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Professional Webmaster Business Issues Forum

    
Making the switch from consulting to make a sale to getting paid
How does a one (wo)man band stop giving time away for free?
spadilla




msg:4060045
 5:48 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hello fellow webmasters,

First I want to give a bit of background. I work both locally and long distance with clients and do everything from sales consultation to the actual design and implementation of websites myself. I have to micro-manage my time to be efficient, but lately I have an issue that has really only become an issue due to my workload increasing. Paid work is of course what I want and I am happy that I am getting more of that, but I feel that a big reason for this is how I obtain clients. I work hard to really assess goals and look out for my client's best interest. However, in doing so I end up explaining alot and helping clients with everything from marketing to content writing on the sites I build for them. They look to me for help and I try to give it to them as fast as possible so my whole day isn't spent on the phone giving tutorials and teaching them marketing.

With all of that said, I have tried typing up detailed tutorials for content editing on the CMS I've made for them and have even made screencasts, but I still get the phone call with "how do I"? I've tried limiting the relationship to email only and find that it leads to frustration on both ends. So of course a phone call that should only take a couple of minutes to go over how to enter an article turns into 30 mins. to an hour of Q&A.

My questions is mainly, how do I draw the line? How do I make the transition from sales consultation to consultant without offending them? I am happy that my clients look to me for help, but not happy about helping for free. Maybe I need to grow some cajones?!

If you have any advice, I would love to hear it because I am really struggling with this issue right now. Thanks!

 

LifeinAsia




msg:4060057
 6:01 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Explain that your business has grown to the point that you can no longer provide unlimited support for each client. Provide x number of hours support that is included in your price. Anything after that is billable at your standard rate.

This is fair in that it ensures that you are able to provide ALL of your clients with the best possible service for which they have paid.

jeffason




msg:4062682
 8:06 am on Jan 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, bill for support after 30 days. They will either pay or figure it out on their own. This is actually where you could be making a majority of your money. congratulations, many web builders dream to get where you are. now its time to look at hiring an assistant of some kind so you can monetize on the support requests. They demand, you supply. Double what a VA bills and charge it to the customer. Let them know a 30 minutes phone call of support will need to be prepaid at $20 or whatever they would pay if its important.

spadilla




msg:4064034
 6:00 am on Jan 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thank you both for your input. I like both suggestions. I especially like the idea if notifying new clients that after 30 days consultations wil be $X per hour. Now to figure out what to do about the ones that are already set in their ways (due to my own lack of the ability to say NO).

bwnbwn




msg:4064263
 3:16 pm on Jan 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would look into chat support services. Most is outsourced to india etc and you can go over the
I have tried typing up detailed tutorials for content editing on the CMS I've made for them and have even made screencasts.

I deal with one that learns really fast and does a good job as I am sure most of them do. But for a small monthly fee since most fees are based on time chatting this would work wonderful in you area.

I really like chat support myself and use it at any possible time I can. I as well feel this provides the Company with a feeling of "Man nice company great support"

This will free you up from worring with the small stuff and help build a solid business for future growth.

spadilla




msg:4065457
 4:29 am on Jan 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yet another great idea bwnbwn. Since I have people using a few different CMS's all with different uses, would I teach such a person some tasks that are common to most of the sites or would I be able to teach them each site and trust that they will be around long enough to actually use the information I provide them? Also, would you trust them with access to a website's admin panel to troubleshoot or is that going a bit too far?

Again - thanks for the idea! Man, I love this forum.

bwnbwn




msg:4065697
 2:42 pm on Jan 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

they will be around long enough to actually use the information I provide them
I assume you mean the company you hire for support?

My answer is they will hang around as long as you pay them for their services.

As I said the company I use have been quick to learn and if there is additional help I can usually provide them with the info by chat myself.

would I teach such a person some tasks that are common to most of the sites
YES this is were they can reduce the most support problems for you.

would you trust them with access to a website's admin panel to troubleshoot
Good question. Trust is built over time so this is a call you would need to make. I have had the same company doing some task for me for a year or more and have given them access to admin control on the site they work for me on.

I did create them their own log in so I conld monitor it from time to time.

You will need to write down with scrren shots the support they will be providing and possible solutions, but this will be really something you need anyway.

Plan to spend 1-2 days of teaching if needed so your sure the job will get done correctly.

After they have been trained send out an email to all clients the NEW customer support link, add to your support page and remove your phone number.

The company you will hire can then contact you (during specified times) for additional help with a customer issue.

topr8




msg:4065706
 2:47 pm on Jan 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

get a premium rate phone number.

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