Ep. #800 - How to Hire eCommerce Experts
In this episode of Startup Hustle, Andrew Morgans and Chris McCabe, Founder of ecommerceChris, talk about how to hire eCommerce experts. They are joined by Chris’ partner and ecommerceChris consultant Leah McHugh.
Covered In This Episode
Are you doing business in eCommerce and Amazon? How do you hire eCommerce experts? What should you look for?
There are thousands of agencies and individuals who claim to be experts in doing eCommerce on Amazon. But how do you know if they really have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to take care of your business? To help answer your questions, Andrew Morgans talks with fellow eCommerce and Amazon experts Chriss McCabe and Leah McHugh. They discuss how entrepreneurs can find the right eCommerce partners. They also discuss what they personally look for when hiring employees, how to be productive in remote work, and more.
Join their conversation and get a little more understanding of everything eCommerce in this Startup Hustle episode.
- The beginning of Leah’s and Chris’s entrepreneurial journey (1:17)
- Starting ecommerceChris (4:08)
- Meeting up at OKCupid and connecting on e-commerce (5:03)
- Creating a website (8:00)
- Doing social media marketing (9:49)
- Meeting up in Ireland (10:30)
- Getting ideas while outside traveling and having fun (11:35)
- Solid Velocity Conference (14:27)
- Building the courses (16:19)
- Brand building, finding them, etc., are different (17:26)
- Reporting pirates and other Amazon abusers (20:40)
- What to look for when hiring eCommerce employees (20:58)
- Your hiring agencies for their expertise and experience (36:55)
- Revamping processes (44:11)
- Why people fear Amazon (52:48)
- How to hire eCommerce experts (57:04)
- Wrapping up (1:06:23)
On the Marknology side, you know, we’ve been built to, to be best positioned to help the customers that we’re working with think like them act like them. That’s how we’re incentivized that’s how we’re built.Andrew Morgans
I think reading comprehension is a very undervalued skill in today’s world that, I mean, essentially what we do is, at least half of what we do is reading comprehension, understanding what it is that Amazon means when they send vague, confusing messages. And so, without that ability to look at things critically. And even logically, you’re not going to do very well here.Leah McHugh
Understand before you get into that, that you could be a one-and-done, you could make one mistake, they won’t care how new you are, they won’t care that you trusted the wrong people. If anything, if you say I trusted the wrong people, they’ll say, well, now we’re even less inclined to reinstate you because you don’t even know what services to hire, let alone how to play the game by our rules. So it’s a tough marketplace. I’m not saying it’s easy. And I’m not saying it’s easy for sellers to figure out which services to go with, but scrutinize who you hire and know exactly what they’re doing for you.Chris McCabe
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 0:00
Hey, what’s up, Hustlers? Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Mark Knology. Here’s today’s host of Startup Hustle covering all things eCommerce, Amazon entrepreneurship. I’m super excited about our guests, we actually have a surprise for you today. We have two guests with us today. So we’re going to be sharing a little bit of Mike time, but I’m really excited to get into their story. Before we do, let’s give a shout out to our sponsor for today’s episode. Gusto has modern solutions for modern HR problems, whether it’s talent, payroll, onboarding tools. Gusto HR platform has it all for you to be smarter than your competitors. Try a three month free subscription now, just sign up with gusto.com backslash Startup Hustle to get started. That’s gusto.com backslash Startup Hustle. And we’ll talk a little bit more about us. So as we go, Chris and Leah, welcome to the show.
Leah McHugh 0:48
Hey, thanks for having us.
Andrew Morgans 0:49
Yeah, I’m super excited. You guys have your own podcast that does very well. You run your own conferences. You’ve been in the Amazon space a very long time, I guess eCommerce space really? I have heard of you guys have seen your names everywhere. So just privileged and glad and grateful to have you on the show. I think our listeners will be too. You guys are currently in Vegas just attended the ASD show. Is that right?
Leah McHugh 1:12
Yeah, we’re on Vegas time. And I’m not entirely sure what that means. At this point. It’s been a long few days.
Andrew Morgans 1:17
Yeah. And they might not be sober. We don’t really know. But maybe we’ll get some good stuff. No, but I really do appreciate you stepping away from from whatever you have there your responsibilities to be with us today. You know, this is Startup Hustle as a show by founders for founders. So you know, we have a lot of C suite type of listeners and, or even beneath that marketing, VPS, whatever. But it’s decision-makers in their businesses that are dealing with a lot of things that we all deal with. So not necessarily people thinking to get started, but more so people that are in the job in the weeds in the dirt, doing it. So I like just whenever we share, just share as much as you’d like and dig into that I know not all shows are the same. But I’d like to get into it. I gave you guys a little heads up about wanting to get into your stories. And I know you both have your own story, I’m sure. But Leah, maybe we start with you. And we just pick you back and forth like not talking about the business you guys are in now. But like let’s start with when did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Leah McHugh 2:23
When I was in elementary school, so a while, obviously I didn’t call it that when I didn’t even know that word. Right. But I actually I wanted to I wanted to have restaurants when I was little. Actually I am a qualified chef. But I never followed that, that after that. Okay, a long time that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, Chris,
Chris McCabe 2:45
I wanted to when I left Amazon, I wanted to help sellers understand the messy Amazon ecosystem. And so I suppose by creating a consultancy, that was my first foray into business ownership. I wasn’t somebody that you like a brand who wanted to make a product and wanted to share their vision for a product and make life easier or better for people. So I wasn’t a product creator, but I wanted to create a service. And I saw a one to one relationship between the work I was doing at Amazon. And then on the other side as a seller advocate where I could create that service help people out, help them save money if they’re if they’re suspended. So I suppose it was within a year, I took a year off after I left Amazon. But within that year, just kind of backpacking around different countries, thinking about things what I want to do next, creating a business was really the next logical step for me.
Andrew Morgans 3:34
I love it. I didn’t think about being a business owner, either. I always had side hustles. But it’s more like just professional curiosity, when I found ecommerce and just like, absolutely wanting to understand the algorithm, understanding the platform, how it worked, like tinker with it, you know, get better results. And for some small businesses, I was crushing it. And I just like wanted to tell the world I guess it was like, oh my god, like, you know, these, this can help so many businesses, like think of all the people I can help. When was it that you left Amazon?
Chris McCabe 4:06
2012, 2012 early watching my 10th anniversary of leaving Amazon. And I guess I’ve been doing this for a little bit more than a year off. So I’ve been doing this for eight years-ish. And one of the things that when I first met Leah, I knew that she had helped manage a startup and manage an Amazon account. And we kind of shared notes about oh, I never did that. But I worked at Amazon, but also just travel. I mean, I thought I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur or even a business owner. I wanted to be a travel writer. I wanted to just travel write stories, some fiction, nonfiction, that was kind of my my goal, way back in the day, but because of all the Amazon experience, I hung the shingle I added some content on LinkedIn and I was deluged with requests. So it started you know, I set up ecommerceChris thinking, Oh, this will be a one-man show. This will just be me and maybe an assistant and it just grew. I mean, that’s how Leah and I up.
Leah McHugh 5:00
Can I tell him how it went?
Chris McCabe 5:01
You can tell? Yeah.
Leah McHugh 5:03
Um, so we actually met on OkCupid, but never dated, okay. And I just when we, when we saw each other on OkCupid I was like, Oh, you’re like the same person because it was travel eCommerce. But I was in Bali, which I failed to. But I failed to disclose the beginning of our was like,
Chris McCabe 5:22
the Boston oatcake version of OkCupid. It’s been years and years, but I was on the Boston so we didn’t live in Boston,
Leah McHugh 5:29
right. So we started chatting, we never actually dated. And then we ended up working together because we realized we had, like, the opposite sides of the same point of E-commerce experience
Chris McCabe 5:38
complemented each other. But also just really, we talked about e-commerce and business. Right from the get-go, we realized that we both shared Well, that’s that passion.
Andrew Morgans 5:48
Chris McCabe 5:49
There was no need for any other passion.
Andrew Morgans 5:52
I don’t want to ruin this.
Chris McCabe 5:53
But a lot of people I mean, we do like you’re saying we’re in Vegas. Now we do our own conference, the Seller Velocity Conference, we do a lot of public appearances together, we do a workshop at the PROSPER show. And we have separate talks at Prosper this year. A lot of people it’s interesting, just assume we’re married, or we’re together, or I’m here for well, or the worst case scenario shot for Ben. Yeah.
