Adopting a subscription-based business model means making changes. If you own a web hosting company, you must have gone through that process yourself. Or maybe you are in the middle of the transition as we speak. By nature, subscription businesses rely on recurring revenue, so you need to continually ensure that your customers are happy and the profit margins strong.
Easier said than done? We have recently had a chat with Dennis Nind, CEO at Brixly, whose success story proves otherwise. Welcome to our first article in the series dedicated to enterprises that achieved their goal of fast growth thanks to the power of data!
Filling the gap in insufficient WHMCS reporting tools
Brixly is one of the most dynamically developing web hosting companies in the United Kingdom, offering a wide range of services from reseller and cloud hosting to servers provisioning. For a long time they have been relying on the WHMCS system as their primary business management software, but not without noticing its certain limitations. Dennis reveals:
“WHMCS is a great platform, but its weak side is reporting. Not only does it not provide that much information, but it also takes a lot of digging to get into the data because it’s not presented in any transparent form.”
As a matter of fact, the problem that Dennis pointed out is the very reason why MetricsCube came to being. To enable company owners to extract the raw data from their control panels like WHMCS and turn it into meaningful pieces of information through over 70 most insightful web hosting reports.
Among other things, the lack of proper reporting tools in WHMCS prevented Brixly from making an accurate assessment of their true performance.
“We obviously wanted to track certain metrics that show us how and at what pace we are growing. Another concern was that we needed to do it routinely. To see how our revenue changes both over the long period of time and on a month-to-month basis. And that’s the beauty of MetricsCube – that we can compare the results from different time frames. That gives us a massive amount of visibility into what is going on in our business.“
Before and after MetricsCube
Usually when we ask our customers how their work changed after blending our software into their business routine, they can hardly imagine going back to the old practices. But that is quite unsurprising actually since the more you branch out with your offer, the more tasks you need to deal with on an everyday level.
Brixly, like many other companies, experienced the effects of this shift as well:
“Previously it was fairly easy for us to keep track of things as we didn’t host that many websites. But this changed as we started to grow. Of course growing is a positive thing, you look forward to and hope for it. But our accounting was quite tough at that time. We have been running the month-by-month kind of data export from WHMCS over to the billing system we were using. It was neither very accurate nor convenient in the long run.”
Having increasingly more financial data to monitor, Brixly decided it was high time they opted for a much more efficient solution. Their software of choice was QuickBooks, the world-famous accounting platform with dynamic cash flow and invoicing management. “The reason we switched to QuickBooks was that we needed to keep an eye on our expenses and invoices. And manually exporting this vast amount of data from WHMCS was no longer an option.” – Dennis comments.
After integrating their QuickBooks with the WHMCS system, Brixly has finally found the perfect way to stay organized. But even then they felt like they could not just rest on their laurels: “QuickBooks has its own level of reporting, but it’s purely your revenue, without going subscription details. We still wanted a more industry-specific insight, and found it in MetricsCube. Now we use QuickBooks in conjunction with MetricsCube and it’s just a perfect combo.”
Key performance indicators under vigilant control
Each company is unique when it comes to their goals and means of achieving them. Designing MetricsCube, we wanted therefore to supply business owners with all essential tools for analyzing their data, but without forcing anyone to do things this way or that way. Instead, we tried to create an environment in which every owner could experiment with the given utilities and figure out the practices that work for them best.
Brixly also developed their own unique strategy of monitoring the key metrics: “We like delving into MetricsCube and being welcomed by the main dashboard with all billing statistics for this month.” Even when they involve some fluctuations every now and then which clearly stand out on the reports.
“With MetricsCube we can not only see that there was some kind of a change in our metrics. More importantly, we are able to trace this particular rise or drop to a certain cause. Which is amazing for obvious reasons – once you know what makes your numbers go up and down, you can focus on how to use that knowledge to your advantage.“
Which Brixly certainly does, as we find out from Dennis a second later. His company depends strongly on the revenue reports available in MetricsCube to oversee their monthly income: “When we see that our revenue is declining, obviously there must be some reason for it – be that marketing, advertising or maybe just a poor turnover and people tend to be dropping out. Whatever the source is, we can quickly find it and counteract.”
In search of the favorite feature
Because each company takes such an individual approach towards business goals, their purposes for using tools like MetricsCube also vary. We asked Dennis if there is anything in particular that helped Brixly scale more easily and expand the circle of customers with greater confidence.
“We like the overall dashboard and the fact that it is so graphical, so orderly. It’s great to see even those little changes in stats because they give you the indication that you are putting your efforts in either the wrong or the right direction. We also love the daily email reports that show us how many new clients have come on board over the last 24 hours. This very much helps to draw conclusions and plan on what to do next.”
Dennis brings up one more MetricsCube feature that he did not notice at first, but which turned out to be a game-changer for his company. And that is the possibility to analyze the reports from a very narrow angle and comparing different products. Brixly offers a wide spectrum of services and it is just a natural phenomenon that some of them sell more than the others. “When I open up the revenue report, I can see that the rate for our flagship products is increasing so I guess the marketing we are using for it is working.”
Final message to the reader
Enjoyable as our talk with Dennis was, the time came when we all had to return to our duties. Before parting ways, we asked Dennis if he could briefly summarize his experience with MetricsCube and perhaps help other company owners make the same decision Brixly once has.
“MetricsCube is a powerful and affordable tool which gives you plenty of reporting opportunities impossible to find anywhere else. If you want to keep a record of everything that is going on in your web hosting company, there is nothing you need more really.”
There are so many improvements and novel features yet to be implemented in MetricsCube. But it is all thanks to the first-hand feedback of companies like Brixly that we know what our audience needs to begin with. And most of all, whether the changes we have already made turned out to be as practical an addition as we had planned.
We are endlessly grateful to Dennis for sharing with us those amazing insights, and fired up for the next interviews to come. Hopefully you are too! If you are an active user of MetricsCube but still are a little bit unsure whether you use it to the fullest, hopefully these articles will let you look at your business from fresh perspectives. And if you have never heard of or tried MetricsCube before, it is never too late to check for yourself what the fuss is about!