An introduction to website maintenance contracts, how they support your business and how to justify their use to potential customers.
Anyone who is regularly involved in the implementation of web projects in any form will be familiar with the following stereotypical process.
The (first) contact with the customer is followed by one or more briefing dates and an offer will then be written. This is followed by graphic design to create the layout and finally the technical implementation. When all of the work is done, the project goes live.
And afterwards? In many cases, customers and websites are left to their own devices. A final appointment or e-mail is used to communicate to the customer that the service provider is there for any questions or requests - but often it is the last contact between customer and service provider for a long period of time. Often, this lack of contact lasts right up until the moment when something no longer works or the customer fails to add new content because the editorial training is already a few days in the past. This doesn't have to be the case!
Maintenance Contracts Offer a Perfect Follow-Up to Completed Web Projects
This is exactly where maintenance contracts for websites are the perfect follow-up to successful web projects.
Maintenance contracts offer the possibility to generate a continuous income with relatively little effort. This is particularly attractive as the actual maintenance work can be largely automated and centralized, thanks to numerous tools. The business model is therefore, in principle, infinitely scalable and leads to increased profits, as expensive manual work is seldom required.
Even more exciting is the fact that frustration caused by defective page functionality is prevented, allowing you remain the "number one contact person" for all questions relating to the Web. Through maintenance contracts, lasting business relationships can be built, thus preventing the danger of being forgotten as a service provider.
How Do You Sell a Maintenance Contract to the Customer?
When acquiring maintenance customers, one is inevitably faced with the task of presenting maintenance contracts to customers as attractively as possible. In the following, we will provide a few effective strategies to convince potential customers to become one of hopefully many clients.
Maintenance Contracts Offer the Customer an Economic Advantage
As a service provider, our primary task is to offer our customers economic added value. We are paid, if you like, to multiply the investment in our services.
Maintenance contracts are no different - they also offer an economic advantage that has to be explained to the customer.
This economic advantage comes from the fact that web page operators can fully and completely focus on their core business.
The time that would have been invested in unloved work on the Website, can instead be used for work that increases revenue and provides much more enjoyment than clicking multiple Update-Buttons.
Make "Black Box Website Maintenance" Understandable
Often there is very little to no technical know-how on the side of the customer.
For this reason, the concept of website maintenance often seems incomprehensible and is met with reluctance. One should seek to break down this construct by clearly explaining which services are included in the maintenance offer and what value they offer to the customer.
Given this, it makes sense to make the provided services transparent to the customer via regular reports. For example, such a report could include the number of backups and updates made and also provide information about the uptime of the website.
Abstract maintenance work thus becomes tangible for the customer.
In this regard, it is much easier for other industries, for example the automotive industry, because it is clear to everyone that a car must be regularly inspected in order to retain its approval. Despite this, these industries still offer valuable lessons from which we can benefit.
The Myth: "My website is so small - it isn’t interesting for hackers anyway!"
Often during sales meetings one is confronted with the argument that a customer’s website is completely "uninteresting" for hackers as it is "far too small”.
This myth must be dispelled, as the fewest number of attacks on the Internet are targeted attacks on a specific website. Instead, automated attacks on known vulnerabilities make up the majority of all attacks on the internet. The actual target of the attack is the webspace on which the website is located – not the website itself. In the event of a successful takeover, the webspace can, for example, be used to send spam and malware.
It is therefore a myth that a website can be "too small" to become the target of such an attack and it is your task to dispel this myth.
Fast Reaction Times are Required
The time from the discovery of a vulnerability or the release of a new Joomla! version through to the first automated attack is usually less than 8 hours. If critical security updates were not installed during this period, it is fair to assume that non-updated installations could have fallen victim to a hack.
Fast response times and a constant overview of pending updates are therefore indispensable if a website is to be reliably protected against attacks. It is not enough to check for updates only once a week.
Maintenance Contracts Protect Against Economic Damage
A hacked site is not only annoying, but also has unmanageable negative economic effects on a company.
Whilst a claim for damages is possible in the event of negligent operation of the site, a hacked website will cause a loss of reputation when it becomes public; the economic consequences of which are hard to quantify.
We hope that these well-founded guidelines can help you in future sales talks and assist you in welcoming the first interested clients for your maintenance offer.
The next article in our mini-series will describe what such maintenance contracts can look like, what services are included and which tools and workflows can be utilised to help you automate the maintenance work.
Do you have any questions, suggestions or additional strategies for acquiring maintenance customers?