We’re celebrating big-time here at Valet. It’s our fourth anniversary, and we’ve come a long way from our roots as a WordPress website support agency.
Like with any company, there have been challenges, @#$% moments, and cheers of sheer elation. But more importantly, there have been times of reflection. Reflection has given us the chance to take some of the memorable challenges at Valet and turn them into lasting wisdom for both us and our clients.
I started Valet as a former freelancer. With a client list and coffee cup in hand, I realized there were about a dozen or so folks really interested in the concept of high-quality ongoing website support, but only three or four ready-to-go all in on monthly support plans. It was time to show people that it made sense—from a financial and competitive standpoint—to be constantly improving their websites and protecting their data.
As our business grew, we asked ourselves a lot of questions. Some had to be answered to smooth out the day-to-day operations for managing clients and the Valet team, like…
What do we do when a client hands us a laundry list of website issues?
Technical debt is real, people. On top of a big wishlist of new features, most clients come to us with a massive history of architectural choices that are either outdated or never worked well in the first place. We have to account for all of that, respecting their previous work, and fixing what's needed to provide a better user experience. We also help identify the ROI on different tasks to make sure the highest-value items are put first. We’ve even recently come out with our own Valet Dashboard platform for managing all of the tasks that come with ongoing website support—helping us keep things organized.
Takeaway: Use a good project management tool and measure potential value of tasks so everyone can agree on priorities.
How do we keep things moving and show clients strong results?
We stay on track by keeping clients really involved in our agile process. Some of our clients are marketing professionals, some business owners, and some developers, but each has important metrics they’re tracking that we monitor as a way to benchmark our work. There’s also a “peace of mind” element here—even if a client goes off the grid for a month, they know we're covering the essentials, like security updates and performance issues.
Takeaway: Give clients someone they can trust and relate to who oversees the success of their site.
Then there are the philosophical questions we love to ponder...
How are we different?
There are a ton of “support & strategy” agencies out there, but we found that not many can be true strategic partners to their clients. We exist to turn the traditional ongoing website support system on its head by being proactive, being super accessible to our clients, and coming up with the best technical implementation to hit their crucial company goals.
Takeaway: Treat client projects as your own. Live chat, phone them, and share reports on all of the metrics that will make them successful in their roles.
What’s a day in the life of Valet like?
We started this company with two people, and grew to a team of 16. We had to “learn on the go” and hold ourselves accountable in communicating effectively, following through, and structuring projects the right way. Over the last four years, our team grew and made great decisions because we give each member tools to manage stress, stay focused, and be creative. Everyone at Valet gets to work remotely and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Takeaway: Intelligent, driven people don’t take advantage of work-life balance and perks. They thrive and do better work for their clients.
How do we stay sane?
Personally, coffee helps, and so does Spotify’s “Productive Morning” playlist! But overall, celebrating our clients’ successes are key—and we have ways of tracking those moments of happiness that inspire us to do it again. Transparency and open communication are everything: our entire squad knows our organization’s goals and how each person's work contributes to our success.
Takeaway: Make everyone a stakeholder in your company’s success and reward them for driving it.
Four years of hard work for our clients and big ambitions riding on our development work—and we couldn’t be happier. As we sail into the fifth year, we’re really focusing on proactively identifying and improving the key performance metrics for our monthly customers. That means giving them 100% confidence that their site is performing optimally across 5 key areas: security, speed, usability, traffic, and conversion.
If I’ve learned one thing at Valet, it’s this: Working at a company isn’t just about delivering your product, it’s about believing in your product. Thanks to a few parties that were originally interested in what we had to offer, we’ve amassed 672 clients along the way—which means we’re just getting started.