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Episode 19 – Shane Hodge –

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Episode 19 – Shane Hodge –

Chris Simmance (00:00.726)
Thanks voiceover guy and on the podcast today, I’ve got Shane Hodge all the way from the Philippines, but by way of Australia for the second time. Hello, Shane. How are you doing?

Shane Hodge (00:09.795)
Second top mate, I’m doing fabulous. I’m just excited to be here with you.

Chris Simmance (00:15.507)
It’s been a long time coming. I think you were episode two or three of the first season. So it’s taken us a while to get background to having a chat, hasn’t it?

Shane Hodge (00:26.033)
But we’ve chatted in between, but we haven’t done it live.

Chris Simmance (00:28.414)
We have, yeah. Well, we’ve been on a couple of Duda webinars. We’ve been in, you know, I’ve been following Hodge’s Kitchen on Facebook.

Shane Hodge (00:32.869)

Shane Hodge (00:38.416)
And mate, I talk to your missus. So, I mean, it’s all in the family. I have a word, mate, with her. She’s very vocal on social media.

Chris Simmance (00:42.166)
Well, if she hasn’t told me about that, I need to have words.

Chris Simmance (00:52.463)
So for those who didn’t hear season one, episode two or three, can you give us a bit of an intro? Who are you? What agency do you run? And give us a bit of a rundown of what you guys do.

Shane Hodge (01:02.979)
Okay, so I’m the CEO, co-founder, everything of the, and we’re based out of the Philippines. We’re a Duda platform, major solutions partner, and we specialize in helping out Duda agencies all over the world, build beautiful websites, do local SEO and Google ads, and all that sort of thing to become rich and famous. How’s that?

Chris Simmance (01:26.902)
Lovely. And you’ve been running that agency for how long now?

Shane Hodge (01:31.451)
since 2013.

Chris Simmance (01:36.927)
So, this is your 11th birthday coming up. This is great. Mate, you look younger every time I see you. Ha ha.

Shane Hodge (01:38.907)
See the wrinkles, mate, see these wrinkles. I didn’t have those.

Shane Hodge (01:44.927)
I love you mate. Shut up Chris. Righto, let’s get on with it.

Chris Simmance (01:50.539)
So since we last spoke, I know that we’ve done a few things with Duda webinars and stuff and so on. You’re still one of the Duda’s largest partners. What do you think has been like one of the major developments in the last, say, year or so within your agency in particular? And how have you had to sort of adapt to them?

Shane Hodge (01:57.563)

Shane Hodge (02:13.399)
Okay, so with us, I mean, and this is post COVID, right? Because I think we were into COVID when we were talking last or just coming out of it. And yeah, and everyone had to reinvent themselves, because a lot were going broke and a lot were losing their client base. And in our case, we had to take a really good look at where we are. And what we found was, okay, the camera had been going a long time. Our…

Chris Simmance (02:23.443)
Mm. Just coming out, I think, yeah.

Shane Hodge (02:41.863)
The core business was really major partners. And that is bigger guys that wanted to partner with somebody that they could talk to, they could discuss business with. They weren’t at just what I call a master-slave relationship, right? And we found that was something we really had to focus hard on. And…

Chris Simmance (02:55.886)

Chris Simmance (03:07.201)

Shane Hodge (03:08.431)
What we did was we basically rebuilt the entire organization around major partner relationships, but still looking after that agency business because we have to do that, we’ll do that. And we moved into looking after, I think it was back then, it was probably four or five major accounts. And that is guys that, let’s say they’re doing half a million plus a year, putting…

Chris Simmance (03:16.974)

Shane Hodge (03:38.627)
our thinking into them, how can we make it better? How can we add more value to them? Right? And that’s where we went, and we ended up developing our own white label dashboard for Duda, and we call that All Access, which gives us not just that white label thing where they can build websites and do all that sort of stuff, but we can do more.

filling magic. We can do more marketplace magic. And that’s the biggest difference we’ve done in the last year.

Chris Simmance (04:09.558)

Chris Simmance (04:17.194)
And, and what was, so apart from kind of, um, the post COVID kind of having to do a bit of a, a look in the mirror, should we say, um, with the business, what do you think? Like, what was the, what drove you to that? What everyone kind of had a different reason for, um, for having their own reinvention or rebuilding of a business and things like that. What was the, what was one of the key drivers for you that started that? The.

