Secret #24: How To Grow From 10 To 100 Employees

.SECRET #24: HOW TO GROW FROM 10 TO 100 EMPLOYEES

In this special behind-the-scenes episode, Russell chats with Brent Coppieters about ClickFunnel’s unique business structure, that allows them to scale so quickly. Here are some secrets you’ll hear today:

  • Russell’s painful experience of having to lay off 95% of his employees
  • How ClickFunnels growth is creating unheard of problems for coders
  • ClickFunnel’s unique support team structure that allows them to handle up to 9,000 conversations a week in record time

So if you’re in a position to scale your company, save yourself some trouble by listening in to the “do”s and “don’t”s that the ClickFunnels team has learned.

Full Episode Transcript Expand Transcript

Hey everyone, this is Russell Brunson. I’m here today with Brent Coppieters on the Marketing Secrets podcast.

So everyone, I got a really special podcast for you today, I’m so excited for. Right now, where are we at?

Brent: Kauai

Russell: Kauai, Hawaii. This has been our backyard for the last week, and we’re heading home tomorrow, which is kind of sad. But I wanted to get Brent in here to help you guys out. Because obviously in the Marketing Secrets podcast I talk a lot about the marketing stuff, and Brent has been with me now for over a decade. How long is it actually?

Brent: Eleven years at the end of July.

Russell: Eleven years, dang that’s crazy. So that’s when you started? Was anyone else here when you first got started officially?

Brent: Anyone who’s here now?

Russell: Brittany? Was she here?

Brent: Brittany came in after. I don’t think anybody else who was here before I started is still here.

Russell: So Brent’s been the longest, long term person, except Doral maybe. Doral in Romania. We got a Romanian. Our backlight is kind of lit, it’s hard to see us. Brent’s been around for forever and done tons of different roles. Right now he runs the entire operations of Clickfunnels so I wanted to have him kind of talk about the stuff because it’s a big part of growing and scaling a company that we don’t talk about a lot.

But first do you want to talk about your back story, as far as getting into this whole thing. It’s kind of a funny story.

Brent: How much back story do you want?

Russell: We should move over here to the couch so you can see a little better. So I met Brent at church initially. Do you want a pillow?

Brent: Yeah.

Russell: That’s how planned these things are. What was one of the first impressions, about this whole business, when you got introduced to it? Because I know a lot of people got through that, especially spouses or friends or potential employees or partners that don’t know this world at all, it’s kind of weird at first.

Brent: Yeah, I had no idea. I was at, met Russell through a church function and didn’t really know what he did. When I kind of thought he made money on the internet, I initially thought eBay, he sold stuff on eBay or you know, I had no idea.  I really couldn’t understand. So he had some of the business partners and friends that he kind of worked with at the time and I kind of pulled those guys apart and was kind of asking those guys, “What does he really do?” and one of our mutual friends, he knew that I didn’t understand so I talked to my wife who said, “I don’t know what this Russell Brunson guy’s doing, but it is freaking crazy.” Our friend was sharing the numbers that Russell was doing.

He was going to University, I was going to school as well. He was making more money than my parents combined income was, more money than they had ever made. So I was like, I gotta find out what this guy’s doing. So, like any friend, we invited him and wife over for dinner on a Sunday afternoon. So I just started asking him really carefully, “What are you doing? What exactly is this?” And he just kind of started sharing what he was up to, what he was doing. Obviously he doesn’t brag about what he’s doing, the success he was having and he was having tremendous success.

After they left, we had a good dinner and visited and then they left. I couldn’t sleep for three days. My head was spinning.

Russell: I ruined him.

Brent: You did, I was screwed at that point. After that happened I couldn’t fathom the success. But what was more important there was the value he was providing the world.

Russell: Was that before or after all our kids, we had twins and they had their first son the week before. I can’t remember if it was before or after.

Brent: We had met you before, we’d been friends for a little while. I think that we had our kids and you guys moved right after that.

Russell: All I remember is we had our twins we were in the NSU for two weeks basically. So we rented a hotel room in the hospital and just hung out there and goofed off, and I remember he was coming. “Don’t you have to go to work, or what are you doing?” He thought I was going to go…

Brent: Yeah, I told my wife, “We gotta take dinners over there or something, we gotta help them because they’re in the hospital with these twins because they can’t leave and he can’t work because he’s in the hospital.”

Russell: Little did they know the internet was working.

Brent: I had no clue.

Russell: So that was fun, so then a little while later, Brent started working for us. Initially it was affiliate management for how many years? You did that for a long time.

