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WordPress support company Sitecare acquires Maintainn, excluding the team, from WebDevStudios.

Hear from the founders in today’s interview to learn how the deal went down, what to look for in good acquisitions, and what the future of WordPress support companies look like.

The landscape of monthly WordPress support companies has certainly changed since these two OG’s launched in 2012-2013. Sitecare plans to double-down on their packaged monthly services while WedDevStudios continues to expand their enterprise WordPress business.

Links

Ryan Sullivan

Brad Williams

Sitecare

Maintainn

WebDevStudios

Transcript

[00:00:00] Matt: It’s the WP minute. This episode is brought to you by the WP minute. Go to buy me at coffee.com/matt report. Support the show. Join the membership for $79 a year to get involved with the news, like the rest of our link squad members, 50 plus strong.

[00:00:12] Now buy me at coffee.com/matt report. Today’s episode is zone breaking news. Site care is acquiring OG. WordPress support business, just like them maintain from web dev studios. You’re gonna hear from founders, Ryan Sullivan and Brad Williams. Let’s get right into the interview.

[00:00:31] Brad:

[00:00:31] We are excited because maintains been a big part of, of web dev studios since we acquired it back in, I wanna say it was like 2012. So I think it’s been 10 years. And back, it was a great add-on business for us as the support and maintenance side of the house, we do on the web dev side, more project focus, build the sites, launch that, but then of course you need.

[00:00:50] You wanna continue to support your clients and help them out. Right. And that’s really where maintain, fit into fit in well with, with our services as we’ve grown and our, our clientele ha have grown and definitely more of a focus on the enterprise and big business we’ve simply kind of grown a, a way where that side of the house wasn’t really in line.

[00:01:09] With the web dev side of the house in terms of the kind of clients we’re working with. So it’s been a bit of a, struggle in terms of how best to support those clients. Because of course we want to take care of our clients and there a big reason why we’re here. And that’s why, Lisa, my partner and myself, kind of took a step back and said, maybe.

[00:01:24] This isn’t, doesn’t make sense for WebDev, where we’re at, where we’re continuing to go. And, and I think the writing was kind of on the wall. And when we had that kind of open conversation, it, it made a lot of sense to start putting some feelers out. If anyone might be interested and of course site care was at the top of that list because this is what they do.

[00:01:40] Matt: Ryan Phil back filling your strategy or your site care strategy. God years ago when you were on Matt report, many times and WordPress services was just a, a single pricing page with $79 a month, 1 99 a month and 4 99 a month. Back in the day when it was just bucket into like three pricing columns site care looks like a totally different company in terms of the services offering now.

[00:02:05] I mean, all one has to do is hover over the services tab at the main menu and see a whole bunch more. Anywhere from WordPress services to email marketing to site coaching how has this landscape changed? I mean, obviously we know why maintain is a great fit to acquire, but how has this landscape changed for what was just done for you?

[00:02:24] WordPress maintenance back in the day to now this broadened service.

[00:02:27] Ryan: Yeah, I mean, kind of to one, one thing I wanted to touch on that Brad mentioned was he was talking about how you. web dev had acquired maintain 2012, 2013 ish. When I started WP site care, I think WP site care maintained were kind of the two the two original players in the space. So just from our standpoint, it, it, it feels a little bit like a coming home like this, this acquisition feels good from that perspective of like, Yes.

[00:02:58] We’ve been doing this for a [00:03:00] very long time. We feel like we’ve got a pretty good handle on on, on how to run this type of business and support clients this way. And, and so we’re we’re very excited about kind of what this means for not just for making sure that. Web devs clients continue to get well taken well maintains clients continue to get well taken care of, but also to make sure that to kind of plant a plant, a larger flag in, in, in the world that we’ve been in for a long time.

[00:03:30] But, but yeah, to your point Matt, in terms of services and how those. How those have evolved and changed. One of the big reasons services have evolved for us so much is our we had a merger with between WP psych care and Southern web in 2018. Now, I guess it’s been a little bit over four years, so, well right.

[00:03:52] About four years. So drew drew Barton. we made a deal to, merge combine our companies. At that time, they were a more traditional agency. So they were doing a lot of web design. They were doing a lot of Mar digital marketing and things that way. And we were very focused on the support maintenance side of things.