Shane Hodge (04:27.591)
That’s a good point.

Chris Simmance (04:44.758)
Before it became an itch in the back of your head that needed scratching, what was the early signs that you were deciding that?

Shane Hodge (04:50.887)
Bloody good question, Chris. You’ve got good questions, mate. Okay, now, let me be honest. The key driver was this master-slave relationship. I don’t know if that’s a good thing to say, but you know that where you’ve got no control, you’ve got no real added value. All you’re doing is you’re building websites cheap, and you’re a bit of a slave laborer, and you haven’t got a seat at the table.

Chris Simmance (04:53.326)
Mm, I’m good at this. Mm.

Chris Simmance (05:17.854)

Shane Hodge (05:20.763)
You’re not doing anything to help them build your business, which is building your business. And that was the key driver. I sat back with the whole team and I thought, hang on a minute, how can we have a bigger voice in this game? How can we be more important and how can we secure recurring revenue? Rather than, we were at the stage after, I don’t know what it was, eight, nine, 10 years, where we built a website.

Chris Simmance (05:20.78)

Shane Hodge (05:48.751)
We make money out of that and then we’d sit back and go, well, what are we gonna do now? All right, and that pushed us because COVID was the big awakening, you know, that every month you were sort of going, where are we gonna get money from? Whereas now, when we open the door every month, we know that X amount of dollars is gonna come in. When you’ve got a master slave relationship, you don’t have that, right? You’re always…

Chris Simmance (05:53.098)

Shane Hodge (06:17.627)
worrying every single month, where am I gonna create revenue? Where am I gonna create revenue? You never get in that position where, where am I going to add value? Where am I gonna add benefits? What we did was sit back and think, that’s gotta be our focus now. No more master slave. We’re gonna be a value added partner. We’re a true player in the relationship. We’re not just building cheap and nasty websites.

Chris Simmance (06:31.914)

Chris Simmance (06:48.03)
Yep. And, and it’s, has that change been, say, the value of that change, has that been magnified with the recent changes, say recent changes, and we agreed not to go too far into this, because everyone talks about it exactly. Has the changes that have the changes sorry, that you made to grow the business in that kind of focus on

reciprocal partnerships kind of basis. Has that been magnified, so to speak, with the development in technology in the last few years? Or is that, has it made it easier to add value in that sense?

Shane Hodge (07:32.559)
Yeah, we’re not gonna talk about the dreaded two letters. All right, because I hate them as much as you do. But what I did, I think it was November, what are we now, 2024, so November 2022 when the dreaded two letters became something where social media grabbed hold of it, CNN grabbed hold of it, and that’s it, off she went. And then by March 2023, it became

Chris Simmance (07:36.126)
No, thank you.

Chris Simmance (07:50.348)

Shane Hodge (08:02.287)
worse than COVID, where everyone was talking about it, everyone wanted to do it. And I just sat back and I thought, hang on a minute, what’s this really gonna do to our business and obviously everyone else’s? What I decided was basic websites gone dead, basic SEO gone dead, basic content gone dead. If you’re in that game, you’re not gonna survive. So Hodgy, you better do something different.

and that’s how all access, and moving that attitude to be not a master slave, but a real value added relationship partner, that’s when I made the decision, and that was because of the dreaded two letters.

Chris Simmance (08:42.85)

Chris Simmance (08:47.762)
And, and so how has that had to, has there, have there had to been the ways that you lead your team of things like that, how to adapt as well? Have you kind of learned different, a different kind of way of running things or is that, is it evolved naturally?

Shane Hodge (09:01.699)
Yes, totally. We reorganized the whole place, right? And we sat everyone down. It was not something I pulled, you know, yeah, we’ll go that way now, right? I sat everyone down. I said, okay, the business is changing, it’s changing fast. We’ve got to adapt or die, right? And what are we gonna do here? What it basically means is all those kids that were used to doing

Chris Simmance (09:06.295)

Shane Hodge (09:30.587)
within the camel master slave, we said to them, you’ve got to upskill. You’ve got to decide, do I want to be, and I think the, what was the role? Solution analysts, right? Whereas before they were just like partner managers or they were site builders, they all become solution analysts, where we said that basic stuff,

Chris Simmance (09:33.614)

Chris Simmance (09:46.791)

Shane Hodge (09:59.771)
You’re not doing it anymore. What you’re gonna do is you’re gonna look at things and say, we’ve got a solution that we’ve analyzed that can make it better for you and me. And that was the change in the place. Even in the Google Ads and SEO and all that sort of stuff, we took it away from just doing what you’re told.