Brent: Yeah, like 8,9 years, roughly. The hats were always being moved but…

Russell: It’s a small company, you do a lot of everything.

Brent: Yeah, so probably 8 years to really focus on business development, affiliate management and partners and stuff like that.

Russell: And, just so everyone knows, I recently on the podcast had the presentation I gave from Funnel Hacking Live, the One Funnel Away, about the stories, and I talked about Brent in that and it made me cry in the middle of my presentation, it was kind of embarrassing. But you were here for the good and bad. When we went from 5 employees up to 100 and back down to 5 and all the stress up and down. I’m curious, honestly why you didn’t leave when everything collapsed and crashed.

Brent: That’s a good question.

Russell: I don’t know the answer either.

Brent: You’re going to get me vulnerable. Working with an entrepreneur, especially Russell, you know where their heart is and there came a point where he was trying to help too many people. He was employing a lot of friends and family and people that he wanted to provide opportunities for and that was great to a certain point. But there was a point there where the business changed a little bit, evolved and we were needing to make some changes with it. And those changes wouldn’t allow him to support everyone he was supporting.

That was very difficult for him. My wife and I, we cared and loved Russell and Collette and their family. We came to a point where I didn’t want to be a burden, I knew he was stressed and worried about taking care of people. I had a conversation with my wife, where I said I would rather keep our friendship, than have him feel stressed about supporting, having an opportunity for me to keep working there.

So one day I kind of came into your office, and had a real chat. I probably said some things that, I wanted him to understand how important what he was doing was, and also I wanted him to understand that I was okay to leave. I didn’t want him to feel like he needed to provide for me. I would be fine to figure things out. I just wanted to make sure he was okay. Because it was at the point where you were helping so many people, really one hiccup you could have lost everything. All your savings was going back into the company and at some point you just can’t keep doing that.

Russell: Yeah, I got really scared, but somehow we pulled it around.

Brent: Pulled it around and obviously you had to make some tough phone calls and decisions that changed the company at that point.

Russell: Basically we had to, we had 100 and some odd employees, we had all these wrestlers working for me, we had let go the whole wrestling team. We had to downsize. We shrunk from a 20,000 square foot building to 2000. It was rocky and scary but it gave us the ability to refocus and figure things out. Remember we went on a couple trips where we were trying to figure out who were the people still having success in our market. We jumped in a plane traveling to different people’s offices. We spent time with Ryan Dyson and Perry Belcher, trying to figure out what they were doing. With Alex Chafren, what they were doing. People who were our friends, just kind of used this time to figure out what’s actually working today and how do we shift our business model and change everything.

It’s funny how much pain there was during that time. We flew to London. How important it was for the transition for what became Clickfunnels and everything else.

Anyway, so many fun stories we could talk about forever. But we don’t have time for all those things. What I want to talk about a little today is, probably a year into the business when we first started growing, it’s funny I got a message today from Alex Chafren, he’s like, “You sound so calm.” Probably because we’re here in Hawaii but he was like, “I don’t know any other person running a hundred million dollar company that’s as relaxed and able to respond to people.”

Anyway, when we first started, we didn’t know what we were doing. It was just kind of like, we know how to sell stuff. Started selling Clickfunnels, it started growing and all the sudden all sorts of new headaches came up with that. From a software standpoint with Todd and we brought in Ryan and they had to deal with infrastructure, ups and downs. I think based on ranking we’re the 700th most visited website in the world. But that’s not counting anyone’s custom domains. If you take away custom domains, we’re probably in the top 500 websites in the world.

There’s not many humans on earth that have ever dealt with that kind of scaling and infrastructure. Todd had never done it, Ryan had never done it. They’re figuring this stuff along the way and we’re hiring consultants. On the marketing side we’re trying to grow and then all these things and as everything was growing one thing we didn’t have in place was any of the internal company business stuff. We were good sales people, good coders but we had to do that.

It was funny because, you’d never had experience with that either though.

Brent: Not really, no.

Russell: We had this time where internally there were, everything was shaking and we said basically “Brent, we’re going to take you from affiliate management and you’re going to run this role.” And didn’t know what to expect, if it was going to work or not going to work. He was able to step into this thing and turned it really simplified. I’ve had zero stress about that part of the business since you took it over. From that time we went from 20 employees to I don’t even know where we’re at now.

Brent: 135 or something. Employees and contractors, we got a few different folks.

Russell: Lots of people. So I’d love to talk, first you step in that role and it was probably disorganized and stuff. What were your thoughts? What did you have to go and figure out? What’d you have to learn to be able to turn it into what it is now?

