Managing cash flow in a project-to-project business
As an agency owner selling WordPress services, your revenue rolls in irregularly — some for a down-payment to start a project, then sometime later you’ll collect the final payment. Some months the payments are rolling in, and others not so much. Despite the irregular cash payments, payroll has got to go out the door the same day every month. One way to make your cash flow easier to handle is to find a way to get your customers on recurring website maintenance plans.
Ongoing website maintenance plans can be really valuable for your customers after you have built their websites. A recurring plan means each customer will become worth more for you. It will ease the pressure of having to constantly acquire new customers. You will develop a revenue base that you can rely on from month to month, to balance out the irregularities of project work.
On top of the recurring revenue it creates, website maintenance plans provide a reason to regularly reconnect with your customers. Connections that may offer opportunities to upsell or identify if there are more business opportunities with the client.
Making the case for maintenance to your customers
Recurring revenue from a maintenance plan would be golden for you, but it can also be truly valuable for your customers.
Business owners themselves usually know the value of keeping their website fresh and up to date with new content, but they may not always have time to do it while running their business. If your agency offers content creation, packaging these services together can be a natural fit.
Additionally, business owners may not know the potential pitfalls of putting off maintenance. Websites can easily go down if packages and code are not kept up-to-date and bug-free. Downtime can be a costly problem for business owners. A maintenance plan averts these scenarios entirely by regularly checking everything works.
A bonus for many customers: they don’t need to learn the back-end, or understand CSS or any of the tools. Instead, they can simply send an email to request a change.
The key points to hit with your customer when proposing a maintenance plan:
- Keeping content fresh and up to date with minimal effort
- Counting on a reliable, functional site in the long-term
- Not needing to learn new technical skills
What is a website maintenance plan?
A maintenance plan has two main components: content maintenance and technical website maintenance.
WordPress technical maintenance
The technical maintenance should be a standard part of every package: checking that everything works, the website is suitably responsive in different settings, and that any packages or dependencies needed for the website’s function are updated as needed. Read our previous blog post, What to Include in a WordPress Maintenance Plan, for a more detailed step-by-step recommendation.
WordPress content and site edits
What you offer for content maintenance may depend more on your agency’s skills and offerings. You can keep content maintenance quite basic: essentially, offering to enter the content and ensure posts and other material look as the customer wants. The customer would provide the text or images by email for the content they want to be added. The advantage for the customer with this type of service is not needing to learn how to work the back-end of WordPress.
On the other hand, if your agency already offers content creation, this can be a great opportunity to offer an all-in-one package, such as offering to create a set number of blog posts per month, including both the writing and setting it up on the website, as well as simpler content updates like adding new team members or upcoming events.
Pricing your WordPress Maintenance Plan
While pricing may vary depending on the services you include, many agencies charge their customers $99-$299 per month for WordPress maintenance service along these lines. You can even offer a “menu” for customers to choose what works best for them, with a base price for just the technical maintenance and adding additional fees for more extensive content maintenance services.
If you are using Quickbooks or one of the other common tools for book-keeping, then you can enter your customer’s credit card into the system and the monthly recurring fee can be withdrawn each month.
Packaging a maintenance plan into the original client contract for a website might be a natural way to begin offering this service. You already likely offer a range of services when you develop a website contract, like custom design, content creation, website build, digital ads, and social media updates. Maintenance is a natural extension of these services.
Handling the work
Recurring revenue is great on the income side, but it also requires some adjustment in your workflow.
A maintenance plan requires regular communication with customers, whether by meeting or email, to keep on top of the changes they would like to see. Typical tasks that come in with the WordPress maintenance plans are smaller content updates, non-responsive and responsive bugs. You will need dedicated time from staff with the technical skills to carry out these tasks every month. This might be difficult to fit in around your other employee’s variable project work.
Outsource Website Maintenance Tasks
Here is where White Label Agency comes into the picture. We offer to take care of all incoming requests, as well as WordPress and Plugin updates. We charge a monthly fee that you then can mark up, and you can pass along the tasks. You gain revenue, but your workload won’t increase. A managed hosting service such as WP Engine or FlyWheel handles up-time, and we handle back-ups, updates and content changes.
Updates of WordPress, as well as plugins, should at least be done once a month. It’s also important to make back-ups regularly if something were to happen to the sites that you manage.
White label Your WordPress Maintenance and Communication
We can also help you figure out the best and most efficient way to manage communication with your customers. You might appreciate the excuse to get on the phone with your client every month to ask if they have any tasks they want done within the website maintenance plan. During the call, you can always take the opportunity to ask if they might have other work coming up too.
On the other hand, if you want a more streamlined system, you can also collect tasks via email, or a ticketing system. If you work with the White Label Agency, then we help set up the right method for you.
Recap: Why offer website maintenance plans?
- Provide solid recurring revenue that naturally supplements project-based work
- Keep customers happy with functional and up-to-date websites
- Add revenue with minimal extra overhead by enlisting the White Label Agency to do the heavy lifting