Agency Breakout Summit/2021: Going From Project To Project To Monthly Recurring Revenue with Growth Suite

The challenge with a traditional agency model is it’s coin-operated. You build the site, and your retainer is over. You lose the ability to foster the relationship over time, which is an impediment to the continued growth of your agency. Imagine if you had insights into your client’s business that served as the key to unlocking recurring revenue? Growth Suite lets you zero in on just that.

This session focuses on the powerful features of Growth Suite, including client management, recurring and one-time billing, revenue insights, and managed WordPress hosting.

Video: Going From Project To Project To Monthly Recurring Revenue with Growth Suite

Slides the from session

In this session, SeaMonster Studios CEO Wes Buckwalter, WP Engine Product Marketing Manager Lindsey Haas, and Sales Development Manager Elena Pietro discuss:

  • Growth Suite’s unique tools for client management
  • Creating stable MRR with Growth Suite
  • Setting up and maintaining unique client portals outfitted with your agency branding

“With Growth Suite, you get everything under one roof. You get client management, automated billing and invoicing, and revenue insights, all on top of our powerful managed WordPress hosting. You can easily sell monthly maintenance packages and hosting packages, and be on your way to making monthly recurring revenue in no time.”

Lindsey Haas, Product Marketing Manager, WP Engine

Full session transcript

LINDSEY HAAS: Welcome, everyone, to the Growth Suite edition of Summit. My name is Lindsey Hass. And I’d first like to say thank you to everyone for joining us today. I’d like to introduce Elena Pietro, the Sales Development Manager, and Wes Buckwalter, CEO of SeaMonster Studios.

We’re going to walk you through how Gross Suite coaches you through going from project to project, making monthly recurring revenue. I think you’re going to love it. Let’s get started.

OK. We’re going to start with an overview of Growth Suite, then I’m going to hand it over to Elena to do a Growth Suite demo, if you will. And last, you were here from SeaMonster Studios, one of our amazing Growth Suite customers.

All right. Let’s dive right into an overview of Growth Suite.

So, growing agencies often face a dilemma as they begin taking on new business. There can be a lot of distractions and pain points to overcome, including revenue tracking, that can be a headache. Billing and invoicing is a lot to manage. Putting your clients first is hard when you’re bogged down with inconsistent workflows.

You want to grow, but being data-informed is not as easy as it may sound, and different apps and software can become a lot to manage.

This is where Growth Suite comes in. This product is the all-in-one solution to help you grow your agency more quickly and predictably.

So, with Growth Suite, you get everything under one roof. You get client management, automated billing and invoicing, and revenue insights, all on top of our powerful managed WordPress hosting. You can easily sell monthly maintenance packages and hosting packages, and be on your way to making monthly recurring revenue in no time.

And the best part is, it’s all delivered under your own brand. So you look professional every step of the way.

Our Growth Suite customers say it best. Timothy here from Thunderlight Media talks about how, prior to Growth Suite, he didn’t know what his monthly income was. And by using Growth Suite, he’s now tracking his overall ROI and most importantly, making data-informed decisions.

Now I want to walk you all through a customer success story around how Growth Suite unlocked monthly recurring revenue for them.

Jason Call from Handyman Web Design saw 67% growth over the past six months by leveraging Growth Suite. Around six months ago, Jason realized he should start providing more value to his clients than just hosting, and that’s where he began to expand his hosting packages with services.

Growth Suite allowed him to build for whatever he wanted, and update his client subscriptions. So to solidify their service offering, rather than being ad hoc and working project a project. And that’s where they took off and began to see that revenue line and their dashboard continue to go up.

I’m going to pass it over to Elena Pietro now to walk you through the Growth Suite platform.

ELENA PIETRO: Thank you, Lindsey. Let’s dive in. Meet Growth Suite. It takes the hassle out of client billing and invoicing with a streamlined workflow that cuts down significantly on your tedious and repetitive monthly tasks, so that you can focus on what matters most, your clients and your growth. Create recurring subscriptions for true Set It and Forget It billing, build recurring revenue, and plan for the future.

In this video, I’ll show you a quick overview of Growth Suite, and how you can use it to consolidate your workflow and manage your revenue insights all from the same dashboard.

It all begins with setting up your organization. This is where information about your company lives. You can choose your default billing currency that makes the most sense for you and your team to review revenue data. You can also set up your agency’s branding, including your own unique logo and colors.

The best part. From your client’s perspective, they’re dealing 100% with your brand, including the domain that they see in their client portal. They won’t even know that there’s a thing called Growth Suite or Flywheel that’s helping you out. This is all you.

The final bit of setting up your organization, and maybe the most important part, is connecting to your Stripe account. This is how you’ll receive credit card payments from your clients.

Organizations also make it easy to manage your team, getting access to all of your sites with just a click. It’s so easy. There’s also an Activity board, so that you can see at a glance what actions you and your team members have already taken.

