Dobbin Buck and Melissa Allen didn’t start GetUWired, but they’re the brains and co-owners behind it now. They both came in when there were a handful of people on the staff, and in the ensuing eight years have built it to a robust team of 37. Melissa, who started as an intern, is now CEO, and Dobbin is the VP of business development. They both talk with Infusionsoft CEO Clate Mask about working with and hiring Millennials, mentoring interns, and the cash crunch of high sales and small creating teams.

Want to read about what more entrepreneurs like Melissa and Dobbin think about success? Check out our research  report “Defining and Achieving Small Business Success.”
Check out this and other episodes at smallbusinesssuccess.com.

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027 – From Intern to CEO – Dobbin Buck and Melissa Allen Transcript

[00:00:00]

Dobbin Buck:           [Music playing] there’s this saying of don’t quit three seconds before the miracle. Well, that happens every day.

Clate Mask:             Welcome, everybody. This is Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Infusionsoft with this episode of the Small Business Success Podcast and I’m real excited today because I’ve got Dobbin Buck and Melissa Allen from GetUWired with us. Dobbin and Melissa, how you doing?

Melissa Allen:          Doing great.

Dobbin Buck:           Yeah. Wonderful. So happy to be here with you today, Clate.

Clate Mask:             Yeah. It’s great to have you. I’ve been looking forward to this for our listeners. I’ve known Dobbin and Melissa for many years and I’ve seen their growth. I’ve seen what they’ve done. It’s just been amazing. And I have to excuse Scott. Poor guy is laying flat on his back. He was playing basketball this morning and got hurt. So unfortunately – they said, “Hey, should we reschedule?” And I said, “No way. I wanna talk to Dobbin and Melissa.” So we’re gonna go ahead and just – I’ll fly solo on this one. We’ll miss Scott, but he’ll be back for the next episode and Dobbin and Melissa and I will have fun talking about their success.

[00:01:05]

So Dobbin, why don’t you give every just a little bit of – just kind of the quick high level of what is GetUWired. What’s your company?

Dobbin Buck:           Sure. GetUWired is a full service online marketing agency. We are Infusionsoft centric, meaning that 99 percent of our clients are either Infusionsoft clients or soon to be Infusion soft clients [laughs]. We provide full services, everything from strategy to website design to landing page, membership site design and development, copy writing, top of funnel traffic generation, all things Infusionsoft, Infusionsoft sales, Infusionsoft training, Infusionsoft strategy.

[00:02:00]

Clate Mask:             So when you say “full service” it’s really – you run the gamut of all sales and marketing automation and helping your clients accomplish that through Infusionsoft.

Dobbin Buck:           Right. All under one roof. We have 37 full time employees and I believe right around 15 different skill sets that it takes to accomplish our mission. So what we try to do is under one roof to be able to provide our client with all the services they would need in relation to their online marketing, which winds up, as you well know, extending into their own philosophies many times of how they run their business.

Clate Mask:             Oh, yeah. Totally. That’s the reality. When you’re automating a business you are – you’re getting into all the specifics of the way that that client runs their company. So you’ve got to have – to be full service, as you’ve described it –

[00:03:00]

you’ve got to have quite a breadth of expertise. And you guys, you do. You’ve done an amazing job of assembling talent there. By the way, this rarely do these Small Business Success Podcasts center around Infusionsoft and that’s not my intent. This isn’t intended to be a commercial. We’ll get past the pleasantries of how we work together, but and we’ll get down to really the secrets of your success. But I do just wanna say how much I appreciate what you all do and GetUWired and how you help Infusionsoft customers automate their sales and marketing and get all the benefits of the software so they grow sales and save time. So thanks for what you do. It’s been really, really fun to watch your business grow and I applaud you and congratulate you for the great things that the two of you have done in growing GetUWired.

Dobbin Buck:           Well, when you say the two of us, I hope you mean the 37 of us.

Clate Mask:             I do [laughs]. I do.

Dobbin Buck:           That’s great.

[00:04:00]

And it’s very difficult and I’ll do my best to separate Infusionsoft with our company and success, but really the growth of our company has had – has been tremendously impacted by Infusionsoft. So it’s sort of hard to separate the two stories, but I understand what you’re saying. It’s just incredible things have happened.

Clate Mask:             Cool. Thank you. Let’s – so you’ve got 37 employees today and you’re doing millions a year in revenue, but take us back to the beginning. How did the business start?

Dobbin Buck:           Sure. So originally the business started – Melissa, what year did…

Melissa Allen:          It was 2003.

Dobbin Buck:           Two thousand and three the business started and it was started in a bed room with our original founder and his wife and a designer and they were pumping out small websites.

