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Forward, not back!

Progress....

     
1:39 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Back in June, I posted this thread [webmasterworld.com] expressing my frustration with the way things have been going in my business.

I wanted to post an update because I think several others have been / are / may one day be in the same situation.

To recap, the general problems were:-

- undercharging
- clients taking advantage
- clients expecting miracle results from very low budgets
- not being able to put most of my skills into use because people don't want to pay enough!

There were various other frustrations as well.

Anyway, this is what I've done to get things working again!

1. Increase costs, and tell clients this is how it is
We put our prices up and wrote to all of our clients, effectively saying "These are our prices. We will be charging for them. We will be charging you for consultancy / support work, even if it is half an hour helping you through a problem"

2. Clearout
I made no effort to retain the one or two clients who didn't like it.

3. Better documentation of work
I have written a secure client area for my website that enables all clients to log in and view a history of what I have done for them (including the amount of time everything took), along with what they can expect to be invoiced at the end of the month. Having everything written out in front of them shows that I really have been working hard in return for their money!

4. My own website!
This is what I really wanted to do. One of my frustrations was not being able to use a lot of my knowledge for client sites. So why not use it on my own site? We have set it up, worked out an income stream and are launching it this weekend!

Hopefully this will give those of you who are a bit frustrated with clients (who isn't?) and webmastering in general one or two ideas to think about. I feel 100% better than I did four months ago.

2:10 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I recall your past thread. So you're feeling better now. That's nice. What sort of results has your new strategy produced?
2:26 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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congrats on your achievements and on turning the bad situation around.

i hate to pick on someone's english - and I generally don't - but the "forward, not back" slogan always bothered me. it was spread all over labour's inane posters at the last election ... and is still bad grammar. The opposite of forward is, of course, backward.

<added>
Have you considered ISO certification? Even one man bands can get certified to ISO 9000. The changes you made are the kind of things you'd do when gearing up for the certification. It's like having your own consultant around to streamline your operation. It may still be worth considering and may make other cost/time efficiencies for you.

[edited by: oddsod at 2:33 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2005]

2:30 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've found that I don't get anywhere near as much time wasting any more!

We're starting to sign people up on monthly contracts. As they know we have minimum charges, a monthly payment to us means they get a lot more for their money.

e.g. if they pay for work each month, we record our time in 15 minute increments. If they are not paying us monthly and phone up out of the blue, we record our time in 30 minute increments. Suffice to say, 5 small jobs a month works out a lot cheaper the former way than the latter!

The clients who used to infuriate me no longer call. The clients I used to get on well with are asking me to do more.

It's also easier to deal with new clients. I can say to them: If we work for you, we will do a great job, but you have to appreciate we need to be paid. This is what it will cost you, and this is how we expect payment. The fact that you are willing to be so single-minded about this actually makes you seem stronger. If I agreed to everything they said it would seem like I was desperate for the work!

I'm a lot more confident about my abilities. I was suffering a crisis of confidence - "I'm sure I know what I'm doing, but I'm not getting paid enough and people are taking advantage. Am I really good enough?". I now feel a surge of confidence, and enjoyment again, when I am talking about what I can do - whether I am giving a friend some friendly advice in the pub or pitching to a new client. I finally believe in myself again!

I am having a lot more good ideas. I'm not spending all my time worrying - I'm spending time thinking, and it's a lot more productive.

My wife is no longer worried about me, and my snooker has improved dramatically.

:-)

2:34 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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i hate to pick on someone's english - and I generally don't - but the "forward, not back" slogan always bothered me. it was spread all over labour's inane posters at the last election ... and is still bad grammar. The opposite of forward is, of course, backward.

I know :) the only reason I used it was because it's been spread was spread all over the media.

(I could try and claim that I had used a phrase well known to the general public to encourage browsers to click on it... but in reality I just couldn't think of a decent title.)

My current annoyance is being asked what my gender is on a form, and being given 'Male' or 'Female' as an option. I personally consider myself to exhibit Masculine tendancies, but the choice is never there!

But that's a discussion for Foo...

2:39 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Have you considered ISO certification? Even one man bands can get certified to ISO 9000. The changes you made are the kind of things you'd do when gearing up for the certification. It's like having your own consultant around to streamline your operation. It may still be worth considering and may make other cost/time efficiencies for you.

I haven't. The only thing I really know about it is that the difference between ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 is "About 6000.. hahaha" (Dilbert's boss).

It's certainly a possibility. It might even be worth locating the requirements and following them to start with, just to see how it goes. Or does even that sentence show how little I know about it?

2:45 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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ISO themselves don't do any certification but do a few searches and you'll find local companies - like the British Standards Institute [bsi-global.com] (of kitemark fame) - who'll visit you and discuss what's involved. Many of them will help with preparation of the essential documents/processes.

Dilbert's boss needs a new calculator.

 

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