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Owning a reseller account: the good the bad and the ugly.
What are the problems that may crop up?
lizzie




msg:339901
 3:36 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)
I started a little hosting reseller business and want to know what problems can occur and what to watch out for. Since we are rapidly adding clients and I am new to this I was hoping for some advise. I found out the hard way about having a client who sends spam. Anything else I should think about? If a client asks me a technical question I'm in trouble. I'd have to depend on the knowledge and responsiveness of the people I am getting the reseller service from, which so far with the several I have tried, has not been much better than the little I know about UNIX.

 

Essex_boy




msg:339902
 3:40 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Customer service. In a nut shell, I suspect thats where your going to fall down.

Work on it.

lizzie




msg:339903
 4:12 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)
When you say "that's where your going to fall down" you are actually saying "that's where you are..." so "your" is a contraction and it is spelled you're. Notice I also put an apostrophe in thats (that's the little mark in that's)English language- work on it.

[1][[b]edited by[/b]: lizzie at 4:25 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2004][/1]

petertdavis




msg:339904
 4:16 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Stable supplier is the most important key.

Essex_boy




msg:339905
 5:49 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Wooo touchy.

Errm no I meant what I said. My reply was general and not targeted at yourself. In my view thats where people fall down.

I guess your business is not that busy if you have the time to correct me. ;)

lizzie




msg:339906
 6:07 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)
Sorry but I do get really tired of getting nasty answers here. My business is great considering I started six weeks ago.
aspdaddy




msg:339907
 6:24 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Choose your customers wisely, there is not much money in pure hosting and it can bring alot of hassle. Unless I can see good opps for upselling I wont bother.

>If a client asks me a technical question I'm in trouble.

Make it clear you cant offer tech support before taking thier money

storevalley




msg:339908
 6:30 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry but I do get really tired of getting nasty answers here

Sheesh lizzie ... which side of the bed did you get out of this morning? Some of your own answers (on this thread and others) haven't been too friendly ...

Chill out :)

storevalley




msg:339909
 6:40 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Make it clear you cant offer tech support before taking their money

I don't know many people that would wear this. The other option is to team up with somebody that can offer tech support.

I do this with bigger organisations ... I just know that they are going to lose passwords, break email account settings etc on a regular basis.

So I sign them up for a support contract with a third party that offers a sensible service level agreement.

lizzie




msg:339910
 7:36 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)
You mentioned a support contract with a third party. Are you saying that each customer signs up for a separate support contract or that your entire service relies on the support of a third party?
storevalley




msg:339911
 7:58 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Are you saying that each customer signs up for a separate support contract

Where necessary. If I can't offer a client the level of support they need, I'll give them the option of signing up with a trusted third party.

At some point on the future, this will probably become transparent. I work pretty closely with a number of other consultants and companies.

or that your entire service relies on the support of a third party?

Not this particular part. Although I do have a reseller account ... so I guess you could say that I rely on a third party there.

But in this day and age, I don't know many services of any size that don't rely on external support.

Serchen




msg:339912
 9:48 pm on Jan 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think one of the biggest issues you will deal with is fraud. You get a lot of online fraud in hosting, by which I mean stolen credit cards that are charged back on you after a couple of months of the account being opened on your servers.

It can get pretty expensive over time, particulary if you are registering domain names on behalf of your clients.

lizzie




msg:339913
 12:41 am on Jan 12, 2004 (gmt 0)
That's a good point. What bothers me the most and may cause me to limit the number of clients I have is that there are a few that send me constant emails and the questions are ones they have asked before or they are simply having an ongoing dialogue with me to pass the time and feel I am a friend. I do want to be friendly but it is very time consuming. I don't want to keep spending entire days having pleasant discussions with clients. Answering questions and sending emails is a time consuming chore and after getting new clients at the rate that I have been I am thinking of how I might switch the new ones over to another service. I want to find a way to continue to run the hosting business while having the clients on another service that will deliver the customer service. Does this sound realistic?
Cianna




msg:339914
 2:20 am on Jan 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Lizzie, this is not meant to be combative, but is a sincere question: why did you start a service business if you don't want to provide service?

Cianna

lizzie




msg:339915
 5:20 am on Jan 12, 2004 (gmt 0)
That is a personal question so I sent you a sticky mail to answer it.
Serchen




msg:339916
 8:34 am on Jan 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

If your looking to free up some time whilst you bridge the financial gap between single person business and one that employs support staff of your own, you should look at outsourcing.

People will comment to you on forums about lack of customer focus etc etc, the truth is your customers would be better off in the short to medium term with that solution. You need to keep a sensible ratio of support staff Vs customers and thats just not possible in the early days without outsourcing.

Try looking at www.bobcares.com for email support. There are others out there too, this one has been around for a while. (no I'm not affiliated to them)

Hope this helps,

storevalley




msg:339917
 9:01 am on Jan 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I want to find a way to continue to run the hosting business while having the clients on another service that will deliver the customer service. Does this sound realistic?

The bottom line is that you have to add something of value if you want to find and/or keep customers.

The hosting business is essentially about ...

  • Finding new customers
  • Providing them with server space and bandwidth
  • Providing technical resources (setting up/maintaining the above resources)
  • Customer support

The same customers may also want all sorts of other things. Web design, site promotion services, credit card services, etc.

You just need to work out which of these services you can/want to provide. Anything that is left, you need to find a 3rd party you can work with to help out.

Customers are often happiest (I have found) if they can go to one place for everything. This means that you will need to find a way of making all of the parts into a coherent service (e.g. ... if you outsource support, this just becomes an extra number. Clients can still escalate to you if things go wrong).

This will also give you the opportunity to make a little commission from business you refer to these 3rd parties.

Another point worth remembering ...

The first sale you make to a customer will often be the most difficult. Back end/repeat sales will be easier (and usually of a higher value).

So ideally, you want to find a way of building and controlling your own customer database.

lizzie




msg:339918
 4:22 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)
Thank you both for the last two thoughtful answers. Outsourcing is the answer. I would prefer not to be in the hosting business at all, but I need to offer it as an adjunct to my other business.
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