[00:05:00]

And I remember I think in 2007 when I came in we were still doing small websites. As a matter of fact, we were doing full low cost website builds for practically what we charge per hour right now if that gives you any indication of what we were selling. And so the company progressed from 2003 to around – Melissa came in in 2008 and soon after Melissa became a part of a team and Mel, how many members were – was there like five or six of us?

Melissa Allen:          Yeah. There were five when I started.

Clate Mask:             So from 2003 to 2008 you’re building websites and there were started off with the original founder who is Lee. Is that right?

[00:06:00]

Dobbin Buck:           Yes. Absolutely. Lee Golf.

Clate Mask:             So Lee Goff originally started it. Lee’s the one that I met many years ago at Icon and we’ll get to the rest of that story ’cause that’s a pretty cool story of you are where you are now. So – but the first five years, 2003 to 2008 you’ve got a handful of employees, you’re building websites and take us through the – what were the challenges as you were trying to go through those early years?

Dobbin Buck:           Well, I’ll let Melissa elaborate on this, but where we’ve arrived today is high level systems, efficiencies and the way that we work with our clients and the way that our company is run it was like the Wild West back then. And though it may appear that we were doing the same thing over and over again, it was like confusing and we were doing the best we had with what we had and really –

[00:07:02]

                                well, I will admit we thought we were the bomb back then. Now looking in hindsight it’s a different story, but –

Clate Mask:             Hey, well I think you just captured the essence of entrepreneurship there. It’s crazy. Confusion and chaos reign supreme and yet it’s the bomb[laughs] . So happy about what we’re doing. Well _____.

Dobbin Buck:           Yeah. It’s so true, but Melissa, why don’t you share a little bit about the structure back then as far as you’ve developed a tremendous amount of efficiencies that we live by in this day and age, but it was a different story back then.

Melissa Allen:          Yeah. Whenever I came on there were five dudes working there and they were all really good at what they did. So Lee was really great at sales and Dobbin of course is the master of sales –

[00:08:00]

and we had two developers and then one designer. So what was happening is the sales team, they were closing deals left and right and it was getting passed over to design and development and literally they were just deciding what they felt like working on each day. So I come on –

Clate Mask:             So you were the rose among thorns that had to come on and make sense of everything?

Melissa Allen:          Exactly. I actually came on as an intern and Lee told me, “I’m gonna give you 30 days. Now I just want you to shadow and learn about the business and just integrate yourself into the culture and in 30 days I want you to tell me where you think you fit.” Well, I have a business degree and I was actually in my last semester of college and I knew nothing about building websites. My first day actually Lee put me on a training with a client to teach them Joomla and I had never heard of Joomla before. So I spent the hour prior to that training trying to learn so that in a small business you do what you got to do.

[00:09:00]

So I got in and I did the training, but yeah. At the end of the 30 days he asked me where I thought I fit in and I said, “Well, I really think you need a project manager. You guys are doing great on sales, but then when it gets over to the service side nothing is being fulfilled.” So I became the first project manager and Dobbin and I worked really closely back then because Dobbin has always been process oriented also. So we really worked together to try to come up with some processes that worked well for both the sales side and the service side, which can be difficult sometimes. And it really just started to blossom from there. In 2009 we started using Infusionsoft for our business and whenever we did it was really like, “Man, we can take what we’re doing here and we can do this for every person that we’re building a website for and really change their lives, automate so much of their business that they get a little bit of quality of life back.” Because when you have people who are paying $200.00 for a website it’s really their small business –

[00:10:00]

and they are struggling and they need every minute that they can get back. So we started getting into kind of not just the website and SEO realm, the marketing and website world, but then pulling in this automation piece which was the piece that we didn’t even know that we were missing. So we started really diving in and becoming good at the custom side of things, which brought a whole other set of issues that we had to work around, but yeah. It just went from there and every year we’ve grown a little bit more. We had some major growth in 2014. We went from about 15 employees up to about 32. That was a fun year. So it was a lot of, “Bring everybody we can on and then we figure out what works and then we don’t hire anymore until we make sure our foundation is solid.” So it’s been a fun rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.

Clate Mask:             Well, that’s awesome. Let me just dry out a couple of things that you said there because I think –

[00:11:00]

your observation coming into a five, six person company that was selling effectively, but really wasn’t well-organized in terms of the delivery, that’s a fairly common situation for small businesses. Now the more common scenario is that you don’t have people selling well so you’re trying to get past that two, three, four person company because sales aren’t working well. But that’s the most common scenario where sales just isn’t working well, but then once you get to a place where you’ve got five or six people a lot of times you do have either the business owner or right hand person or star sales person that is selling well. And everything seems great and the business owner can be really content, but there’s a big problem brewing and I’ve seen it again and again and again and you saw it when you came in to GetUWired as an intern.

