Offer support they said. Sell care plans they said. Upsell hosting, domain, email services they said. It's money for nothing they said...
... No one mentioned all the additional work and stress.
Let's face it, retainers are great for cash flow. But offering website support and maintenance can be time-consuming and stressful and after all, you didn't start your business to spend hours working on boring maintenance tasks or emergency fixes.
If you are finding dealing with client support requests all too hard, what can you do to ease that burden?
Lets take a look:
1) Charge Enough.
The first thing you need to make sure of is that you are able to add enough mark-up on any service you offer. While it might seem like easy money, for example, to resell hosting - doing so means you take on this responsibility. So always plan your pricing around the worst-case scenarios.
Not everyone's market or client base will see the value in paying the extra for these managed services once a profitable margin is added, and that's ok. You are better off not doing support than doing it at a loss. So work out what rate you need to make it worth your while and if you can't sell it for this fee, forget it.
2) Upskill yourself.
Yeah, you might not want to learn everything but you could focus on 1 thing that comes up a lot and learn about it. For example, maybe that's domain names and DNS records - learn that skill and you've got 1 more thing up your sleeve and 1 less stressor. Rinse + Repeat.
3) Stop offering support
Or at least some of the services. No one said because you built the site you have to support it. Maybe you just cut parts of this out. For example, stop offering email support, getting all my clients onto G Suite or Office 365 for emails has eliminated any email support requests. I know someone who is stopping offering hosting for the same reason. When someone asks you simply say "oh, your email is with Google, you'll need to email them". Tighten your terms around this and then just don't touch it.
4) Stop offering services you cant do.
If you are white labelling people, you could stop that. If you're not building the sites (or you don't have the tech skills to know how things break/work) you could position yourself as a digital strategist or UI/UX expert and handle the whole initial part of the project (as well as the management), but then work with a developer to take that part of the project and then the responsibility.
5) Outsource the support.
If you really want to reduce the stress, refer or white label. I recommend finding a preferred support partner who can just take this over. White labelling someone will help you solve these issues but still put you in the place of being responsible and that will keep you stressed. Remove the responsibility = remove the stress.
6) Hire someone.
If you're doing so much web work to the point of clients constantly emailing you with support requests and issues, then it might be time to hire. Make sure you charge for all the support requests, make the staff member deal with it, remove the stress and make money from these requests.
7) Have a support system:
If you can, have a support ticket system. If that's too much work (or a monthly spend you don't need) get a "[email protected]" email address and teach people to NOT email and call you direct. When people do email you directly point them back to the ticket or support email.
8) Keep your process consistent
Make sure all sites are built the same way. Don't have some sites in WordPress and some in SquareSpace etc. Don't use one page-builder on some sites and another page-builder on other sites. If you're doing custom themes, use the same base (or starter) theme. This way the process is going to be the same and fixing issues will become easier - plus if you do outsource stuff you will only need one contact vs multiple experts to manage (which will add to the stress).