Brent: I think the big thing is Russell’s vision for the company. We’d worked together long enough that I knew where he wanted to go. Even inherently just kind of knew. The big thing about Russell is his ability to surround himself with good people. That was the first part, evaluating who we have currently. Are they on the right seat on the bus, is a big part of that too. So we tested different things, and some things worked and some things didn’t work very well.

We brought people and we started the phone stuff a little bit with the clickstart program and some of those guys were better than others and we’ve evolved that program. But the big thing about it is obviously support. We had, when you guys initially started hiring support team members, those guys were rock stars, and a lot of those guys are still with us today. They have evolved in their positions in the company because of their commitment and their love of Clickfunnels. I love when I get to interview and talk to people and when those individuals say, “I love Clickfunnels.”  That is the coolest compliment that we can get. When get people that raise their hand, they want to work with us because they love Clickfunnels, they love the mission, they love the ability to help people.

I think the biggest challenge was how do we grow with it? Because the marketing side, was growing so fast, it’s important that we’re providing and helping our users and helping them have the best experience possible. Also, Clickfunnels isn’t just some easy push button software. It is easy to use once you understand it, but there’s a lot of different parts of it and understanding marketing is a big part of it.

So we needed to bring on people who could understand Clickfunnels, who understood marketing and also understood Russell’s style, the way you were taking everything.

Russell: It’s crazy because I think when you took over the role of that, it wasn’t just support but that was a big piece of it, obviously. There’s probably what, a dozen support people at the time?

Brent: Yeah, there was probably about 6 to 10. Well, probably 10.

Russell: 10 at the time. You found a way to take that….it’s funny because one of the criticism sometimes of Clickfunnels is “Support’s not live all the time. Awebber’s live.” Awebber’s been growing for 20 years. They probably get 4 new signups a day. Clickfunnels right now, it’s been a while since I looked at the stats, but it’s anywhere from 500 to a thousand sign ups a day, every single day. Coming to Clickfunnels and trying to learn this huge platform that runs your entire company. How do we stay in front of that.

Our goal eventually is to get to the point where it’s real time support or as close to that as possible. But there’s no one else in our space that’s ever had to deal with that. That have grown companies that fast. Most big companies like Strive don’t have any support at all because they’re like, we can’t therefore we don’t. We still need to have that support and education and stuff like that in place.

I think what you did initially, I know that Ryan was a part of this. Ryan Montgomery helped set this up initially too. But just for those that don’t have support teams or maybe have three or four people and are starting to scale something, you kind of broke people into teams. Do you want to talk about some of that initial stuff that you guys did there to make the scaling side of support easier?

Brent: Yeah, so we moved over to Intercom, that allowed us to do like live support. It wasn’t right live, but people could submit conversations and we’d respond to them and that’s what we used to start. We’ve grown, our response time, that’s how we kind of gauge our success, our response time. There’s a lot of software companies that offer live support, from 8-5. Ours is essentially turned on 24 hours, we’ve got team members all around the world. When we initially started we actually had an international team and we had more domestic teams, but as we realized, and continued to scale and grow, we had more and more people international. We’ve got international folks on every team. We’ve got domestic folks on every team. So they can kind of work that schedule out as needed.

But as we came in we saw the amount of conversations we had, these guys are answering 8-9 thousand conversations a week, our support team. It is crazy. Our billing support is unreal. We’ve got a team of billing support team members and most of them are in our office. We’ve got a few individuals who aren’t. But the big part of it is having leadership being in those positions. So every support team we have has a team lead who is the person we reach out to and help with training and they now can pass the messages and training on to the other team members.

Russell: So how many teams do we have right now?

Brent: So technical support teams, we have 8 technical support teams.  We have one billing support team. We’ve got one team that focuses on some other different partners we have and worked with in the past. We’ve got a team that helps with our Quickstart program, that’s a program people can signup with and it allows them to get some help on the initial setup and we’ve got a team lead that helps run that team.

Russell: The thing that’s cool about this, for any of you guys who are scaling, in fact this is what happened at first when we were scaling. There was one person in charge and had 10 people underneath them and we were trying to grow and everything was growing and that person couldn’t handle any more growth. Because it’s hard to have more than 8 to 10 people you report to. You get bigger than that, it gets stressful and it’s really, really hard. So what Brent did, he came in and said, “Okay, the people we have that are rock stars, make each of those a team lead. And let’s put employees underneath each of those and the team lead can train the employees and make sure they’re doing good. And he’s only got to deal with the 8 or 10 team leads, deal with them and then they are dealing with the individual people. It gives us a communication channel to get through and now he’s not having 90 direct reports back to him. He just has the 8.