Leah McHugh 6:16
Well, I’d like to hear which one of those annoyed me.
Chris McCabe 6:19
I mean, people ask, like, does Leah work for you? It’s like, I’d rather think she works with me, you know, we’re colleagues and we work together not some sort of structure where there’s an owner and there’s a you know, employer-employee relations.
Andrew Morgans 6:42
I think we’re gonna be friends, I think. I think, yeah, I like everything you’re saying, so far. I’m just going to be honest with you, like I found this business, because I love travel and the pursuit of freedom as well. I could have been in Bali, you know, living there with three or four brands and been living like a king. I like building a team. So I you know, I slow down to build a team because I didn’t want to be by myself just like this one-man show. Yeah. And I work very closely, you know, with my sisters. They were the first to kind of their I didn’t meet a Leah, that was that was in E-commerce, and had the same passions as me when I was because I think I started in like, 2012, 13. When I first found ecommerce, and no one believed in what I was doing, at least in the Midwest, in Kansas City, it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t, you know, I couldn’t find anything online. I couldn’t find other, you know, there are some conferences maybe not Amazon focus, and I was consuming anything I could, but my sister Veronica is with me a lot. She’ll there’ll be with me at prosper. Rockin Brooklyn, but they are brilliant, by the way. And they you know, they gave a master’s in engineering and that career to come build this with me so many years ago, and, you know, we’re everywhere together. They are the brains. I’m like, not even the face, but I have to be. So you know, you look fantastic. I’m putting my I’ll get a shave. Okay, I’ll get a shave.
Leah McHugh 7:56
But no, I like the beard that there’s no facial hair.
Chris McCabe 7:59
nothing at all.
Andrew Morgans 8:00
We get a lot of that though. People are like, you know, are you guys Husband? Wife? Couple are? You know? And it’s like, no, actually, we’re just chasing our dreams together. And you know what better than with someone that has the same vision, you know, so I love that. So you guys meet on OkCupid? You guys, like where you’re like, Hey, I’ve got more work than I can handle? Like, I need some help. Was that kind of how it went?
Leah McHugh 8:20
Oh, no, actually, he showed me his website.
Chris McCabe 8:21
Right. She wasn’t a consultant to Amazon sellers. At the time, she didn’t want to consult clients. So it was a marketing, she was helping me create the website because my website was basically just a lot of people telling me I needed to have one, I was getting a lot of business through LinkedIn. And I didn’t have the motivation to create a sleek new website until people kept asking those that were referring clients to me, Hey, look, I think we need to show them a website before they call you before they email you. So that, you know, they’ll have some information in hand and Leah did a great job on the website.
Andrew Morgans 8:57
If you’re good there. I didn’t have a website either. For a long time I had one I’ve actually paid like four marketing companies to get it right. Because, you know, marketing companies for the most part can’t be trusted. But same thing, I mean, like mine was Upwork. We you were LinkedIn in regards to like, just like kind of getting some momentum there. And it like just rolling. And I didn’t need I didn’t need to do marketing for Marknology. I didn’t need like, I mean, not that I didn’t need I didn’t have time, right? Yeah, like it was just like, that’s what was coming in like crazy. Why focus on that when I have like client work to, to work on and the thing was, is it was always the clients that were the focus not not myself or not, you know, Marknology and understanding that branding and trust building and all that takes, you know, that’s what they’re talking about there. But in those early days, it was just simply supply and demand and there wasn’t enough to go around. That’s exactly about it.
Chris McCabe 9:49
I wasn’t I wasn’t spending money on ads. I wasn’t marketing. I wasn’t doing social media. I mean, she jumped in and helped me build the social media part. I mean, I’ve used social media and Facebook but not forbid In this purposes before this business, and she had already had tons of experience with that, so it just kind of, we kept adding one.
Leah McHugh 10:06
Well, we start talking, we started talking about the membership pretty early on to I mean, we realized pretty quickly that not all Amazon sellers could afford thousands of dollars and services all at the time. So we wanted to have some sort of informational product available for people who wanted to spend a couple hundred and thousand of dollars. So we started working on our yearly membership pretty quickly as well. Again, using both of our knowledge of Amazon Yeah, to put it down on paper.
Chris McCabe 10:30
Using also some spotty Wi-Fi in Ireland, if I recall, she was in one country and I was in another and we agreed to meet in Ireland just like make it happen in two weeks. Just she wasn’t even planning to go to Ireland, but you were in Scotland or Morocco or something.
Andrew Morgans 10:44
Oh my god, I love you guys.
Chris McCabe 10:45
And I was well, I was going to Ireland with a friend of mine who I know from Seattle, and he did work at Amazon, but we did not work together. And he his company was, you know, those companies that are in Dublin have a headquarters in Ireland. They were in Dublin and we went to Dublin for a week. And everyone kept saying it’s blue skies. It’s sunny. It’s never like this in June. I think it was late. May. You guys don’t know how lucky you are. And of course, yeah, we had a great week. And day five or six. At the end of that week. We said, well, we’re going to Galway, we’re going to the west coast of Ireland next. And then we’re like, oh, well, now you’re talking about Gray, it’s gonna be gloomy. Whatever you had here, we go out to Galway, we’re on the west coast of Ireland. And it was more blue skies. It was I’ll show you some pictures sometime. Because it was just like every single day I was in Ireland was supposed to be gloomy and dark and cloudy and misty and
Leah McHugh 11:35
it worked out. Well, because I think originally we were just like, we’re just gonna hold up, we’re gonna rent a house, we’re gonna get in there. And we’re gonna make this happen in two weeks. And we ended up spending a lot of time outside but I think that actually worked out better. I think we you come up with better ideas when you’re, you’re doing something else and you’re just talking rather than just sitting in the room trying to brainstorm
Andrew Morgans 11:54
was like, you know, I have a I have a strong circle they’re not all eCommerce, you know, focus entrepreneurs or you know, ones in application security at a hospital here in KC one is a does love real estate and meet him on a business together doing Airbnb, but he’s like, been military intelligence and travel the world for a career and we take we take trips together, you know, and, you know, a lot of times it’s not even that they’re in my business or, you know, we’re brainstorming some of those things. But it’s even when we’re out walking or getting inspired, or like, you know, at a bar or at restaurants or those are when some of the best ideas hit versus being in like a think tank somewhere. You know, so
Leah McHugh 12:35
Yeah, the other week I was in the hot tub and then 10 minutes after getting out of the hot tub. I’m like, Oh, this is what we’re gonna do in our in our Prospect workshop.
Chris McCabe 12:45
First trip I was we were in South Carolina. That was great. First, my first time down there, but really nice weather. And then what was swimming laps in the pool. Yeah,
Leah McHugh 12:54
he was swimming laps while I was writing down what we were gonna do it.
Andrew Morgans 12:57
Exactly. And when you learn that, when you learn
Chris McCabe 13:01
from light bulb going off over her head while I was swimming in the pool, I looked over at her, and I saw the light bulb hovering over it. So I knew it was time to get out and talk about a brainstorm.
Andrew Morgans 13:09
You’re like, she’s got an idea, and she’s gonna burst if she don’t get it out. I had that same thing happened to me last week at a music show. I was on a late-night show. And I was just there with my friends, you know, in a good environment. And I was just like, oh my god, I have an idea for how I’m gonna frame this. It was a writing piece. And just like how it’s gonna come together, I’ve been thinking about it a while. And you know, it’s just like, boom, I’ve got it. Like, I’ve got it, you know, and it was when you learn that I think like even early on, whether it’s business or not, you kind of learn where your ideas come from, it becomes like necessary, right? So they’re like travel and having fun. And those things become necessary in order to be as good as you are on the other side. Like, I take that very seriously.
Leah McHugh 13:54
Well, and especially when you’re traveling, you’re meeting so many interesting people that you just wouldn’t otherwise have met. So just the ideas that you can bounce off those people or ideas that they bring up that you just never would have thought of is it’s just a totally different experience. I miss travel so much.
Andrew Morgans 14:08
Well, if you guys pick a mastermind, we’re location I want the invite. And yeah, so you pick Morocco or something. Yeah, how
Chris McCabe 14:15
do you feel about Bend, Oregon in late April this year? Because
Andrew Morgans 14:20
I’ll man I’ll bring the jeep and the drone and whatever, we’ll figure it out. I’m sure there’s some trees and snow that would look cool. And oh, yeah.
