They say that something like 80% of software and web design projects fail. If you said you’d be done in 3 weeks and 6 weeks later you’re still working on the project, you’ve failed to meet your obligations. Worse yet are the myriad of stories where a client is stuck having paid for a bunch of work that wasn’t finished. The developer stopped replying to emails and the client is left holding the bag.
Knowing this, it’s not surprising that clients are often hesitant to work with web designers or developers. They’ve been burned before and figure that they’re going to get burned again. To combat this many firms offer a warranty on their work. It helps put their client at ease knowing that they’re not going to be left with a broken site at the first sign of an update. But as a WordPress business, what does your warranty really stand for?
There is a local roofing company I know of that does ‘good’ work. They’re fast to come out and redo your roof. Unfortunately, they’re comically slow when it comes time to fix any work they’ve done. I’ve lived in two buildings now where this local company was called back to the job because the roof was leaking within a year of the original work. In both cases it took 3 or 4 months for them to show up and look at the roof. In both cases they found some reason why it wasn’t their fault.
It didn’t matter that no one had been on the roof since they did the work. Someone (not them) did something wrong and they could fix it, but only for a price. Needless to say, we never recommend them or use them for our roof repair work anymore.
Contrast that to Gore-Tex. They provide fabrics for outdoor gear. Two years ago one of my coats was starting to peel apart. When I looked up the manufacturer, they had gone out of business. That means I emailed Gore-Tex about it. With 2 emails and 1 picture they paid for postage for my coat to go back to them. Within 1 week they had told me how much they’d give me to replace the coat with something current. They called my local outdoor shop and purchased the coat for me. It only took 2 weeks from my first inquiry to walking out with a new coat on my back. Clearly I recommend their products.
WordPress Businesses, create a warranty that counts!
The lifeblood of most WordPress businesses is referrals. That means that you need to stand behind your work like Gore-Tex not like that local roofing company. When a client has a problem with their WordPress site after you’ve worked on it, you need to look at it and propose a fix quickly. Now it may not always be free. Sometimes software does update and break a site. That’s part of the costs of running a website.
For WordPress Businesses, what’s the difference between project scope creep and a warranty?
From a website builder’s perspective you want to offer a warranty but you don’t want to keep getting ‘caught’ by endless issues that a client brings up once you’re done. This is where a standard time limited warranty comes into place. I warranty my work for 30 days on the same software platform. In 10 years I’ve never run into an issue where I had to spend a bunch of time fixing things within that 30 day window.
For clients that want something more, I offer longer term support retainers. Clients that opt for this option would then pay a regular monthly fee to have you fix things or make modifications that come up on the site. It could also include site improvements or marketing work or…whatever you want and feel comfortable adding. Again you should also take into account what you realistically are able to take on; not being able to follow through on promised services is much worse than never having offered them in the first place.
So as a small business you need to be careful when you price these. Where support services can get away with charging $79/month for a site or $400/month for an eCommerce site, you need to be charging two or three times that much to make it profitable. Some of you don’t want to be in the monthly support business and I don’t blame you. It’s a hard road with random issues breaking into your carefully planned out day. If that’s you, then you should be sending your clients to services like WP Site Care or WP Tonic.
Let your warranty be the centerpiece of your reputation.
If you want to be the type of WordPress-based business that clients rave about and send their friends to, be the type of company that doesn’t walk away when the project is done. Be there for your clients to support them as they continue to manage their site. Make sure they don’t get left in the lurch when things go wrong.
If you can do that, you’ll continue to grow your WordPress business with referrals.