[00:12:00]

You could see that the project management, as you described it, ’cause that’s a great description of it in your business where you’re doing website development, but it’s really in any business what you’re really talking about is the client fulfillment. It’s the actual execution of the work that we deliver for our customers and it shows up in different ways, but the scenario is common and that is the scenario you’ve described. “Okay. We’ve got sales going, but now we’ve got this problem with organization, with efficiency, with delivering effectively for your customers.” We’ve got this problem where things are slipping through the cracks and you’ve got upset clients and nightmares are coming back to roost for the business owner. And so there’s this short lived period where, “Hey, sales are good and we’re finally through the hard times and everything feels good,” and then all of a sudden you’re just getting hammered with poor delivery or poor customer service. And I’m not saying that’s exactly what you all had –

[00:13:00]

but I’ve seen the movie enough to know what it usually looks like in businesses in that stage where you get sales going, but the project management, the operations, the process is not where it needs to be and the customers suffer which ultimately means that the business owner and the business suffers. So it sounds like that’s what you got into. You saw it and you had the where with all to say, “Okay. This is where I could really add a lot of value for the company.”

Melissa Allen:          Sure.

Clate Mask:             Well, that’s cool. So for our listeners, if you’re in that scenario you need a Melissa [laughs]. You need someone. Dobbin, why don’t you explain what that looked like from your perspective when Melissa came in because I think you’ve got advantage point that would be really useful for our listeners.

Dobbin Buck:           Sure. So I’ll just be the first one to say that if there was no Melissa I would probably be selling gourmet hotdogs right now instead of marketing.

[00:14:00]

So ultimately when you have systems and efficiencies, when you’re in business development and you’re in sales you’re the initial conduit and what happens is when you don’t have a team or a leader to hand off a project to you remain the point of contact, which can be pretty tedious when other people are doing the project. You have to collect information. We talked about customer support, customer satisfaction. Well, it was all over the place back in the old days and I would be the guy that would have to iron it out because the relationship is with me. With Melissa coming in and setting up, first of all, ownership, a project manager, it’s a transition of the relationship. It doesn’t mean I no longer exist, but I’m not part of that conversation anymore. Someone that is dedicated to their success and the success of the project is taking care of them.

[00:15:02]

So it lets – it would free me up to do what I do well, which is to deeply connect with new people. And as well of course there’s so many byproducts of this so the processes run smoothly. I have something that I can share the information that I’ve gotten from the client to start the project, information I’ve gathered about them, about their project, everything and their systems in line to chronicle these, to put in to-dos, to put in systems, all of that sort of thing. But beyond that how it cycles back around is, we all know about life cycle marketing, life cycle marketing works within the company is that happy customers bring more happy customers.

Clate Mask:             That’s right. You said – what you’re really drawing out is the trust and the relationship that you had and that was my second point as I listened to Melissa –

[00:16:00]

is she said a really key record. She said, “We had rapport.” She talked about the two of you early on in 2008 you had a certain rapport and what that does is it builds trust and confidence between the two of you and I can tell you that I see this over and over in businesses, when the sales side doesn’t have trust and confidence in the fulfillment side and the fulfillment side doesn’t have trust and confidence in the sales side you end up getting a lot of finger pointing. You get all kinds of problems. The customer gets hurt in the middle of it and you end up having a mess in the business. So I just – I compliment the two of you and congratulate you really for having that rapport and then being able to build a strong foundation that enabled you to begin building the business. So before we get to the point where you went from 14 people to 42 people let’s get to that in just a second. But there was a period from 2008 until 2014 or call it 2009 to 2014 –

[00:17:00]

where you grew from, call it, 6 people to 14 people and the business was moving along there. Tell us what did you learn during that period of time? What was happening in the business and what did you learn?

Melissa Allen:          So whenever we really started to lean on project management and things transitioning from sales over to project management to do the fulfillment we realized that this was working great and we were able to – Lee and Dobbin were able to then effectively sell pretty much as much as they wanted to. We got to a point where two developers and one designer weren’t enough where as a project manager I could handle more than what they could because obviously I was doing the communications and client relationship whether they’re actually building the websites and designing them. Then we started getting into hiring and at that point the hiring process up till about 2009 –

[00:18:00]

was – we’re in a small town and you’d see somebody at the library or at the bar or where ever and you would start talking to them and you’d offer them a job, and they worked out or they didn’t. So to say the least, our hiring process was not well flushed out. So we had to learn how to start advertising for jobs. We had to learn how to sift through resumes and one of the big issues that we ran into was because we’re in a smaller town we didn’t have a huge labor pool to draw from. Now we’re about an hour north of Atlanta, Georgia. So we could pull from there, but whenever you’re a start-up you can’t afford to pay web development prices the hourly rate that most web developers are looking to get in Atlanta. So we really had to figure out where we were gonna get talent from because sales was never our issue. It really has never been an issue, which thank goodness. We’re so lucky for that.

