As a web designer, you will design & develop websites for your clients. But as a webmaster, you will serve your clients on an on-going basis. It’s exciting to take on a new client, develop the perfect website, but your job isn’t over once the site launches. What’s involved in keeping your clients happy so they’ll continue to pay you as their webmaster?
In this lesson, we’ll consider a few key elements to serving your clients:
Site Updates & Requests
Invoicing & Payments
Welcome! I’m Leighton, your webmaster. In today’s lesson, let’s discuss Maintaining Clients. So as a web designer, you will design & develop websites for your clients. But as a webmaster, you will serve your clients on an on-going basis. It’s exciting to take on a new client, develop the perfect website, but your job isn’t over once the site launches. What’s involved in keeping your clients happy so they’ll continue to pay you as their webmaster? Have you thought about that yet? Some clients have continued to pay me for over a DECADE! Why do they keep paying my bills? Because, the value of their website is far above and beyond the cost of my monthly bill. That’s the goal. That’s the reality you want to convey to your clients to maintain them. Additionally, here are a few key elements to serving your clients: Website Maintenance, Site Updates & Requests and Invoicing & Payments. Let’s consider these 3 so you’ll be prepared to serve your paying clients.
Website Maintenance — Did you watch the “Website Maintenance Plan” Lessons? We talked about all kinds of ideas and services for your maintenance plan. These are the tasks that don’t involve the client. Most of them, like backups, security, hosting, uptime monitoring, are on auto-pilot. You don’t have to manually login to anything to perform those tasks. They take place on the backend, and you’re only notified when there’s an issue to troubleshoot. That’s rare, and usually only takes a few minutes. The manual maintenance task is logging into ManageWP to update all of your site’s WordPress core, plugins and themes. I usually do this once a day, and it just takes a few minutes. Which do you think would be quicker? Logging into ManageWP and clicking 1 UPDATE ALL button… Or manually logging into the Admin area of every client website every day to perform these updates? I certainly choose the first option, ManageWP. That’s a massive time-saver, and I’m so grateful for that software. Otherwise, the monitoring services put out errors every now and then, and you just take care of them as needed. Takeaway #1: Proactively use ManageWP for WordPress updates and optimizations, and reactively solve any issues that arise from the monitoring services.
Site Support & Requests — It’s true much of your maintenance services take place on the backend, and the website itself remains relatively unchanged on the frontend. But what about when your client calls to update or change something on the site? That’s great! They’re paying for that privilege. Let them feel comfortable utilizing your services. Again, they’re paying for that… I get several of these every day, and most emails just take a few minutes to fulfill. So when a client does email, text or call you with an update or request, what do you do? Let’s go over a few considerations:
What is the nature of this request? So… is this just a question you can answer? Is this a quick update? Maybe a phone number swap? Just adding or removing a gallery photo? Those are quick and easy; you can usually fulfill them in a few minutes. So go ahead and process them as they come in! I strive to have all minor requests fulfilled by nightfall.
What about longer updates? New features? New plugins? Something that would take you several hours to fulfill? What do you do after you read that email? Tread cautiously. Will it take a long time… because you don’t have experience with that task? Because you need to do a little research? that’s not really your client’s fault. That’s just part of being a webmaster. Everything you take time to learn… builds your skillset. And the next client who asks you about that, you’ll have a better understanding of the issue and can respond accordingly. I learn new things with nearly every client and will continue to learn as technology evolves. And the more I know, the better I can serve clients who ask similar questions.
So what about new pages? New designs? First off, again, consider how long this will take. If you can fulfill it in less than an hour, just do it! You don’t want to be known to nickel and dime your clients. But other requests truly do require several hours of your time, and the more experience you gain, the better you can spot these loaded requests right away. What happens then? What would you do? Are you thinking of Toggl? I am! You really have 2 options. Use Toggl, track your time, and invoice for the exact amount of time you spentxyour hourly rate… Or, the 2nd option, quote that project separately. Perhaps you’ll charge $195 for the new landing page. Or $495 to add shopping cart and checkout functionality to the existing site. Just make clear your intention to charge separately for this request, and why this request is NOT included in their monthly payment. When you start taking on larger clients, you’ll notice requests coming in every few days from them, and you’ll surely spend over an hour on these clients each month. Here’s my process: Receive their email. Turn on Toggl. Fulfill the request. Turn off Toggl. Then, on the 1st of each month, send 1 invoice for the hours of website support spent in the previous month. Some months won’t have any support, and others will have 5-10 hours for certain clients!
Whatever the request is, large or small, be responsive! Be available! By phone, text, email, however they prefer to communicate, serve your clients by fulfilling their request as soon as you’re able. This will go a long to endearing them to you. See, webmasters have a certain reputation… what’s the reputation? Taking days, even weeks, to respond to their clients! I’ve heard those complaints for decades, and it’s just unacceptable. Takeaway #2: Dominate your market by mastering customer service.
Invoicing & Payments — Another portion of your time spent maintaining clients will be invoicing and processing payments. Did you sign up for Wave? Or do you have Quickbooks? Fortunately, these accounting services handle most of this for you on auto-pilot! Each client should have its own Recurring Invoice for the Website Maintenance Plan. If all monthly invoices are set to the 1st of each month (for convenience), then the ones on AutoPay (usually about half of your client base) will have their credit cards charged and a receipt sent to them. All automatically. The others will be sent an email with a pay link and an address to send a check. Also automatic. Those clients will cut you a check, which you’ll receive in the mail and manually deposit. Other than that, most everything takes place automatically… with the exception of failed payments. Has your credit card ever expired? Have you ever lost it? For whatever reason, people get new credit cards, and you’ll have to update their card on file. Stay on top of those failed payments so you can reach out and ask for their new credit card. Takeaway #3: Setup your accounting software (Wave, Quickbooks, etc) to handle invoicing and payments automatically.
RECAP: What have we learned?
Proactively use ManageWP for WordPress updates and optimizations, and reactively solve any issues that arise from the monitoring services.
Dominate your market by mastering customer service.
Setup your accounting software (Wave, Quickbooks, etc) to handle invoicing and payments automatically.
So there you have it! You’re now empowered to serve your clients through every step of the web design process: Earning Clients, Interviewing Clients, Quoting their Website, Sending Proposals & Contracts, Invoicing & Taxes, On-Boarding Clients, Designing, Developing, Polishing & Launching Websites, and Maintaining Your Clients. I’m incredibly proud of you for sticking with these lessons, and I know this information will greatly benefit you and your web design business. To summarize what we’ve learned… above all else… provide exceptional customer service… and you will find success.
I’m Leighton, and now you know, How To Maintain Clients!
Double-check your accounting software setup so you’re all ready to invoice clients.