Chris McCabe 14:27
Not only that, I mean, we designed the network some of the networking situations to include outdoor activities. That’s one reason why I got a band on the inside the whole time, right? We don’t want people lingering in a conference hall or an exhibitor Hall and not and the only time they talk to somebody else is in a dark pub, just drinking I mean that’s fine too. You can have a drink, have a great conversation. Maybe you have three drinks you have a better conversation, but the point is for our conference especially Solid Velocity, you know we have Mount Bachelor 20 minutes drive from bend And there’s hiking that you can do. I’m sure there’ll be some mountain mountain bikers who attend ski mountain bikes are easy to come by and bend. Yeah. So that’s what we don’t do it in the same city every year. Bend might be one that we want to return to just because of the quality of the activities around the conference itself.
Andrew Morgans 15:18
So it sounds awesome. And I have to check it out. I’m just getting plugged into a lot of stuff. Like, it’s like, you know, I’ve been doing it a long time, but just was like, in my hole, I guess, by 2019. And then you had the pandemic and he Right, right. So, no, I love it. It’s like, you know, the community part is very invigorating to me. I mean, it can be tiring, like anything else, of course. But there was so many years doing this with passion without those people to share those ideas with and to build with and, you know, it’s also that the abundance mindset part of it, you know, there’s so many businesses and brands and manufacturers worldwide that are just like, and there’s a limited amount of us that do what we do. So you know, it’s like, it’s like, oh, my gosh, there’s so much to go around. I want to bring it back to you guys. Okay, so we talked to Oregon, we talked about how you guys met and how you come up with some ideas for this speaking thing. You guys. So you were in Ireland? Is that when you came up with like the courses? Or is that whenever you guys developed kind of like your business model.
Leah McHugh 16:19
Um, so we had already discussed doing the courses, we specifically went to Ireland to build the courses out. Chris was already consulting at that point,
Chris McCabe 16:29
I was already about a year and a half into the consulting. And I had, at that point, I said, I’m only going to hire X Amazon colleagues, people that worked on my team, or at least worked on a real relevant, similar team.
Andrew Morgans 16:41
Yeah. And I want to talk about that, too.
Chris McCabe 16:43
Yeah. And we do we have, you know, others that worked at Amazon,
Leah McHugh 16:46
and the only consultant, eCommerce sites, and Amazon.
Chris McCabe 16:50
Well, it was a good lesson for me. I mean, we’re talking about Creative Entrepreneurship and development as you go. Leah didn’t work in Amazon. But in her subject matter, expertise areas, she knows more than a lot of X Amazonians. I’ve met whether it’s at something like the PROSPER show, or at our Solid Velocity Conference, or even just people I knew from when I was working there. Because she understands complex listing problems. She understands brand registry, better than some current Amazonians that are currently working there. That’s what I find really interesting about her her work lately.
Andrew Morgans 17:26
I’d like to talk to you about that, because I’ve met a little bit of both. And I think like, there’s this like kind of chip on the shoulder. You know, whenever you’re learning this and obsessing about this and you see brands or manufacturers or whoever working with someone just because they’re an X Amazonian when you know that you talk to like ignorant Amazonians all the time, right? I say that in general, general sense, right? So you’re calling Amazon you’re like, Oh, my God, here’s another ads person is gonna tell my brain to spend more money. It’s all cliche now. But when this stuff was first coming out, it was like, Yeah, I’ve obsessed about this platform from from one P to vendor Express, or was it vendor Express? Vendor Express? The one in the middle? Oh, yeah. So one that was like gave us some branding touches like before Seller Central got them right and bring registry one and brand registry two and working on brands that were grandfathered when Canada was a separate marketplace, and now they’re combined. And you have some people on the old ones. And like when you’ve where are we We’re, I feel like we leaned into the problems, because that was the business, we were getting busy businesses were hiring me to solve problems for them. So time after time, after time, I was getting this like, database or experience base of like problem solving, which has set us up for success today. But at the time, you know, it was like the exact same Amazonians they’ve worked in, like maybe one area, okay, like, you know, it’s like very siloed very siloed. And then they would move every so often. I’m like, How can you have the big picture when you’ve been siloed? I’ve now since met some very, you know, very smart and knowledgeable Amazonians at the time I had. But like to our listeners out there, I think you just have to understand that, you know, that’s a generalization. And there’s some that I’ve worked in, like building out categories, or some that have built, you know, been involved in very like, I guess, brand building areas of Amazon. And then there’s some that have not right, and there’s a difference between some of it and bizdev, for example, or like finding brands, it’s not the same as building them or working on the catalog.
Leah McHugh 19:20
Right. And I think a lot of people don’t necessarily make that distinction. Also, just if if what they’re what they’re consulting in now, does it have anything to do with what they did it and Amazon, you know, we see people who used to work on Kindle, who are now consulting Amazon sellers, and it’s not really the same thing. I mean, Chris was specifically going from sellar performance to helping people deal with sellar performance went directly across sometimes it’s just you know, or maybe they worked in Seller Support and are now consulting in something totally different. And I mean, I think we’ve all experienced Seller Support.
Chris McCabe 19:54
One reason it was ecommerceChris, when I started it was because I intended originally to branch out out and not just to Amazon, it’s just that I was with Amazon. And even just I could, you know, foresee learning other departments other things at Amazon. But with what time because it’s always this, you know, there’s such a need, there’s such a demand for this. It’s always growing, which is kind of a concern. But this is mission critical stuff. Some people are losing a product listing, which is their whole business. So their account doesn’t get suspended. I mean, obviously, if their account is suspended, they lose a lot. But even product, the individual product listings might do a million a month, or 12 million a
Andrew Morgans 20:36
year. Sabotage, there’s pirates. There’s Yeah, right.
Leah McHugh 20:40
Yeah, we’re now doing abuse stuff, because abuse is just rampant now. So we’re helping people report abuse, we’re helping people defend themselves against abusers. We weren’t doing that a few years ago, it’s
Chris McCabe 20:49
I didn’t even have those services, like reporting abuse, or how to get these types of behaviors flagged. I didn’t even have those services on my site back then.
Andrew Morgans 20:58
Well, let me tell you like that, I would like this is how I kind of found like, I guess, the need for Marknology. And, you know, our title for today is specifically how to hire eCommerce experts. So you know, whether whether you’re getting like someone to build your team internally, or you’re looking to hire an agency like ours, or consultants or getting advice on some of these things, I think knowing like what they know, like, whether we’re talking about x Amazonians, or knowing what you’re getting is important. I started solving for these things by kind of happenstance in in that well, professional curiosity. So I’m not a business, I wasn’t a businessman that was just like, I see a great opportunity to build a team around Amazon. So for this, it was, I was I found eCommerce and was obsessed with E-commerce because it was a perfect blend of like creativity and tech, like marketing and technical, my name. But I loved that, that hybrid, that middle thing where you needed both. And so you can be creative to like, make money, which was like super cool. And it was like you had to be kind of good at tech to figure it out. And you know, be able to track data. And at US toy, which was like this retailer, I was maybe 10 years ago, nine or 10. They were having map pricing issues, they were having content issues, because they had four brands that were all made for catalog they had so we had four different brands, while under the same company. You know, we were on Seller Central, which was early back then to not be on one p. And we had from internally I was seeing the customer service department not prioritizing Amazon, I saw like the sales guys getting hurt in the meetings about like me trying to get rid of resellers. And, you know, this wasn’t common, there’s nothing to go to Google or YouTube to say like, is Drew giving good advice. And those meetings there was like, none of this was out there. It was true, like passion of like, I want to help people. And these hesitations they have around these areas have solutions, you just don’t know them. And like, you know, let me try to help share them. And that was kind of my thinking. But I came from that brand perspective from being a US toy and seeing like, okay, it’s not just that I’m talking to the CEO about getting on Amazon, or the VP of Marketing about getting on Amazon about doing it, right. There’s actually like, a customer service team that has issues. There are the bookkeepers that have issues that are pushing back. There’s the sales team, there’s the buyers, that I’m now saying, Hey, you guys gotta give me more information for these listings, how can you be choosing these items as like, the best items we should be selling this year, and you’re giving me nothing, you know, and it was like kind of this internal struggle, I saw a company like that size, or that was, you know, and they’re not even that large. I’m like, if they’re having these issues, like I’m sure everyone’s kind of having these issues. And it was at least like that was my framework for like, creating a company to solve for those things, you know, and then everything else kind of came about as you dig into those. But it was really just like seeing those issues and being like, people really need help, like internally, even in these meetings as a team saying, Where are we going to go about speaking to brand protection about speaking, oh, my god, Amazon’s gonna copy our product or, Oh, my God, like, you know, people are gonna knock it off or, like, you know, that fear and I just don’t like operating in fear, you know? So it was like, actually, these things are possibilities. But here’s 456 options we can do to mitigate against that. And maybe it was my background in computer science and networking and security, like more on like the, I wouldn’t say anti-hacker, but like making things safe for companies was like my schooling, to like, come into that. And as an agency be like, let me all these there’s all these problems that can happen. But if you follow the rules, you know, or maximize the rules, like we don’t even have to deal with these issues. And let me let me try to help you stay out of trouble kind of thinking. I don’t know if that was like a similar journey for you guys. But like, because you were internal. And you saw that I guess like I from the outside saw it from being inside a company like that versus being like an FBA seller or something like that. We have a different journey kind of understanding.
