Years ago I worked with a finish carpenter, one of the best in the world. He had injured himself and got into web development early in the Internet age. His code like his carpentry was superb.
Now you ask what does this have to do with web development and design?
I will explain. One day we were talking about a project I was bidding on and didn’t get because I was a bit more expensive than my competitor (although I was giving them a lot more for the money). That is when he said to me “You buy a product or you buy a price”
Interesting expression. But think about it, all websites are not created equal just as all products aren’t created equal. But what he was talking about was that people who will just choose the lowest price are not necessarily looking for the best product, in this case a website. They just want the cheapest price, period.
I ran into this a few months ago with a service professional. We had a great meeting and seemed to be on the same page. He came to me because I has done a website for someone with a similar business. He was very quick to knock this person saying he didn’t have all the same licensing and credentials and although he was cheaper, he wasn’t nearly as good as he was….Interesting!
Fast-forward a week, I had sent him a proposal and didn’t hear back. He said he was going to decide in the coming weeks between me and a couple of other companies but that one of the companies was much cheaper. So, he was going to buy the price not the product. It was funny because he had just told me the difference between him and one of his competitors was that his competitor was cheaper, BUT they didn’t have his skills or licensing. I understood this and I responded that just like you there a lot of people who are in the same business as me, they may deliver you a better price, but they’ll never deliver a better website or provide maintenance after the site is live.
But my friend the carpenter was correct, people either shop for price or they shop for a Product. You’ll never get the person whose decision is just based on price alone, as that’s all they’re looking for, cheap. Although, many times they come back to us because they’re unsatisfied with not only the website they just built, but with the support afterwards. As we are one of the only companies in the United States that focuses on the maintenance of websites, many times we get clients for just that reason. Although some companies can build a kick ass site, they don’t really want to support them, they want to design it build it and get out and move onto next project. We are here for the long haul.
Bottom line: what I usually advise people to do is look at the whole picture, the person’s portfolio, but more importantly their support after sites launch. Check with some of the people that have used the developer. Was it a good experience? Then look at the price, if all things are equal, then of course choose the best price. However if you like the other company better you may say “listen your price was a bit too high can we do something about that?” As I am always looking for long-term clients, I typically will give someone a discount if they were going to be one of our hosting and support clients. So there are very few cases where I’ll loses site over matter of a couple hundred dollars.
UPDATE: I just checked and the company I wrote about in this post still hasn’t launched their new site. (We would have had this launched in 30 days) Apparently he got what he paid for…
In business, client retention is one of the biggest factors to whether you stay in business or fade away. I am fortunate in that my client retention rate is in the high 90% range. We provide exceptional service and support, answering client requests the same day.
But, like other companies I do on occasion lose clients. Sometimes, we have lost clients we have taken wonderful care of over many years. When you lose those clients, it typically hurts a bit. Especially when you had a great relationship, right up until the time they leave. As an example, I had a nonprofit that I supported for over 5 years. Like a lot of nonprofits they had much turnover of staff and I worked with several people. The last person I work with and I had a great relationship, he sent me many difficult tasks that always needed to be done yesterday and I completed everyone on the same day they came in. Now sometimes this meant I had to work nights and weekends in order to get tasks done for them. But as a nonprofit, fundraisers are very important to their mission. So I always got their requests done a.s.a.p.
Well, the other day I get a note after five years saying they were going to bring their website in house, and canceled their account. They said what a great job we have done for them and that we gave unbelievable support. Now this is where the title comes into play. I wanted to say if I gave you such great support over the years, they why do you cancel with zero notice. Why would you be building a site behind my back to replace the one we had without even giving me a whiff of your intentions?
BUT, you can’t always say the first thing that comes into your mind. No matter how angry you are, it is best to take a step back, and do the classy thing. Before you send the nasty email response, get up from your computer, or put down the smartphone. Take a deep breath. Then, thank them for their business, and wish them well. In the long run this will ensure your survival as people like this may actually refer you to their friends and colleagues.
The idea of bringing websites in house sounds good and sounds like you’ll save money. But ultimately what typically happens is the websites tend to fail, don’t get updated, and vital things like plug-ins and software are not updated. This of course can lead to hacks and other horrendous outcomes.
So unless you have a staff member with experience maintaining websites and software, think twice before bringing your website in house. We offer different plans to fit any budget, so you can do many tasks yourself but leave some of the heavy lifting to us. That way you can insure continuity and limit problems and downtime. (And in truth, we charge a lot less than having a full or even part time employee maintaining your website)
So as I said, stay classy, thank people for their business and even if you are angry, bite your tongue. Longevity will be your reward!