[00:04:08] And we as we brought the, the clients together, we started to see this. We started to see this thing where people were, our clients were. they were asking us for more, they were asking us for, yeah. Okay. You have the most familiarity with our website. You’re, you have your hands working on these things more than anybody else.

[00:04:29] Do do, the question always starts with, do you know anybody who does SEO? Do you know anybody who does blank? And we had a lot of experience with that on the Southern website. And so, a lot of the clients who were traditionally support maintenance clients naturally evolved into wanting more of these services.

[00:04:49] And we already had some history providing ’em so we could kind of become more of. We don’t design new websites. That’s kind of, we don’t design or develop new websites, but as far as recurring services go that, that take care of a website and make sure that it’s not just running well, but growing and, and, and thriving, we kind of run the gamut at this point.

[00:05:11] Matt: And you’re bringing in two brands like the, the, the site care one , this is a harsh way to put it, but site care won the branding game of site care versus Southern web, because largely you’re, I, this is just my assumption is that people are coming in, looking for WordPress forward services, looking for that WordPress maintenance.

[00:05:31] And kind of everybody knew you and site care in the team. So that brand wins question mark, is that a fair way to, to state.

[00:05:38] Ryan: I think it’s partially that I think I mean, we’ve definitely doubled down on it, right? Like we’ve registered the trademark and everything. Like it’s, it’s definitely where, where we’ve chosen to plan our flag. I don’t know. I, I mean, I think just from a kind of marketing perspective, it’s a little bit simpler to understand from on the face.

[00:05:58] And so probably from that per [00:06:00] perspective, people resonate with it a little bit.

[00:06:02] Matt: And then you’re bringing in. The two OGs of WordPress maintenance I’ve seen, and I’m sure you, you guys have seen it more than me, but I’ve seen a dozen companies come and go that, tried this thing that they thought was easy. And it, just like, like I said before, throw a price on a page, have somebody sign up for a month and this is gonna be the easiest thing ever.

[00:06:19] And now you’re bringing these two OGs together. You already answered one of my other questions. You sort of stop at that new website project, let’s say, or custom app or something like that. Do you the site care and your team just sort of collaborate with other agencies, like going back to web dev and being like, Hey, this customer wants to launch a new project.

[00:06:38] This is a perfect fit for, for you and your team is that how things will pan out in the future?

[00:06:43] Ryan: That’s exactly how it works and, and we have some great relationships and partnerships. With other agencies who specialize in the larger projects, right? Like we kind of te we kind of cap out, not formally, but typically speaking, we are not doing much project works that exceeds about a two week sprint.

[00:07:01] So anything that gets bigger than that, we, especially if it’s we have this formalized with some agencies where they say, Hey, we’re going to we want you to handle the ongoing maintenance, cuz we trust you with that. But when this client says, Hey, I wanna redesign, or I wanna rebrand, or I wanna, whatever we need that we want to have.

[00:07:21] We, we want first rider refusal on that project. And, and that’s how we handle it. Right. We always go back to that say and say, Hey, they’re looking for something bigger than what we do here. Here’s Let’s restart the conversation with, agency a over there. And, and we see ourselves doing that, with WebDev going forward too, is like, which also is another place where this kind of makes a lot of sense, but that’s, that’s how it usually plays out is once something kind of gets beyond that about two week threshold, we, we start working with agencies.

[00:07:52] Brad: I think why it works so well for, especially for our current clients moving over as well as anyone that we’re were to sign up with psych care is the team is completely structured for support maintenance and that type of work.

[00:08:04] Right. Which is anyone that’s in this space or has ever done support. That is a very different structure than a traditional kind of project. And it has to work definitely. Right? Like it’s, it’s a little more reactionary. It’s a little more priority focused. You have to have a team that’s able to bounce around a little bit more versus going heads down on one project for a week or two or, or a month or two.

[00:08:24] And so that’s where the, the, the benefit of that, it’s almost like comparing, like hosting traditional hosting to like manage hosting or managed hosting is completely set up to optimize WordPress specifically for WordPress, for psych care. It’s completely set up to optimize, that support and maintenance piece that every website really needs.

[00:08:39] So for that perspective, or anyone that’s really getting that, that, that help from site care, they’re, they’re really gonna benefit from it just because that’s how they’re structured, that’s how they.