Chris McCabe 24:50
We’ve spoken to and worked with so many different brands at this point at different stages of their development. Some of them were seasoned and veterans of selling online but not on them. Amazon, other’s grew, as Amazon grew, I mean, we’ve all revenue levels and whether they did have some reluctance to kind of adapt our thinking, our strategy in terms of look, you built this thing, you want to keep growing it, you also have to protect it, a lot of people have a certain idea of what they want to spend on inventory, a certain amount of money for compliance or for marketing, or SEO or whatever, but they didn’t initially want to devote resources to, I gotta make sure my account health is clean, I have to make sure that solid performance, my former teams aren’t going to come knocking on their door, you know, sending the morning’s make sure they understood policies, a lot of the brands we talked to, would read a policy a good place to start is to actually read it and know what it says. But they would interpret it in a way that was favorable to them and their strategy and their model and their business. And they didn’t realize that Amazon might not care what their interpretation was. Amazon is like our house, our rules, type company, we all know that. Very few people would disagree. And so they might want to tussle and fight over that. But it’s like, okay, well, there’s a way to develop a smart marketing strategy, you can do all the things you want to do, you can grow this brand, you can launch new products. But do it on Amazon, understanding that Amazon has a certain way, not just following their policies, but a way they want you to communicate with them when something goes wrong. And if you insist on communicating your way the way you do with other vendors, or your customers or your friends or your family, then they’ll say no, or they’ll tune you out. And in the end, it’s it’s, you know, going to be better to kind of play it their way.
Leah McHugh 26:35
Even as simple as like the way they were creating their listing. Some people would come to us, this is how we list our products on our website. And it’s not a problem on our website. But it’s a problem on Amazon. And so they didn’t have that Amazon first mentality, which isn’t to say Amazon only because I don’t recommend Amazon only. But you need to have consider Amazon its own separate part of your business rather than just one of your many.
Andrew Morgans 27:00
It’s a branch. It’s yeah, it’s holistic, like holistic eCommerce is what I love and preach. And I’ve been obsessed with E-commerce. I just was making my money on Amazon, and was getting clients with results. So those are easy calls, right? Because the hard part of what we do, I think is the relationship and the communication and all that. I have. I have another question for you guys. As a follow up to that. Before we do, let’s give a shout out to our sponsor, which has made the show possible. Managing your team can be as easy as 123 with Gusto. No more late nights for processing payroll, or dealing with business tax filings and more painful spreadsheets for attendance tracking, say hello to your new smart HR platform. Checkout gusto.com backslash Startup Hustle to get a free three months subscription. Now, let’s gusto.com backslash Startup Hustle. I personally use Gusto and it is it is seamless. It’s easy. We pay international labor even at times depending on what country you’re in. And it took a lot of the like heavy lifting from us. Highly recommend at least giving them a call demo to check it out. Gusto.com backslash Startup Hustle, okay. The business is out of the way. And you see that with
Chris McCabe 28:04
Gusto. So I think you’re covered. Thank you, they will please the good people that Gusto will be very pleased with you.
Andrew Morgans 28:10
Yes, I am. I am a user and I have an affiliate link. So that’s just a side bonus. But um, okay, I want to ask a question. And this one like on title with, we’re like, how do you hire eCommerce? How do you hire for E-commerce? You know, that is a big topic in today’s because, you know, I don’t know about you guys. I’ve had people poached the last couple years with all the aggregators and the money coming into the space. There’s just bigger salaries out there, you know, we’ve been pioneering this space where we used to get paid pennies to do what we do. Yeah. And it’s growing. So in some ways, I love the money coming in, because it’s bringing professionalism to the space and it’s bringing awareness to what we do and the value of it at the same time. Hiring can be difficult, you know, I think I think I’m setting you guys up for this one. And if I’m wrong, you guys, but like, you know,
Chris McCabe 28:52
this sounds like a me question so far. Yeah.
Andrew Morgans 28:55
So like, on the Marknology side, you know, we’ve been built to, to be best positioned to help the customers that we’re working with think like them act like them. That’s how we’re incentivized that’s how we’re built. It’s not a we’ll do it hands off like easy button almost like you know, when Amazon retail was was big signing big clients in the beginning was like, you don’t have to actually learn e-commerce, just like here’s a Pio. And we’re gonna sell on our platform with your stuff cool. Businesses didn’t have to learn anything. And then there’s you know, there’s the business models where are send us your product on consignment or brand director will buy from you and will sell for you. You know, that model is also easier. It can be more beneficial for you know, the agencies, whatever is going on, because they get to focus on what they’re best at. They don’t spend any time training educating. I believe we’re in a different space than that, which is the consulting side or full service Amazon side where we come in as the as the brand or the manufacturer or whoever is working with the seller. We’re saying this is what we would do if we were you that we’re We’re a partner, right where it’s a fractional team, which is, to me, the difficulty level is way higher in that we have to educate, we have to communicate, we have to, you know, scale our teams to be able to have five 610 20 people that can speak to clients at an educated level and be able to speak intelligently to what they’re doing. To me, it’s, it’s taking them a lot longer to build a company that can, you know, step into higher tiered, even even companies and be able to speak to them on a level that they’re used to and educate them. And you know, a big part of ours is bringing companies that have never been in on Amazon or selling b2c, and taking them through that journey, which is a hard one, right? I’ve never done that before, they’ve never spent money on marketing dollars, with PPC or something like that. What are some things that like one, I would love to know if like, you guys understand that challenge, or go through the same things a bit communication part of account management that you know, and then to like, how you how you build how you guys have built your team, or how you recommend to others to think about when they’re bringing people in to try to build something that takes a long time, which is to get a skilled team internally, any of those topics, I think would be really beneficial to our listeners, as we start to talking about how to hire for eCommerce.
Chris McCabe 31:15
Yeah, we hire slowly and carefully. And if that means, each new person we bring on will have a breadth of knowledge of what others within the company are doing. So be it. And we want people to be able to interact with our clients understanding, because these are highly sensitive topics, right and account suspension could be mission-critical business ending event. So if they’re speaking to one person versus another, I want all of us to understand how to speak to that client, what kind of information they need from us, the types of things we need to ask them even early on in the process, right, as opposed to just oh, well, we’re really busy, I’m going to grab a bunch of bodies, I’m going to throw them at the problem and hope it works out with minimal training and minimal auditing of how they’re doing and mineral back and forth. Because quite honestly, that’s what Amazon’s doing. They’re throwing bodies at problems. There’s a lot of scattershot approaches to things. There are process breakdowns, and like we were talking a moment ago, the Amazon teams are very, very siloed. They’re famous for that. And whether it’s deliberate or not, whether they think it works well or not, is another story. We don’t want to be siloed at eCommerceChris; we want to have people who are like, you know, Leah is working on a case like that. And I’ve got some examples, especially like, we’re going to be at conferences, right people will approach us on in person, not just on the phone, not just via email, they’re going to ask other people, other members of our team, what kinds of things Leah works on what what kinds of things I work on,
Leah McHugh 32:41
we were very careful to share everything with the team. So we actually have a like a daily huddle. And everybody, including those doing social media that is doing customer service, the entire team is on that huddle, where we go through the current client work that we’re working on. And all of the documentation that we’re sending to clients is shared between the entire team as well. So it’s not like if somebody’s already done something, you don’t necessarily have to do it from scratch, you can also learn from what other people are doing. And we’re also very careful to talk about what are we been doing lately? That’s working because what works on Amazon changes,
Chris McCabe 33:14
Andrew Morgans 33:16
And so thinking about that, like when you’re hiring, just to ask like a more pointed question, like, the skills you’re talking about are like communication, collaboration, teamwork, like, you know, communication in detail,
Chris McCabe 33:29
because clients need help communicating with Amazon, we need to be able to communicate with each other, and with clients. And with Amazon, we do anyway, right? So we need three major forms of communication. Just for starters.
