How do you bill for site maintenance?

4 years ago from Steve Orchosky, Digital Designer & Illustrator

  • Marcel van Werkhoven, 4 years ago

    I'd recommend and use a combination of both. Since you want to

    A) deliver great service. but B) don't do a ton of free 'support' work that eats up your time (or your teams' time). (or spend days negotiating rates and such)

    We bundle a bunch of services (hosting/backup/maintenance) into one contract. Including helpdesk support up to say 15 or at most 20 minutes free (the contract says 15 and fair use). This way we can add value to the contract that in reality won't cost us much (shorter calls 'halp I forgot my password, my 50MB image won't upload' usually weren't billed anyway). Some folks call a lot, some don't call at all, some only during certain seasons when their business is booming or they update their content. So in our case it evenly splits the costs of the 'free' helpdesk among all our clients and we can also cover the costs of the software (Freshdesk etc.).

    Anything that takes more than 15 minutes (actual development or design) is charged hourly at a slight discount from not having the contract. Normally we will respond within x-hours, and fix/do things within x-days. If a client has an urgent request we can start within 24 hours but the hourly rate goes up by say half.

    Batched hours I would recommend only for 'larger' clients (when you're sure they'll at least have 2000 euro/dollars worth of additional work a month). Otherwise when their own budget is tight or they don't use the budget they'll request it back or they feel 'overcharged' since you didn't do anything for them.

    With larger clients this is usually not much of a problem since money isn't their primary concern but getting budgets approved and happy management is, so if the 2000 a month is approved by management the lower-level employees don't care if its used or not, since the money has already been 'spend' in the books each month and management is happy when things run smoothly (which is often the case when the money is there). If the budget hasn't been spend you can offer them some extra service to sweeten the deal. Like, 'hey there's still a quarter of the budget left, how about I use that to neatly present your site statistics in a presentation and research some improvements for you to discuss with management next week?'. Sometimes they say 'cool!" at other times they say: 'you guys already did such an awesome job, why don't you take that as a bonus'.

    In closing, as designers/developers we already do a ton of work for 'free' (improve our skills, keep up with the trends, fix our own dumb coding errors and PC crashes) that we can't afford not to charge for the time we spend doing work for clients.

    1 point
    • Steve Orchosky, 4 years ago

      Thanks for the response! I think it's really cool that you offer suggestions to the client on how to use their remaining hours in a unique way. I mostly do web design, but I also enjoy illustration as a hobby and would love to take some contracts in that space. I can totally see how pitching ideas on how to use remaining hours in unique ways could lead to new project opportunities, or at the very least a better client relationship.

      1 point