Chris Simmance (10:15.405)

Shane Hodge (10:25.991)
to offering ideas, offering solutions. Because the dreaded two letters can’t do that.

Chris Simmance (10:26.115)

Chris Simmance (10:33.61)

Shane Hodge (10:35.151)
We should trademark that dreaded two letters.

Chris Simmance (10:37.834)
Yeah, it sounds, do you know what? It sounds like the name of a, of a punk band that plays in a, in a dark pub. The dreaded two letters. Here’s my, here’s my, here’s my song titled, I revamped my business by the dreaded two letters. So over the last year, let’s forget those two letters and what that’s done.

Shane Hodge (10:43.309)

Shane Hodge (10:46.671)
The dreaded two letters.

Shane Hodge (10:54.63)
Two letters, the dreaded two letters.

Chris Simmance (11:07.822)
the industry as a whole. And by digital industry, industry as a whole, I’m thinking digital marketing, as well as build as well as all of those things. And I’ve certainly noticed a huge change in the way agencies are becoming aware of solving their problems. And I’m speaking to more and more agencies that are

Shane Hodge (11:29.958)

Chris Simmance (11:36.37)
realizing that you can’t do it on your own. Um, but I’ve also started to see a trend in like specialists kind of niching down of things as well. Um, what, what have you seen those trends? Are you, cause you talk to a lot of agencies as well. What are you seeing?

Shane Hodge (11:49.987)
Yes. Okay, what I’ve seen is, we’re off the dreaded two letters now, so we’re into, what has happened is, that the real agencies, we’re talking the fair dinkum ones that are into the game long term, they’re into making money, right? What they’re doing is they’re saying, we want help here.

Chris Simmance (11:59.19)
We are now, for sure.

Shane Hodge (12:17.439)
on how we can be a better value added service. Do you remember back in the day consultative selling? Remember that? That’s now coming back, where people are wanting that consultative approach. It’s not just, can you build a website? It’s not just, can you do SEO? It’s more of, how can we work together here to…

Chris Simmance (12:25.674)
Yes. Yeah.


Shane Hodge (12:44.615)
Grab hold of what’s going on in this marketplace. How can I work with you so you advise me on, should I go to e-commerce, and what SEO should I have with that? It’s no longer a singular product. It’s more of a consultative cell that offers a solution. That’s the players that are now in the game. The other guys, Chris.

Chris Simmance (13:11.703)

Shane Hodge (13:13.991)
They’re full of water wipes.

Chris Simmance (13:16.022)
Yeah, I’d say that, I’d say you’re right in that. And I think what I typically see when it comes to these kinds of, kind of the examples that are more consultative, they’re the ones that have specialized either to a service or to an industry. And so they do SEO, PPC and websites for travel. That means that they can, can be

Shane Hodge (13:35.493)

Shane Hodge (13:40.86)

Chris Simmance (13:43.486)
absolute experts in that niche sector, or they’re just SEO experts, or they’re just web build experts, or whatever it might well be from a service point of view, because those ones, like you say, they’re the winners, because you can then with authority speak to a customer.

Shane Hodge (14:02.267)
Yeah, niche is more important than ever.

Chris Simmance (14:07.146)
And I remember having this argument in my own head a good few years ago, deciding whether we should niche the SEO agency to it to a sector and I was panicking I was thinking, well, what if we just become the SEO agency for travel and tourism or something? Well, what how are we going to get any work because you know, there’s less of those and then I started to look at it think well, actually, there’s 450,000 travel and tourism and leisure businesses and just the UK alone. So

Shane Hodge (14:32.711)
Yeah. Right.

