[00:00:00] Corey: Today I'm joined by Michael Schumacher. Welcome Michael. Hi Corey. Super excited to have you here on the show today. Would you mind just sharing a little bit about who you are and the work you do for the audience?
[00:00:30] Michael: Sure. So, um, yeah, my name's Michael Schumacher. I own an agency in the UK called HMDG.
We are a specialist marketing healthcare agency. all the standard stuff that, you know, everyone knows about, whether it's Google ads, Facebook marketing, social media, um, website design, so on. And, uh, yeah, we, we specialize specifically within the healthcare sector.
[00:00:51] Corey: So we'll dig into that for sure. But for context, for the listeners, what could you share about the, size of the agency, the number of clients, revenue, whatever you're comfortable
[00:01:00] Michael: sharing.
Sure. So we've now been running for just over three years, almost three and a half years. We have more than 500 clients, active clients. I think it's actually closer to 800, for various different things that we do. and revenue over 2 million. Pounds per year, running up to, uh, I guess that's about two and a half million dollars or so.
and in terms of, uh, the size of the agency itself, in terms of staff, it's actually relatively small. We very, very lean. Uh, we've got 13 full-time employees now.
[00:01:32] Corey: Okay. Wow, that's really impressive. 800 clients in three years, $2 million, or sorry, 2 million pounds, excuse me. And, uh, 13 employees. That's fantastic.
Michael, what is the origin story for H M D G and what's the story with the name?
[00:01:50] Michael: So first of all, H M D G. The name, actually stands for Hannah Michael David Group. Um, we're the three founders, of the company officially to the public, general public.
It's healthcare, marketing, digital group. But, uh, we wanted to do a little o to the owners, and we didn't actually. We couldn't come up with a better name. So we, we decided with mdg and I thought, well, for SEO it would be pretty good, cuz you know, you'll find it pretty easily. in terms of the, you know, how we, how we came up with the idea, it's quite unique.
Um, I was running another agency and I was, it was su relatively successful from a revenue standpoint, but I just didn't know what I was doing. Um, like people, most people who get into building an agency the first time around, you make all the mistakes, you just get everything wrong. Cash flow was all over the place and I thought, this agency business stuff isn't for me.
So we shut the company down, um, sent it into liquidation and I was sort of sat there thinking, well, do I go back to consulting? Do I go back to working for another company? And exactly at that time, I met my girlfriend. And she was a physical therapist who owned a business, quite close to me. And I thought, how do I impress this girl?
And I thought, well, my marketing skills are pretty good. I'm gonna market her business. And it worked incredibly well. Uh, we're still together, so it definitely did work. And, uh, about six months later, we decided to. Start up a company helping physical therapists marketing their business. Because generally we found that, especially in the uk they really, you know, they're incredibly well-meaning, but they just don't have the commercial marketing skills, and there wasn't another major company doing the, job that we are doing.
There's a lot of. You know, the, the kinds of agencies that just charge you lots of money and don't really get your results and don't understand the business. And so yeah, we, set up the company, um, this was now about three and a half years ago. And, it's just, it's blown up and I think, You know, purpose of the podcast really is, is to talk about the fact that we specialized in this one vertical.
And that's exactly why. And fortunately, I'd learned all the lessons of how not to run a business with my first agency, and kind of use those lessons to run this agency a little bit better. So
[00:03:55] Corey: what would you say based on that? Super interesting. What would, what would be just a couple of the things that you did differently this second time
[00:04:02] Michael: around.
The first thing was the pricing model. I realized that charging high amounts of money meant that you just had churn left, right, and center. You know, you get 10 companies on spending lots and lots and lots of money, and you know, two of them go and suddenly you've got a massive hole in your cash flow. And so I was thinking to myself, how do we fix that?
And it, it just occurred to me, let's go for what I call the Netflix model. Let's make something so cheap that is, Beneficial. And you just think to yourself, why would I ever cancel this for my business? So when we first started, we were charging maybe a couple of hundred dollars a month for all of our services, for everything literally across the board.
And we were getting results. You know, we, we knew what we were doing and, um, and why would anyone cancel? So our churn was incredibly low, and that made a massive difference to us. And, and I'd say the other thing is that expectations were much, much lower. If you're gonna charge someone $3,000 a day, those expectations are incredibly high, and that means a lot more work than you ordinarily, do.
A lot of the time actually, you do the work, not because it helps the client necessarily or helps the campaign. You do it because you have to, because you're charging so much money. and so that Netflix model made a lot of sense and it also tied in well with this market because. Most of the, the businesses over here, they're not generating millions of pounds.
They're, they're very small businesses. They're generating half a million, you know, half a million dollars, maybe a million dollars for the incredibly successful ones. So they certainly can't afford $20,000, retainers and, and so on. So what we, what we did was with the lower fee, it meant that it just worked for their businesses.
And, it certainly allowed us to grow incredibly quickly. people were willing to pay that kind of money, and particularly as well, and I think this is, and maybe we'll get into this a bit. It was so important that Hannah was a physical therapist. Because it meant that we were able to speak their language.
