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I used to have clients reguarly call me and say "x company is offering xyz service for less then you offer" But importantly we had given them information that they could think about these things and their next statement would usually be "surely that can't be right though"
If you work on building the trust with your clients you will stop having so many of these issues, as they will see you as their go to expert.
The other company is doing data back up, that's the hook and bait to my clients, back up your site and all the info that is being placed into the site for your ranking will always remain.
This forum would be a good place to start. By proving this is false information they may be coming back.
You can provide them with a backup service as well as a disaster recover plan for as little as 5.00 a month.
Basically I have a competitor who is telling people that once you get there they don't have to pay me anymore. I'm thinking of stopping this service,however people are stealing my design storyboards too. what can I do to protect myself if anything?
As suggested, this comes down to relationships. The competitor, to a point, is right. You've built the website to a point where it will probably be self-sustaining for a good period of time with minimal effort. This is where the relationships become critical. Presumably, they own the website, the code, the design, everything. They paid for it did they not? "...stealing my design..." is lame and beside the point. Unless the clients are stupid or you are not taking the best care of them, they should be 100% backed-up at all times and with access to backup at any time they want it. Backup is nothing unless it is a very large site, in which case it is simply more of a due diligence requirement than ever. If they are not backed-up, and with access, are you not putting them over a bit of a barrel yourself?
Lastly though, I think one of the things that you may want to consider is a business model that is designed such that the major money a client spends is during the time of getting the site up there in the rankings. Once you get it there, then your client is paying less and really just for maintaining it there. Thus they have already made the big money investment and why leave.
I think the point about building relationships is crucial.
I think this is important and in business you had better be taking good care of clients and building relationships because surely your competitor will if you won't. However I think a valuable point is being missed here and that is a question of value.
Value works both ways one way you get paid very well for creating that value and the other is the client gets a lot of value relative to their investment. If a client doesn't feel you are creating value it becomes very easy to view you as an expense regardless of your relationship. However if you are constantly adding value, creating new ideas for clients, etc. your value and hence fees should never be questioned. Once you add relationship management on top of this arrangement you should be bullet proof. If that is not the case I would look at your business model and figure what you are not bringing to the party after a few months that allows clients to view you and your service so indifferently or get rid of you so easily. My guess is that it is not simply a back up service as that is fairly standard in the industry.
especially if it's only 5 bucks a month
My point above that value also works for you, i.e. you create a lot of value and hence get paid very well may be missed here. Does it make economic sense [for you] to provide top ten rankings and apparently great story boards and then sell that for $5 bucks per month to keep it going? If you truly create this type of value over and over again you should be making a fortune.