Our long time readers and subscribers will know that we are 100% all in on WP Engine hosting and have been for twelve years. However, if I’m being completely transparent, Flywheel’s Growth Suite product has our team discussing the possibilities of making the shift. I think it helps that Flywheel is a WP Engine brand now and will definitely add weight to the decision.
In this article I want to provide the outline our team will be using to help in the decision making process as we discuss the possible transition. Hopefully it will help you as you consider whether the Flywheel Growth Suite is the right fit for you business or not.
What is Flywheel Growth Suite?
The Growth Suite is an “all-in-one solution for your growing agency”.
It offers a single place to manage your sites, build trust with clients, and grow recurring revenue in your business. With the ability to white label the reports and portals.
With Growth Suite you can:
- Automatic recurring billing
- Project and one-time service invoicing
- Multi-currency Billing
- Recurring white-label reports
- Create predictable revenue based on intuitive insights
- Manage all your sites from a single place
- Establish a professional (and customized) client experience
- Custom library of your services for easy billing
- Get speed, security, and support with our trusted managed WordPress hosting platform
Our Team Evaluation
It started with a bunch of key questions for us. Basically centered around the required daily activities we perform throughout our team for our customers.
- Will it improve out ability to server our clients?
- Will it eliminate other software solutions we use?
- How do their hosting services compare to WP Engine?
- How does their support compare to WP Engine?
- Can we manage all sites from one dashboard?
- Does it integrate with third party systems?
- Does it makes sense financial?
The services/solutions we currently use and will need to replace or integrate with:
- WP Engine Managed Hosting
- FreshBooks – bookkeeping and billing
- ManageWP – site maintenance
- HelpScout – support ticket management
- HubSpot – CRM and live chat
- Slack – internal communication and system notifications
- Stripe – payment processor
Summary: Incase You Want the Short Version
While we were impressed with where the Growth Suite product is currently, we found it too limiting and cost prohibited for us to make the move right now. We hope that the product will continue to expand and that more add-ons will become available soon.
We even submitted a few “ideas” or feature request in hopes that we will see more of the stuff our company needs to make the transition a successful one.
1. Will it improve out ability to server our clients?
This is kind of a loaded question. Ultimately we needed to know that moving our business operation to Flywheel’s Growth Suite wasn’t just to save money, or increate our bottom-line, but that we would be able to make improvements to how we server our customers.
I believe the most appealing aspect of Growth Suite is the potential to have all things in one place, and that would reduce the amount of time spent, jumping from software application to application to perform the necessary task.
As an example, we currently host client sites with WP Engine, and we use ManageWP to perform site maintenance. When our techs work on the clients site, before they can complete plugin updates or make the requested changes, they must first login to the WP Engine dashboard to take a site backup. Then jump back over to ManageWP to complete the other tasks.
With Flywheel’s Growth Suite, it would be an improvement if all of those things were in the same dashboard, which is a possibility.
2. Will it eliminate other software solutions we use?
Partially related to the example above, it would be nice if we could use Growth Suite to completely manage our clients sites. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case. At the moment the only maintenance feature is the plugin updates, which is a big help, but it’s not enough.
Growth Suite would however eliminate our need for our FreshBooks account, which we currently user for invoicing and client management.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of FreshBooks and have been using their services for probably 8 years, but if there is a better, smarter, faster, way of doing business, I’m all in, and I feel like the invoicing/billing solution Flywheel as introduced in Growth Suite will fit our needs.
It does look like we’d still be using our current CRM (HubSpot) and support ticketing software (HelpScout), but hopefully they will be able to provide some integrations to these solutions available in the near future to make Growth Suite more functional.
3. How do their hosting services compare to WP Engine?
If you’re not aware, WP Engine did acquire Flywheel in 2019, but they still operate as an independent brand and have a similar but unique hosting environment. Last time I was in the market for hosting solutions, I reached out and was told that all of their hosting solutions are built on VPS servers, which is pretty powerful.
Their hosting infrastructure eliminates a ton of the issues we see from the cheap shared hosting providers that claim to be providing “managed WordPress hosting” solutions.
However, I’m not ready to say it is better than WP Engine’s hosting, because they too offer a very unique hosting environment with a ton of proprietary infrastructure that sets them apart as probably the best managed WordPress hosting provider on the market.
That said, we determined that the Flywheel hosting services would be adequate for our needs.
4. How does their support compare to WP Engine?
Trying not to be partial with this one, but I have had a lot of experience with WP Engine support and they are amazing. Honestly, the best support I have ever interacted with. Their knowledge, skills, and depth of scope is top notch.
I have used Flywheel’s support as well, and I was pleased with the level of support I received at the time. However that was before they were acquired by WP Engine, and I am sure they are now even improved to meet the WP Engine standard.
My favorite form of support is live chat support which they offer! So that is a huge plus. Being able to jump into the account and start a chat any time is critical, especially for our company when it could be a number of different staff members that need to get help.
5. Can we manage all sites from one dashboard?
This is was the most important requirement for our company. As of right now we manage all of our client sites from with ManageWP. A single dashboard that enables us to update plugins, themes and WordPress. We can perform backups and do security scans, performance scans, comment management, reporting, etc.
From what I gathered while reviewing the Growth Suite, the only process that would be manageable (as of this writing) is the plugin updates.
Obviously part of Flywheel hosting includes the backup management, and it appears that they will be adding additional add-ons.
While I welcome more features, I am not thrilled about the pricing structure. If these add-ons are priced per site, that will definitely price us out of this solution even in the future.
The increased cost will be address more in #7, but this would increase our expenses quite a bit.
6. Does it integrate with third party systems?
We use services like HelpScout, HubSpot, and Slack to manage support tickets, customer relations, internal communication and notifications, so it is important that the solutions we use all integrate.
To be completely transparent, our current systems are not completely integrated, however we were hopeful that this new Growth Suite would add some of those capabilities, and it. might, but I suspect the add-ons will keep us priced out of the platform.
7. Does it make sense financial?
For us it does not. There would be no cost savings, and after doing the math, there would actually be quite a bit of a cost increase for us to use the Growth Suite.
When you evaluate the platform for your specific needs, I’d recommend that you look at your current cost, make sure you have a complete total of what it cost you to manage your business and the software you use to provide the services you do, and if you can save money or even break even break even with Flywheel’s Growth Suite I say make the switch.
Keep in mind if you currently offer hosting services from any of the cheap providers like GoDaddy, Bluehost, Siteground, etc, it may look like Flywheel’s hosting platform is going to cost you more, but because their platform is a step up, and you’re likely to get better support and better features, and all of that on-top of a much better hosting infrastructure.
The Wrap Up
I believe the Growth Suite is off to a good start, and is ideal for the new agency that is offering one-off services and hosting, however, it’s not quite ready for an agency that manages a bunch of sites and needs to have control of those sites from a central location.
If your offering website design and development services, and you also want to generate some recurring revenue with hosting your clients sites, then I believe Flywheel’s Growth Suite is a great solution to help you maximize your profits and reduce your overhead.
Unfortunately, at this time, our company will not be jumping on board just yet, but we will keep an eye on the growth and expansion of the product due to the lack of necessary features and increase in cost we would experience.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and if the Flywheel Growth Suite is working for you and your business!! Just drop us a comment below.