It's all well and good. Me coming in saying, oh, I'm this incredible marketing person. I've got all this experience, like I've worked with all these giant budgets, but there's nothing more important than having someone that says, I get your business. I have one just the same. And this is how I improve mine.
I know your pain and I feel your pain points.
[00:06:09] Corey: Beautiful. All of that is super interesting. I want to dig in, uh, but first before I do with regard, you mentioned pricing have a lower price point, resulted in reasonable expectations, allowed you to do the work that mattered effectively and, reduced churn.
do you sell like specific fixed packages, kind of like a productized service or is it more of a custom approach or somewhere in
[00:06:29] Michael: between? Um, I think for, for us, it's definitely a customer approach. Mm-hmm. Um, we obviously have a, a group of things to choose from, but some people simply don't need, you know, a vast array of services.
And I've always believed, from day dot when I was selling back in, in the, the late nineties that you sell something that people need. And so for us, if someone needs something, we'll sell it. If they don't, we certainly don't. and I, and I think actually From an ethical standpoint and from a trust and credibility standpoint, people love that.
The amount of times that we have customers saying, oh, I, I really must do Facebook marketing, so. No, you don't need to do Facebook marketing. This isn't the industry for that tool. so they, they, they love the fact that we say no. And sometimes they'll say, we want to do X, Y, Z, and we say, no, this isn't the, the best thing for you.
Don't waste your money So in terms of pricing, it's, it's very custom, but the majority clinics, they're very, very similar. Um, and now we work with, by the way, it's not just physical therapists work with chiropractors, osteopaths, orthopedic surgeons, because we've grown to the size that we have. We'll work with private hospitals and, you know, it's, it's not just the, the sort of small physical therapists anymore, but the same really applies.
Most of 'em have very bad websites. They, don't understand the notion of branding. They believe branding is a logo and a color, and it's not. it's about how the customer feels about you. It's about what is it that you are doing for that patient? How are you comforting them? Cuz they're all in pain, whether it's an acute problem or a chronic problem.
They're scared. They're worried. How are you working with 'em on that, you know, what, what are you presenting to them? most clinics when we start working with 'em, they don't even have pictures of themselves on the website. You know, really basic stuff. And so, A lot of the time, yes, it's a new website.
a lot of the time they've never even thought about visibility on Google. they may have thrown it together a quick Google my business, but it's not ranking anywhere. They've never thought about citations. So we'll work with them on, on visibility. I, I, you know, I, I truly believe that this kind of localized marketing is incredibly simple.
People love making it complex. People love talking about retargeting and doing these kind of crazy funnels. It's not that difficult if you're in the top three of Google. For the terms that people are gonna be searching for. You have great messaging. Um, you have a, a great brand and again, brand not logo.
Um, you have a great brand. Why would anyone go anywhere else? Um, so I, I I, I don't think it's that complex. So our pricing, it has actually gone up since we started. Um, it, it's had to just because it's, you know, we, we couldn't continue operating at $5 margins, um, per client. But, um, most clients now are, are, are paying us somewhere around the 500, $600 mark or pound mark.
Um, so it's still relatively low
[00:09:04] Corey: back three, three and a half years ago when, uh, when you guys were starting it, when did Hannah shift from being a physical therapist into being an agency owner? What did that look like? Yeah, it
[00:09:16] Michael: was, it was interesting. It, it, she actually had another job as well working for another company, using her physical therapist skills on a technological shockwave.
I won't go into it, but she was working with a quite a large company doing that. And I realized from my initial agency we had to stay lean. We couldn't just start splashing money and hiring loads of people. So we tried to do everything as slowly, um, as possible. And so she was working evenings, she was working weekends.
and, I was working, you know, 20 hour days. People say that, but I genuinely mean I was sleeping maybe four hours a night if I was lucky. And so we kept everything lean. once we had got to a revenue point where we said, okay, we can now afford. To pay your salary that you were earning, that's when she moved across.
Um, in terms of her role, it's very interesting how we work together, but in terms of her role, it was very much about. organizational stuff, cause my organization is terrible. She had to remind me, I have this podcast, um, organization, I'm awful. she keeps everything sort of running nicely and ticking over.
and in some ways we're not your typical agency owners. We don't run a, an agency in that way where we are at the top and everyone else is down here. it's not, we don't have that kind of hierarchical structure, but it was definitely interesting. working with your girlfriend full-time whilst living together and working from home.
I mean, it's been brilliant, I have to say, and, and the pandemic, by the way, and the pandemic, and we, you know, we, that was another reason for our growth, I think, actually.
[00:10:44] Corey: Yeah. Say more about that. What, what about the pandemic and the timing of all that? Do you think
[00:10:48] Michael: impact? Yeah. So it came around at a time where we had a thing called furlough in the UK where companies were paying employees not to work essentially, and so they were allowed to do work on the side.
