Being a webmaster or site manager, you get used to working nights, weekends and yes holidays like the 4th of July. (If you want to do right by your clients, that is)
Take yesterday for instance. Most people were off for Independence Day. We on the other hand were working and doing an install for a client. As we didn’t want the client to be down at any point during normal business hours, the 4th of July is a perfect day to do an install. Now although we started just after midnight on Sunday, we didn’t get done until about 9:30 AM with all our install, and testing was completed by mid afternoon.
Now don’t take this the wrong way, I am not complaining. That is the job in a nutshell. When you manage people’s websites, you need to do what’s best by them. This means as little downtime as is humanly possible. Of course there are times when servers go down or horrible things can happen like hackers. These are things are beyond our control though we take every safeguard and measure we can to keep our clients safe. No, I am talking about normal best practices. Do not be down during business hours. End of conversation.
I like to talk say there are things that differentiate companies in a crowded market. The willingness to work around your client’s schedule, and do things at times which are not convenient to you, this is an example of what I called differentiators (if that’s a word).
Unfortunately, most web companies are really only interested in the “sexy” things in my business. They love doing mockups and showing clients pretty images. But in terms of actually managing your site after the launch, very few companies in the world specialize in this aspect of the business today. Why? The answer is simple, this type of work is not as fun as painting pretty images for clients. This is down and dirty, nuts and bolts work. But this is what make websites run. This is what keeps websites always improving and not out of service during peak business times.
So, our holiday may have been delayed as we worked most of the day. By the time we stopped and took a break for some barbecue and to enjoy the family time, the day was mainly gone. But at the end of the day, like most days, we know we did the right thing by our client. We will continue this policy, as that is what drives us and has made us the top website management company in the world. Now I know that comes off as boasting, but we stand behind our boasts with action. If you are not happy with your website management company, contact us today, we can help.
One of my proudest metrics is our client retention rate. Since I have been in business dating back to the mid 90s, I have retained 98% of my clients year to year. Typically, if the client leaves it is because they are going out of business, have a family member who wants to try their hand at web development and design, or have received a deal too to be true elsewhere. We all see these free websites, and packages that sound too good to be true. In the long-run companies grow to resent these companies, as their service is slow or is non-existent. (Funny, people go for bait and switch and deals that sound too good to be true and are disappointed when these fly by night companies don’t deliver quality service or products…)
I believe that you support a client until the last second of the last day they are paying you.
This was evident on New Year’s Eve. (Yes, we work on New Year’s Eve) A client I had for about 15 years or more decided to go with a new company to build a new e-commerce site. My estimate (which was tiny) was too high for her. (she forgot that I had grandfathered her in at our late 90s rates, and never raised her fees and charged her next to nothing for hosting and maintaining her site…) But, it of course is her prerogative and we wish her well. But, wait, it gets better……..Late in the day on the 31st, she sent a request to do some things to her website. Now I think I should tell you the new website was supposed to be ready by now and she had given me notice. But of course the developer had excuses and it was not done and probably won’t be done for months. (Red Flag anyone? Bueller Bueller Bueller) So she decided to pay me and continue with my service for a few months longer. Now 99.9% of the people out there would’ve made her wait till after the new year and probably a few days to a few weeks just for spite. But I made these changes after 5 o’clock on New Year’s Eve, because of that is how we do business. We support clients until the last second of the last day they have paid us for service. That is what customer service is all about, that is what RooSites is all about.
In conclusion: Looking back at 2014, it was our best year ever with great new clients coming on board, and 98% coming with us into the new year. We will always strive to keep our clients happy, and want to retain all our customers (well, maybe not all ;-). Now we know this is not a realistic goal, but by offering the best support in the world, we will continue to stay in the high 90s for client retention.
Happy New Year to you all, may 2015 be the best year ever for you, your families and your companies!
When we manage websites for a living, specifically WordPress websites there are a lot of tasks that come with it. Plugin updates come in all the time. These can be an absolute nightmare, breaking functionality and sometimes even taking down a website. Good webmasters/site managers have backups and can repair any damage the updates may cause. But these updates are part of normal updating process. This post is more about a case that doesn’t fall within the normal bounds of managing a website.
A few years ago a client came to me. I won’t mention his name, but will tell you a little bit about the project. He is an artist and wanted a site to display his works. Great, I could use WordPress and one of the many gallery plugins. BUT, he had very specific needs. He really wanted to have the images speak for themselves, and didn’t want any of the normal features of most galleries (and the things most people ask for). For instance he didn’t like light-box effects. He didn’t even want any borders around his images. Make a long story short, we built him a custom theme and fulfilled all of his needs.
