When it comes to websites, the one thing that web developers frequently have to do on a regular basis is conduct site maintenance and support. There are always security updates, questions to be answered or something that needs to be fixed. Clients are not always aware of the need to do site maintenance and support so it is up to us, the developers, to guide them. While the easiest way is to advise clients to take the hourly site maintenance and support package, is that really the wisest thing to do? Let’s get down to it.
Why do clients go for hourly rates? Some clients had probably taken up hourly site maintenance and support packages in the beginning so they just continued with it. Others would probably think they should ask for site maintenance and support as and when there is a need. Both are legit, but the problem starts when these clients are not fully aware of what they really need. The problem becomes all the more complex when you encounter clients who cannot make up their mind even after you have spoken to them and explained about possible technical difficulties or delays. A lot of time goes towards back and forth communication, which may not lead to a final decision from both parties. Before you know it, the hours would have passed and your clients would have to pay more than they had bargained for. This will not go down well for clients hoping to save some money or who run on a strict budget.
How “small” is a “small change”? Clients have to understand that small changes can lead to big problems. Even for experienced developers, a simple request that they think should take about an hour or so to complete, could probably take far longer. Longer hours would lead to clients having to pay more. The unpredictability in terms of the final cost would also make it difficult for your clients to work around their budget. If you are not careful, this could lead to conflicts and put a dent on your working relationship with your clients. It could also put a dent on your reputation.
Can we keep that for later? Developers often have their hands on several projects at the same time thus they are constantly pressing for time. But what happens when a client suddenly asks to make some “small minor changes”? Your client would want the changes to be made as soon as possible but due to your current work commitments, you may face difficulties to make time to work on it. This will lead to a delay on your current work as well as your client’s work. So what should you do? How about offering maintenance and support packages at a fixed monthly fee? A fixed monthly fee can help to reduce delivery time, increase your credibility and make it easier for clients to estimate their monthly budget.
Moreover, based on our experience, we found that clients preferred the fixed monthly fee packages as compared to being asked to pay on the hourly basis. For first-time clients, it does seem like they have to pay more, but in the long run, the clients stand to save so much more as they are allowed to make unlimited requests as long as their requests are according to the terms and conditions specified in the package they subscribe to. The best thing about offering these type of packages is even if the task takes you longer than expected, clients are not subjected to additional fees or longer waiting periods. On your part, you get to work on the maintenance and supporting issues according to your time as you have already allocated resources to work on your client’s work. And the best thing for you is that you get to do all this while getting a steady monthly income. At the end of it, your clients do not feel like they are being taken for a ride and you do not have to worry about keeping your clients happy.