So Hannah was actually still being paid by the other company while being allowed to do extra work on hm, dg Most of the, clinics that had closed down during that time, they were looking to stay busy. And what better way. To stay busy than to look at their digital marketing to think about, okay, once we open up again, are we in the best position to, you know, get back to what we were doing and, and grow and et cetera, et cetera.
So we had a lot of clients coming along saying, well, listen, we need to do something different. This is a, a really great opportunity for us to, to rethink our business. Um, so it, it definitely helps us in that way. But beyond that, Working 20 hour days when no one else is around, it's not a problem. Um, you can do anything anyway.
And I, I truly believe that, you know, we were working incredibly hard before the pandemic, but there's only so long we would've been able to keep that up if holidays were on the table and everything else was on the table. Sure. Um, so it certainly allowed us a, a good year and a half of. Of doing nothing but thinking about work.
I mean, we, we sometimes joke about it, but I'm not sure we, I, I'm not sure I left the house in a year. Um, it was, it was absolutely crazy. That's beautiful.
[00:12:06] Corey: Very, very high level of dedication and commitment to making this work. Mm-hmm. Clearly with the, uh, the fast growth over the three years, between 500 and 800 clients, it seems to me that you probably solved, a problem for the market that you serve that was not being solved elsewhere.
It was like sort of a pent up demand. And what, what would be that problem that you solved that wasn't being solved elsewhere?
[00:12:29] Michael: I think in this market, a lot of the marketing and to this day still is very ClickFunnel based, very Russell Brunson, you know, poor quality. And we came in and we, we had two things, and I go back to the knowledge of the market and understanding the problems of the clinic owner, but also we were an ethical company that didn't do stupid shit.
we valued our customers and we had a customer lot long ago say, you must feel really strange having all this control over all these hundreds and hundreds of businesses. And honestly, we have, we feel this incredible responsibility because these are not million dollar businesses.
They're, they're small businesses where $5,000 can make a difference to them. And that matters to us. It genuinely, genuinely does. And I think our clients understand that. They, they know. That they matter. They know that we will go all out for them. Um, and yeah, just little things. I, I remember we, we made this one mistake with a client where we overspent their budget by $200 in a month, and I was horrified.
I was like, oh my God. So I called them, I was like, I'm so sorry. We've overspent by 200. And they said, did it work? And I said, well, it did actually. We, we got a lot more patience through. And they said, well, okay, fine, but thank you for telling me. Mm-hmm. Yet how many agencies go out there and are genuinely honest and say, we made a mistake.
And I say that to my team all the time, be honest, cuz most marketers, at least in this sector, were not, be honest, be credible, be ethical, and care about their business as much as they do. Now, that's always a very difficult thing to do, but we try. Mm-hmm. And I think that was the main thing. It was providing a, a quality, quality product.
Understanding their business and the market and caring. I think it, it probably applies to every, every sector actually. Mm-hmm. Um, I don't think this is in any way unique.
[00:14:17] Corey: I love it. I'm gonna circle back to some of that stuff here in a minute, but, How important is it? You mentioned, you know, Hannah, with her background as a physical therapist or a physio, is that what we call it in the uk?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. uh, how important was that? You mentioned it was, it was important, but like, why was that important to having that specific background in your ability to, to grow and scale the business? It
[00:14:37] Michael: was, it was crucial. Um, I don't think we would've done it without her actually. or at least without someone with that knowledge.
And, and just from, from basic things, I. Like understanding the lingo, understanding what people are treating. So, you know, I always say this to our clients now, they say, oh, there's this marketing agency. And, and you know, they, they come to us and they're thinking about someone else. And I said, okay, well ask them the difference between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist.
And they can't answer that basic question. Ask them about, T M J and, uh, what kind of search volumes there are for t mj. Well, they don't know. They don't even know what TMJ is. So for us, being able to speak the lingo, understand the kind of patients. So for example, let's say someone is really looking, um, at sports, uh, they have a sports science focus, let's say.
Mm-hmm. Well, we know we're gonna be looking at, Achilles acls, Achilles tendinopathies, tennis elbow, rotator cuff injuries on the weightlifting side. So having this knowledge means straight away. Okay. We understand what you are doing. We now know the kinds of patients you need. We don't have to sit there and do six months of research trying to understand the industry and understand the topics.
so it was absolutely crucial and, and, and I think in terms of just simple credibility, as soon as we say I. This is who we are. And, and incidentally, it's not just Hannah. We've continued to hire, physical therapists within specific roles in the business that, that we don't need mega technical skills for.
and you know, one of our employees, mark, he's a, physio. He's been around the block, like people know him through lots of things. He's done, digitally as well. And now he's running our website projects and people just respect him when he says, this isn't a good idea, but I think you should do this.
They just listen. And so you get the, you know, it's, it's a huge credibility, um, point. And, and it also just in terms of, um, The, the quality of results, it improves them because you, you, again, you know what you are, what you are doing, um, you know what you're talking about. And it just makes life an awful lot easier, um, to get the results that you want to be getting.
