A Manifesto for How Anyone Who is Not a Complete Idiot Should Run a Business
Our slogan is We’re Just Not Annoying. How we adopted our motto is simple. Over and over again, you walk away from a business transaction as simple as ordering a sandwich feeling disappointed, annoyed, or–worst case–just plain pissed off. Think about how annoying it is to schedule an important doctors appointment or how revolting it feels when you see something at the grocery store marked at one price only to find at the register that you actually need to buy 5 of the same item to get the quoted price on the tag. Think about the befuddlement you feel when you’re shopping for new insurance and trying to make sense of the 60-page policy statement, or imagine the aggravation of paying too much for a cup of coffee and then watching the snobby hipster who served you eye the tip jar, begging for a little extra. And let us not forget the simple act of ordering fast food at the drive-thru and never getting exactly what you ordered.
Breathe deep and imagine a world where these transactions are simple, where you get what you ordered at the advertised price and no one will expect more from you once the transaction is complete. If you think long and hard, you might remember a simpler time when your word meant something and business cared more about their reputation and integrity than the bottom dollar. That’s the world we want to live in, and our business reflects that simple wish. We make the experience of starting and maintaining a business less annoying than our competitors.
It’s not that we’re some over-the-top great company, visionaries, or even nice people. It’s just that we’re not complete freaking idiots.
We know our clients are already going through something that will seem incredibly frustrating and stupid. Our job is to help our clients make their business registration problems disappear, initially and ongoing. The last thing someone starting a business wants is one more frustrating transaction. Hence our slogan: We’re Just Not Annoying. This is our goal. This is how we operate. We simply want to move you along and have a pleasant exchange of money for services well done.
Welcome to Northwest Registered Agent
We believe wholeheartedly that getting a job well done should not be considered a luxury or oddity, nor should a customer ever be tricked into buying something they don’t need. And a customer should never be sold something they don’t need. We believe a lot of things and could ramble on for as long as you’d like to listen, but here’s a few core goals we have when you hire us:
- You should always be able to talk to us
On the phone, email, contact forms, etc. We are continually focusing on this. Are we perfect? No. Finding the ideal way to communicate with our clients will always be a work in progress. We’ve custom-coded an internal chat program for our clients to interact with us inside their online account and have clickable phone numbers in their account to call us easier on mobile. Whether we’re answering emails at 9 PM or 2 AM, we will never hide from a client, or programmatically design a way to make it difficult to talk to a real person. Our phone number is at the top of every single web page. We don’t have phone trees, and every time a client calls they will find the person answering the phone is a Corporate Guide®, an expert in what we do.
- Money should never get in the way of our relationship
Our website should always be live, and if you don’t like websites, we should stay on the phone for however long it takes to help you. We will not take your money twice, and if we screw something up, we will give your money back. We will never use something as stupid as money to get in the way of you and us. Taking your money or hitting some big financial goal does nothing for us. Getting a great review or a thank you email is what we aim for. Although we fundamentally believe in solid financial principles like owning our own real estate and assets and paying for things only when we can actually pay for them and not getting into financial situations we cannot support, money will never bring us a sense of accomplishment. If you have a lot of money, you know that no matter how much of it you collect, it doesn’t really bring you happiness. We don’t have venture capital or tons of shareholders trying to maximize our profit to support extravagant lifestyles.
- You should always get what you want as fast as possible
We put a lot of effort into instant gratification. We were the first people in this industry to locally scan all documents you get to you from each of our local offices. Today, as we start 2017, we are still the only national registered agent service that can logistically do this. Many websites lie and say they can, but they’re just getting mail forwarded to a hub and scanning to you from one place. We are proud to have created a new standard for registered agent service that our competitors, many years later, still can’t even copy, let alone do better. We were the first registered agent service to provide instant forms to file. Most registered agent companies still cannot provide you instant forms to file with the registered agent information on them. We have our own internal programmers so that we can code real solutions for you in real time. We maintain a team of about 15 on-site programmers. Not too big, not too small. But we’re really good and can accomplish a lot to make your interaction with us and the state as seamless as possible.
- We won’t sell your data
Most our competition has a partners page. This means, people pay them for your data. Check out signup forms where you get the “benefit” of a bunch of free stuff. We see many sites where they will make over $1000 in payouts from selling you as a lead. We have never sold clients info and we never will. We strongly believe in privacy. We are the only national registered agent that lets you use our office address on the state records to minimize your data exposure to the world. We use very minimal 3rd party applications because the world we live in is very hackable. You have no idea how many people have access to your data when you place an order. We run our own servers, our own code, we try very hard to never use a 3rd party plugin or app because we care about knowing no one else has access to your data.
- We charge the same price every year
We’ve never done a bait and switch. We’ve always had the exact same pricing.
