Niching Down a Web Development Agency With Johnathan Solorzano
We’ve interviewed Jonathan Solorzano from SMG on niching down his dev shop into a productized agency. Check out everything he’s learned so far below.
What niching down means for a dev shop
At first, Jonathan’s agency did everything their clients were looking for, from mobile apps to Vue/React apps. At some point he realized that it wasn’t scalable, and niched down to focus on WooCommerce & Shopify related projects. Most of their target clients have some tech experience, but they’re looking for long-term maintenance.
Focusing on WooCommerce & Shopify
Web and mobile apps can be very complex. Entrepreneurs are rarely able to scope down their vision, so projects take a lot of time to develop. They also involve a lot of back-and-forth between the client and developers.
With WooCommerce and Shopify, requirements are clearer. Those reaching out to Jonathan’s agency are looking for something specific, either getting something fixed, or having a new feature developed.
After years of work and focusing on the new niche, Jonathan refuses anything that isn’t related to WooCommerce or Shopify. However, he sends work he cannot do to a partner instead.
On simplifying the sales process
Jonathan has drastically simplified the way he sells services by converting frequently asked questions into services in SPP. During a sales call, he refers leads to those services, some of which are a pack of hours that gives them a certain amount of development time.
He highly recommends anyone running a productized agency to look back on questions clients ask repeatedly, and to convert them into a service they can buy.
Billing hourly work as a dev agency
While SPP doesn’t have an integrated time tracking solution yet, Jonathan found a workaround by using a service called Clockify. The time tracking isn’t being used to micro manage them, but to bill clients correctly. Jonathan mentions who he isn’t a fan of screen tracking, so he prefers the standard time tracking instead.
Upselling clients on a call
John has integrated SPP as part of his sales flow. He shows leads the portal as a sort of upselling method. Contrary to many other agencies, he calls his workspace a helpdesk. Some of his clients are already using SPP, so he shows them other products they might be interested in.
One thing he hasn’t been successful with yet is a commissions based model although SPP offers a handy referral management system.
Admitting to being wrong
Jonathan explains how his team always admits to being wrong, which is something unusual for the development industry. However, it shows his clients that his agency is trustworthy. This has positive effects because clients will refer their agency to friends, business partners, and others.
Why recurring services are valuable
According to Jonathan, he’s been fascinated by project based services when someone showed him his business. The reason is simply: while one-time services generate often a lot of income, they are not a good metric if you want to sell your business later on.
This is the reason Jonathan is trying to create services that have almost indefinite MRR/ARR. For instance, if clients don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting hosting, Jonathan offers it for them instead.
Adapting your needs to the software
Jonathan got tired of tedious tasks, which is how he found SPP and started using it. Instead of talking on the phone with a lead, sending a proposal, then an invoice, he now sells a block of hours. While everything has been a learning process and he had to adjust to SPP, Jonathan is now able to integrate external features (such as the aforementioned time tracking).
Separating services from your projects
John considers his agency a project based one. Once a project is done, he refers his clients to his SPP workspace (helpdesk) where he sells productized services. Not only is the process completely different, even the teams working between the platforms are not the same.