So, yeah, I, I think if I were to do this in any industry, we talked about this in before in another call, uh, if I was to do this in law, I'd get a lawyer. If I was to do this in dentistry, I'd get a dentist. I think that that will just turbocharge you.
[00:16:52] Corey: what roles would you hire a specialist in this vertical, all roles or does that matter more for certain roles and less than
[00:17:00] Michael: others?
Yeah, so I would, I would certainly hire a specialist Google Ads person. they have a certain. Knowledge that you, you can't really teach that easily. Mm-hmm. Um, I think also you need anything where you need some analytical knowledge. I'd certainly, web development, I would not hire a physical therapist to learn how to do mm-hmm.
Build websites. So there are certain roles which, um, you have to hire a marketing specialist where, you know, design and branding and, and so on. I think on the design side, you need someone that really knows what they're doing. Mm-hmm. Um, and so what we've done is we've mixed those specialist roles where people have a, a, a long line of corporate.
Knowledge having worked with some of the biggest companies in the world alongside those physical therapists. So in fact, SEO is a good example where, because a lot of our seo, strategy is content driven, we actually have an osteopath. Who, runs our SEO because he understands the, the content.
Interesting. That's super interesting. Yeah. Would um, he's actually an interesting story. He owned a clinic, uh, this couple of years ago. He owned a clinic. He came to us. He was really struggling building a clinic. We spent a year getting it into a, a place where he is like, great, I've got tons of patience.
And he calls me, he says, listen, um, I'd like to work for you. And I said, fine, let's do it. So he closed his clinic down. I think he sold his clinic. He came on board and we started training him up in, in seo. And he never looked back. So there was a, a very happy client who then decided to join us. He just said, I wanna do what you've done for me, for everybody else.
So, yeah, it was a, that was an interesting one, but I think it's, it's important that you, you don't go too far and start pushing people into jobs that they aren't really qualified for. Sure. And
[00:18:35] Corey: then on, on the other side of the coin, what are the, what are the roles that you absolutely need to have someone with a, in your case, a healthcare background?
[00:18:44] Michael: Definitely sales and account management. I think those two are, are crucial. Well, saying that I do a lot of the sales still, I don't have any, um, help background. But having done this for so long, they often think I am a physiotherapist. So it's quite funny. but certainly account management, some of the marketing stuff, so around the content side of things, I think that's really important.
And also, You have to be very careful about some of the claims you make. And so, you know, it's very easy to say cure your back problems in just two seconds. You know, with this unique system, we need to make sure that we don't fall into that trap. So we have people who are able to, you know, who have a healthcare role that say Uhuh, no, we don't do that.
This is, you know, and it's again, important for our clients so that we are knowledgeable about the industry and we don't make claims that are not provable. So I think, yeah, a lot of the account management stuff and, and the, a lot of the communication, I think is, is best language. Client facing stuff.
Yeah. Client facing
[00:19:39] Corey: stuff. In the early days, the first, uh, first couple years, how did you attract new physios or healthcare professionals?
[00:19:46] Michael: So initially we did the old LinkedIn route. It was, Hey, let's contact a few people use. interesting fact. So, uh, I put my, I have all this lovely experience and background, and then we put Hannah's face and, we reached out to people and we used, I think it was Linked Helper, you know, one of those, um, kind of automated tools.
What was interesting, I just stopped doing it after about three weeks because she was getting, So much traction, you wouldn't believe it. she was getting kind of 50, 60% connections and then 10% responses and I was getting maybe 1% connections. So I was like, okay, we'll let the pretty face do it. Um, maybe it was also, she was a physio, so I'll, I'll give it that, the combo.
Um, but initially it was just LinkedIn and kind of contacting people, saying, Hey, I'm a physical therapist, but I also do this. that was probably for the first few months and then after that we started working on trying to get a lot of referrals. And I made it my mission to connect with the most renowned people in the industry, the influences and and so on and so forth.
So that was, that was key for me to say, Hey, listen, this is what we do. We'd love to work with you. I think we did a, a fair amount of things for free. We worked with business coaches in the industry, um, did some of their stuff for free. They then said, this is amazing. I'll talk to my clients about you and and so on.
And so we just started getting that sort of organic growth. so we ran a few, campaigns. We had to keep that really low cuz again, I wanted to keep it lean. I didn't want just blow, a ton of money on it. I wanted to test the market. I wanted to see if it, if it worked, but then we did some something else.
Um, and this was at the start of Covid. I'd built some reputa, uh, some relationships with some, some people who had a big reputation in the industry, and one of them was a guy called Jack Chu. And he owned, a podcast called The Physio Massive Podcast, probably the biggest podcast in the physical therapy world.
And he was a client of ours, so we were doing a bit of marketing for him. And it got to, about a week or two before Covid. Uh, before Lockdowns Rather. And we went for a beer. And I said, you know, we talk about marketing. I said, you know, we're all gonna lock down. He said, we should do an event. And I said, that would be fantastic.
