Should you offer a top-notch WordPress optimization service?
Quick summary: Are you leaving money on the table? I bet you do. But let’s not talk money. At least just yet. Let’s talk about what you do and what you offer to your clients as a developer or designer. After that, we’ll talk about money. Are you that kind of developer (or designer) that builds websites, […]
Are you leaving money on the table?
I bet you do.
But let’s not talk money. At least just yet.
Let’s talk about what you do and what you offer to your clients as a developer or designer. After that, we’ll talk about money.
Are you that kind of developer (or designer) that builds websites, one over the other, handoff to your clients and it’s done?
You may choose to be a technician, even a great one. The “computer guy” that is hired by a customer to fix problems or “make a small change” on the site. It’s a comfortable position, and there’s nothing wrong with that approach. Maybe it’s the best for you. As long is also the best for your clients.
Or you can be a consultant, that turns every relationship with customers into a partnership. Someone that makes an effort to understand the company and is ready to deliver insights related to their online presence.
It’s your job to make them understand the importance of maintaining and optimizing their site. Explain what are the things they need and what can you offer. Remember, sometimes clients don’t know what they need.
In that case, you might want to start planning the optimization and maintenance services you can offer to your clients.
So, let’s begin our conversation about money.
Why should you offer optimization and maintenance services?
There are four main reasons:
Stronger relationship – The first thing you accomplish is creating a closer relationship with your clients. It can bring value in the long term. You’re in the frontline to be the one when they have new projects. They might even recommend your services to their friends.
Recurring revenue – The second is recurring revenue. With this contracts, you can have a revenue stream that pushes money for your table every month (or year) that can bring more stability to your business. Less stress and a high possibility to start planning ahead without the urgency of getting money sooner than later.
Build trust – The third is trust. You are someone who is willing to accompany the customer over time, whom they can turn to when there is a problem. That creates a relationship of trust and security. Again, you’re someone they’ll gladly recommend.
Bulletproof system – After some time on the job, you’ll create a working system that makes all the tasks easier to accomplish. In some time you’ll learn more about WordPress and use the experience on new clients sites.
But what comes first, the optimization or the maintenance?
Why should you sell optimization, not maintenance
Do you know a modern, dynamic website that, after a period online, didn’t have some issues? Congratulations. You made a discovery so important as the Tutankhamun Tomb.
A site that is not optimized is a clear stream of problems. It will get slower and slower until the day visitors will leave quickly.
You have seen those, right?
Have you ever filled a contact form that didn’t work? I bet you did. One day I visited a website that sent me to a 404 page on every link I clicked. Only the homepage was (still) working. It was like “where’s Waldo” game, but there wasn’t Waldo anywhere.
But nobody likes to buy maintenance. It’s like taking the car to the mechanic. You know you have to, but you don’t like it. You see this as an expense, although necessary (more on cars in a few lines).
But imagine that the mechanic says that he will improve car consumption? You’ll make more kilometers with less fuel. And he is so good he’ll align the wheels making your tires last longer and give more safety when driving?
That is not only maintenance but optimization.
An optimized site will work smoothly, with excellent load time, please the users, that may drive more conversions to your client.
If you’re a professional, you know what you want to do. But do you know what to offer to your clients?
What to include in the optimization plan
There are some necessary tasks:
Software Updates – WordPress updates, of course, when there is a new version. Plugins updates and their subsequent tests to verify that everything is ok. Don’t forget theme updates, if applicable.
Backups – Offsite backups of files and database. Regardless of the backups made by the host (and you might be the host). And yes, with backup test integrity.
Database Optimization – Repair and optimize the site database.
Monitoring – Get notified when the site is down and fix the problem if possible. You might include security monitoring. Fixing potential security problems is another thing.
Technical support – Investigate and resolve issues that may occur.
Besides these there are other tasks that you can perform and include in the plan:
Website registration and hosting (and renewal);
Development and design tweaks: Probably your clients will ask for some changes. You can include this in the plan. But be very clear about what are tweaks. Set boundaries.
There are a lot of other options you can offer, depending on your team and skills:
Social media management;
Resolve broken links;
Remember when we talked about building trust? You have to inform regularly your client about what you’ve done and how the site is working. Create a routine to report periodically. Once a month is a good fit for most of them.
