The Groundhogg CRM management needs a change of leadership. CEO Adrian Tobey recently posted about Groundhogg CRM 3.0 delays, after already missing the mark for the deadline in Q1 of 2021.
This failure of leadership, along with some immature and irrational behavior toward some existing customers, demonstrates that CEO Adrian Tobey is not fit to lead Groundhogg.
My Experience a a Groundhogg CRM Customer
I purchased Groundhogg CRM in 2020 and even renewed for an additional three year license that year, fully expecting to remain a customer for the foreseeable future. While I have to gripes about the product, I expected it to improve based upon communication from the Groundhogg CEO, Adrian Tobey.
You can read about my experience with Groundhogg CRM, but I'll summarize briefly below.
If my experience were only about the wasted money, that wouldn't warrant a call to replace the Groundhogg CEO. Sadly, there's more to the story.
Adrian Tobey isn't Ready to be Groundhogg CEO
Groundhogg CRM isn't a publicly traded company, as far as I can tell. It seems that Adrian is a gifted programmer. According to an article on Startup Savant, Adrian Tobey built Groundhogg CRM in 2018 by himself. The company started based upon a family loan.
The article states that his father, Paul Tobey, bought Groundhogg CRM licenses for his clients and moved them off Infusionsoft within weeks.
What we see here isn't uncommon. A young entrepreneur started a business propped up by his parents. However, there are problems with a wunderkind CEO.
Adrian Tobey Doesn't Have Years of Experience in Leadership
I completely understand that Groundhogg CRM is Adrian's baby, born out of his hard work and experience as a developer and, I believe, in supporting Infusionsoft for other clients.
Yet the role of a developer and a CEO are world's apart.
The role of a CEO generally reports to a Board of Directors. It's the job of the board of directors to provide governance for a business. In other words, the Board decided what's best for the business and tells the CEO what objectives to achieve.
The CEO is the person in charge of implementing the direction planned and communicated from the Board of Directors.
Anytime you hear of someone who is both Chairman of the Board and CEO, it's an auditor's nightmare. People with ultimate authority get a bit power mad and make decisions as if no one else mattered.
While Groundhogg CRM management doesn't appear to have a board of directors, it does appear that the Groundhogg CEO is taking on the roles of governance and implementation simultaneously.
If Adrian Tobey had more experience in business, he'd see the flaw in his individual management structure.
Groundhogg CRM Management Continually Misses It's Commitments to Customers
One of my complaints about Groundhogg CRM management style was the utter lack of transparency with the development of version 3.0. We didn't learn that the upgrade would miss its delivery until the promised date of delivery.
As a customer, that created problems for me. I had my own business decisions to make which hinged upon some of the new capabilities of Groundhogg CRM 3.0. Without information, customers were kept in the dark until the moment of disappointment.
The Groundhogg CRM Blog recently posted an update about Groundhogg CRM version 2.5 and provided an update on version 3.0. You can read the details on the link, so I won't copy them here.
I'm at least pleased to see that the Groundhogg folks are providing some information before their committed delivery date of June 30, 2021.
Groundhogg CRM adds little functionality and mostly appears to be a User Interface update, which it sorely needed.
In the south, we refer to this as “putting lipstick on a pig.” It looks a bit nicer, but it's still what it was.
The real changes that Groundhogg CRM management promised are functional changes, and we aren't getting them by June 30, 2021.
In fact, Groundhogg CEO Adrian Tobey admits that he doesn't know when they can deliver version 3.0. He gives some reasons why they cannot release Groundhogg CRM 3.0 and then ultimately admits that they don't know when they can release it.
Because it's hard.
Customers know the work is hard, but they cannot make business plans without reliable commitments. Mr. Tobey promised something that he can't deliver and keeps breaking his promised dates.
There's a reason for this kind of problem.
A CEO Needs Maturity and Life Experience
If we look at the history of young executives in various industries, we find a lot of ego and arrogance.
