Bluehost has changed significantly since we started in December of 2003. I have learned a lot since that time. Many business decisions we made were spot on and we were rewarded for those good decisions. However, other decisions turned out badly for us and made us look bad to our customers. I decided I would list some of the good and bad decisions (In no particular order) since our inception and see what you, the customer, think about it.
GOOD – Decided to primarily have a single hosting option (One plan) – This was a very good decision on our part. We have always tried to give the very most we possibly could to the customer for the price. Getting rid of the multiple hosting choices greatly reduced customer confusion and helped fuel our growth.
BAD – Not offering 24/7 support soon enough. Bluehost was going for over a year before we started offering real 24/7 support and support on Sundays. We have a significant customer base outside the US, and not giving them a valid support route 24/7 cost us sales, and customer satisfaction. Of course we now offer 24/7 email, chat, and phone support.
GOOD – Made the decision to never outsource any part of our business. This one decision has had an enormous impact in our success. Hosting is a cutthroat business and every dime matters, but to make money long term the customer HAS to be happy. Outsourcing in a business like hosting shows shorts term financial gains, but is a recipe for disaster in my opinion. Outsourced support is NEVER as good as quality in house support engineers, and customers WILL vote with their dollars for a company that strives to offer qualified, trained support staff.
BAD – Relied heavily on Godaddy (Wildwestdomains) to take care of our domain sales to go along with our hosting business. This is a crucial part of our business and as time went by it was clear we had to manage and integrate this as tightly as possible to solve our customer issues. We are now our own Icann accredited registrar, and have long since washed our hands of the gross incompetence that plagued Godaddy.
GOOD – We build our own servers and put them in our own datacenter, along with our own bandwidth. None of these resources are shared with other companies and the benefits are real and substantial. Almost no hosting company of a decent size that I know of custom builds their own servers. I come from a very knowledgeable background in computer hardware and design each server in use at Bluehost. This allows us to mitigate much of the hardware problems that plague other hosts because they can use only what is offered in the datacenter that they rent space in. The cost saving is also quite substantial as I speak Mandarin Chinese and can negotiate pretty good deals for our parts that go into our servers.
BAD – Didn’t organize business fast enough to accommodate our explosive growth. Often times, we found ourselves behind the curve because we grew too quickly. A little more forethought on our part could have helped to alleviate these issues and helped us grow at a more accelerated rate than what we currently enjoy. Good project management and follow through with projects can really free up management to take the business where it needs to go.
GOOD – We wrote from scatch our entire signup, billing, affiliate, customer relationship, and server provisioning and monitoring software. I can say with confidence that there isn’t another Cpanel host on the planet that is as efficient as we are on a large scale because of the monumental effort we have put into having our own system that lets us address and automate issue resolutions that other hosts continually have to deal with manually. The importance of this component can’t be understated!
Well, there you have it. The good and the bad! The list could go on forever, but this is only a blog entry after all. I would be interested in your comments about this particular entry because what I have listed above affects our customer base directly.
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com