At its core, good business is about progress. Allow your practices or product to stagnate, and you’ll get left behind. Even the most long-running businesses learn to adapt their marketing strategies, technology, and pricing with the times. It’s how they stay relevant.
On The Map is well aware of this; they provide SEO website-building services to businesses in need of new leads. Founded in 2009, President and CEO Rick Hoskins started On The Map by cold-calling attorneys from his living room in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. He knew he had the knowledge and skills to deliver—he just needed clients to deliver to.
This is the story of how On The Map went from living room cold-calls to 600 clients and two Inc. 5000 listings for Fastest Growing Companies.
Cary Gahm and Chris Brencans with the Inc. 5000 hardware
A rough patch reveals opportunity
For three years, Rick worked with marketing company Labitat, Inc., learning SEO and internet marketing. The company’s biggest client built around 170,000 websites during Rick’s time there.
In 2008, the large client moved on, taking the bulk of Labitat’s work with them. The company folded. Rick, however, saw an opportunity to move forward. Taking what he’d learned during his time working in internet marketing, he decided it was time to start his own business: On The Map.
Ft. Lauderdale had been a major source of leads for Labitat, so Rick relocated and began cold-calling attorneys, another strong source of leads at his old job. When On The Map started in 2009, it was just Rick and a home office. Today, the company boasts over 50 employees from Florida to California, and even Europe!
As his client base grew, Rick became more aware of what he offered that others couldn’t: professionally-constructed websites.
Strong websites were the key to generating new business for his clients, and as he worked with them, he discovered that many of their sites fell short.
Often, their websites were being built by a relative or low-budget marketing company, and just weren’t high quality enough to rank high in search engines and convert views into customers.
Rick wanted to develop a team dedicated to building great websites—it would be all they did. Responsive communication was something that many business owners weren’t getting from their website builders. He decided that On The Map would be different: they would always answer their phones and emails.
With On The Map’s specialized tools, resources, and knowledge, clients would be able to stay current in an ever-changing internet landscape.
From working in the business to working on it
When Rick worked alone, it was hard to do the actual work of website building while also pitching and selling. As soon as he could afford it, he took sales off his list of responsibilities. With a sales team, he was able to focus on making the best product possible.
The benefits of a solid sales team were clear, especially with the addition of Cary Gahm. Originally a remote team member based in Michigan, Cary approached Rick with a desire to move to Florida and take a permanent position at On The Map.
(L-R) Rick Hoskins, Kaspars Milbergs, Cary Gahm, Chris Brencans
Shortly after, Cary was promoted to head of sales, and was in charge of recruiting, hiring, and training the team members. With the work of managing the sales team relegated to Cary, Rick was able to refocus his energy and redouble his efforts in other areas, like processes and development.
“You solve one problem; three new ones pop up.”
That is how Rick describes the fleeting feeling of success.
One thing he wishes he’d thought about earlier as he was building his business, was the company’s processes. If Rick had thought through these ahead of time, growth could have come more quickly. Onboarding new clients and taking them through the stages of website building proved tough without a standardized process in place, and can still be tricky if clients are slow to communicate.
On The Map’s clients have clients of their own, of course. This means they are often busy doing the same “actual work” that Rick was eager to do when he took sales off his plate.
He could relate.
Today, new processes have helped smooth this problem over and broken down tasks to reduce inefficiencies. Creating these processes fed right into ensuring a resolution for the next concern: that product quality remained high and met the demand.
Sales. Process. Product.
At first, On The Map only offered SEO website building, but as they scaled, there was more need to provide a well-rounded product.
Developing a product requires a dedicated development team, however. And when you have 30 open web projects, it’s impossible to work on all of them at the same time and maintain efficiency.
For On The Map, the solution was to create stages, a process that both helped the business and improved their product.
Often, On The Map would send things to clients and never receive a response. With a new stage-oriented tracking and communication process, working to keep clients engaged at every step turned out to be beneficial for everyone.
Staggering projects and being able to tell clients that they were in the design stage, the coding stage, or the QA stage meant that On The Map could make 30 clients happy at the same time—providing updates without straining the team.
The next logical step required a return
“Revenue is the lifeblood of the business.”
Every successful business owner knows this. For Rick, it was a reality becoming all too clear as On The Map scaled.
With so many new clients coming in, and many projects at different stages, some things began slipping through the cracks. It wasn’t in sales, or even product development. This time, Rick found himself returning to a vital revenue component: billing.
In the early stages of the business, On The Map relied on spreadsheets to track client ledgers. This isn’t unique with start-ups: when a client base is small, simple systems like this typically work just fine.
However, over time, the spreadsheets became a hindrance to growth. As On The Map scaled, there was a growing urgency for detailed reporting, streamlined billing and payment, and dunning management. In response, On The Map initially signed on with a Fusebill competitor to help ease the burden and improve business.
On The Map began using the competitor’s software, but it soon became clear that it simply wasn’t working. Lacking basic features, the platform required Rick’s team to follow up with clients manually to resolve payment issues. On The Map was missing payments; declined and expired credit cards went unchecked for months.
The problem was compounded by untimely billing, a lack of reporting, missed invoices from clients, and an overall lack of ROI (return on investment). The accounting team simply couldn’t keep up. The business’s bottom line began to suffer.
With the implementation of subscription billing platform Fusebill, that all changed. With a cohesive system that automatically emailed clients about invoices, account changes, payments, card declines, and missed payments, On The Map was able to recover revenue and time. In fact, On The Map started spending 3-4 fewer hours a week on billing and started capturing missed, late, and declined payments.
Fusebill’s agility even enabled On The Map to grow, offering structured payment plans which would have been impossible with their previous billing systems. The business now relies on Fusebill to track large projects running into tens of thousands of dollars, with real-time views into client commitments and payments.
Before Fusebill, On The Map was sending out 100 invoices a month. Now they send out 600, and credit the billing platform with recovering an average of $600,000 in annual revenue.
Once clients were paying their bills on time, On The Map had the cash flow to do a better job, manage all tasks efficiently, and hire appropriately. The business can now take on more customers without concern that they will overextend the accounting department. Without Fusebill, On The Map would likely have to incur more staffing related expenses to manage new incoming clients.
With a team that isn’t overextended, everyone can produce their best work so that On The Map can provide their best product.
"Our previous provider really lacked on the reporting aspect. When we moved over to Fusebill, it provided way more advanced reporting that really allowed us to measure our client lifecycle and our churn rate, giving us keen insight into the performance of our business." – Rick Hoskins, CEO.
Looking ahead for On The Map and their clients
On The Map is now introducing new products like paid social media and Google ads. The additions first rolled out earlier this year, and have already generated success for clients.
Social media and Google ads are especially exciting because there are clear deliverables: you can track what is accomplished with each dollar spent. It can be expensive depending on your niche, but delivers if deployed with the right expertise.
On The Map is also breaking into e-commerce and taking on specialty projects. While most of their clients are attorneys, Rick knows that growth and relevance require the ability to adapt.
Looking for a successful relationship with a results-oriented business like On The Map? Just bring an openness to learning and working together, Rick says. And, of course, a realistic budget.
A business owner who understands the value of internet leads won’t hesitate to accommodate the best services in their business plan.
On The Map is improving systems, growing, and looking ahead towards acquiring competitors. The business is efficient, has proven processes in place, and a team that’s confident and ready for more. Consolidating leadership in the field is the clear next step.
After all, at its core, a good business empowers one to reach higher.