An online event. Yeah, let's make it huge. Let's get a thousand people to this event. I have the marketing skills, my company has the marketing skills, you have the content, you know, all the experts in the industry, and we'll do this brilliant event. Will I get a thousand people to it? Wonderful. 10 weeks later, we had 22,000 people.
Registered to our online event. Um, it was, that's fantastic. The most, it was the craziest thing. I, I think we've ever, we've ever done, of course about 28,000 people, I think it was, turned up on the day and crashed the whole bloody thing. And so we had to, you know, but people forgave us for being down for an hour or two, but it just turned into this huge thing and suddenly, I had, without hugely thinking about it, had turned Mdg into a much more recognizable name cuz we're in front of this thing that 22,000 of our potential audience were attending.
We had mdg all over the place, so that helped us tremendously. And from there we continued doing therapy lives. And then we, got in bed with, um, his podcast and we started getting into. Um, C P D and, and, and training and learning for therapists. And, and then the other thing that I think was super important for us was to, I always felt a little bit uneasy jumping into an industry, taking a ton of money and not giving a crap.
we, we aren't those sorts of people as, as, as people, you know, we are, we are very charitable and so on. And, and so I thought to myself, what can we do here that. Can show that we are not just here for the money, but we do care about the industry itself. Now, therapy Live was one because it was a free event.
We, we did this for free. Yes, we made money in the backend through selling content, but essentially it was a free event. But beyond that, we started making connections with people in the industry. And we started helping those people with their marketing for free. So we did a lot of free work, give a lot of consulting advice to businesses that everyone knows.
I, I'm not gonna mention any, but everyone knows them and we, we help those guys out a lot. And then at the same time, we do a lot of charitable, whether it's donations to. People in this industry. And, and you know, I, I think one of them, one of the people, I can mention this one cause it's a, it's an old friend of mine who, who lost her leg, um, she had an amputation.
She set up a business working with, kids and adults to keep them who have had amputations, keep them fit. It's called limb Power. Wonderful organization. And I thought, what better organization to support than someone who does this incredible thing? And so, you know, having. Both the ethical and the credibility, the therapy live and doing the charitable stuff and showing that we care about the industry, I think has made a, a massive difference to us.
Mm. Um, and, and I, I would definitely encourage anyone, within a vertical to care about the vertical, not just jump in and let's make some
[00:24:33] Corey: cash.
That has been a, common theme across the people I've interviewed who've shown success like you in making a big impact in a vertical. There is inherent deep care for the customer for sure.
Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent. It's not something you could fake. so just to kind of. Feed this back to you and kind of summarize a little bit. One of the things that was really influential in your growth, it sounds like, was to connect with the key influencers in the space, including Jack Chu got involved with the podcast and the, the hosting, that initial event,
How would you coach an agency owner who is just getting into a vertical to find the right influencers to get involved with, or at least to try and build a relationship with? Like, how do you find these people?
[00:26:14] Michael: Honestly, it was very easy. I just, I searched a few podcasts. I, God, I just looked around.
Actually, do you know what? I can't take credit for some of this. My girlfriend was a physical therapist, right? She, when you're working with someone in the industry, you ask them, and in fact, that's what happened. Who are the biggest names in the industry? And she said, oh, Adam Meekins and Jack Chu, and da da da.
And so that's where we went. So thinking about it, I did do a little bit of research around, their reach, but in terms of finding the people, it was her and one of our other therapists that were like, these are the guys you wanna go after. Um, my job was actually just around the reach, their reach and whether it was worth, taking time to connect with them.
[00:26:54] Corey: So now that you have over 500 clients, what are some challenges that you face in growing an agency from 10 clients to a hundred clients to to 500?
[00:27:03] Michael: Like what is Yeah. I mean, I, I think across all things we're probably closer to 900 now. It, it's, it's gone crazy. one of my biggest issues from a personal standpoint is that
I love to know who our customers are and I love to communicate with them and it's crucial for me as a control freak, to really understand their business and understand them as people. And I don't think there's a single one of our clients I can't talk to about their kids or what they do for fun or where they've been on holiday.
As you grow, it's much more difficult to do. And I used to have a system whereby every single one of our clients had my personal WhatsApp, and I didn't mind it. Um, it was great. It was really, really good. They shoot me a WhatsApp. It was, it was so interactive and there came a point where I just had to sort of say, look, I, I can't do this anymore.
Getting a hundred WhatsApps a day was not doable. You know, we had to build a. A certain structure around how people can contact me. So that, that's been a really difficult thing, both in terms of building that structure, but also the expectations of people that said, well, I used to be able to just talk to you.
We'd, we'd go out for a beer and now I can't talk to you. No, it's not that. We just obviously have to figure out how we do this more effectively. Um, so it works for both of us. So certainly those expectations. I didn't wanna damage relationships by saying, I just can't talk to you every day by WhatsApp.
Um, and going forwards now, we have, you know, we, we've set structures in place whereby, uh, we use Calendly, you know, quite intensely. Um, so I allow certain hours per day for clients to talk to me, but at the same time, Clients love to think I'm the guy that does everything. I'm the expert, I'm the, the, the big man.