That way you’re showing what they’re getting from you.
Be detailed but not exhaustive. Say what you did but skip the minor things. They care about the security. If there’s everything updated. If the site runs fast and smoothly. They don’t care about technical stuff. That´s why they pay you.
Use the monthly report to be proactive
It’s your job to be up to date with the industry news. Is there’s a new WordPress version coming soon, let them now that. And reinforce that you are there for them.
If there’s a new major WooCommerce version in the way (and you know what happen’s when they made a new one), assure them you’ll help find out what will change.
For any case, suggest a solution for the problems when you see they’re coming.
Sell the service by focusing on the benefits
Remember the day you bought your first car? Probably a used one. Or maybe a shiny new one. Did you look surprised when the seller – if he was a good seller – warned you that in addition to the fuel, and tire changing, the car had to be regularly maintained to keep working?
That’s the look of your customers when you say their website must be continually optimized.
It’s your job to help them overcome this feeling.
If you develop the site, you might upfront sell one year of maintenance and optimization as an option. Or even offer it, plain sight, in the budget you sent to the prospect client. Don’t forget to input an explicitly renew information. And yes, with a simple but free doubt contract.
The client may discard that option, but you must be clear about what they miss. This is an opportunity to educate them on the value of their website. And yes, it’s your job inform the client that is site is his face to the world.
Don’t hesitate in explain what happens if he opts out the maintenance. Be specific but do not incept fear. It’s a bad idea.
If you didn’t make the site, be more careful. Before you hop into that client, make a robust and thorough analysis of the problems you may find. Send a detailed budget and, of course, the contract with the things you can do without further estimates.
All in all, explain the benefits. More than the great things you do, the client desires security, peace of mind, save time and do more sales.
Remember you’re a healer. Someone that solves the pain points of clients. And your price must reflect that.
Set your price without losing your shirt
How much you’ll charge?
Do you have an idea?
You’ll have one or more levels with different prices?
Give some thoughts about the answers to that questions. But, please, don’t underestimate. If you end up charging too little, one day or another you may be tempted to neglect your customer service somehow. Just don’t do that.
Don’t let the client determine the price. You’re the expert. You’re the one that can solve in minutes something you’re client would take hours.
In October 2016, Manage WP did a survey about maintenance prices in the WordPress ecosystem. The average monthly fee for WordPress support services in the United States is nearly double (80.38) compared to what is charged in the European Union (40, but without taxes).
Oh, another thing. Remember when we suggest that you must sell optimization and not maintenance?
The same survey showed that the most valued services are performance optimization ($11.34) and development hours ($11.20).
When it’s time to renew the optimization and maintenance plan
It’s that time of the year. It can be scary if you have any difficulty talking about money. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you did a good job in the previous 12 month period, you’re in a comfortable position:
Send a report of the year (detailed but not exhaustive);
Estimate the hours you’ve saved them from having to do it themselves or hire another expert;
Remind why it’s important to keep their software updated;
Show how fast the site is loading and why it should remain fast;
Report on the biggest problems your actions prevented from happening (if any);
Explain briefly why the renewal is a worthwhile investment;
Set the new price.
Remember: sent the new contract.
Wait for their answer with confidence, knowing that even if you were great, they might ditch you.
If the client doesn’t renew, make a smooth transition to avoid time loss
If the customer says ‘no,’ it’s time to handoff everything. Give all the login information and the last backup you’ve made. Send the final report again.
Try to schedule a meeting to be sure that you did everything.
There are some “if’s”:
If you manage the server where their site is hosted, give them instructions that they need to find another host and migrate the site.
If you manage software licenses for them, like a premium plugin, send them a list with the renew date and value.
Avoid a lot of back and forth emails with clients on the way out.
So, should you offer a top-notch WordPress optimization service?
No, if you want to be the technician. In this case, you will be reactive. You have to wait for the customer’s call. Then analyze the problem. Submit a quote. Finally, do the job.
Yes, if you want to be a partner. You’ll be proactive. You’ll fix things but also prevent problems. Show your customer that you’re more than a technician. You’re a consultant. That’s not easy but, in the long run, it’ll pay off.