Another cool thing we did recently, because the other big thing we have and some of you guys will have something similar with your businesses is, there was a competitor that has software that has pages that generate leads. Their software does one thing, there’s one button you can click and that’s it. It’s very, very simple. Clickfunnels is like, we’re building a landing page, your funnel, your shopping cart, your affiliate platform, your auto-responders, there’s 8 thousand things. For us, we can’t just hire someone in Boise, Idaho and be like, “Hey, now you’re a support person for Clickfunnels.” There’s such a learning curve they have to understand to be able to do that.

So a couple of things, number one is that most of our hires come from people that are members of our software, which is a big thing for you guys to think through. In inner circle this comes up all the time. Where do I find rock stars? I guarantee the rock star you’re dreaming for is already a customer of your product right now. Look at your internal customer base for your rock stars, because they’re going to know your product, be passionate, they’re going to care more than someone you pull off the street. That’s number one.

Number two is we needed, how do we train these people? I think initially each team lead just trained their people, and they were getting bogged down in the training and not being able to support and manage and stuff like that. So we talked about a new team that’s the training team, right?

Brent: Well a big part of this that helped, Mark came up and helping work, he does a lot more direct work with the team leads.

Russell: You guys know Mark Bangerter, he’s killing it, he’s awesome.

Brent: You know he still kind of balances customer education and he helps with support management. So Mark came in and we had the idea, we brought new people on and initially they would slow down the rest of the team. So we pulled another team lead out, we pulled out Andrew Newman, and now his focus is just training. So as we bring new team members on, he’s focusing on those guys. As we look at, he doesn’t have anybody currently to teach, he’s reaching out to people who have been on the team and maybe lack knowledge about Backpack or Actionetics, and then he’s pulling those guys out and he’s doing training with those guys so that we can get everybody up to the same level.

Russell: That’s cool. We did something like that back when we had our big call center before the big crash of what year was that? Crash or 08, crash of 09. Because we had 60 sales guys and the problem is the same thing. We’d hire sales guys off the street and someone’s gotta train them, so we had a training team. So every sales guy would come in and go through a two week training with Robbie Summers was the one that managed that and then the ones that were good we’d then put them on the floor under another team. And the ones that sucked, we’d just get rid of them.

And that’s kind of the same thought here. Let’s bring people in and have someone who’s dedicated to training them and when they’re ready, then put them on a team so they can start running with it. Everybody’s opposed to pulling people back.

It’s just crazy all these, these are all the things we’re learning as we’re growing and scaling. Someday we’re going to write a book about this whole journey and this whole experience, because I think a lot of times companies are built like, there’s a dude with an idea, they hire venture capitalists and bring in a management team, all this stuff and build a company. Whereas with us it was like raw passion and that’s what’s grown this whole thing and kept it afloat. It’s been a fun ride so far.

Brent: It’s been an unbelievable ride.

Russell: So I appreciate all your work and help and everything you do. Hopefully this gives some of you guys ideas as your growing your support teams or development team or management or whatever those things are. If you look at also, I had someone, it was Andrew Warner from Mixer the other day, he interviewed me, he’s like, “How are you able to write books and run a software company and do coaching and all these different things?” And the same thing is kind of what Brent mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten really good at surrounding myself with amazing people. Where I feel like it’s almost like there’s parts of the company that people are running. You’re running all the operational stuff, I don’t have to worry about that, the hiring and firing, the finding other people. Brent does that. So I just talk to Brent and then all the people stuff is taken care of.

Todd and Ryan run the development team, Todd’s running it. I talk to Todd all the time, but it’s just happening and I don’t have to stress about that. I’m kind of running the marketing team. Dave’s running, there’s john, there’s probably 5 or 6 people that I deal with directly inside the company and I’m able to do the parts that I love the most, that I’m the best at. And I think a lot of us entrepreneurs and most of the people in those positions all get profit share and equity in the company and I think one of the big mistakes I made when I first got started was I was so protective, this is my, I wanted so much control over everything that I stifled everything. Whereas when I was able to give up control and bring in rock stars and people that have skill sets that I don’t and now, because they have a stake in the game, I don’t have to worry about everything, every decision, every single thing.

I trust Brent. He makes a thousand decisions a day that I never even questioned or think about because I trust him. Same thing with Todd, they know they do that because they’re willing and able to do that. So I think a lot of you guys, if you’re struggling with growth, you don’t have the ideas, you’re not going to bring on venture capitalists and destroy your soul and you want to grow something. The opposite of that is bring on really smart people and give them a stake in the game.

