by David Snopek on July 25, 2016 - 12:02pm

Just finished a big project for client? Awesome!

Did you selling them a support and maintenance plan for their new site?

No? Well, I'm sorry to tell you: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

But you wouldn't be the only one!

The vast majority of Drupal shops and freelancers build sites and move on without offering a support and maintenance plan, figuring if the client has any problems they can just bill them for it at their hourly rate.

However, you're missing out on several advantages - read more to find out what they are!

Setting client expectations

We all know that a website is never finished. It requires constant maintenance: security updates, bug fixes, changes for the latest SEO and mobile trends (ex. responsive design, AMP), and so on.

Well, we all know that, but our clients might not!

For most clients, when the project is done - the website is "done."

When they find a bug or need an update, they're left wondering, "Didn't I already pay for this?"

Yes, they'll probably come back to you and pay your hourly rate, but estimating the scope of this mini-project and having to sell it to them is an unnecessary source of tension for both sides.

But if you sell them a support and maintenance plan when selling them the initial project, you help to set their expectations for life after the project is over. They'll understand from the very beginning that the website needs constant maintenance and the framework for receiving it.

Get future work!

How many times have you gotten a project to re-build a new website for client who hates their old buggy website?

Have you ever wondered why they didn't go back to the person or company who built that old site and had those bugs fixed years ago?

Well, if you didn't sell your clients a support and maintenance plan, then YOU were probably the person who built the "old buggy site" in a couple of cases - and you didn't even know it!

Any unmaintained site is going to get buggy. Once people start to be annoyed or despise their site, they'll distrust the work that was done on the site originally. So, when they reach their breaking point, they'll go to someone new to build a new site, rather than return to you.

But if you have a history of fixing their problems and answering their support questions on a regular basis... First of all, the site won't become an unmaintained mess... But also, you'll maintain a long-term positive relationship with the client and when they need a new site or feature, you'll be at the top of their minds!

And it's easier and cheaper to get a new project from an old client, than chasing new clients.

Recurring revenue

One of the hardest parts of doing project work is managing the feast and famine cycle.

You have times when all your potential clients finally sign the contract on the same day and you're struggling to figure out how you're going to do all at once.

And you have the times (frequently just before that happens :-)), when you don't have enough work to keep you busy and you're hustling like crazy to find new clients!

Support and maintenance work can help to fill the gaps and stabilize your business.

Look out for your clients best interests

There's a number of things that your clients need - I mean really NEED - but they might not know or understand that they need them.

For example: security updates.

Your clients care that their customers can buy their products or that the contact page works. Security is something abstract that, sure, they know they need it, but they might not understand that security is an on-going process and not a box that you tick off once and are done.

Providing your client with a support and maintenance plan allows you to stay on top of things like security updates for your clients. While they might never fully understand the value in that, it is in their best interest, and they'll feel the effect (if only passively) by not having the stress of their site getting hacked.

This is something you need to do to look out for your client's best interests - and not just "sell and run" :-)

Don't have the extra time? Outsource it!

I know - you have enough to do already! You've got a big project in the works and you can't drop everything every time a previous client's site has a critical problem or even when it needs a minor update.

Well, you can get all the advantages discussed above by outsourcing your support and maintenance to partner company (like myDropWizard)!

Contact us today about white-label Support and Maintenance for your clients!

... or learn more about how our white-label service works!

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Yes, I totally agree. It is a big part of the client experience to have someone they can call. Not all clients will want the maintenance plans, but most small to medium clients would rather have YOU looking after the site (plus they would normally not know what that means). Like you said, an steady income it is always something good, and it will allow you to spend time regularly with the client and make sure things go as planned. This way next time something is needed they are more likely to be happy about worked done before and ask you to do it.

Please, if you can share some ideas on how to decide pricing of maintenance / support plan for any website project just completed.

Hi Ajay!

It really depends on what you're offering for support & maintenance.

If you've never offered it before, an easy way that won't get you into trouble would be to sell a bucket of hours per month, and have the hourly rate be a little bit discounted from your normal rate. So, if you charge $100/hr for project work, you could sell a 5-hour bucket of support and maintenance hours at $400/mo (so, $80/hr).

However, as I argued in another article (Clients don’t want to be billed hourly for site maintenance - even if they say they do!), I think it's best for both you and the client NOT to tie support and maintenance to hours. That said, that can get you into lots of trouble if you don't have the services and the price balanced correctly. So, relating it to hours is a good way to start because it's safe.

I hope that helps!

Thanks David. The hint given by you is really helpful.

How do you handle the possible situation where a module update is not compatible with the core update?