Leah McHugh 33:43
I think reading comprehension is a very undervalued skill in today’s world that, I mean, essentially what we do is, at least half of what we do is reading comprehension, understanding what it is that Amazon means when they send vague, confusing messages. And so without that ability to look at things critically. And even logically, you’re not going to do very well here. So that’s what we’re looking for with team members, people who can think critically outside of the particular problem in front of them. Something I tell Amazon sellers a lot and it’s actually part of my presentation at Prosper, is if you’re unsure about whether you should do something on Amazon, think about if all sellers did this, would this be good for Amazon and their customers? or would this be bad for Amazon and their customers? So many people in this industry just look at? Well, this is going to be great for our account. So we’re just going to go through this and I’m sure it’s fine. And you need to be able to critically think about okay, but what if everybody did this, this probably wouldn’t be good, and eventually that’s going to get you into trouble.
Chris McCabe 34:45
And if you’re in a niche like ours, which is you know, we do custom communication, custom appeal writing, custom content, not a lot of copy and paste. Not a lot of generic templates, which a lot of other companies out there are doing Amazon does and take that stuff seriously. That’s why it doesn’t work very well. So if you have members of your team that you aren’t, you have to hire smart people. But you also need creative brains. Right? Not just not just the techies, not just not just the high IQ
Andrew Morgans 35:14
guys can’t be creative, but I just meant like, you know, that technical that technical like odor is different than like a creative.
Leah McHugh 35:20
Right? Right. Yeah. And we have this weird, it’s, you know, it’s technology. And it’s also law a lot of the times, and it’s also creativity. So it’s this, you need to be able to kind of use all sides of the brain to make things work
Andrew Morgans 35:31
inexperienced, like we’re not talking about experience. But like, I think it’s super, super important. Not just like, who’s the head of your company, but like the team in general? You know, because a lot of these companies have great heads, one or one or two that are like, you know, very strong, and then from there, it’s like, okay, I don’t know why, because it’s such a young, you know, it’s such a young industry. Yeah. But like, for example, at least with problem solving, when it comes to Amazon and case suspension. And, you know, we’ve had hundreds of probably accounts, or ASINs, or like, between all the issues like on suspended and what you learn, when you’re dealing with that one seller that has that problem is they’re stressed and they’re already behind, and they’re already losing money. Yeah, well, you know, is that with time, it you know, with time and the right information, you can get almost anything resolved. And then for those times that you can’t, with experience, you can say, you know, what Amazon’s wrong in this particular situation, or, you know, and you either keep trying or or you go above, like, you know, I’ve done arbitration a couple of times, and one, I knew we were right, and the brand was giving me all the information, I’d went there myself, you know, looked at the paperwork, and was just like, I think this is, this is one of those times where if we spend the money, you know, to get some legal help that we will win. And there’s no way you can know when Amazon’s giving you an answer, and they’re wrong, unless you’ve been right in the same situation before, right, which is where experience comes in. Yeah, that patience is very big.
Leah McHugh 36:55
I think. And, you know, there are certain things that I always recommend getting an agency for over having somebody on your team do because of the breadth of experience that you’re getting on a daily basis. So ads, for example, you know, we use an agency to run our ads, because they’re looking at hundreds or 1000s of ad accounts every single day, they know what’s happening in the ad space. And it’s the same as us, we’re looking at hundreds or 1000s of accounts all the time, we’re seeing the trends, we’re seeing where things are going, which you looking into your one, or however many accounts you have, are just not going to be able to see, yeah.
Chris McCabe 37:28
We want to hire people with the mental agility and flexibility. So that, you know, we’ve talked a lot today about travel, I mean, if I happen to be on the other side of the world, and not available in a conference, or in a meeting, or I happen to be asleep, and they’re contacting another member of my team, that person can think independently in terms of not just, I’ve seen these before, and Chris had me just send it to him to review it. And to figure out what to say to that person know, they understand from a diagnostic perspective, what kind of case it is, what kinds of questions I would be asking. And when they’re asking the questions to the potential client or the seller who needs help. They sound like me, you know, and something I would think and something I would say, because they have that breadth of experience and knowledge and access to the, you know, the kinds of information to answer the question intelligently.
Andrew Morgans 38:16
Yeah, took me a long time to get there. Sorry. Yeah,
Leah McHugh 38:18
it’s not an easy thing. Yeah, it’s an easy thing. Um, just something that we were talking about the other week, which is a little bit different from what we’re talking about right now. But we were saying that none of the next time we hire somebody, we want to look at what else do they do outside of work, because in our experience, if people have lots of interests that they do, not just oh, I would like to do this, but they actually are pursuing and they’re regularly learning to the point that maybe they’re even doing some of their hobbies professionally. It shows that ability to take something from knowing nothing to the next level, on their own a lot of the times but even you know, even if they’re getting help, that just shows that ability to, to think critically and to learn quickly. And and to think in different different angles, I guess.
Andrew Morgans 39:02
Yeah, I think that’s super important. You know, no one’s I don’t know if that’s the case now, but at least like there’s probably digital marketing courses, but there weren’t eCommerce courses. No one’s going to school for this, right? No one there weren’t YouTube’s like, for days and days and days, you know, it started with my sisters. And I’m so thankful because if they hadn’t believed in what I was doing, because they trust me, and they believe me, you know, so when I’m trying to show them this stuff, it wasn’t like I was having to convince them. But you know, from there built, you know, but what I’ve learned and I’ll share this with you guys, see if it resonates with you guys is like at first, I was speaking at our local university, just like as a mentor there and eCommerce mentor to volunteer and got some of our first like interns that turned into employees and some of them are still with us from UMKC. And we had some great results there. But we also lost quite a few that moved on or that took more money than we had were Bootstrap. So it’s been very much like get the money to be able to hire one and get one part-time and then like when you can make them full time making full time. And, you know, so we went through that process. Because at first it was like get anyone that’s buying into what we’re doing that like wants to be on the team, like, those are people, those are the people we want, because we’re just happy to have whoever. And then it kind of evolved. Because there weren’t people that you could, we didn’t have the budget to either go hire some talent. So it was like you needed to develop the talent kind of thing. And now there’s, there’s been an industry enough that you can almost go out and get some talent. But it was like you needed to develop it. And I think something that we’re at now is adding a little bit more maturity and age to our team. And even if that’s like, we have some seniors in our team, like from a writing and coaching perspective, that’s helping our team, we have, you know, we’ve started bringing in maybe like late 20s, early 30s. I know, it’s a different age group like to be specific about, but ones that are like, maybe have been strong in a career for six, seven years and are looking for change. And because I think we talking about travel, we’re talking about like the motivating things, and it’s like, what can we truly bring to the table outside of just revenue or money or, you know, some perks like that, you know, the ability to travel, the ability to run more of their own schedule, I work or be home with their kids more whatever the case might be that that lifestyle, and you know, Marknology is big on culture. So that lifestyle around eCommerce, and what we do, I think it’s just completely different. And so whenever we bring that value to, let’s say, potential hires, we’re bringing more than just the work and you know, what they bring to us? It’s like, what can we bring to them, and to them, this lifestyle change can be like, you know, invaluable. So we’ve been looking for those kinds of people that it’s a mutually a big win win.
Leah McHugh 41:48
Yeah, one of our most recent hires, she works with us from 11am to 7:30pm, because she streams on Twitch every night. Okay, she’s up until like, five in the morning on Twitch and then sleeps and then works with us during the day. And
Andrew Morgans 42:01
I love that we have a big we have a big gamer, too.