[00:08:46] Matt: And that’s like, obviously answering the, the next question there is, this is I’m sure this was, wasn’t an easy decision to make the income is, is still income. Diversifying is, is good and all that stuff, but you’re, you’re growing a [00:09:00] team that is getting much more specialized, probably taking on larger, more technical projects.

[00:09:04] And now this side of the brain is just, it’s just too much, right. It’s just, how are you gonna market and manage this aspect? And then also go. Whatever enterprise and, and big agency work.

[00:09:15] Brad: Yeah, exactly.

[00:09:16] Matt: you focus

[00:09:16] Brad: mean, and that’s exactly why we kept the brand separate after the acquisition was because of that. Struggle of the message, the marketing message to say, Hey, we can support, blogs, SMB all the way up to, enterprise and Microsoft is a hard message to get across. Right. so, whereas maintain could be more laser focused on the support, the maintenance and, and really targeting.

[00:09:36] WebDev could be more focused on, targeting the enterprise, the larger projects, the, the, the larger relationships with clients and partnerships. So, that was always a conscious decision, even though we considered rolled it under WebDev as like a, WebDev support service.

[00:09:48] We knew that the marketing of that would be almost impossible for us to, to nail. So in that aspect, it’s actually made this a little bit cleaner because it is, this is an. Acquisition. So, the, the, the site and the services and the clients all of our employees are staying at WebDev. But yeah, it really just came from the separation of where WebDev was kind of growing more towards the enterprise and, and, maintain was primarily supporting more of that SMB to, to, to mid-tier.

[00:10:14] And the two sides of the house were just getting, further away from each other and it was making it more difficult. Kind of manage that in the way they need to be managed and giving the clients that maintain the level of service that they expect and that we want to provide. So it is hard shutting off a revenue.

[00:10:28] And that it’s not an easy thing to do and it’s recurring revenue and it’s a little more predictable. But if you’re not able to really, provide the services long term that, that you’re signing people up for, ultimately it’s gone end badly. Anyway. So it was while we’re still very capable of supporting those clients.

[00:10:44] We knew over time, it was just gonna get harder and harder for us without reinvesting back into really exploding and, and growing out that team. So I think it was the right call, the right decision and, and just to get us the refocus. I think that’s one thing that the pandemic and a lot of the last couple years have taught us is.

[00:10:58] Really get laser focused on what you do best and go all in, and that’s really what we’ve we are doing. So, so we’re excited because yeah, it’s juggling, essentially two businesses, if you will takes a lot, so it gets us refocused, not just myself, but from the admin perspective, the marketing perspective, and certainly the developers and support engineers perspective.

[00:11:15] Once the transition’s. Completed, we’ll be laser focused back on, on the web dev side of the house. So it’s, it’s exciting. It’s exciting for us because it’s a new chapter for us. It’s a new chapter for site care. It’s a new chapter for the clients that, that were aren’t with maintained, but like, I really truly look at this as a win-win win, for all, all everybody involved.

[00:11:31] Matt: You answered my next question, which was, were the employees going or staying, they’re staying at WebDev continue to work with you. How long did this take? Like where, when you and Lisa both decided to do it, from that idea, when that moment hit to, did you knock on Ryan’s door and say, Hey man, you’ll want

[00:11:48] Brad: is exactly what I did. Yep.

[00:11:50] Ryan: when, when was the first time we talked about it though, Brad? I mean, the first time we talked about it,

[00:11:53] Brad: it was a while. Well, I think a couple years it’s been an on and off conversation with site care, I think for a [00:12:00] number of years, cuz I remember having a discussion. I wanna say. Right before the pandemic, like February 20, 20 or something. And then of course, the world changed the next month and all that stuff kind of got pushed to the side, just trying to be like, okay, we need to survive as a company.

[00:12:13] We need to, help our team, obviously with everything going on in the personal side. So. , and I think there was even conversation a few years prior to that. So it’s kind of been off and on, but when, when Lisa and I really kind of, and Ernest said, this is the right call it, it moved pretty quickly, honestly.

[00:12:25] And I think both sides, sitting down with drew with Ryan were like, we don’t wanna overcomplicate this. We don’t want to have, a 50 lawyer team, like putting together a, a, a dossier of, of a legal agreement that none of us understand. Like we just, obviously there needs to be an agreement.