[00:19:03]

Clate Mask:             So let me ask you this, Melissa, because first of all a bunch of listeners are saying, “Wow, I wish that weren’t my issue,” because it is for the early stage businesses. But then you get to a point, as you all know I talk about the stages of small business success all the time and you get to a point where sales is want the issue ’cause you’ve got someone that’s really handling that, but now you start to bump into the challenges of finding the talent that you need. And you’re touching on this, Melissa. So I wanted to interject for just a second because this is a question I get from entrepreneurs all the time. “How can I afford to pay for the talented people I need when my business just isn’t yet at the point where I can justify paying what I actually know these people might be able to command? So I get into this tricky situation as a business owner where I need more than I can pay for.”

[00:20:00]

And I think you have a really interesting perspective because you’re in a place where you didn’t have a very vast talent pool to draw from. So I think you have something to after to our listeners who are struggling with that challenge. “How do I afford – how do I get the talent that I need when I really can’t afford it?” So how did you do that because it really is a big challenge?

Melissa Allen:          Sure. It absolutely is. So we have a local college, University of North Georgia, which is a pretty big cornerstone of our little county. So I ended up going up to the school and speaking with the internship coordinator and I showed up one day and she wasn’t available. So I showed up the next day and so about a week later I got in to see her and I just basically begged. I just told her, “Look, we’re a small business and we’re a start-up and we’re really excited and there’s so much we can offer this community. We just need talent.”

[00:21:00]

“And it’s okay that they’re just coming out of school and they have no experience. We’ll train them up. We’ll get them in here. We’ll treat them right,” and we just started getting interns. Our first class of interns was one or two people and then the next year we got three or four. Now it’s a completely different scenario now, but now we’re pulling in ten at a time kind of thing.

Clate Mask:             Wow. So you looked for young, hungry, smart people who you could put into your culture, into your company and really grow them and develop them, give them an opportunity to prove that they could – basically to prove that they could bring value like you did a few years prior, right?

Melissa Allen:          Sure. That’s exactly it. With people that are coming out of – fresh out of school that some of them had never had jobs before you really – you have to nurture them. It’s a lot of – you have to provide the right training and you have to provide a culture that they’re excited to be a part of and that they –

[00:22:00]

feel like they’re building on to something that’s much bigger than them and that there’s a future in it and that you have to get them invested in really your purpose of the company.

Clate Mask:             So you’re saying so much here that I got to pause here. There’s so much going on in what you’re saying and there’s so much wisdom you’re bringing to the table here. You’re talking about attracting the right types of people, you’re talking about developing them, you’re talking about putting them into a culture where they fit and they’re going to contribute. And there’s so much to each one of those things, but I think there’s also a really intriguing thing here that you’re bringing up as you’re drawing on a talent pool out of a university and it brings up the millennial question. So I’m not gonna ask you because you’re a millennial. So I’m gonna ask Dobbin and here’s what I’m gonna ask him, but before I ask Dobbin about this past, I wanna illuminate it for everybody that’s listening because this is common, Melissa.

[00:23:00]

You got a business that’s either been around for a while, it’s of a certain size that’s struggling to get talent and you’re illuminating a way to get talent which is to actually go bring somebody into the company who’s young, bright, ambitious driven, give them an opportunity to grow and then give that person the opportunity to attract more talent. That’s what happened when Lee and Dobbin brought you in and then you actually became the recruiter that was bringing in a pipeline of talent. And it’s an effective path. At the same time I can hear some of our listeners saying, “I don’t know if I want all these millennials in my company.” So here’s my question, Dobbin. How did this work for you as you watched first Melissa come in and do her thing, which was obviously amazing, but then as she brought a pipeline of millennials talent in how did that work? What did you observe?

[00:24:00]

Dobbin Buck:           So a neat thing is one of our interns just hit his six year mark last week. So that was when we were in our company meeting and it was like, “How many years have we been here now?” It was like, “Six years.” And it was like, “Wow. That’s incredible.” So a lot of those original – or I shouldn’t say “a lot,” but several of those original interns from the first batch are really leading members of our culture. So they’re still around. Justin Pew, John McGreer, old school guys that have been with us from the early days.