Chris Simmance (14:34.966)
you know, what am I on about? This is crazy talk. Um, the, the almost, there is almost no example of a reason not to niche your agency down, um, and the only times that it becomes difficult is if you’ve gone too far, too broad, too wide, and it’s too hard to, to rein it back in and to niche down because you’ve got, uh, an email marketing for

childcare team and you don’t work in that niche or provide that service and that’s becomes a problematic noose around your neck. But as the Americans say, the riches are in the niches, but niching is hugely important and I do see it as a trend that’s coming through. I think it’s coming, I say coming through, it’s coming back. The consultative angle to selling is hugely

Shane Hodge (15:14.577)

Chris Simmance (15:32.154)
Most customers, most, most businesses that hire an agency for almost anything these days, they know enough now to understand, um, the basics and they’re hiring people for the specialist skill sets. And if you don’t show it. Yeah. Well, the, the vast majority of the basics are in the build web build packages from an SEO point of view, the vast majority of the basics are in the.

Shane Hodge (15:45.307)
Yes, the basics are gone. They’re gone. They’re never gonna come back, right?

Yep. Mm. Yep.

Chris Simmance (16:00.93)
and automations on the, on the ads platforms. Um, it’s the specialists and the strategy that is the required aspect. Um, and, and yeah, you can use those two letters to, to scale quite a lot of things, but you, you don’t need them for the specialist in the brain kind of stuff. And that’s what customers are paying for. Um, and.

Shane Hodge (16:03.908)

Shane Hodge (16:09.115)
That’s it.

Shane Hodge (16:20.327)
No. Yeah, the Ka-ching is in that specialist. You know, that you made me think, there’s a great mate of mine, all he does is his market is, I don’t know what you call it, but you know when they drive the van to your house and they detail your car.

Chris Simmance (16:27.01)

Chris Simmance (16:43.894)
Oh yeah, I’ve lost it. Yes. And balloting, detailing.

Shane Hodge (16:45.595)
What’s that called? Right? All right, so this guy, all he does is websites for detailers that are mobile, okay? And he has expanded his business where it’s 100% niche. He knows their business, he knows how to SEO it, how to build a website, how to do the content, how to do Google Ads, how to do social media.

Chris Simmance (16:55.594)

Chris Simmance (17:03.694)

Shane Hodge (17:14.959)
He’s the go-to guy, not in basic stuff. He’s got a little niche for that, but it’s that where he can sit on a Zoom with you and it ain’t cheap to sit on the Zoom with him, but they don’t care because they’re making money out of it and they wanna hear from him, hey buddy, how do we dominate, not the USA, but downtown Philadelphia?

Chris Simmance (17:31.822)

Shane Hodge (17:43.904)
because you know these people are one-off people that can only do X amount of cars per week.

Chris Simmance (17:46.958)
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And again, there’s, you can do less work at a higher value and bring in more results and bring in more revenue at a higher profit margin with less stress.

Shane Hodge (17:56.591)
Yes. Yep.

Yeah, that’s what we’re doing and we’re making more money. Right, I mean, we’ve got, we haven’t got less people, we’ve got probably the same amount of people as what we had two years ago. But the way we structured our business, we’re doing, we’re working smarter rather than harder and making more money with happier customers. Because…

Chris Simmance (18:06.026)
Yeah. Yep.

Chris Simmance (18:29.726)
Yeah. And that’s, I know it sounds oddly timely, but I’ve literally written a paragraph for an article that is going live on a partner’s website soon. And it literally says pretty much exactly what you’ve just said there. You work smarter, your results are clearer, the results are quicker, you make a higher profit margin and you make more revenue on that higher profit margin.

And it’s not actually as complicated as it sounds. Um, you just have to make the decision and then find the support to get it done. Um, how, how have you changed in the last year or so? What, what’s, what’s changed, uh, in, um, leadership running the agency? What, what are you looking to?

Shane Hodge (19:00.591)

Shane Hodge (19:04.583)
That’s it.

Shane Hodge (19:14.043)
That’s a good question. Wow, where’d that come from? Mate. And you know what, it’s timely because what I did, I sat back and I thought, what am I good at? And what I’m really good at is I’m a really good front man, I’m a really good visionary, and I’m really good at reading the market. But what I was involved in two years ago was operations, day to day.

Chris Simmance (19:17.938)
Hey. Yeah, this is it.