[00:12:40] We can keep it very simple. And, and it moved pretty quickly because both sides, really were on the same page with that and wanted to make it work and, came to an agreement pretty quickly. And within really within a week or two, we had a, the, this agreement finalized and, and signed off on.

[00:12:53] So, so once we made that decision, it, it actually did move pretty quickly. And site care was the, the first and company, the only company we talked to and because we knew that would really be the best fit for, for our clients.

[00:13:04] Matt: From the customer’s perspective. Ryan when they come over to site care. Obviously whatever logins dashboards, email support is going to be different. Does pricing carry over for a certain amount of time grandfathered in?

[00:13:17] How does that roll out or is it even too early to tell.

[00:13:19] Ryan: No, we’re, I mean, we’re gonna keep, we’re gonna keep pricing the same for at least a year. And, and gonna honor that for the clients, we don’t want to, like, just, like you said, there’s, there’s a lot of different things that happen in a transition like this that can be jarring for a client. And we.

[00:13:33] Minimize as many of those things as possible. So. we’re, we’re actually lucky on the operational side as well. We use a lot of the same tools to get the work done so we can make a lot of the administrative transfer kind of behind the scenes without without really messing up clients or having them to go dig for the password that they don’t actually know and all that kind of stuff we’re able to do a lot of that pretty seamlessly, but we definitely didn’t want to, I mean, we have.

[00:14:00] From our side, we’re looking at this from, we need to regain or earn trust. That’s a huge component of, of this type of business is, earning and, gaining and earning trust with with clients. And so we’re a stranger. We know that we need to come in and Hm, earn their trust as quickly as possible.

[00:14:18] So we wanted to change as few things as possible while the transition is going on. And, and yeah, pricing is one of those things we’re just gonna leave as is for a while.

[00:14:26] Matt: . Gentlemen, I’ll leave you with an ask. If there’s anything you want folks to do to connect with you. If you’re looking to hire people, if you’re looking to acquire another services agency I’ll leave you both with an ask, Ryan, you first, if there’s anything you want people to do, say, visit, click, let ’em know.

[00:14:41] Ryan: Well, all the employees are staying at WebDev, so we’re hiring we’re we’re we’re we’re actually, we have been for quite some time, even before this acquisition, but we have we. Quite a few open roles on our website. If you go to site care.com/careers would love to see yeah. Would love to see some applications there.

[00:14:59] And [00:15:00] then I, I don’t know that I’d recommend this, but if you want to connect with me on Twitter, it’s at Ryan, Don Sullivan and kind of goofball over there. But that’s where I, I also post any of my works, my work, my work.

[00:15:12] Matt: Brad

[00:15:13] Brad: Yeah, no big loop, cough announcement or something. Ryan, I thought maybe

[00:15:16] Ryan: You thought, I just tack that onto the end.

[00:15:19] Brad: Yeah, just, just dump it out there at the end. Yeah, I mean, on the web dev side we do have a few open positions as well. If you get our website, WebDev studios.com, check those out. If you’re looking to, to work on with a, an agency and work on larger projects with some, some pretty well known clients and just doing real big WordPress stuff doing some really interesting things with WordPress at scale.

[00:15:38] Come check it out, doing all our headless stuff too. So if you’re into the headless space next JS, all that good stuff, we’re doing quite a bit of that. So, yeah. And on Twitter, I’m, I’m usually pretty active Williams B and of course, Matt and I have a, a little podcast we do together called the random show, random show.net.

[00:15:54] I think we need to get a new episode out. Cause it’s been a, it’s been a while

[00:15:56] Matt: It’s

[00:15:57] Brad: but that’s why it’s random. That’s why it’s random. You just

[00:16:00] Matt: it’s random. Gentlemen congratulations. Congratulations on both teams. I’m sure that this will be one of the acquisitions that shouldn’t cause too much WP drama. I think passing customers from one side to another. Well, respected and well known company is a good thing for all.

[00:16:15] Like you said, Hey, what’s good for all. Buy me a coffee.com/matt. Report’s a great way to support the show. Become a link squad member, $79 a year. Buy me a coffee.com/matt report. That’s it for today’s episode, you can join the newsletter@thewpminute.com slash subscribe.

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Consider Supporting The WP Minute

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That’s it for today’s episode, if you enjoyed please share it on your social media, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser. Don’t forget to share share share this episode with others and jump on the mailing list 👇

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