Clate Mask:             Old school guys like in their late 20’s, right?

Dobbin Buck:           Exactly.

Clate Mask:             I love it [laughs]. I love it.

Dobbin Buck:           So it was really crazy because all these people were all of a sudden showing up originally and we didn’t have systems around. Now we have a membership site with training.

[00:25:02]

If they’re a designer, a developer, wanna be a project manager, et cetera, et cetera, we have different training channels that the companies develop to guide them through in their first 90 days and shadowing and all of this stuff. So in the early days it was really weaning it and the interesting thing was so we were getting a lot of business. All of our team members that were able to actually be billable and provide service as clients were just overloaded. So it’s like, “What do you do at this point?” Throw more people in the fire, right? So okay. Now we’ve got more people. What do we do with them? And so it was really just trial and error and getting in and putting people under people without a lot of organization early on and just once again making the best with what –

[00:26:00]

we had and that really promoted the necessity of developing a system that we would probably always be working on to improve, which is the new employee and intern onboarding process for efficiency, getting people to a point that first of all, if they wind up working within our vision and they’re keepers that we get them into a position that they can feel autonomous and successful and that they’re moving in the right direction. Because ultimately at the end of the day the quickest way to lose interest in a young person is to make them feel unvalued and underused. So it’s about getting to that point to where they’re a fully functioning member of the team, they’re providing something back to the culture, and that they can really feel involved –

[00:27:00]

and feel like Melissa attributed to, evolve in something bigger than them and something incredible in this cabin that’s going somewhere.

Clate Mask:             That’s cool. So let me take a step back and recap this. So the question for people – people have this big question out there, “How do I get the talent that I need when I can’t really afford it?” And you’ve given a blueprint here for how to do that. You’ve got an intern program with a strong development program where you give them opportunity for growth and you plug them into a culture where they’re expected to contribute and you’re giving them a lot of responsibility and it’s working really well for you. So I’m gonna ask the question to you first, Melissa, and then to you Dobbin. So what is your response to the listener who has an aversion to following this blueprint because they’re not sure they wanna bring on millennials and give them that opportunity, they’re just uncomfortable with that. What would you say to that, Melissa, and then you, Dobbin?

[00:28:00]

Melissa Allen:          I think that you really need to have a strong weed out process. So just putting an ad out at the local college and just taking anybody who comes is probably not the best way to do it. What I would suggest is that you come up with a process for hiring where you really vet their mindset because it’s not really about – for us skillset, we can teach them to do anything we need them to learn. For us it’s all about mindset. They have to be a true gamer, somebody who wants to come in and work really hard. This is a small business. It’s not gonna be a cush job where you can sit and make $100,000.00 a year and do nothing. You’re really gonna have to get in and you’re gonna have to work hard and you have to believe in our vision and you have to drink the Kool-Aid. And so I think it’s really about the vetting process, making sure you have somebody with a strong mindset that matches your company vision, and then not be scared to fire somebody when they’re not the right fit.

[00:29:00]

Clate Mask:             Yes. There you go.

Melissa Allen:          Yeah. For the first little while it was a lot of weeding through people. We didn’t have our hiring processes set up exactly like we should have and when we saw that somebody didn’t belong on the bus we weren’t scared to take them off and I think it fixed that –

Clate Mask:             Well, when they’re interns it’s kind of easier to do, right? The beauty of what you’ve – by the way, so well said, Melissa. What you just described is so spot on. I think you just nailed it. For people who a lot of times have a hard time going through that weeding out process they can take comfort in the fact that in an intern program it’s a little easier to do. It’s kind of designed to not necessarily be a long term thing unless the person really makes it. So that’s awesome. Thanks, Melissa. Dobbin, what would you say to somebody that’s got an aversion to following the blueprint that you’ve laid out?

Dobbin Buck:           Well, I would say that that person is probably more patient than us because we really had a desire to grow our company and to do incredible things –

[00:30:00]

and if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have been able to scale and we wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of opportunities that were in front of us. So I’m not here to critique someone’s comfort or whatever, but it was really a necessity for us and a lot of incredible things have come out of that. Real quickly, I tell this story to people all the time and I’ll make it super quick. There’s a gentleman who works for us, his name is Garrett Seamore. How many years has Garrett been with us, Mel?

Melissa Allen:          Almost four.

Dobbin Buck:           Almost four years. Garrett was a plumber, a young plumber mind you, and decided that he wanted to be a developer. He approached us. We did not get him out of our local college. He approached us, said, “I am willing to work late, learn, I’ll do everything I can do be a part of this. I just – this is what I really wanna do.”