And actually most of the time I get asked a question and I'm like, slacking someone else. Like, what's the answer? Right? Um, so I think we've, we've got a really nice system in place where people realize that, yes, I do care. I know everything about their business, but I'm not this, you know, mastermind that does everything.
so they start contacting other people. So we've got a, a good number of people in the business now who, who are now communicating with customers and taking some of that load from me. So,
And then of course, I, I could go on about hundreds and hundreds of problems that, that have arisen as you get more and more customers like.
We just talked about one where, uh, before we started the show where, you know, you build a thousand, um, websites and you're hosting and managing a thousand websites, you have one plugin go wrong, suddenly you've got a thousand websites go down. it's not fun. And it's a, mainstream plugin.
We're not locking around here. it's anything that, You can imagine causes you an issue. you multiply it by 50 once you get to scale. And another big one, actually this is, this is a key one, is that we get somewhere around, and I dunno the exact numbers off the top of my head, but somewhere around 50, a hundred support requests a week.
that could be changes to a website, could be changes to a campaign, it could be any, any number of things. I hate mistakes. I. I am a stickler for attention of detail. I do not want mistakes. Imagine if I said to most companies, 1% of your actions end in mistakes. Well, that's fine for most companies.
When you've got a thousand, 1500 support requests, 1% of that per week. Suddenly you've got hundreds of clients every single week with problems and with errors and keeping people happy and, What we really needed to do was help clients understand that we do care, but they are not the only person that, that we deal with.
And, that mistakes can happen now. I think we've eradicated them. Uh, we, we have, I think this year it's been like six mistakes. that we've made. And sometimes it's not even our fault. It it, you know, we'll put our hands up when it is. We certainly will, but we've really eradicated it with all sorts of, you know, systems and, you know, but we still haven't got it to zero.
but certainly, yeah, those mistakes at scale are, are, are huge. And, and then yeah, expectations as well. I want this done tomorrow. Well as do 700 other people. Um, you know, it's like it comes to Christmas time. Yeah. And 15th of December and everyone, we get a thousand requests saying, can you change your holiday opening hours?
Well, we certainly could have done back in November. Yeah. But not in the next three days. You know, it, it, it takes a lot of time. now we go above and beyond. We, we genuinely do. my team are absolutely fantastic and they will, you know, I, I could slack the team now. I'd have 10 people working.
so, you know, we do go above and beyond, but sometimes we just have to, in a very friendly manner. I say to clients, look, you, you are paying us. $200 for this particular service. We've worked 4, 5, 6 hours, now you want another five hours? Can we kind of figure out how we can make this work for both of us?
[00:31:38] Corey: do you set that expectation up upfront
[00:31:40] Michael: It's really difficult if we say a website will take 10 weeks. We get to six weeks and the client says, where's my website? Well, we said 10 weeks. Yeah. I, you know, so you can try and set expectations all you like, they'll forget, they'll want more.
I think as a, as a business owner, you can be quite authoritative about stuff and, and just say, look, stop enough. And that can work. And at the same time, if you've got staff that are very touchy-feely, they can also take, it's kind of good cop, bad cop.
But I think that setting expectations, yes, you can, but it's very, very difficult. I think it's all about good communication and picking up the phone and just talking to them, being really honest. I had a, um, a bit of a shouting match actually with one of our clients. It's very, very rare. but I was on the phone and, We were talking about, it was a business consultant that had just come into a new business and he said, look, I want all these changes.
I said, well, that's about 60 hours of changes. So what I wanna do, let's prioritize them and figure out how we can do this without you spending more money. Over a period of time, cuz a lot of the changes were also not particularly necessary in my view. Um, which is usually right. Um, when it comes to this stuff.
Um, I'm not a big fan of business consultants in, in this, in this industry anyway. so, uh, he said, well that's just ridiculous. I dunno what your. What you are doing as a company. I, I, and I said, well, no, stop. here are some numbers. We did 30 hours of extra work for this business over the last 12 months.
Secondly, we generated you and I can't remember what the number was, $15,000 from a $2,000 spend. Trust me, my friend, you need us more than 90. You. I have a waiting list of customers. Do not speak to me like that. Enough is enough. And sometimes you just have to do that. And, I think we have dropped more clients than clients have left us.
you know, things I won't tolerate a client speaking to the team in the wrong way. we had one not so long ago who said, I don't wanna talk to the women. I wanna talk to you. You are, you are the man. Goodbye. not acceptable. So I think as a business owner, you have to, it's all about great communication, but it's all about understanding that there are clients that are not important enough.
you have to drop them. You cannot, you cannot stay with clients that are. Bad for your business and it caused you too much hassle. So, and this guy ultimately said hello. I'm really, really sorry. I, I, I'm under pressure, I'm stressed. Well, that's absolutely fine. Apologies from me. I probably shouldn't have shouted back at you.
let's move on constructively. So, you know, that went, that ended quite well. But we, we have had situations where, you do all the best communication you can, but then at some point you just say, it's not worth our time. You have to let this client go. And I think business owners, I certainly find it difficult cause you got all this time and effort into making the money.