Problem: We really had to re-write a lot of the gallery plugin. So we really couldn’t upgrade the plugin or we’d lose all the customizations. This wasn’t an issue for a couple of years. But then changes to the WordPress core messed up the file upload. We could no longer upload 40-50 files at a time which is the main functionality we needed. Adding images one at a time wasn’t an option. So what do I do? Should I bill him for 8 additional hours to bring his site up to date? (his maintenance plan included 2 hours and the project would take 10.)
Solution: Sometimes you just have to suck it up. I didn’t want to bill the guy $1,000 dollars, and not sure that he could afford it. So, I did the work myself which required me to set up a staging area, update the plug-in and then go through the process of again customizing the functionality and CSS. Fortunately, now the plug-in is improved to the point where my customizations would be stored in a separate area that would allow me to always upgrade the plug-in as needed. So the client would be much better off for years to come.
Bottom Line: I won’t get back the 10+ hours, or make any money for my troubles. But I know I did the right thing, and karma is definitely on my side. Going the extra mile has to be your normal behavior if you are managing websites if you are to stand out in the crowd. I believe we do.
While I love what I do, it is inevitable that once in a while, you run into a client you just can’t please. Trekies know this as the Kobayashi Maru. It is the no win scenario. In Star Trek this was a training scenario to which there is no way to win. In the web business we know this as the un-pleasable client.
Now Web Development, and site management is a service business. There should be no confusion about this. You aren’t doing your clients a favor by building and/or managing a website. They are paying you and therefore deserve every consideration. You MUST do everything you can do to please your clients.
In fact, in my opinion, many of the no-win situations are the fault of the developer/designer and not the client.
To try and assist both sides, here are some ideas both from the development side and from the client side. Hopefully this will help you with your next web project.
Web Designers/Developers/Website Managers
Contract: The best thing you can do is have a contract which spells out exactly what you are going to do, what it will cost and what will happen if you build things not in scope. So for instance if you have a contract to build a 10 page website and it grows to 20 pages, what are the additional costs?
Phases: Break your project up into phases. Then have your client sign off on each phase. So for instance if you are designing a site have the client sign off on the design. This way they can’t come back and want to blow up what you have done.
The never ending project: Now one of the trickiest problems web developers run into is the site that never gets finished. We have all had these projects and they are bottom line killers. We have to pay our team members, but don’t get final payment until the site launches. This too can be solved by a good contract which spells out that final payment will come due x days after all the work has been done (whether or not the client sends content).
Misunderstanding of requirements: Now many times the issue is a a developer just doesn’t get what you are looking for. You can do yourself a favor and save yourself headaches by having a requirements list which spells out exactly what you need. Make sure your designer/developer understands exactly what you need.
Contract: Insist on a contract, and make sure your developer clearly states exactly what your project entails. Make sure you own your code and that the contract spells out what happens when the relationship ends. This will save you angst and money if the relationship goes south.
Sign-off: Make sure you can sign off at different steps along the way. So you don’t get a site delivered not living up to your needs.
Bottom Line:: Notice how similar the ideas for the 2 sides are? Both want a quality product, completed in a reasonable amount of time. While Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru by cheating, If you take steps in advance of a web project, both can be satisfied and head off any problems.
I remember an old expression “everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”. Now of course this is true if not a bit harsh. But, you are asking yourself what does this possibly have to do it my website?
Clients come to me to improve their search engine optimization, as well as their presence on social media. I of course am happy to help, that is my business after all 🙂
I always tell them I can help, but I can’t do it alone. You are the subject matter expert in your given field. I may be a thought leader in my field, but all that allows me to do is help YOU. You, the client have to put in some sweat equity if you want to be successful. I can provide you the mechanisms to improve your sites visibility with search engines and social media. I have done this for myself, I’ve done this for clients, but still there are many clients out there that want everything, just not willing to put in the time.
Now what does this mean? Well for instance social media. I can help you gain followers visibility, etc. But to do so we have to be active. To be successful in social media, you actually do have to be social. I know that sounds like common sense but you’d be surprised how many people want to do well with social media but don’t actually like being social. Work is not all about doing what we like to do, that is why they call it work.
At RooSites we often start by having people set up a schedule for work they’re going to do both with their website, and for social media. We have even started a beta test of sending reminders to people each week, to write a blog or an article for their websites. This way they can improve their search engine visibility, and do it the right way, through old-fashioned hard work and quality content. Google loves quality content. And you know what? They should. After all, that is what people are searching for, right? No ones sets out looking for the most optimized website. No, they want the best result set for the what they are querying the search engine for in the first place. So put in the hard work, the sweat equity will pay off.
But, if you aren’t willing to put in the time to improve your site or social media, do yourself a favor, delete your social media pages. Then put a note on your stale website: “We really don’t care about our site, hope you will do business with us anyway.” Hey at least you will get points for honesty.