[00:31:00]

So I was like, “What is up with this dude?” But low and behold he got in and every night I traditionally work pretty late. It’d be 7:00, 7:30, 8:00 and that dude would still be in there learning stuff and working. And he just like mastered all of the elements of development that we currently use and then went beyond it and he is absolutely one of the most valuable members of our team today four years later.

Clate Mask:             So awesome. Don’t you just love that? Isn’t it just amazing to see people come in and just develop and create this genius that can contribute to your business. It’s just awesome. I love hearing those stories. Congratulations.

Dobbin Buck:           It absolutely is. And one thing in answer to your question about millennials hiring and people have reluctance.

[00:32:00]

At the end of the day getting employees is a lot like getting clients. In a lot of ways there’s employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are very similar and I think one of the most important things is you need to be someone that someone wants to work for. And when you’re approaching a potential client if you’re endlessly telling them how great you are and this and that and the other thing you may lose their interest. Ultimately when you take interest in their life, when you take interest in what their passions are and their pursuits and go from there then you’re able to nurture something. And I think it says a lot for GetUWired as a culture and to the leadership team that when new people come in – and actually I attribute this culture wide because when new people come in now they aren’t really –

[00:33:00]

they used to directly integrate with Melissa or Bobby or myself or Lee, but those days have passed. So they’re connected with other members of our culture that are welcoming them in and showing them how incredible this is.

Clate Mask:             Yeah. You’re now leaders of leaders and so your responsibility is to lead the leaders in a way that the leaders are bringing folks into the culture and having that kind of productivity and contribution from front line employees.

Dobbin Buck:           Absolutely.

Clate Mask:             Well, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing. You said something in the middle of that, Dobbin, where you said if you take a young person and you don’t give them the opportunity and the ability to contribute in meaningful ways you shut them down. I think – we have a company with many millennials and I love working with millennials because you see –

[00:34:00]

you can give them opportunity. You can give them things to do. They just wanna create. They don’t wanna be in a place where they can’t contribute in meaningful ways and like you said, that’s really what it comes down to. If you just want a person that’s just gonna sit in the chair, shut up, do what you want them to do, you’re gonna run into conflict with millennials and you’re gonna find yourself dealing with folks that either don’t have a lot of ambition or really are frustrated with the way that you’re treating them. So I think what you guys have done, the blueprint that you laid out is really, really cool. It’s funny too because when I found out yesterday that we were gonna be talking on the podcast I was excited, but I didn’t know the things we’d talk about. I had no idea about this intern program that you’ve created. So it’s just – it’s fun to see where these conversations go when we jump on the podcast, but it’s really cool. Thanks for sharing that wisdom. I think that’s a really critical part, one of the key ingredients in your success formula at GetUWired. Let me ask you this –

[00:35:00]

tell me a time where things were really dark, where things were super tough and you wondered if you were gonna get through it. And then I’d love to talk about the ownership change for just a minute and how you became the owners of the business. So let’s talk first about the dark time. Tell me a little bit about that.

Melissa Allen:          Dobbin, you wanna go first?

Dobbin Buck:           [Laughs] there were some periods in our growth when you start getting a lot of employees, so when you’re getting into the 40 employee zone, 35 to 40 employee zone, as you can imagine payroll and the management of money becomes more and more complex in larger numbers. So every two weeks exceedingly large amounts of money are going out to payroll –

[00:36:00]

and if active projects and systems aren’t in line with those rhythms, if even a slight modification in the rhythms of the transfer and collection of money and so forth occurs it can be devastating. And so there was a point about – well, really it was – there was a point about – Melissa, was it two years ago, two summers ago?

Melissa Allen:          Yeah. About two years ago.

Dobbin Buck:           Two summers ago just a little bit before this time in the summer that things got really difficult. We had tons of business in. We had hours that – and projects that clients had prepaid for and everything and we were running into this money issue and it was –

[00:37:00]

                                “Hey, if you don’t – here let’s bring more money in from sales to compensate for this stuff that we’re playing catch-up with.” So –

Clate Mask:             So was the cash flow crunch that you’re describing related to hiring too fast?

Dobbin Buck:           Potentially there was some of the hiring too fast issues in there and also there was some operational things that we just hadn’t run into before. So there were things that we hadn’t built check safes against and what had happened was we had been so successful in sales, we had collected so much money, we started investing in some other directions and areas and then found ourselves sort of coming up short. There wasn’t money coming out of the company, but it was all in the balances. And so our only option was to sell more to compensate for this, but guess what? When you’re filled up –

[00:38:00]

you’re trying to answer to all those projects and then you sell a bunch just to generate money to take care of things, you’re perpetuating a problem. So there was a period and it took us – well, the initial – we’ll say the acute nature of it was probably resolved within under two months. But once again, we learned from our mistakes. We don’t wanna experience the same pain over and over again. So that’s when Melissa and the rest of us on the leadership team really got more focused on different fail safe methods of making sure that this type of bottleneck never occurred again. But it was a very dark and tedious period. Some people would have considered it a good problem to have. I would say that period there was a lot of emotion, a lot of anger –

[00:39:00]

just us trying to accomplish things. So it was a very difficult time, but we got through it as a team and anyway. So that was the darkest time for me.