The Right Foundation
Anyone who has dealt with foundations know how important they are. Every part of it affects something else. Dig too deep and good luck getting your compaction back to where you need it. Cheap out on compaction and you’ve got a disaster on your hands at some point. If your foundation was not built big enough, you will always be limited in what you can do and how you do it. Overbuild your foundation and you waste tons of money and time not accomplishing anything. You can tell a lot about a business by the foundation it has chosen to build its future upon.
Currently, there are about 10 companies that do national registered agent services for a living. Two of the 10, CT and CSC, are doing billions in revenue annually. Legacy businesses held back by their age and size. Besides them, all the other companies were built with a hope that one of the Big 2 would buy them out someday. You can tell by where their money is spent, how they function today, and the kind of minimal foundation on which they’ve built their business.
Northwest Registered Agent was built as a lifestyle business, not something to be sold. We’ve specifically built and wasted a lot of money on our foundation because we want it for our company, and it will matter 20 years from now what we operate on. The big guys wouldn’t want to waste their shareholder profits on our foundation, and smaller registered agents couldn’t afford it.
A Different Way of Doing Business
It’s easy to chase revenue. All our competitors do. They use these hook’em low, bill’em high strategies like: initial cheap price, higher price next year; free now, normal price next year; using pay per click ads; cold calls; sending advertisements; selling your data to “partners”. The big registered agents scroll state database records, put clients with businesses in multiple states into a database to have an army of salespeople cold call them. This is chasing revenue for no other point than to chase revenue, make a trophy to award some salesman, and build a shelf to put it on.
To other registered agents, big and small, you’re nothing more than revenue and a lead to the smaller registered agents.
At Northwest Registered Agent, we have no salespeople. No sales team. We have never sold a client’s contact information, and never will. And most importantly, we fundamentally are not built to sell out to someone else like every other one of our competitors are. We’ve never made a move to increase our EBIDTA (we just had to Google that to make sure we put the right letters there). While our competitors negotiate lower rates with their sub contractors in each state to improve their bottom line, we buy a building, hire more employees, and work on making what we do better at the foundational level.
Our goal is to provide a sustainable business for the people who have been amazing enough to give up 8 hours of their life every day to help make this company run. This is why we don’t chase revenue. It’s just not our goal. We do care about taking care of clients and taking care of as many of them as we can, but we’re not willing to venture off into all kinds of craziness just to grow sales.
Smack in the Middle
We’re a medium sized business. We’d like to be as transparent as possible. We’re not small and we’re not big. We’re not a startup, and we’re not a legacy kind of company that is stuck in its ways for 50 years. We’re smack in the middle. If you had to summarize us, I guess you could say we’re middle class folks with a leaning towards a blue collar backgrounds. Most of us have had a crappy job at one point that was absolute misery, so we know what a luxury it is when the biggest problems you have in a day is answering some emails and enduring the smell of the barbeque smokies a co-worker brought for the office to enjoy, or having to let your boss know when you feel like showing up for work. Oh Aspen problems. Pity us, what will we ever do?
Are we the best company we can be? No. Absolutely not. We’ve done a lot of great things, but are nowhere near our potential. We’re constantly figuring out what we suck at and need to improve upon. Here’s some interesting things you face being a medium sized company that our competitors don’t really have to deal with:
- What’s the right amount of internal company governance? Too much middle management, guidelines, and oversight, and everyone that makes the company run feels like an unimportant robot. You turn the very people that make your organization function into a number. The worst case disaster in our minds for any company. Too little oversight, and we start to communicate differently with our clients from person to person, and the left hand can’t tell what the right hand is doing. We become inefficient and slow to react or change as needed. You might hit the perfect balance this week and not the next. It’s a day-in, day-out battle to find the right amount of internal oversight to help train and let employees reach their potential without smothering them.
- What’s the right balance of taking care of clients without letting them walk all over you?
- What’s the right amount of service offerings to bring stability to your company without overcomplicating what you do and losing focus on your core?
- What’s the right amount of money to save vs spending on the future?
Being a medium sized company is an interesting place to be. We will never make the next step up in size to the CT or CSC-sized registered agent company, billing out $1 billion a year. We could easily be a $100 million company if we wanted to be. But it’s actually harder to do what we do and how we do it. We will never purchase software companies to have better connections to existing clients to cross sell. We will never employ an army of salespeople and overcharge our clients to support a bunch of unnecessary crap. We’re happy where we’re at in the pecking order of our little registered agent industry niche and there really is no way of us moving up in the ranks or down. We’ve accepted our place, but we will never accept the level of service we offer our clients. It can always get better.
What we can offer you is the stability of hiring a medium sized company that won’t be sold and has no intentions of making you a revenue goal for shareholders. If you’re looking for a registered agent service, we offer more long-term stability than any other option you’ll find. We’re the right size, we have the right foundation, and the right commitment to you, to just not be annoying.