Shane Hodge (19:43.911)
crap, right, and all that sort of stuff. I empowered, but I didn’t empower with total passion. What I changed, I created what I call the drivers, which is five people. And those people, I empowered them to drive the company operationally. And what I do is I focus on vision, I help out with product, but mainly on the front man.

Chris Simmance (19:44.962)

Chris Simmance (20:11.854)

Shane Hodge (20:13.687)
I’m doing more webinars, I’m doing more seminars. You know, this year I’m doing nine overseas trips, right? Where I’m just sitting in front of people speaking the gospel of the camel, right? And of course, Duda, right? So what has changed is I empowered, I created the drivers and I do what I do best and I forget the rest. That’s it.

Chris Simmance (20:41.226)
Yep. You literally sum up the point of how leaders should lead, right? You know, you lead from the front, you show people how it’s done, they then see it consistently, and then they follow in a in a reasonably orderly way with, you know, with a happy smile as well, because you know, they know where they’re going. And yeah.

Shane Hodge (20:58.044)

Shane Hodge (21:02.087)
They’re happier, Chris. And they’ve been there long enough, they’re old enough and ugly enough that they know what they’re doing, they’ve learnt from me, and I just sit back and I go, well hang on a minute, why am I constantly doing stuff that makes me no money? It’s stupid.

Chris Simmance (21:17.042)
Yeah. So, so apart from jet lag and, um, you know, I saw a throw, what’s the next 12 years look like for you? 12 months, even 12 months, 12 months.

Shane Hodge (21:26.247)
12, 13. Next 12 months I’ve got nine overseas trips, which are all in front of audience and speaking the gospel as I said. I wanna continue to help develop more and more at a value services to add to our marketplace. Not buy this app and spend 55 bucks a month. I wanna add value as in.

Chris Simmance (21:48.268)

Shane Hodge (21:55.023)
You know, we spend this money that’s gonna enhance X to make Y, right? And I just want to really keep upskilling the kids. Just get them more powerful, more deadly, and away we go from there, that’s the plan, and make another million bucks.

Chris Simmance (22:00.675)
Mm. Yep.

Chris Simmance (22:16.242)
Okay. So there’s the answer. So let’s, let’s say, uh, in 12 months time, we’re sitting somewhere nice and hot and, and really enjoyable. And I’ve got a nice, uh, a nice shirt on just like you have right now. Um, and we’re sitting there, we’ve got a bottle of champagne and the bottle of champagne can only be opened 12 months from today, if insert your answer happens. What is that thing that allows us to say? Yep. We’ve done it.

Shane Hodge (22:45.563)
that I’ve increased my revenue by 50%.

Shane Hodge (22:52.284)
That’s it.

Chris Simmance (22:54.21)
There we go. That’s it.

Shane Hodge (22:54.807)
And there’s also, there’s a 19, no, there’s a 2001 heritage soft tail sitting in my garage.

Chris Simmance (23:04.362)
Right, okay, so you heard it here, folks. In a year’s time, Shane and I are gonna open a bottle of champagne. Because if I know you as I do, you’re relentless to the point where that will all happen. So, thanks for coming on again, Jane. It’s been great to talk to you second time round, and we’ll have you back, I’m sure.

Shane Hodge (23:19.183)

Shane Hodge (23:27.171)
No worries, Chris. And Formula One starts soon, mate. Yes!

Chris Simmance (23:31.05)
Not long, not long. I’ve got a calendar and everything all set up. I can, I know the days.

Shane Hodge (23:36.282)
I love Max Verstappen but I hope he loses.

Chris Simmance (23:40.746)
I think it’s something in our DNA as race lovers, isn’t it? That you want the underdog to win. And if the clear winner always wins, you don’t want that to happen. But thanks so much for coming on me and it’ll be great to talk to you again soon. Obviously throughout the year, I’m sure.

Shane Hodge (23:51.83)
I mean.

Yep. Nah, I’m sick of it.

Shane Hodge (24:03.051)
All right mate, take care Chris. See you buddy, ta-da.

Chris Simmance (24:05.058)
Thank you so much. And in our next episode, we’ll revisit another agency leader and see how their last year has been. Thanks very much for listening. And we’re done.

Shane Hodge (24:14.863)
We’re done. That was great as per usual, Chris.

Chris Simmance (24:18.206)
Yeah, it says it’s stopping.