Clate Mask:             Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that. Melissa, did you wanna share something?

Melissa Allen:          Yeah. So my time I think correlates exactly with yours, Dobbin, but I look at it from a little different point of view because at the time I was very involved in operations and we got to the point where, like we said, back in 2008 or so we were selling $200.00 websites. Well, as we continued to grow we started selling bigger websites and we started doing this automation and we really got to the point where we started getting known in the community as a custom development company. So we did a lot of custom development with Infusionsoft. So before, prior to this we really didn’t have to have real laid out great scope documents or anything like that.

[00:40:00]

It was very much there was a period of time where people just paid us a retainer every month and we did whatever they needed. And then there were certain clients who had websites where they would sell them and then they came to a project manager and that project manager just worked on it till it was done. So when we got to this point where we started doing much more custom work we realized that we really need to have scopes in place. We need to have a laid out plan of attack for this project so that we can get through it, the client knows what to expect, and when we get to the end we can say it’s done. So we made the decision as a company to say, “From now on every single client that comes in, they get a scope document, we spend the time up front scoping it out, we get it approved by them,” and that was a huge transition for us. Huge. So it was very, very difficult to go from just winging it and doing whatever they needed and hoping that they had a big enough budget to coming up and having a plan up front and having these scope documents.

[00:41:00]

And so rolling that out really put progress at a halt for a good month probably. And so I think that’s right around the time you’re talking about, Dobbin, where we tried to do some different things and we really needed to make sure that our processes were fine-tuned and now looking back it’s like thank goodness we made that transition cause there’s no way we could have continued to do custom work without scope documents.

Clate Mask:             Yeah. Totally. You got to a place where the complexity of the work became far greater, the budget was greater, which seems like a great thing, but it’s much, much easier to lose on those bigger deals because you’re working with a small business who doesn’t – who a lot of times you can’t quite price it the way that a big company would do. And so you can lose your shirt on one of those custom projects pretty quickly and what ends up happening, if you’re not careful, is you lose little by little on them and you get eight or ten of those in a row and now you’re in a real pinch.

[00:42:03]

Melissa Allen:          Oh, yeah. And that’s what happened. So that was pretty dark.

Clate Mask:             Yeah. That makes total sense. Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that and I’m sure if Lee were here he’d probably share some dark times in the early days when it was just him and his wife and the designers. So I understand you’re sharing some dark days as you were scaling the business, as you were actually starting to grow, hitting some – as you I think effectively pointed out, some people would love to have those challenges. But the reality is, Scott and I have shared this many times, is you go through the different stages of small business when you get to that next stage you hit a challenge. And there are always ups and downs that occur all along the path, but there are big ones that occur as you hit certain stages because systems process, sometimes people break as you hit a stage. You hit that breaking point and you have to get through all of that and then you push through and get to the next stage. I appreciate you sharing that.

[00:43:00]

It’s good to hear that. It’s also good for people to realize that it’s not all perfect once you get to a certain point. There are always new challenges to take on. But congratulations to you all. I know I’m sensitive to our time. I wanna wrap up here, but I would love to ask two more questions. One, I just wanna know what each of you consider to be the most critical ingredient in your success, so the characteristic. What is that thing that has helped you the most? So think about that. But the other thing is I wanna just understand so when you became – when you took over – when the ownership of the business changed and maybe give us and our listeners just a minute or two about what that was because I know it’s a common thing that occurs where ownership changes and you were long time employees in the business. So give us just a quit bit about that if you’re comfortable doing that and then we’ll go to what your characteristic is that you think helped you the most.

Dobbin Buck:           Sure.

[00:44:00]

I could speak to this on the transition. What had occurred is really several years ago, three or four years ago Lee started moving into more of a founder’s role. So he wasn’t an active daily part of the GetUWired business. We had actually scaled so much and we were running out of room that we had to take away his office so we’d have room for more people. So that probably helped that along a little bit, but Lee had some things that were going on that he really needed to attend to. So he really took a founder’s role and it was just sort of like a natural progression of after sort of several years of that type of involvement and with Melissa and myself gaining shares in the company –

[00:45:00]

and then Bobby Brown, our partner, our third partner, third owner in the company came in. It was just really a natural transition that was actually Lee’s idea that we figure out a way to transition him out of the company. So we all came to an agreement. Really as far as structurally or how that impacted the company, it – because he had been a founder’s role operationally and responsibility wise it didn’t have a heavy impact on us because we had already been operating with Melissa at the helm as CEO and myself running business development, Bobby Brown, who I consider to be just one of the most incredible minds and gifted developers out there.