If you need a little help getting your organization set up, no worries. Our onboarding specialists can help you get up and running, including that Stripe integration that I mentioned earlier.

Once that’s taken care of, it’s time to set up your services. A service is any work you offer for your clients, like webdesign, hosting, or writing SEO. It can actually be any service, as you can charge anyone for anything with Growth Suite.

You’ll see here, a few services are set up already. But let’s create a new one together so you can see the process.

We start by giving it a name, Site Care Plan. And then you have the option of selecting if it’s a one time service or a recurring service. Next, you’ll want to specify which currencies you’ll build a service in. So, those working with international clients, you have the ability to offer the same service to clients around the globe and have the appropriate currency show on their invoices. It even auto calculates for you. I’ll show you where that comes into play later.

Once we’ve done this basic set up, we can configure service tiers. This is where you can set your pricing. You can have just one single tier if you wish, but it’s nice to have options to offer your clients. You can maximize your offerings while still maintaining consistent pricing.

For my site maintenance, I’ll offer two tiers, Basic and Deluxe. Now to set my pricing. Let’s say I want to charge $40 a month. I type that in, and this auto calculates the price for the currencies I selected earlier, and it shows how much that translates to per billing period.

For more complex customer needs, you can set additional tiers. We’ll add our second tier, Deluxe, here. You add a description. You add your price point. And it’s as easy as that.

The final step is to make sure that everything looks good, and you can then confirm the service. You also have the option to edit that service at any time as your offerings evolve.

Now let’s review client management. Once you add a client, you can create a subscription and bill them for your brilliant services.

Let’s take a look at one of my a-list clients here. This is a super streamlined way to manage our clients and see what services they set up, their billing history, and any other details that I need to know for them specifically.

There’s a few things on this page I want to point out. First, there’s the section for client notes. If you have multiple team members working with the same client, it’s a great way to exchange information. For instance, maybe Julie contacted this client on February 1 to speak about a possible website redesign in Q3. Julie can then jot that down, ensuring that all other organization members are on the same page as well.

Growth Suite is built to have your clients enter their own credit card information, allowing you to avoid that tedious task. However, should you need to, then you can update payment information for them. Either way, it’s a safe and secure way to store your client’s billing info.

Lastly, I want to highlight the Sites section here. If you’re managing a site for your client on Flywheel, you can connect that site to your client account so that you can easily see which site belongs to them. Managing multiple sites for a client? No problem. You can attach as many sites as you’d like to a client.

You may be wondering, what if my client isn’t hosted on Flywheel? Again, no problem. Growth Suite’s adaptable, so it lets you manage all of your clients, whether they use Flywheel or not.

Now, let’s say that you’ve sold a site care plan to this client here, and you want to send them an invoice. This is where you would take care of that. All you need to do is scroll down. Click on that Create Subscription link. Make sure that you’ve selected the right client. And if there are any sites attached to this client, this is where you would add them to that invoice. In this case, I’ll just click No, so that we can move on to the next step.

Now let’s set up billing frequency. We’ll say this is going to be a monthly recurring service. And this client is located in Canada so we’ll use Canadian currency for this invoice. We’re then taken to the invoicing details. And this is where it gets really fun.

Remember the service that we created earlier? Well, we created it once, and we can use it again, and again, and again, for as many clients as we want. No need to copy and paste from old invoices or recreate from scratch. So easy.

Simply select the service you want to build for. And in this case, it’s the Site Care Plan. And then which tier this client is purchasing. If the client uses multiple services, no worries. You can add that to the same invoice as another line item. In this case, let’s just add hosting for this client as well so you can see what that looks like.

We’ll give our invoice the name, write a thank you note. And we even have the option of adding a discount, if you want. For instance, you can give a 50% off discount for the first month’s service and apply that for the first billing cycle.

We’ll give our client discount a name and add it. And as you’d expect, everything is precalculated accordingly. You also can add any applicable taxes. And once that’s complete, we’ll send it to the client. And voila. Never again to create that same invoice again. Set it and forget it.

Growth Suite will automatically generate the invoice each billing cycle, and even send reminder emails to the clients if they miss their payment date. And if you get a really past due account, you can always put their site in privacy mode, essentially taking it offline until they settle their accounts. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. And with our automated reminders, on-time payments are usual.

One of the biggest benefits and coolest features of Growth Suite is your organization dashboard. Growth Suite is all about showing you the metrics that matter so that you can make data informed decisions that benefit your business and help you grow.

This is your agency’s overview, and there’s some great things to look at here. For starters, the count for sites and clients. Remember that you can bill clients for anything on Flywheel. And not just clients that are hosted on Flywheel, but the ones that you’re working with in general. So don’t expect these two numbers to match.

Check out this average revenue per client per month. This number and all revenue numbers are automatically generated based on billing activity.

