right there are they’ve been here for more than a decade. So if you can go into other parts of Mexico so for example, we have people in outside of Mexico City in Pachuca. There’s another city that I can’t remember the name of. It’ll come to me later. But my I would say the, the way that we were truly able to find great people and hidden talents, is my wife came into the business in 2020. So she is Mexican, and she understands this culture better than I do. She speaks the language obviously. And she went to school for business and she got a degree in organizational development. So she revamped our whole hiring process created this like insanely difficult hiring process that we have now. But in the end, it’s it flows really well. And we find the best talent in the world, in my opinion, anywhere. So we were able to take that and now expanded into all of Mexico, South America, we still use the same hiring practices, even when we’re looking to hire people in Asia. But we love you know, any anyone, anywhere in our timezone. We love to look for people. That’s the first place or one of the first things that we look at.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And as part of dude agency when you connect people to help them build a dream team, are you like a matchmaker and then the business like hires those people or they work through you in terms of how does that work?
Chris Martinez: Internationally? Yeah, we handle everything. So we handle all the payroll we handle obviously, the recruiting we we handle the administration, the benefits on stuff, so the agency will just pay us a flat rate. They get this amazing team, they don’t have to worry about any of the other crap, like sending just to Americans because Americans don’t know I didn’t know until we shouldn’t do this. Sending money from the United States and Mexico is incredibly different difficult. Because there’s a lot of laws trying to prevent, you know, money laundering and drug trafficking and stuff. So if you’re sending 1000s of dollars a month from the United States and Mexico, you’re going to get your account shut down or they’re going to start stopping the transfers from going through. You might have to pay a bunch of fees. It can be very, very difficult. And it’s illegal to just drive from the United States to Mexico and deposit $10,000 into an account. You can’t do it. So like anytime I was doing payroll like the two three days leading up to payroll, you just leave her alone. Bring chocolate, Just get the hell out of our way. But yeah, so like we handle it, but we have done direct placement too. So we have some agencies that are like how to take care of it. So then we’ll do the recruiting. We’ll evaluate them we’ll send them over the agency they do the final thing. We charge a fee for that, of course. whatever way makes more sense. The first thing is we’re going to look at the budget right so like I asked agency, but what do you have in the budget? Yeah, got it. I’m just saying I don’t know. Okay, well, let’s just look and see which gallery and we can get them started but that’s when the new way essentially starts and little by little start chipping away and by the end of the year, they’re way more profitable and they’ve got the best team they’ve ever had no life.
Chris Badgett: So who’s the perfect fit for the dude way? Who’s this? What are the qualities of this aspiring agency CEO who’s looking to level up like what makes a good fit for dude agency?
Chris Martinez: Yeah. I’ll tell you some of the things that we asked you to kind of like our qualification process. So where’s your What was your revenue last year? If you’re under 300,000, it’s just too early for us. If you’re at 300,000 It’s kind of like a game time decision. If you’re over a half a million in revenue, like automatically we’re in a really good spot. And it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. I’ve run an agency under a half a million. I know what it’s like. There’s just certain foundational things that you need that you kind of have by the time you get to 300,000 as well. So we look at revenue, we look at growth, right? So like I had a conversation with an agency owner the other day, and he was kind of wanting to get out of the business. And so it wasn’t a good fit. I was like, you know, we’re looking for agencies that are essentially looking to double or at least grow by 25 to 50%. So we’re looking at the growth, like, where do they see the business? What are they willing to do? We look at what’s their average revenue per unit. So if they’re charging too little, it just doesn’t make sense. We’re not going to have enough budget to invest in the team. We look at what else while they’re doing project work like what are they charging for the project work? What’s the percentage of monthly recurring services versus project work? And then the type of work that they’re doing, you know, like if they’re a Facebook ads agency only. That’s not typically that somebody that we can help we typically work with somebody who has some element of design and development and then the last part so you just gotta be cool. You got to be nice guy, which is great. Like that’s one of the reasons why I love working with agency folks is because they’re just nice people like we are the biggest hearted people on the planet. We get more excited when our clients have a big win and when we make more money Tell me another industry that feels like that. Definitely not real estate, definitely not lawyers.
I ran an agency for a long time and when your job is literally helping somebody else achieve their dreams. It attracts a certain type of person who runs an agency and gets good at it. So I totally get that.
Chris Martinez: And here’s the turning point. It’s time when we finally get paid for that exact time that we all are able to build the business that truly delivers the lifestyle that we’ve always dreamed up. Most of us get into the business because we see this this vision of working from the beach and you know, like, that is possible. But the irony is that you have to kind of corporatize a lot of your business and put in structure and discipline and take on more responsibility to be able to deliver that lifestyle. But it’s not as scary as intimidating as you might think once you do it. And you see how things are running. You’re like man, everything is worth it. And like for us, let me let me give you one more thing. One huge benefit is I think a lot of agency people. We also have big aspirations outside of the agency and specifically like philanthropic philanthropic work. I know an agency owner works in the accounting space. We used to work together we don’t anymore, we’re still great friends. The business relationship didn’t like wasn’t bad at all. It’s just he shifted the direction of the vacancy. So you know, he is very involved in his church. He’s adopted look for kids. He has four kids of his own like he’s constantly giving back to his church and for I don’t even know how you the proper way to say it, but the adoption, you know, like kids who are who need to be adopted, like that’s his passion. We personally are super passionate about the animals. So we donated tens of thousands of dollars last year to charity. You know a lot of that was to animal specific charities. There’s a there’s a animal shelter here and in Sinaloa Mexico, that’s about two hours away. When you build them like all like a whole facility essentially last year. When you have a business that is profitable, and you personally are making more money, you’re able to donate to these philanthropic things that we’ve always heard about. It’s really, really exciting and like, just motivating, when you’re able to do things for other people and you’re able to live this dream like these dreams. of helping others through the business. And that’s that’s the other power of essentially creating a great structure, having the right team. Having the right leaders and focusing on the numbers empowers you to be able to do all these other amazing things.
Chris Badgett: That’s Chris Martinez from dude agency.io. The dude way sounds awesome. I love that structure and how you’re helping people. Head on over to dude agency.io Is there any other way for people to connect with you, Chris?
Chris Martinez: Yeah, I’m very I’m an open book, you know? If you want to just send me an email you can email me at Chris at dude agency.io. I’ll do my best to get back to that same day. Sometimes I might be a couple of days. But just shoot me a message even if it’s just say hi or if you have a challenge or you have a question. Just shoot me a message. And I’ll do my best now.
Chris Badgett: Awesome, Chris. Well, thanks for coming on the show and sharing your story and words of wisdom with us. We really appreciate it.
Chris Martinez: Yes, thank you, Chris.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.