Um, and it's hard to just throw away revenue, but you, you can't look at it like that. and what I would say is it, it's much easier when it's $500 than when it's $50,000. Sure, of
[00:34:31] Corey: course. And you only have two clients. Um, yeah. So today you mentioned you, you have a, a waiting list for, for clients or how does, you know, what does sales and marketing and the, and sort of business growth look like
[00:34:43] Michael: today?
Yeah, so we are in a really lovely position where, um, in fact going back two years, I, uh, stupidly, um, decided it would be a good idea to bring on 75 clients in a single month. I think it was 74 clients in a single month. I thought this is amazing. Growth, growth, growth, growth. Oh my God, that was a mistake.
Um, everyone suffered the team, the clients, and I, I thought to myself, that's never happening again. Um, that was a terrible mistake for me. I gave a lot of refunds and there there was a lot of apologies and a lot of glasses of bottles of wine sent out to people as well. Um, And so now we have a system whereby if we get too busy, we close our intake down.
we've only been open for two or three months this year for business because we just can't handle the amount of incoming that we get. it's important that, number one, the staff are able to cope with stuff. you know, they're, again, they're an amazing team and, very lucky.
Somehow I managed to employ just the best team ever. I don't, it's like a hundred percent success rate. Well, not quite, but, but it's important for them, but also important that the clients get the, the best value work. Now we're very lucky because when you are. In a vertical in this way. You know what, you can set up a Google ads campaign in about three minutes flat.
you know what you are doing. It's not like you can take on a lot more clients than usual. But, yeah, so we'll put in place waiting lists at certain times, certain months. and I think that's important. To some extent, it's actually a great marketing, um, spiel as well because Sure.
You know, it's, it's the scarcity model where people say, well, I must have it, it must be good. The fact is it is good and it is a genuine waiting list. But, um, yeah, we, we just can't keep up with demand in, in, in terms of marketing really. We don't, we don't do a lot. every now and again, we'll, we'll switch on some, some ads.
A lot of it actually for me is around content. So we put out A lot of content that is probably not what people expect to read about marketing. It's not, it is not dry in any way. It has a lot of attitude. It calls things out. It talks about, you know, people being incredibly stupid, um, will call out, not necessarily competitors, but certainly things that they do and what we believe healthcare marketing should be about.
And as soon as people read that, we honestly, we put out one article that was about, ClickFunnels in healthcare and we got maybe 30, 30 inquiries in a single day. so a lot of it is that kind of content, kind of generated stuff. Um, but if we ever need to throw, yeah, we do run a few ads, that's what we're supposed to be, isn't it?
And marketing agency always tickles me. I get probably three to four people a day, contacting me saying We're experts in getting marketing agencies leads. That makes no sense. If you're a marketing agency, you should be able to generate your own leads, honestly. Um, but uh, yeah, so, so growth looks fantastic.
We're generating, I mean it's probably in terms of recurring revenue, anywhere upwards of sort of five, $10,000 every single month if we want to. but a lot of it is just, Self-imposed throttling.
[00:37:31] Corey: Yeah. And then what does the future look like for, for your, your brand, the, the business?
Are you looking to grow to. 3000, clients or do you wanna keep it small? Like what are your, what are your thoughts going towards?
[00:37:42] Michael: It's really, I want to grow it. I think a lot of the decisions that we've been making recently have been around. I'm 46 now, and I'm starting to feel it. I've got two kids who are teenagers and, and certainly once they're.
18, 19, 20, and they're shipped off to uni. I don't want to be working full-time, kind of 20 hour days. I wanna enjoy the rest of my life. So we've kind of been thinking about how we do this and what we are trying to is just build a very self-contained company. You know, right now if uh, I and Hannah wanted to go away for three months, we can do it.
So we, we have a really nice, Team and structure whereby we don't have to be around if we don't want to, and I think over time we'll step back a bit. I also strongly believe that. When people have certain skill sets, and I think that I, my skill set is not running a company of 50 people. it just is not what I'm capable of doing.
And so we, and in fact running a team of 10, 15 people, I'm not particularly great at. So actually we hired someone to, to take that role on. So all the team stuff is done by someone else. And so for us, yes, we'll grow, I think, um, probably, for the time being in the stay in the uk, get ourselves up to 1500 clients.
See where, where the market takes us and then probably do a bit more outside in, in maybe the us maybe Australia. Um, go a bit international. But I also think it's kind of interesting. We've got this incredible pot of clients who trust us immensely. Um, as I say, I think we've lost like six clients, seven clients in three and a half years.
Um, amazing people just don't leave and a few of them ex did their business, so it's people just don't leave us. and they trust us implicitly. So. Are there other things that we could provide that are not marketing to that client base? And I've thought about, some business services, whether it's accountancy, specialist accountancy and accounting services, maybe hr.