Now, what if we wanted to drive up our monthly revenue? Well, we can make a plan to acquire new clients, or look at how we can add value to our existing client base. Maybe a combination of both. But either way, this is a metric you can use to track your growth over time, as well as help you plan service add-ons or marketing efforts to attract new customers.

Next, there’s this Monthly recurring revenue chart. MRR is the mother of all financial metrics. So while you can certainly turn a profit for one-time services, offering recurring subscriptions to your clients, gets you a consistent and predictable monthly income.

Not only that, but MRR is a wonderful metric to help you understand the health of your company, set goals for the future, and determine how you’ll reach these goals. You’ll see here, earned over projected revenue.

You can also get total revenue at a glance, which gives you insight into how your business is tracking against your goals. Are you behind on your quarterly revenue projections? Nip it in the bud early and figure out how you can recoup that revenue and get back on track.

Are you making more than you’re projecting? Awesome. Celebrate that win and figure out which actions you and your team have taken to drive that revenue up so that you can repeat your successes.

Your dashboard also allows you to take quick actions. Things like setting up a new site, adding a client, or creating an invoice, are as easy as just one click. And you find it right here on your dashboard.

You also get data about payments. What’s upcoming, what’s been received, what’s in process, and what’s not paid. No one wants to spend their valuable time and energy tracking down their clients for payment. A huge perk about Growth Suite is that it automatically sends out reminder emails on open invoices so that you and your team don’t have to.

Now that we’ve toured Growth Suite, you may be wondering what it’s like for your client, and what they see on their end when they interact with the service. Let’s take a few minutes to review what they see.

When we think about what it felt like to create that client in the beginning, you’re adding some very basic info, including their email addresses, which you’ve completed for the first time, and your client will not receive any email notification. That’s perfect. Because at that time, there’s really nothing for them to do.

Now, when you want to create an invoice, at that point, when you do that, it triggers an email and lets your client know so that they can settle up their account. Let’s check out what that looks like from their end.

The process starts with an email that comes directly from the email address associated with your organization, not Flywheel. You can also see the custom color and logo here. Nothing on there indicates that you’re working with Flywheel or Growth Suite. And that’s because the bill is coming from you, not us. From you and your business, directly to your client.

Now, when a client clicks through this email, they’re taken to a branded page where they can create their own profile. They can see what services they’re getting, enter their credit card information. And once they make that payment, that credit card is kept on file. The phone number is never displayed, and it’s stored securely on Stripe.

From this dashboard, clients can view active invoices, their billing history, and update their profile information or card at any time. And the Support button here, it’s a link directly to your organization’s email address. So your client knows where they need to go if they need help, and it’s easily accessible by one click.

So, there you have it. Now you’ve met Growth Suite, and seen how you can use it to manage clients and billing, create flexible services, as well as gain revenue insights focused on helping you grow your agency.

Growth Suite is evolving by the day, leverage it to evolve your business too. Want to learn more? Go to See the available plans, explore Growth Suite in more detail, and chat with a specialist to get any questions you have about Growth Suite answered.

And that’s it. What are you waiting for? Let Growth Suite be the newest addition to your team. The teammate that takes the headache out of billing and site management, to help you grow your business and generate more revenue.

Now I’ll turn it over to Wes Buckwalter with SeaMonster Studios. As the CEO and founder, and a current agency partner, Wes has direct experience with Growth Suite and its benefits.

WES BUCKWALTER: Thanks, Elena. Much appreciated. My name is Wes, I’m the owner of SeaMonster Studios. And today we’re talking about growing with Growth Suite.

First of all, we’re going to talk a little bit about who the heck is this guy, and why is he talking to us? What issues Growth Suite has solved for our agency. How my agency uses Growth Suite. The impact it’s had on us. And the experience that our clients have had with it.

So first of all, I’m the owner of SeaMonster Studios. We’re a full-service agency, a WP Engine and Flywheel partner, and we have been so for years. Mostly because they’re the best. We enjoy working with everybody in the WordPress world, especially.

But we specialize in e-commerce, headless commerce sites, and websites for people of all sizes and shapes.

So, let’s get a little bit into what Growth Suite has solved for our agency. First of all, it puts all of our clients into one bucket. We get to track our hosting clients right in one place. We used to track them in multiple pieces of software, but with Growth Suite, no longer.

We get a single manifest to host all of our clients. And so, for everybody that works with our agency, we’ve got a single place where we deal with billing, and even clients that maybe worked with us for multiple sites. We attach them to a single client record, and can associate every site that we’ve got with them right inside of Growth Suite.

We can also bill for all of our other hosting charges. And so, not only do we sell web hosting, but maybe email, other small recurring services, things like premium plugins for WordPress. Everybody knows we’ve got to make all our money back on those kind of things. If we license a theme or any other licensable objects, they get input as well.

