This piece is the first in a series intended to highlight in detail how partnering with The White Label Agency to outsource WordPress services has benefited our partners. For this inaugural article, I sat down for a Skype chat with Edwin van der Maas. His is an interesting case to consider — having started to work with TWLA as co-owner of the web agency 2manydots, he has recently joined our C-level team to lead the Partner Success division.
The origins of the partnership
In 2006, Dutch IT whizzes Edwin and Mike started 2manydots, a web development agency based in the Netherlands. To build websites for clients, they designed and maintained their own custom content management system and coded them using PSD to HTML. They hired in-house developers to do the coding itself.
This setup worked decently for the company for several years, but in managing their own CMS they often ran into issues with cross-browser compatibility, among other things. In addition, demand for WordPress websites specifically was substantial and growing. As a result, a couple of years ago, they decided to switch to WordPress as the CMS for their websites. This change actually created a personnel problem: their developers, who had taken ownership and pride in the company’s custom CMS, were less than thrilled about working with the most widespread, standardized CMS in the world.
“Our staff wasn’t comfortable anymore after about half a year or a year of building WordPress websites,” Edwin told me. “Having our own CMS system was their thing, their responsibility, and that brought greater excitement to them because it was more technical.” The main in-house developer at 2manydots resigned soon after.
Edwin and Mike were nevertheless confident that going over to WordPress was the right long-term business decision. Facing difficulties recruiting and retaining developers in-house, they began searching for a WordPress outsourcing partner.
The “hybrid” model of outsourcing
2manydots was looking for a very specific feature in partnering with a WordPress agency abroad.
“All we found was that you would hire a developer immediately for full-time, and that wasn’t what we were looking for,” Edwin said. “We were looking for a sort of hybrid model or flexible model where we can scale resources quickly up or down.”
They got as far as visiting a company in Macedonia before deciding that that firm wasn’t the right fit for 2manydots. Then, while Googling for other options, Edwin came across The White Label Agency, which had the exact hybrid model he was looking for — the ability to hire WordPress developers either on a project basis or full-time. He got in touch with salespeople at the company as well as Einar, who was then our CEO.
They decided to give it a shot and hired The White Label Agency to do a trial project with Victor as the developer. The remaining in-house developer at 2manydots had recently resigned but had 2 months left on the contract, so he and Victor actually worked on the same project for the trial. In the end, Victor finished quicker and Edwin and Mike liked his results better, so they decided to present his work to the client.
Following this successful beginning, 2manydots continued to send projects to TWLA. They liked that TWLA went out of its way to ensure that they could continue to work with their preferred developer, Victor, even while working on a project basis.
Stronger sales by WordPress outsourcing
In combination with the complete switchover to WordPress, the partnership with TWLA changed the sales strategy of 2manydots — and ultimately their sales results.
“It’s a flexible layer that can grow, it can scale as big as you want it to be,” Edwin said. “You feel confident with selling, especially since WordPress as a product is more standard.”
Instead of worrying about keeping sales balanced with internal development resources, 2manydots could push for every sale knowing that there were additional developers at TWLA ready to go.
Within a couple of months, the company’s project workload increased enough so that they decided to hire Victor as a full-time rental via TWLA. Engaging him full-time also meant that they could ask him to provide maintenance to their clients on an ongoing basis. With 2manydots continuing to grow, Pavel joined Victor in working with 2manydots not long after. In the fall of 2014, Edwin and Mike traveled to Odessa to meet their new remote colleagues.
After two years working with 2manydots, Victor and Pavel, who are both excellent developers, have moved on from TWLA to new opportunities. In their place, Oleg, Sergey M, Sergey Mi and Asya have taken over, ensuring continuity. At the end of this summer, they will be making the trip this time to the Netherlands to get to know the staff at the 2manydots office.
Transition from partner to TWLA sales leader
Seeing how well the partnership worked for their own web agency, Edwin became convinced that TWLA’s services would sell with other agencies in his region. At the time, TWLA was focused on the US market. Einar and Edwin made an agreement for 2manydots to sell TWLA’s services in the Benelux region. This February, Edwin transitioned to a position as a Sales Manager for TWLA’s Benelux region while still operating as the co-owner of 2manydots. Just a couple weeks ago, he was promoted to Chief Sales Officer to lead the Partner Success division.
Edwin’s past experience as a client partner makes him an ideal sales leader for TWLA. “What I learned during that time was how to do outsourcing successfully,” he said. “Not only communicating the work, but keeping your developer happy.”
There is plenty advice floating around about how to manage remote developers, but. Still, it’s hard to beat live mediation by someone who not only knows you and your developers personally but also successfully hired WordPress developers from this very company while running a WordPress web agency.
“Rentals are about giving the client the ability to manage developers, but we have to make sure they are able to do that,” Edwin explained to me. “I think I can help those people do more efficient outsourcing.” He advises partners on tools for communication and feedback, and has helped to develop metrics for them to gauge success and progress.
Edwin maintains that TWLA’s hybrid outsourcing model is still key to bringing new partners in, just as it was for 2manydots.
“Working on a project basis is like a trust-building tool,” he said. “We show that we can do it and we lower the barrier. Partners always start with a project, and they are able to do more, and eventually they can get to a rental.”
Do you want to grow your web agency like 2manydots did? Schedule a time to talk with Edwin today.
Images by 2manydots.