[00:46:00]

The three of us really are completely different people, but for some reason we work extremely well together. So this whole thing just really seemed to be the, what we could call, the perfect storm and here we are today. So it continues to be a great journey and with the new ownership still the same leadership we’ve had, it just continues to grow and be better.

Clate Mask:             That’s great. Melissa, do you wanna add anything?

Melissa Allen:          No. That was eloquently spoken. That’s pretty much what happened [laughs].

Clate Mask:             Well, congratulations on doing that. I hear a sequel to this podcast because I know our listeners are like, “So what did it look like? How did you do that? How did you structure it?” All those questions and maybe down the road we can do another one because business transfer is a big issue for entrepreneurs and it’s a part of the success story for many entrepreneurs. I just – I totally thank – I thank you for just –

[00:47:00]

sharing the lessons learned, particularly your blueprint on hiring and talent acquisition and management. I think that’s just such a key part of what you’ve done and I just – I know a lot of our listeners will get a lot of that and I appreciate you sharing it. So let’s wrap up with what characteristic – let’s start with you Melissa and then you, Dobbin. What characteristic do you feel like was most critical for you and your success as you’ve grown to where you are now?

Melissa Allen:          If I had to narrow it down to one I think I would say humility because really when it comes to leading a team, especially a team of millennials, you obviously have to be driven. You have to have all the aspects of an entrepreneur, but you really need to be humble because I work in a company. I own a company that 99 percent of the people that are here are smarter than I am and that’s okay. I want them to be smarter than me.

[00:48:00]

It’s – the leadership team, we each – every other week we each take turns taking out the trash. We go around the entire building and we collect the trash because we’re not better than anybody else.

Clate Mask:             That’s great.

Melissa Allen:          And so it’s just really being humble and appreciative, appreciating the people who you have working with you because no business is complete without a great set of people and they’re really what makes the business. So yeah. I think humility would be mine.

Clate Mask:             Awesome. Thanks, Melissa. How about you, Dobbin?

Dobbin Buck:           The word “relentless” seems to be cycling through my mind. I do appreciate humility as well, but I could also attest this attribute to Melissa because a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours and just a lot of effort has been put into and I’m not taking that on myself. There’s other people that are certainly –

[00:49:00]

applying that, but it’s not giving up and just forging ahead and believing in the team and believing in the culture and you know what? If it was just me I would have never had the courage to enter into some of the areas that I’ve been honored to enter into. It’s because I’m surrounded by capable individuals that are really doing this with me and it drives me to wanna push myself to work extra hard, to enjoy what I’m doing, and be passionate about it and just really do what needs to be done. I think there’s this saying of, “Don’t quit three seconds before the miracle.” Well, that happens every day. Every moment is a potential miracle. So keep pushing yourself and that’s what I try to do, but fortunately I have slave drivers like Melissa [laughs] that help me to accomplish that.

[00:50:03]

Clate Mask:             That’s awesome. Well, that’s great. Thanks so much. Humility and relentlessness. Those are both really critical components and I can see how they’ve really contributed to your success. So thank you for sharing that. This has been a ton of fun. Melissa and Dobbin, I can’t think you enough for sharing with us. Thank you for the things that you do to help small businesses succeed. I love seeing that. I know that you know the magic of automation. So it’s always fun to talk to folks who are making that a reality for small businesses. This has been another addition of the Small Business Success Podcast, a solo version with Clate Mask because Scott Martineau is flat on his back in bed having hurt his back. But we’ll get back together again soon on the next addition and thanks again to Dobbin Buck and Melissa Allen, partners along with Bobby Brown of GetUWired. Good work on all you’re doing. Congratulations and here’s to the next stage of your success. Thanks Dobbin and Melissa.

Melissa Allen:          Thank you.

Dobbin Buck:           Thanks, Clate.

[00:51:00]

Clate Mask:             And thanks everybody for tuning into this addition of the Small Business Success Podcast. All right. Good stuff. That was fun. Super fun.

Thanks for listening and don’t forget to rate us, write a review, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. And if you’re looking for more ways to grow your business check out our knowledge center at learn.infusionsoft.com. That’s learn.infusionsoft.com [music playing].

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