One of the best things, something that I used to spend a lot of time on as both the financier, as well as the person who was in charge of billing our clients, is dunning is handled efficiently. So, like Elena said, when a client’s invoice goes south a little bit and we need to catch up to them to get paid, Flywheel handles that for us and that works very well.

The client also gets to manage their own payment methods, so I don’t have to chase them down for a new credit card number when a new one gets issued. And they can jump right back into the system, get their credit card updated, and keep us paid.

So, how do we use Growth Suite as an agency? Well, we decided we sort of wanted to go all-in with Growth Suite. We have every one of our clients managed within the dashboard. Every site that we host gets input here. And every client that we host with gets added to that dashboard as well.

And so, whether we’re hosting WordPress or not, it’s all built into Growth Suite. We set up a client and a billing record. It takes just a minute. We add our client, we attach a subscription or a hosting plan. We attach any of our other recurring charges. We fire it out with a super sweet-looking email. And then the best part, we get paid.

And so, what impact has Growth Suite had on our agency? Well, this is the best statistic we’ve got. We’ve improved our cash flow by half a month. One of the most important things to us when we were initially hosting with clients, was chasing them down to pay for their hosting plan. We used to send them invoices. We would wait. They’d get around to it. And eventually, we would get paid.

And so, with Growth Suite, with adding it in, billing the client the moment we fire up hosting, we’ve improved our wait time by 19 days, thus improving my cash flow. Or improved it by 17 days.

And so, we used to get paid at 19 days, and now we get paid within two days. This is an important statistic for any small business, and especially for us. Because a half a month means an extra employee, or it means an extra handful of services that we can offer for our clients.

Of course, getting paid is always the best.

So, our best stat is that we’ve improved 100% of our hosting plan usage since we started with Growth Suite. But we’ve only had to put 5% extra effort into managing our system, managing our clients, managing just about everything along the way with it.

Like I said, including those extra services has allowed us to reduce effort going into other systems that were previously managed billing as well.

And so that leads us to what has Growth Suite solved for us. I talked a little bit about that as well. Reducing the number of services and systems that we have to use to manage our clients in billing. But let’s take a quick look.

Well, first of all, we’re now web hosting pros. We have a branded hosting and billing portal that makes us look a lot more like what we know what we’re doing. Our client retention and payment speed have increased. The add-on services that we’ve used and other recurring value has been fully realized. We’ve increased our monthly recurring revenue by a dramatic amount.

The management of our premium hosting licenses, whether that’s a WordPress plugin or a WordPress theme. And billing is a little bit more transparent and easily measured from my end, as well as our client’s end. They have full transparency into what they’re being billed for and can look it up any time they want.

Growth Suite also lets us just focus on our clients and measure their value with simple metrics. I can look up, as the business owner, or my managers can look up how much has a client spent with us and what have they been worth to us over time. All really important things when judging the type of service that we give to a client, whether we decide we need to try to increase their revenue by upselling them other services and things like that.

We can also look into the types of billing that we’ve done with clients and see if we can switch clients from monthly to annual billing or from annual monthly billing. And make suggestions that present more value to our clients when it comes to the way that we build them.

It also has reduced our time spent on setup and management of billing. And as we all know, owners of agencies and small businesses, time is a premium. We need as much time as possible in order to do what we do every day. And frankly, if we can spend less time managing our clients and billing associated with those clients, then we have more time to do what we love, which is coding, building websites, deploying websites, and helping our clients realize value.

So, when it comes to Growth Suite, I think I can say a couple of things that are really important to us.

Thank you to everybody that’s attended the Summit today. Thank you to Elena for the awesome demo, and showing us the true value of the product. Thanks to us for sharing our story. And now back to Lindsey for some closing comments.

LINDSEY HAAS: Thank you so much, Wes. I have a few closing remarks for Growth Suite today. First, I want to say a big thank you to everyone that joined us, and another big thank you to Elena for the awesome demo and showing the true value of the product.

And last, thank you so much to Wes and the SeaMonster Studios team for sharing your Growth Suite story and how Growth Suite has impacted your agency.

But before we part ways, I do want to call out that Growth Suite will continue to grow. We have a lot of exciting features coming soon. And I’d love to tell you about a couple of them.

First, we have Client Reports. This feature will give you the ability to create and schedule client reports, and those PDF will be accessible right in the client portal. So, these reports will include things like hosting stats, Google Analytics, and a custom message from you, the agency.

The second feature coming soon is bulk site management, which will allow you to get important information you need about your site in a single place. So you no longer have to go into each site individually to make business decisions about your sites.

So, are you all ready to learn more about how Growth Suite can grow your agency? Great. Head on over to our website. Thank you so much, everyone.

Get started.

Build faster, protect your brand, and grow your business with a WordPress platform built to power remarkable online experiences.