Leah McHugh 42:04
Yeah. So it’s cool. Because again, you know, she gets to do different things. And they’re all, you know, a little bit techie and a little bit related. But you know, she’s able to work with us, because, you know, we weren’t, like you have to be here at 8am. And then from 5pm, you know, it makes it and you know, we have other employees with kids, it certainly makes it a lot easier if you can build your schedule around them and our clients are all over the world. It’s not like to be somewhere to meet with them at a specific time. It’s, you know, we’ve worked from Australia, which maybe isn’t the best with with Eastern Standard Time, Zealand, but but it’s it’s flexible, because we work with people everywhere.
Chris McCabe 42:38
I like what you said about the culture of E-commerce because over time, I’ve seen that my path is not just Amazon, I’m interested in other kinds of E-commerce entrepreneurs that aren’t necessarily selling a product. And this has led me and I think both of us to talk and think more about remote work. I mean, this actually predate predates the COVID, right, pandemic. But even more so now that more people are working remotely. There are different types of people who remote work now, not just the digital nomads who have been known to be doing it for years. And not just the prototypical, you know, 25 year old with the backpack, who’s going to the Canary Islands, there’s actually a lot of people, I feel attacked in the United States now. Well, she’s been doing digital nomadism for over a decade. So for her it’s old hat. But for a lot of other people. It’s newer, yeah, and they are in E-commerce, different facets, it could be services, could be products could be a lot of things, but they understand how to get work done while staying on the move. And then doesn’t mean Moving Every Day. It means maybe moving once a week, once a month, but experiencing work in new environments, new locations, where they might rub elbows with other eCommerce entrepreneurs who are also doing the same thing, who have stories to swap or have different complementing levels of expertise. That’s a new kind of community that we haven’t fully experienced yet. And maybe the silver lining to what we’ve dealt with the last couple of years is that we will get all those people together and they will be able to share those experiences. Yeah,
Leah McHugh 44:07
COVID definitely pushed remote work for like 10 years.
Andrew Morgans 44:11
I will say like, one part of me was kind of a little bit, like, bummed out in just that I created a job to be able to have freedom, like on my own kind of thing, you know, and then I’m like, now everyone has it, but it was like, you know, that was what I felt was so special about what I do, you know, it was like, oh my god, I found this job where I can like being sweats if I want or like men still make lots of money kind of thinking and it was like, oh my god, I figured out something that no one else has figured out. But um, you know, now that’s more broad what i Something we’ve learned maybe on little negative side or just like food for thought is in that same aspect of taking people that maybe have been a GM of a restaurant like, you know, crazy hours or like or have been a banker, or like, you know, different roles like that where they’ve had a very strict structure may For most of their career, and while they’ll appreciate the freedom that e-commerce brings, and things like that, as an employer looking to hire, I think you have to look for the kind of skills that allow people to unless you want to be a micromanager, that’s telling them every single thing to do is like, look, I’m gonna give you a lot of freedom may be that you’ve never had before in the workplace. And, you know, be able to trust that you can manage that time and manage that quality of work. And so if you’re going to have that, that employee that can work from Bali or wherever, then there has to be this just level of trust between you. Unless you want to solve for that. And that’s something we’re still trying to solve to find the perfect way, because we are not the team to be like micromanaging, that’s just not, you know, ours is about lifestyle and quality of life. And that’s why we have such a great team is they like being there, and they like who they work with. So if you take away those things, and you’ve kind of lost, you know, your magic, so for us, we’re still trying to solve for that. But it’s essentially like, how to take people that maybe haven’t been digital nomads for 20 years, and still keep them being effective. And you know, all those things. My sister Veronica that I’ve mentioned, we’re writing a book on how to how to work on the go, Oh, nice. How to little tips are tips and tricks, kind of like things of like how to stay just as productive. Maybe it’s a second screen, maybe it’s like, you know, little little hacks like that places to look for, where you’re gonna get the best Wi-Fi or quiet or like things like, islands don’t.
Chris McCabe 46:29
I’ve looked at the literature, and it’s there’s a dearth of what you’re describing, there are some things
Andrew Morgans 46:33
that we should co write one together. That’d be kind of cool.
Chris McCabe 46:37
Now you speak in my language. You know, I
Andrew Morgans 46:39
know you already said, You’re a writer, and I’m like, you know, we will go somewhere and write it together. That’d be kind of fun. And then we can co market it. But I learned that trick from my mentor, he, he co authors with people at SLAC. Fun, oh, nice,
Chris McCabe 46:51
nice. I’m a big believer in, like you said, freedom to decide how you want to apply your skills. And I was thinking of this a bit ago, we were talking about people working at Amazon that you’ve met, and then I’ve met, they are smart people, their brains aren’t always being applied in the role that they’re doing for Amazon. Yes. And a lot of brands talk to us, like we can’t believe like, why is the messaging written like this? Or what are all the people working? They’re just sort of clueless on how to know I mean, there are a lot of smart people there. But some of them aren’t allowed to use those brain doesn’t just work on Sundays, or someone just working on it. Or they are told this is our process. submit some suggestions, you want to go to one of these meetings and say how you can improvement improve it. We’ve all read the leadership principles. But is there something lost in the translation there? Because I know a lot of smart people. I don’t think their skill set I mean, they’re way more skilled, whether technically or not than I am. They’re smarter than I am. And I saw them not thriving at Amazon. But they were definitely useful for marketplace management of buyers and sellers and making sure it’s a safe platform, making sure it’s a place brands can feel okay to grow without being attacked. Some of those people end up leaving prematurely, I think, because their insights and their ideas are not, you know, necessarily welcome within the framework of well, we’ve got a process, we can’t just scrap it, we can’t just rebuild it from the from the beginning. And it’s like, well, some of these processes for creativity. Some of these processes mean whether it’s again, tools or teams and human processes, some of them do need to be revamped in a substantial way. And Leah and I spent a lot of time explaining to clients, even unpaid, like we have a one hour paid consult that we’ll do sometimes the first What 20 minutes will be why is it like this? Why are they talking to me like this? Why won’t they talk to me at all? Why did they write me these messages? Why, why? Why? Why? And it’s almost like we’re those early parents, you know, the two year old with the with the toddler questions of why this? Why this, why that not to compare all of our clients to two year olds. But it’s the same concept of like, I just don’t understand why it’s like this. I grew my I’ve doubled and tripled sales of this brand for the last three years. Why do I have to beg Category Manager? If I get a warning about a particular listing, whether it’s the wording, whether it’s a buyer complaint about the quality of the product, whatever. If I call into account health, or if I send an email back, why is it so inscrutable to find out what the complaint was what the nature and maybe not the exact complaint, just the nature of what you want me to appeal, like, get me in the ballpark? You don’t have to get me right to my seat, right?
Andrew Morgans 49:37
It’s kind of that parent thing of like, you know what you did wrong? I want you to tell me, like, tell me what you did. Exactly. Yeah.
Chris McCabe 49:45
And that’s the nature of their internal operations. That’s one of the key pieces that needs to change.
