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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot
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    maintenance plan questions

    Hi, I visited a website design firm's site, and on their maintenance contract they mentioned this:

    PLAN B - Bi-Weekly Maintenance - $____/ 2 weeks (up to 3hrs)
    (Payment due at the beginning of every 2 weeks)
    PLAN C - Monthly Maintenance - $____/month (up to 4 hrs)
    (Payment due at the beginning of every month)
    PLAN D - Bi-Monthly Maintenance - $____/ 2 months (up to 6 hrs)
    (Payment due at the beginning of every 2 months)

    OK, what do they really mean by up to 6 hours, every 2 months? That sounds almost unrealistic, because you don't really know if the maintenance task you're doing (editing photos for the page, changing an animation in Flash, updating text) will take more than 6 hours of time. Am I missing something here?

    Totally Confused,
    Samsoner

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict orion_joel's Avatar
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    I think you will find what it is, is that you would be getting a reduced rate on these prepaid services. Then if you go over this number of hours you pay the regular rate.
    Joel Brown - Orion Networks
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  3. #3
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    I actually like how they wrote this out, and the use of the term "up to". You would be suprised what could be accomplished in six hours. Of course I think just from the above verbiage, unless the contract explains this, (somewhat hypotheticaly), that one hour of work, can be billed as 6 hours. Of course you would never know the exact hours, but it may be a way to indemify themselves

    There must be another part of the contract/fine print that we are not seeing, that is in relation to the above pricing guide, IE: hours spent above the agreed amount of hours, are not contracted hours, and will be computed as *****per hour.

    Why dont you post the complete contract

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    I posted a list of "contract notes" that usually go along with a maintenance plan in this thread. I'll copy and paste them again below.

    You'll want to be sure to include:

    - How many hours will be received each month
    - Whether or not the hours roll over to the next month (I'd guess no, but they may not)
    - What the hours can be used for (this is a big one if you want to limit the use). I had a client that started a monthly maintenance contract but thought they could use the hours for anything. I limited them to only updates to the website as it was already created (no additional additions like a shopping cart, mailing list modules or any large project which would normally be handled on a "per-project" basis over an "hourly" basis.)
    - What will happen if they go over the allowed hours per month (your regular hourly, etc)
    - Whether or not they can add/remove hours to their contract
    - When or how much time needed to cancel a monthly contract if it can be cancelled (ie, must cancel 10 days before the affected month or pay for that month anyway)
    - How requests can be submitted (e-mail, phone, etc)
    - Minimum time blocks (each change is a minimum 15, 30, 1hr increments)
    - Restrictions on when requests can be made (ie, can't submit something at 10pm on the last day of the month to use up the 2 hours they have left)
    - Etc.

    There will obviously be other wording in addition to what you posted. They are basically giving you a little better deal for pre-paying for some maintenance. If you use it all, then you're getting your work a little cheaper. If you don't use it all, then you may be paying about the same as it would be for normal hourly. If you go over the amount, you will have part of it cheaper but the rest at regular price. As a customer, you are banking on the fact that you will only need X hours of work done and thus you get it a little cheaper. As a business, you are banking that the customer won't use all of the hours and you'll break even or even make money.
    Kevin Hauge : Modern Leaf Design : Follow Us on Facebook
    Client Axis v.08 - client / project management script

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    That checklist is the reason why we never do maintenance contracts!

  6. #6
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    We decided against maintenance "contracts" due to the reason that several potential clients came to us stating that they felt they had been taken advantage of because they had been paying X dollars / month and hadn't requested any work to be done for almost a year. Now, I agree that this is their own fault and they probably should be updating their web site more often than yearly, but the fact remains that in their perception, this web development firm was "ripping them off".

    So, for all maintenance I simply charge an hourly rate. And I tell clients, if there is no maintenance during a particular month, you don't get an invoice. If we do 6 hours of maintenance during the month, they'll be getting an invoice for the 6 hours.

    Now I certainly understand that guarantee of cash flow is a good thing and not knowing from month to month the maintenance work requirements is sometimes hectic, but due to the bookkeeping to track if the client went over or under the hours, etc and mostly due to the negative perception of this practice, we don't do it.

    I would guess though there might be clients that would want a set budget so that they would know exactly how much they have to spend for the year or month and this way would be easier for them. not sure.

    Hope this helps. Just my opinion.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Addict Sgt. Baboon's Avatar
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    I simply offer "blocks" of hours (lowest is 5). The more hours in the block, the lower the hourly rate. Blocks are good for up to a year and each change is a minumum 1/4 hour.


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