Mario Peshev, the founder and CEO of WordPress development agency DevriX, sheds some light on how he’s handled hiring a team, from the early days of the agency to today. With a team of about 50 people working for the agency, Mario has also had to focus on creating processes and systems to ensure that everyone and everything runs as efficiently as possible.
Tune into this episode of the WP Elevation podcast to get a major dose of hiring and team management inspiration.
Mario Peshev is the founder and CEO of DevriX, a WordPress development agency based out of Bulgaria. The team of 50 focuses on providing development and support for enterprises, publishers and startups.
Mario founded DevriX back in 2010, so he’s had almost ten years to perfect the practice of hiring a team for his agency. That said, he still looks back on the first hire (and even some other earlier ones) as a difficult process.
“Hiring your first employee is tricky because you have to spend eight hours working for them and with them. And you have to spend another eight hours doing the work you were supposed to do while you were training them.”
He says it’s especially difficult to hire employees — even now — for roles that are brand new. When you don’t have a job description, a list of requirements, or even a clear idea of how exactly they’ll contribute to the end goal, it takes a bit of work to find and onboard the right person.
That said, the more people you bring on, the easier the process becomes. Part of the reason for this is that you can share the responsibility of hiring and onboarding with your department heads. Also, if you’re simply adding someone to an established team, there are already guidelines for what you need and expect from the new hire that you can follow.
Mario says they spent time investing in time-tracking solutions like Toggl and Harvest, but they just didn’t align with the processes the agency already had in place. So, they decided to build their own time-tracking system.
This isn’t the only time Mario and his team have ditched an established solution for something custom. DevriX also has its own business process management system. And now Mario’s considering replacing their project management tool and Slack with proprietary solutions.
But why bother? Well, when you look at the reason why DevriX doesn’t package up and sell these tools to other agencies, it makes sense:
“Some of these tools are so unique to our workflow that it doesn’t necessarily fit everyone else’s culture.”
Take Asana or Basecamp, for example. The demos for these tools show you how to plan out eight tasks a month or quarter. But, for DevriX, they need something to help them plan out eight tasks a day. In other words, many popular tools just aren’t built for agencies with intense workflows like DevriX.
In the past, the majority of the DevriX team was offsite, with about 80% working remotely. These days, over 60% are in-house. Here are some reasons why Mario went that way:
As DevriX scaled up and started to target enterprise-grade customers, 24/7 support became a necessity.
“Those jobs aren’t complicated, but we need people who can react quickly and pair up with other people in-house.”
It helps establish a good balance, too. New hires come in and are excited to tackle challenges whereas employees who’ve been there for close to a decade are unfazed by it. So, they share their knowledge and let the eager employees dig in.
Because all of DevriX’s clients are remote, it’s critical for employees to have excellent communication skills — something they screen for heavily during interviews.
But it’s not just about being an effective communicator. Employees need to be able to respond and react quickly. That’s why Mario says it’s often job applicants with fewer years of experience who make the best hires — since they haven’t had the chance to become accustomed to more relaxed work environments.
This is the biggest requirement for Mario. If a team member just can’t fit within the company culture — no matter how good their work is — they won’t last.
“We see this workspace as more or less our second family. We spend a lot of time at work and just having toxic people around or those who don’t fit in well is off-putting and contagious for the rest of the team.”
With so much talk about hiring, it’s no surprise that most of the company is managed by senior staff and team leads like the VP of engineering.
While Mario says that he still messes around with coding about 10% of the time, it’s nothing like it was five years ago. Even tasks like client sales and onboarding he’s had to delegate to his team. He eventually realised it wasn’t the best use of his efforts to work on stuff like that anymore.
Today, he focuses on enhancing the company culture, communication, finances, and growth.
As for getting the word out about DevriX, Mario says that outbound sales never really worked for them. Instead, they rely on four different inbound revenue streams:
As for the future of the company, Mario’s primary focus is on his team. He’s worked hard to get his agency to where it is, so he’s always thinking about ways to invest in things that keep the team entertained and engaged.
If you want more insights on how to start and grow a WordPress agency the way pros like Mario Peshev do, make sure you subscribe to the WP Elevation podcast!