Andrew Morgans 49:51
I had a lightbulb moment for me when I went to I think Austin, Texas, and it was like for Launchpad or Amazon exclusives or something. And I went there with one of my brain And early on, this is like, I don’t know, 1718 or something. And, you know, there’s 3030 brand owners and there were like talking with them. And it felt super cool to I don’t know, have created this thing I got to my, you know, bedroom and then like, I’m like, this agency thing, this brand thing I don’t know about you guys. But for me, it was really cool. And it was like, they’re talking about something. And they’re like, well, like our developer that. And I learned that one, their team was like five or six people, okay, for all that. And then two. They said, our developer and I like raise my hand. I was like, do you say like, our developer, you know, like, as in like a single one that you guys are sharing between a couple of teams and like, they’re like, Yeah, we share the same developer across several teams. And to me, it was just this lightbulb moment of like, wow, they really do have them in silos, and it really is automated and don’t take it personal. You know, business is just as much mindset as anything else, right? Like, do you have victim mindset? Are you going to, like, take that problem that happen that where a customer didn’t pay you and screwed you over? And now you’re in a cash flow problem? Are you just going to take like, fix it, get over it and fix it and figure out what you have to do to keep going? Are you going to be like, Oh, my God, he screwed me, he screwed me. He screwed me. You know, so I think that’s, that’s just kind of the mindset of the problem fixing and it’s like, so whenever you come into contact with, with clients, you’re like, guys be calm. You know, we don’t have the answer, we’ll get the answer. You know, and it’s like, also, one thing, we realize, whenever we get brands that just have the problems, like they’re coming to us initially with a problem to solve, and then maybe we’ll get the full service management for you fix a kind of thing. Yeah, that’s how it works for us a lot. It’s like, they hold back some of the information they might give you like an address of it, but they’re ashamed, or they have like embarrassment around something or just like simply don’t know. And you’re trying to solve something, which like, you know, per Amazon’s rules, they violated at some point, right? And they’re just saying, No, we didn’t, and they’re not giving you the information. It’s like, Listen, I’m like your doctor, like, I can’t help you with this. This problem you just had, unless you tell me everything you’ve been taking, and you know, what’s been going on. Right. And that’s a big part. And I think, like with your guys’s specific niche, it’s, you’re getting a lot of stress, you know, you’re able to help them in a big way. I’m sure like when you are successful, but also when you get them you’re getting them out of like a stress point, like, you know, they’ve just been thinking about it, like in a dating relationship. They’ve just been like screwed over by an X, you know, they’re like, they’re upset or they’re losing money or their business might be on the line or knows it’s emotional. Mental health is anything else. Yeah,
Leah McHugh 52:34
yeah. We’ve seen we’ve had a lot of people talk about their mental health with us, like clients talk about that lately. It seems to be getting worse, not better at dealing with Amazon. Yeah, I think I think all Amazon sellers say that they have trouble sleeping. Yeah,
Andrew Morgans 52:48
I think so let’s talk about that, as we round out, like to me. And I have one more question for you guys. To me. There are so many people that are afraid of Amazon, because they don’t have the answers, right? And they don’t know what they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know who to go to. They don’t know what Amazon wants. You know, they’re just looking for the button to make it go away. You know, and honestly, and it’s so fear. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m very sensitive to fear, the pandemic just made it more intense, like everybody’s had fear. And I hate it, you know, I know it’s there. But it’s something like, I love Amazon, for an opposite reason. And that’s like, you know, whatever challenge business challenge comes up, whether it’s Amazon themselves, whether it’s like the competitors, whether it’s the market, whether it’s whatever, there’s options, you know, and there’s things we can do and there’s ways we can prevent against it, there’s ways we can protect the brand. So this doesn’t even happen preventative maintenance type stuff, you know, there’s all these things that you can do. So instead of being afraid, is to simply like let’s let’s set ourselves up with three or four options for supply chain if something happens with our IP plans, exactly
Leah McHugh 53:51
90% of the suspension whether account or listing suspensions that we get were preventable. And so you know, we do work with clients as to prevent issues as well. And we actually generally prefer working with people before they’re in an in a major emergency problem. But yeah, I mean, a lot of it is preventable and a lot of it is just a matter of making procedures for things to make sure that you know the person you hired to add something to your listing isn’t adding something that you’re not legally allowed to say which doesn’t sound like something that would happen a lot but that’s like all of my cases right now is people didn’t even realize that it was on their listing and it’s it was a disease claim or it was a pesticide claim.
Andrew Morgans 54:34
New business owners are like new like you got agencies like us that are you know, relatively new, like 10 or 11 years is not a lot and in the Amazon space Yes. And the rest of the business know and you’ve got us like you know, we know Amazon like a science but that doesn’t mean we know everything about trademark infringement, some copywriting issues and like you know, these are things you have to learn on the go. I was at the I was on seller, Cruz. I think I mentioned it briefly like I was a speaker there. There’s 25 speakers, amazing speakers, one of them was talking about, you know, search find buy. Yep. And someone been in this space a long time, it’s helped a lot of people with a lot of problems. Like, I’m not a huge fan of, you know, anything that’s Blackhat or like walking that line, right? Is your own moral objections, whether that bothers you or not, right? But for me, I was, you know, I’m literally like, an advocate to not do these things and build your brand the right way, time. And like, you know, all of that kind of stuff. So
Chris McCabe 55:34
not the short term score. Yeah, I’ve
Andrew Morgans 55:35
been, I have no reason of exiting or going anywhere. So I guess I’ve always been long term like, this is how I thought about it, like, are we planning business for two years are among like, what are we doing? You know, yeah. And I was just sitting there. And I was like, that’s how I feel about it. I’m like, Look, if you can get yourself out of whatever problem you’re about to get into, or potentially that risk for that doing that thing. If you can solve it yourself, then okay, you should take that maybe take that chance, like, but if you can’t solve it yourself, if you can’t get out of that problem, like stay away from those things,
Chris McCabe 56:06
you know, a lot of people think they can they go in with that mentality like, well, if I get suspended? Yeah, I’ll either I’ll either get it done myself. And if I get stuck, I’ll bring somebody else in it. Well, they might, they might say, I’ll hire someone. And what they fail to understand is number one, if they keep doing it themselves over and over and over, they might be killing the chances for somebody to help them later, they just assume that somebody can come in and save the day and rescue them, which is not always the case. Secondly, a lot of sellers that we’ve interacted with, have no idea how to properly vet a service for something this important like reinstating their seller account, they’ll assume they can do it on the fly without much research, they’ll assume they could do it on the cheap. We’re, you know, happy to say we’re not the cheapest service out there. But we also have a level of expertise and experience that goes with the price tag, with copy and paste templates. Those are being shopped all over the place as we speak right now. Those are 90% useless and worthless. A lot of sellers don’t you know that.
Andrew Morgans 57:04
Question to say, yeah, how do you go about, you know, with the title of our title of our podcast, how to hire eCommerce experts. Let’s get to that. Let’s speak to that, just like in the last question, you already were there. But essentially, like, we’re both agencies or service providers and consultants at some level, right? And there are others out there, I think there might even be 300 total, Amazon ad agencies, not full service, not problem solving. When I say there’s 300 worldwide, that’s not a lot. Do the math. Like if we all had 100 clients, we’re still not even touching. Right? Right. Of course, you know, right. And some need to have about 10, not 100. Right. So you know, that being said, a brand and agency, a founder, whoever is out there, like looking for someone to partner with or like bring on to help them give them advice, like from your guys’s perspective, giving advice to our listeners, both of you, if you can, you know, what are things you would look for when vetting a service provider or an agency or a team to work with?
Leah McHugh 58:03
Can you start?
Chris McCabe 58:04
Yeah, you start?
Leah McHugh 58:05
Okay. I think and this will probably not be a popular answer. But I think anything that you’re hiring somebody for, you need to have a little bit of knowledge yourself on, because how could you possibly vet somebody’s experience or expertise? If you have absolutely no idea what it is that they’re talking about? I think also is anything that they’re saying verifiable, like if their whole website talks about the great results, or everything that they do, amazingly, but that’s not verifiable anywhere else? Probably not probably not a good sign? And are they able to give references like when they say, Well, this is how we do this? Are they able to show examples? Why? And also, I mean, in terms of what we do, are they able to reference this particular part of the policy that applies to it, when I’m telling people what to do on Amazon? You know, if they’re asking what they should do, I am specifically showing them where in the policy it says this, I’m not just being like, Oh, you have to take my word for it. Because I know, if they aren’t able to do that, then chances are they probably don’t know what they’re talking about.
