Web Hosting Interview - Anywherehost November 2004

Web Hosting Interview - Anywherehost November 2004

Robert Ricci, the founder of Anywherehost.com

Special Interview with the founder of Anywherehost.com: Robert Ricci. He shares with us how he leads Anywherehost.com to become one of major hosting providers in the industry. With his expert and excellent customer care, the word "Trust Experience" indeed explains his success.

  • HOSTSEARCH: Could you please briefly about yourself and your role for AnywhereHost.com?
    ROBERT: I am the founder and managing partner of Anywherehost.com. I oversee all operations including Systems Administration. I have an extensive background in computers; first as a network programmer back in the days of the DOS prompt, as a BBS programmer and operator in the 1980's, and now finally as the motivation behind Anywherehost.com.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Could you please share with us when was AnywhereHost.com found? What was inspiration for doing web hosting business?  
    ROBERT: Anywherehost.com was founded in the spring of 1997. Our entry into the industry was web site design and search engine optimization. After several unsuccessful attempts to find reliable hosting for our design customers we made the decision to draw on nearly 25 years of my personal IT experience and form Anywherehost.com. We started slowly with one server and a handful of customers. With nothing but word-of-mouth advertising we soon began adding one site after another.
  • HOSTSEARCH: When you first started with AnywhereHost.com, what did you focus the most towards to your business success? (i.e network performance, customer support, price plan, etc)
    ROBERT: Thank you for an excellent question! The answer is easy - all of them. But if we have to choose it would be a tie between network performance and customer support. Being a techie I understand intimately hardware performance and reliability. Our network operations center is located in one of the top three providers in the world and we use only premium, low latency bandwidth. As a business owner I have the same demands that our customers have when it comes to uptime. By design our servers are monitored by live technicians around the clock.

    But when it comes to customer service and support I am a hard man to please. I absolutely insist that our staff do everything reasonably possible to assist a customer. Some customers require initial hand holding. Others just want to know that live support is available. No matter what the skill level of the customer, we insist that our support staff provide timely, effective, and informative assistance. Sometimes this means telling a customer that they have made a mistake but in such a way as to be educational and supportive. I feel strongly that this empowers customers. How's that expression go? Teach a man to fish and he'll never go hungry? The same applies to hosting. By teaching a customer the proper way to setup e-mail aliases they become less likely to need help with e-mail aliases down the road.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What's your best selling product/service of your company?

    ROBERT: Our hosting plan is our best selling service. We have one plan that covers everything. Now our customers don't have a list of hosts to compare feature for feature. We rolled all of the features into one rock solid plan. Our dedicated servers are also coming up strong because they aren't just servers. Our dedicated machines are 100% managed, which means that a business without an IT staff can still have a dedicated server without having to know how to run it or watch it around the clock. Of course we charge extra for management, but our customers rave about our expert handling and response time.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Please define your marketing strategies. What do you think that is your strength for AnywhereHost.com, compare to your major competitors?
    ROBERT: Our marketing strategy is simple: provide an outstanding service and let customers spread the word. I also refuse to pay for a bogus review. We will succeed based on an honest evaluation of our services - good or bad.

    As for our strengths compared to our competitor that too is simple: we try harder! We try very, very hard to earn a customers business and then keep it. We rely on many years of experience and then meld it with our own life experiences as consumers that have received terrible service at some point in life. Have you been to a fast food joint recently? You know, the kind of place where it is difficult to get your order understood only to have it slapped down without even a thank you? I don't ever want our customers to be treated that way!
  • HOSTSEARCH: What is the main reason that your company chooses to focus on low cost web hosting package? What is the most challenge that you are dealing for this particular hosting?
    ROBERT: This is probably where I am supposed to say something inspirational and in a way that makes Anywherehost.com sound completely awesome. But here's the reality of hosting: hosting is a commodity business. Based on our serious commitment to service and support we tried branding ourselves as a higher priced alternative to cheap hosting. But the reality is that the consumer has come to demand the same level of support at the lower price. Our prices are average for the industry. What makes us unique is our service and support combined with a hosting package that has everything. I suppose that this is the challenge that we face - providing as many features as possible while remaining profitable as a business. We're doing just fine.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What is your first advice to anyone who is looking for cheap web hosting?
    ROBERT: This falls directly in line with what I have already said. Given our opinion that hosting is a commodity where the price is nearly the same from one host to another, the smart hosting shopper looks for the provider that offers the best support and the features that you need. It shouldn't matter that a particular host has won an award for this or that if you need mySQL and they don't provide it. A toll free telephone number should also be a requirement. Customers should do an internet search for complaints about a potential host, as well as to locate unbiased reviews. Beyond the obvious, customers should trust their gut feeling.

  • HOSTSEARCH: What is the best experience for you to work for AnywhereHost.com?
    ROBERT: My best experience has been watching Anywherehost.com grow from nothing to a strong name in the industry. I especially enjoy reading letters of praise from customers that took notice of our commitment to service and support. The most common thing that we hear is, "WOW! Someone actually answered the phone!" I firmly believe that one has to do the time to earn the dime; the 18 hour days have been worth it. We have a strong, loyal customer base as a result.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Nowadays, most of web hosting companies offer the low-cost web hosting package and become more competitive, how do you protect your position in low-cost hosting solution from new players?
    ROBERT: I don't feel that we need to protect ourselves from new players. Hosting companies come and go. They mostly go after realizing that an absolute commitment to performance, reliability and support is difficult to maintain, and that it will cost money. Web hosting isn't the money tree that some think it is.

    But rather than talk about shortcomings of others I believe that it is far better to sell our strengths and let our customers sing our praise. When it comes to remaining competitive we look at our plan content and ask ourselves what more we can add to remain attractive. We think through the load requirements of plan features and then balance our servers to maintain a low load. We also look at value added features like our marketing package and free search engine submission service. It is no longer just about providing a server. It is also about helping a customer grow their business.

  • HOSTSEARCH: In your opinion, what is your key-success for Anywherehost.com to be one of the major leader in low cost solution today?
    ROBERT: Again, this goes back to everything I've said already. At the risk of being redundant I believe firmly in solid customer service, support, and network performance. Let me tell you, we spend a small fortune on each new server. But even the most powerful, robust server is worthless when the company cannot keep them running, and, keep the customers happy. These simple principles have allowed Anywherehost.com to achieve notable success while maintaining sustainable growth.
  • HOSTSEARCH: How do you see yourself and your company in the next five years?
    ROBERT: Our five year plan includes controlled, sustained growth, and the opening of our own data center (instead of leased space.) But most important: to be a household phrase - Anywherehost.com. Trust Experience.