This is not abnormal. I was young, egotistical and arrogant some years ago. The problem is that it's hard to see your faults until you have enough life experience and maturity to take a step back and review things objectively.
That's just not the forte of a young executive. They do not have the life experience to see a variety of successes and failures, both in business and personal demeanor, to make objective decisions.
It doesn't mean that young executives are bad people. Far from it, we need people to build and grow into responsible leaders. I think that Adrian Tobey can and will grow into such a leader.
He's not there today, and Groundhogg CRM management needs an experienced CEO right now. Instead, they have a young man propped up by his parents running more of the company than any single person should.
There are a few behavioral examples that lead me to draw this conclusion.
Groundhogg CEO Publicly Whines on Twitter
Have you ever see a company CEO whine in public like this tweet? This does not command respect or authority. In fact, it diminishes his credibility as a leader of a company.
Clearly, Adrian sees himself as a victim of a personal attack. That is a misinterpretation of what's happening, and the decisions he's making are a result of misreading the terrain.
As Groundhogg CEO, Adrian Tobey is a public figure and is the ultimate decision maker of Groundhogg CRM actions and recipient of customer questions, requests and complaints.
The communication he's receiving isn't to undermine his personal or professional credibility. It's to raise an issue to the person in charge and receive a result.
It's also because we value our own customers. I'm not writing about Groundhogg CRM management because of my issues with the software or management. I'm writing to inform my customers to beware doing business with Groundhogg CRM in its current state.
In communication with me earlier this year, Adrian Tobey spoke of “managing his reputation.” If this is his plan to manage his reputation, I don't know it it's going to work as he expects.
You cannot manage a reputation. You can only earn a reputation based upon your actions. Some people will like you and some may not. Ultimately, you have to do what you think is best and make improvements where you notice opportunities.
When Adrian spoke to me about managing his reputation, that was in response to deleting a post on the Groundhogg CRM Facebook Group that he didn't like.
The post didn't violate the group rules, but my feedback with other customers shows that deleting customer posts to manage reputation is a common tactic.
Groundhogg CRM Rules Are Retroactive
Forgive me for not citing my source on this one, but I hope you'll trust me because I witnessed this happen on the Groundhogg CRM Facebook Group.
Another user posted something that Adrian Tobey didn't like, and Mr. Tobey told that customer he violated the group rules. He said the person mentioned a competitive product in a post.
The user checked out the group rules. Among the 9 rules, he could not find the issue he was accused of violating. More importantly, he DID NOT mention a competitor by name.
A short time later, we noticed a 10th rule added to the Groundhogg CRM Facebook Group rules.
This is a maturity issue. Accusing someone of violating a rule that wasn't posted, and then amending the rules after the fact, is an emotional action unworthy of a leader.
More than once, Adrian Tobey chastised the user not only if he mentioned another product, but even if he alluded to a free product created by another vendor. He did so to help a Groundhogg CRM customer who had a problem.
This kind of insecurity shows that Groundhogg CRM needs a new CEO with greater respect for customers, and that comes from life experience and maturity.
Failure to Abide His Own Code of Conduct
The Groundhogg CRM Code of Conduct is pretty easy to understand. It lists a few things that the company expects of its customers and a longer list of unacceptable behavior. I have no objections to the items on this list, but I am concerned as to how they're interpreted and enforced.
The post mentioned the consequences of unacceptable behavior and states that the first step is to ask the person to stop.
That implies direct communication which notifies a person they've done something that Groundhog CRM team believes violates their code. After that notification, if the behavior continues, the person may be blocked from online properties.
Wouldn't you know? I discovered that three of my Twitter accounts are blocked from following the Groundhogg CRM Twitter account.
I never received any notice, nor do I see any way that I am in violation of the code of conduct.