Chris McCabe 59:06
Yeah. And then in terms of, I think there are a lot of there’s a proliferate proliferation, sorry, of services out there. And some people are just tired quickly, when they’re searching for a service. They just say, well, there’s so many of them. And I don’t have all day to call all these people and look at all their websites. Well, there’s only a very small handful or a few who are the real deal with real experience that aren’t just, you know, kind of patting positive reviews for the services or putting, you know, copy paste type testimonials on their site. You have to have a thick skin. You have to have some street smarts about it. You can’t just believe whatever claims you’re told, because, unfortunately, in the Amazon space, it’s evolved into a world where people love to boast about things that they say they can do. People have started saying we do everything. We’re a full service agency that does this, this this and sometimes they do those things, but They don’t do them. Well, you know, it’s the old jack of all trades, master of none. And with the kinds of work we do to reinstate listings and reinstate accounts, that’s a huge gamble to just take their word for it. Yeah, some companies are even white, white labeling it. So the seller doesn’t even know who’s working on it or what their background is, it’s just a, we deal with this all the time we have a company we use will take care of it. Great, because I hope that’s true, because it might not be salvageable. If they’re just blowing smoke at you and telling you that that rescue attempt might not succeed. If it’s after 10 appeals or 12 appeals, we have people, maybe I should say this, we don’t work with everyone. We have people come to us way late in the game. And I have to just tell them, I mean, we’re not trying to get quantity over quality clients. Yeah, I have to tell people, we can’t help. But what do you mean, you can’t help you worked at Amazon? You’ve done this? How many years? You know, I know we’re good at it. Yeah, you don’t have to tell me that. But you’re too far gone, I have to have that conversation with way too many people now. And it’s also because the more they mess up, or maybe they didn’t touch it, and they just hired the wrong people, the more that person screwed up the the steeper the climb, the more work for us, you know, and then sometimes there’s the difficult conversation of Well, we already paid them. And so we have less money for you. Well, okay, but it’s more, you’ve made more work for us, and you’re offering us less. So now I’m even less inclined to work with you. Because you didn’t have a strategy, you didn’t have a plan. And you’re expecting a savior. That’s not what selling on Amazon is in this day and age. It’s not I can do whatever I want, like you were mentioning Blackhat services and Blackhat sellers a minute ago. Understand before you get into that, that you could be a one and done, you could make one mistake, they won’t care how new you are, they won’t care that you trusted the wrong people. If anything, if you say I trusted the wrong people, they’ll say well, now we’re even less inclined to reinstate you because you don’t even know what services to hire, let alone how to play the game by our rules. So it’s a tough marketplace. I’m not saying it’s easy. And I’m not saying it’s it’s easy for sellers to figure out which services to go with, but scrutinize who you hire and know exactly what they’re doing for you. And on your behalf.
Leah McHugh 1:02:09
I think just to end it on a slightly positive, more positive note.
Andrew Morgans 1:02:13
I was being quiet so we can get a clip. Like that’s going to be a social media clip. For sure. We just said you nailed that. Leah. I’m sorry. Go ahead. Oh, I think we’re gonna
Chris McCabe 1:02:22
see that on Tik Tok before the day is over. Okay.
Leah McHugh 1:02:25
I think it might be a little long. Just I think we were talking about this before we started recording, I think having your own trusted network. Even if you don’t have somebody in your network that does absolutely everything. Chances are they know somebody who does. So having that community that you trust, that you know, can be a really big part of hiring right.
Andrew Morgans 1:02:48
Yeah, that’s good, guys. That’s such great advice and humility.
Chris McCabe 1:02:51
We never tell everyone that we know everything about Amazon, we have partners, service providers that we know or
Leah McHugh 1:02:57
I know absolutely nothing about ads.
Chris McCabe 1:02:59
Right. We know ads experts, we know reimbursement case, you know, experts, there are companies that we know and trust because we’ve sent them sellers. First of all, we have the humility to say we don’t do that. They know way more about this than us. And secondly, we’ve heard good things when we send people that way. That’s what I want our referrals to be like not Oh, I get a slice of their pie, or I get a commission or a referral bonus. I want it to be I’ve sent 100 people that way. And none of them have come back upset with me.
Andrew Morgans 1:03:28
No, I spent a ton of time just like on the cruise and all the networking events I go to I say I’m like, I’m not really looking for business. Because I want to sit a booth and come in, you walk by me I have to sell, you know, I’m trying to attract the right businesses that are made for my team. That’s why I’m not there running booths like that, because I think the level of success on Amazon is 100% dependent on the partnership between the two teams, like, we can be amazing. But if you don’t get out of the way, we’re not going to be successful, or if you don’t engage, right, so I know that just through experience. And so it’s like, it’s not about just grabbing any fish out of the barrel, you know, it’s like, it’s about finding the right one. So everything I said was amazing. Like, you know, in my proposal process, it’s like, I can sell you all day, I know everybody else has been selling you just like call my references, look at our work. You know, I’ve lost 1000s of dollars from reputation to get something right, because my name was attached to it. And didn’t white label websites or social media or any of these things when we could have been making money, why reputation and trust and you know, when you’re dating, like you’re supposed to, like if you go on a date, it’s like you’re not supposed to bring your pack your baggage with you and say, Hey, I’m sorry, I can’t buy this meal. Like, my last girlfriend sent me for everything I had, like, you know, like, think about that stupid. So, you know the same thing in the business like, you know, is this a friend of a friend? Like did you find him on OkCupid Have you been talking a couple of months before you meet? Like, you know, there have been like, that’s a podcast today or that’s like, you know, blogger materials or like, get in there like spend some time I spend tons of time finding right partners just like you guys or like great videographers or great tick-tock agencies or like whoever. So like when the time comes, let’s just make a great introduction, and this person is not going to screw you over, you know, it’s how the world used to work before 2020? I think so, yeah. Past, it used to be all about who you know, and like an umbrella of trust and respect and reputation and trying to bring some of that back to this space, you know, and just just think about, like, you know, the people are spending tons of money on ads, and all these kinds of things. Like, there’s a reason why we keep landing new clients, right, probably because they’re having churn. Like, I’m speaking in a general sense here. But, you know, we’ve all seen these things are more about building the brands I already have, and then staying with me and hurting relationship. And it also just means that we’re not out like, you know, talking to every single person in the bar.
Leah McHugh 1:05:44
Right. So yeah, and that’s why we don’t offer every single service under the Amazon, because we don’t need to, and, honestly, we don’t want to,
Chris McCabe 1:05:52
we applaud your efforts. And we will be there with you every step of the way. Honesty and getting back to the way things were where there was actually a relationship there. But based on something, there was something solid, they’re not just hey, we met these people. And we talked to them, and we decided that we were going to share clients. On what basis Well, you know, they seem to know what they’re talking about.
Leah McHugh 1:06:11
Are they? Yeah, good, good affiliate.
Chris McCabe 1:06:15
And you’re hiring an eCommerce expert. I love the idea. Love the concept. If you want to have a separate conversation about that some time I will be available.
Andrew Morgans 1:06:23
Okay, we have some, we’re gonna have a lot more podcast episodes because I need one that’s just about some of the clients are turning away and the ones that are too far gone. I think that would be great. And we can just talk some blood, blood and gore and guts. You know of some stuff. That’s not work
Chris McCabe 1:06:38
Leah McHugh 1:06:40
a lot of how the sausage is made at Amazon.
Andrew Morgans 1:06:42
Right. Well, this has been absolutely amazing. I think people are gonna take a lot away from this episode. It has been awesome having you both on I know, I’ll see you at prosper soon. Maybe.
Chris McCabe 1:06:52
Possible at Seller Velocity.
Andrew Morgans 1:06:55
Yeah. So I own a minority equity stake in a brand I’ve been building for four or five years there in Oregon. I’ve been trying to get out to see him.
Chris McCabe 1:07:03
Okay, he’s got no excuse, then you’re on the clock at this point.
Andrew Morgans 1:07:06
He sets the bar for the rest of my clients. Like I don’t know, once I met him. I was like, if clients aren’t like this, then you know, it’s a problem for me. So he’s been begging me to get out there. I’ll have to get out there.
Leah McHugh 1:07:16
Yeah, you’re officially invited this year.
Chris McCabe 1:07:18
This year is a two day event. By the way. Most people familiar with Seller velocity from past incarnations in Seattle, New York and Boston. That was a one day event we packed in tons and tons of stuff. I’m sure we’ll be packing a lot this year, but it’s a two day event. So April 28, and 29th in Bend, Oregon.
Andrew Morgans 1:07:35
Well, thank you so much. And to our listeners. Thank you so much for your attention today. Once again, shout out to our sponsor for today’s episode Gusto. Once again, if you’re looking for an all in one HR platform, it’s time to check out Gusto. You have everything you need and just a few clicks of a button. You even get three months free when you go to gusto.com backslash Startup Hustle that’s gusto.com backslash Startup Hustle. I will have all of our guests information in the show notes. If you’re listening on Apple or iTunes, Spotify, wherever we’re gonna have all the notes there, you can figure out where to contact Leah and Chris, if you guys have questions on Amazon, just want to follow their journey, follow their content, find out more about the conference. Thank you all and we’ll see you next time.