It’s kind of like Chet Holmes used to tell me, he said that in his company, everyone was based on a percentage of sales, there was no salary based people. He said what’s cool about that is that big months everyone gets big checks, small months everyone gets small checks but everyone’s in it together. I think that building teams that way is better than bringing in a bunch of money and hiring the right people, or hiring the best people. It’s hiring the right people and giving them incentive to where they can grow and do whatever they want.

In fact, I’m going to share one thing. This is cool. Am I allowed to share this, I probably can. This was, we had these accountants, most marketers don’t like accountants, but we had these accountants and every year I’d have to go the accounting meeting and then they would always talk about all the stuff to do to try to lower your, anyway, it was super annoying. It was the worst meeting of my year, I would lose all motivation and momentum for an entire week because I was so stressed out. I remember driving home from one of those so pissed off at the accountants for trying to ruin my happiness in life. And I remember in this podcast, I have to go find it, but I was like, “My goal is I want, not only am I going to max out my tax bracket but I’m going to have everyone I know around me, all my partners, all the people that are pushing this, I want to max out their tax bracket as well.”

We were talking about this earlier on this trip here in Hawaii, there’s probably half a dozen people or so on our team now, that have maxed out their tax bracket because of this whole concept that we’re talking about. That is the coolest feeling in the entire world.

Brent: It’s pretty awesome.

Russell: It’s pretty amazing. So there you go, Uncle Sam, there you go. Anyway, that’s all I got. You have anything else you want to add?

Brent: No, I just think, you said unbelievable, it truly is every day. How cool is it to be able to come and work with friends and good people that, it’s just a positive place. Our company culture is a big deal and you drive that and it’s been really fun to see people come into our office or just come into our business, our space and feel that, and even those who just work remote, we’ve got a lot of team members that work remote, most of them are. And it can be kind of a lonely road out there, but we do things to try to help them feel the love. Russell will send swag to people and just unexpected things that make people feel the love and help them know we appreciate them and that’s a big deal.

Russell: So here’s a question, for those who may want to join Clickfunnels team, how do they?

Brent: We have a link on Clickfunnels, at the bottom of Clickfunnels under Careers, but we’re always looking. If someone out there is passionate, you want to be able to find a place with us, hit me up. You can hit me up on Facebook, email, [email protected], send me an email. I can direct you where to go, we have application up.

Russell: That’s awesome. Thanks man. So that’s a little behind the scenes of how the HR, the growth, the internal stuff, what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Again, we’re just learning all this stuff along the way. Someday we’re going to write a book about it when it’s all done. Because the lessons we’ve learned along the way have been cool. So hopefully this gave you guys a couple of ideas and things as you’re growing and scaling your teams, and that’s all I got. Thanks everybody. Thanks Brent.

Brent: Absolutely. Thanks guys.

Russell: Bye.



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People who read blogs... read blogs, people who watch videos... watch videos, etc...

Secret #9: Entrepreneurial Scars

Why these things can and should move you forward as opposed to pulling you backwards.

Secret #7: Cool Stuff We Learned During Our “7 Day Launch”

Here is a recap of a 7 day internal launch that made over a million dollars and what we learned along the way.

Secret #6: How To Do SEO The Right Way By Using The Dream 100

The dream 100 isn’t just for JV partners… it’s the key to ALL traffic.

Secret #5: You Gotta Have Faith… Marketing Faith

Someone wants to join Russell's Inner Circle but is afraid to pay without knowing the results.

Secret #4: Planting Seeds Of Doubt

A cool underground way to overcome your competitors.

Secret #3: The What And How

The secret from going from zero to a million dollars is all about identifying what it is you're selling and how you're selling it.

Secret #2: How to Turn 3,000 Email Clicks into 300,000 Visitors

Russell just had an epiphany about email marketing... On today's episode Russell reveals his new email strategy to multiply his traffic.

Secret #1: How To Outspend EVERYONE Profitably

Is it possible to start a business without raising money? Russell explains how you can outspend all your competitors without needing to take a single dollar from venture capitalists.


The beginning of my journey from

$0 - $100,000,000

in revenue WITHOUT any venture captial

Who is Russell Brunson?

Over the past 10 years, Russell has built a following of over a million entrepreneurs, sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his books, popularized the concept of sales funnels, and co-founded a software company called ClickFunnels that helps tens of thousands of entrepreneurs quickly get their message out to the marketplace.