My guess is that someone didn't like my article discussing my experiences with Groundhogg CRM. Yet, the Code of Conduct explicitly states the following:
Why were my Twitter accounts blocked by Groundhogg CRM's Twitter account? I never engaged with that account on Twitter. Why was I kicked out of the Facebook group? I did not violate the group rules or Code of Conduct? Why didn't I receive any notice of warning, per the code of conduct?
If a business cannot follow its own code of conduct with integrity, then you have to inquire about the integrity of the leadership of that business.
When Adrian Tobey publicly complained on his Twitter account about three people he thinks seek to undermine him, I suspect I'm one of them.
Yet that isn't my objective. It's really pretty simple. I'm a paying customer and I've had poor support and challenging conversations with the Groundhogg CEO. Rather than work with me to resolve my issues, either to get the software functional or otherwise, it seems they just take efforts to shut me down.
Less than 24 hours after I posted this article, my access to the Groundhogg CRM Facebook Group no longer works. Basically, they kicked me out without warning (per their own Code of Conduct) because they didn't like what I said here.
I checked to see if I still had access to download my purchases from the Groundhogg CRM web site, and fortunately I still have access. After all, I paid for the products.
However, I noticed that my affiliate relationship with Groundhogg CRM was deactivated. Not that I would recommend them, but it's another example of punitive action taken because of a critical viewpoint. So much for allowing critical examination of beliefs and viewpoints.
This is an emotional response that tends to validate my position that Adrian Tobey is no leader and isn't fit to be CEO.
Did Adrian Tobey Lie to his Customers?
This is another example where I received information verbally and cannot show you evidence, so you must decide if it's trustworthy. I'll give you the information for you to interpret.
During a YouTube live video (embedded in my article about my experience with Groundhogg CRM), Adrian Tobey mentions that there was a change in design for the funnel builder.
During that exchange, he said that they discussed the issue with several customers and received feedback that they preferred the linear block builder system because it was faster. For agencies, time is money.
It's true that Groundhogg CRM did discuss some of these issues with a few customers.
However, I have first-hand knowledge from someone who works for Groundhogg CRM that this statement was false. The reason for abandoning the flowchart style builder is because the hired a User Experience person on the team who convinced Adrian Tobey to retain the linear blocks funnel builder, and not because of customer feedback.
The customers who communicated with me were all in favor of the flowchart style builder, but obviously I didn't speak with everyone.
If this report is true, and I believe it is, then there are two problems with it.
Should Adrian Tobey Remain as Groundhogg CEO?
I want Groundhogg CRM to succeed. I've invested money in it, and I think Groundhogg CRM has a lot of potential for improvement and growth.
It's very unlikely that Adrian Tobey will step down as CEO. It's equally apparent to me that the business would benefit from more experienced leadership. Someone from outside the company and outside of his parent's field of influence.
A new Groundhogg CEO could correct many of the problems plaguing Groundhogg CRM right now and position it for greater success in the future.
Additionally, an experienced and mature CEO is exactly what Adrian Tobey needs to mentor him so he can become the leader his business needs.
There's no doubt that Groundhogg CRM is the brainchild of Adrian Tobey and he did a marvelous job of getting it started. However, his customers aren't being served by his lack of experience, temperamental behavior and inability to get the job done.
Groundhogg CRM customers deserve better communication, operation, support and delivery than we're getting. Buy purchasing and using Groundhogg CRM, we place our own businesses on the line.
I lost the potential to earn thousands of dollars when my implementation of Groundhogg CRM failed, and that did not seem to concern the Groundhogg CEO at all.
At this point, I would not recommend buying Groundhogg CRM until they replace Adrian Tobey with an experienced CEO to help guide the company at this critical stage.
As I said before, this is not an attack upon Groundhogg CRM or Adrian Tobey. It's an objective analysis to warn people in my audience before they spend money on a product or service with questionable leadership.
That's not to say that I don't believe in a WordPress CRM. Check out my article on the benefits of a WordPress CRM for your business.