An Amazon Agency is really tough to run. Find out how Nadine keeps her company running in shape and what keeps her team and customers happy.
What made you start running an agency?
In 2016 Nadine started working as a Customer Service person herself. She saw how the structure was – supervisor for 5 people etc.
Decided to go into business for themselves.
Ran into an Amazon seller – she worked with him for 9 months.
Asked him – could I do this on a bigger scale?
This is how she got other assistants – friend (Olga) from another agency became employee #1.
She also brought on her best friend so that was 3 people.
Been as high as 15, now 13 people in her Amazon Agency.
System and training
Her first employee set up a system.
They set up a system including an internal wiki.
Decided: only going to work in Amazon Seller Central.
She’s a teacher so taught new employees.
Nadine could focus on getting new clients.
Telling people what to do!
Nadine’s parents said she was good at telling people how to do things! Her mother hated it because she sees that Nadine is paying someone to do something she could do.
But Nadine wanted to focus on the business, not in it, but also client-facing.
How do you find the staff?
Nadine always picks staff herself then passes them on to her manager.
How would you reply to this German email? How would you reply to this English email? Nadine copied and pasted from a genuine email.
Also asked them about the level of their language skills.
If someone tells you they are very good at English but they aren’t, there is a mismatch between them.
How Enida attracts applicants
At this stage, they get a lot of applications because they are known.
Friends of staff also are a good source of potential employees. But everyone has to go through the process.
Asks if they have worked as an Amazon seller.
If so – they don’t want to people in who could potentially be a threat to clients.
How did you start with staff hiring?
Had 25 applications – picked two – then it was 4 people. Then Nadine employed a VA for herself -(Micha) she deals with communications with clients after initial onboarding. She is still here now. Eg contracts and money.
How do you manage staff?
Olga manages this – if employees ask questions that they “Shouldn’t be asking”.
She (Olga) works very closely with staff and has a good feeling for who is good or not good.
Is it a virtual (dispersed) team?
A lot of the team are all over the world.
What are your communication rhythms and tools?
Active Collab can see which tasks are still open. Also easy for accounting.
Skype is easy because it’s free.
Slack is nice but it costs $5 per person per month.
They meet in Berlin once a year – it’s informal.
Had a canoe trip and went to an Indian restaurant.
The longer they work together, the less they all talk.
But it is good to have a call and stay focused.
Put your staff first
If there is an issue with a client, Nadine reaches out and will fix this.
She puts her staff first! She wants good energy in the company.
She has spent so much time training them and doesn’t want a client to be the reason they quit!
The importance of keeping staff
There is nothing more expensive than losing staff!
If one employee goes, they have to shift clients to other people.
Then there is a lot of hiring; there is onboarding; they might make mistakes and have to be let go.
Not paid by the hour but paid by the action
Eg sending an email, sending a refund.
They only do Customer Service for e-commerce.
The relationship between the payment and the work done needs to be right.
One of Nadine’s team leaders spotted a staff member was working for too low a wage – they confronted the client and said the pricing model had to change.
How did you get clients on board?
In the beginning, Nadine went on a lot of podcasts – it’s a good source of
Information for people who have it on in the background and on their commute. She also went to events and blogs.
Now clients seek them out. So many agencies shoot up for a year and then they are gone.
So now there is driven by the trust because they’ve established a reputation.
How Nadine works with clients
Usually, people go to the website and look at prices.
People have to apply to work with them – have to go through a few steps.
They are filtering for people who are a good fit.
The onboarding process is:
- Email them
- Prices & FAQs
- Agree to these things
- Call with Nadine
- “Tell me about yourself and company goals”
- Then she will tell them if accepted or not
This is possible because the company is the same size as 2-3 years ago. So they have to be selective about who they work with.
Nadine always tries to be as clear as possible about prices and everything else.
This is why it’s important to be selective about clients.
Being the right kind of person.
You can ask, “Would you want to have dinner with this person?”.
They need to have good energy.
Nadine doesn’t miss payment day – she always checks the accounts on her Amazon agency.
If customers have spent a large amount that month, Nadine will reach out to the staff and also to the clients.
Clients appreciate this as well. This is why client relationships are pretty good – especially those spending $1000s a month.
What are the downsides of running an Amazon agency?
Problems get escalated to the top! Amazon creates the 24-hour deadline to respond to messages.
Amazon can be unclear about this and a VA might miss something.
Even if you are at a concert for example and the client calls you, you have to fix it.
It’s a 24/7 thing.
You have to live with the responsibility of employing people.
All of her staff are freelancers and could leave – and they do – you have to deal with staff turnover.
Staying on top of the game takes a lot of work. If you have one client who is very unhappy with what happened, this could haunt you.
We are just as dependent on Amazon.
Enida is small for a reason -it’s like a speedboat riding over choppy waters!
They have high quality, happy staff and happy clients – this keeps it secure.
Other agencies expand fast and take on client after client – that will come back to haunt you!
What are the big upsides of running an agency?
The team itself for Nadine. It’s good to be able to give team members a job that works around being a mother or a student or helps them be location independent. This was always a major driver for Nadine.
This empowers them to do something else.
It empowers Nadine and her team leaders as well. It also empowers the clients to scale business.
Her “why” has been fulfilled.
We have other interviews about Amazon Germany and Building an E-Commerce team with Nadine Eich