Um, so that's maybe something we'll do. Mm-hmm. Um, it's not my specialty, at least I knew. Sure. Marketing, I didn't know. I dunno, accounting, but those are always options. But I, I think, you know, getting ourselves to five, 10 million turnover, I, I think is, is on the cards in the next Two, three years.
[00:39:44] Corey: Well, it sounds like you're on, you're well on your path there. There's a lot of motivation pushing you there. So just a couple last questions here for you. what would you say to an agency owner, your earlier, younger self, couple years ago as you were rolling off of your last agency, thinking about starting another agency?
maybe. Has experienced as a generalist, but is thinking about becoming a specialist. Like what would you advise them? What advice would you have for them as they're starting down this specialization, this verticalization,
[00:40:11] Michael: process.
Some of it we've talked about. Make sure you, you have an expert, in the field, in the business, someone that really knows the, the industry.
make sure that you are in touch with the influencers and understand, the kind of key needs of that industry. I think it's, it becomes, You have to be prepared for quite fast growth. I, I truly believe that. I think that when you have such a small, sector and, you become quite well known today, we had four, maybe five people contact us saying We wanna work with you.
that happens every day. And so you have to be prepared for that. And I think a friend of mine a few months ago said, it must be great to be an entrepreneur. Not that I know really what that is, but he said, what's it like? And I said, well, A few things. Number one, you won't have very much money. if you don't do this with your girlfriend, you probably break up with your relationship.
You will get fat, you will lose friends. Um, these, these are all things that happen, you know, when, when you start, when the customers start flying in and, you're getting a lot of takeaways and not eating particularly well, not getting yourself down to the gym. So be prepared for that. I, I would also say, but I think really important is the team more so than.
if you've got five clients or 10 big clients. The team dynamic and the team itself is, is incredibly important. You need to be able to have a team that you can really trust, particularly in this world. I mean, we have talked about it, but we are all remote. so in this world of remote working, you have to trust the team that they're doing the work.
You have to trust that they're capable of, not just. Going to bed at, you know, for the full afternoon and so on. Yeah. So I think team is, so important to me. I, I, I certainly wouldn't be able to do this without the team that we have. and beyond that, you know, we, we went to Spain last week.
We took the whole team away, worked next to a pool, had loads of fun. and that's the kind of thing that I think you, need to, to do. if you don't have that team camaraderie, then I think you're right into problems. you know, I, I think a lot of this is about, the amount of growth you get by going into a, into a specific sector and being able to deal with that growth on a personal level, being able to deal with that stress, it really isn't easy.
So be prepared for that because I, I, I have friends who have, you know, a hundred clients, which is a lot of revenue in tens of millions of revenue because of what they pay. But there's nothing like having a thousand clients. Yeah. It, it changes. It changes everything.
[00:42:25] Corey: That's beautiful. Uh, so much more there, but, um, I just have one final question for you.
What's your motivation?
[00:42:33] Michael: Motivation for what you tell me?
[00:42:37] Corey: What keeps you motivated? That's
[00:42:40] Michael: what keeps you motivated? Well, motivation for, for life, for everything has being children. I think that they're almost 12 and 15 now, and, a lot of what I do is about, Teaching them actually be a good person, whether it's in business or with friends, you will get screwed over.
The nicer you are, the more you're gonna get screwed over. But you know what, that does matter because you are going to end up in a better place, by being a nicer person. So for me, the kids are a, a massive motivation, whether it's. Making money, making sure they've got enough. When, when, uh, not too much.
I don't wanna leave 'em too much cause I don't think that's particularly healthy, but, uh, making sure that they're well cared for. and then beyond that, I, I, there was a quote many years ago I, I read and it was, um, said, smell the flowers while you can. And that's, I, I truly live for that. It's, it's so important to really appreciate what you have.
life is not that long and. Get out there and enjoy life whilst you've got it. So, um, that's my motivation. We talk just now, what's your motivation and what's, what's the plan for the future? My plan is to not work 20 hour days and enjoy my life and, and, you know, let other people run the company and get out there.
And with a short time we have, go and have some fun.
[00:43:53] Corey: That's beautiful. Where can people reach out to you if they have follow up questions or they just wanna get in touch? Sure.
[00:43:58] Michael: Michael hdg.co uk. Feel free, just drop me an email, and you can find the website HMDG uk. But, uh, yeah, go and have a look and, we actually have a new website going up tomorrow, so, uh, don't Oh, yeah.
Nice. We, we, we're website developers, we're we're marketers. We put up a website in about. Three hours, three and a half years ago it sat there. It's awful. We just haven't had a spare second to actually to do it. So we finally got a new website up, or it's going up tomorrow. And, uh, now the web team today we're saying, Christ, this has put us so far behind why did we do this?
And it's like, guys, we need a new website. Um, but yeah, go visit the website, drop me an email. More than happy to to get in. That's
[00:44:41] Corey: great. And by the time this goes live, it will be your new website will definitely be up. Wonderful. Awesome. Thank you so much for joining, Michael. It's been a real pleasure and a great conversation.
[00:44:51] Michael: Thanks Corey.