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  1. #1
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    Question How Do You Handle Website Maintenance After You've Created the Site?

    I'm curious to see how others are handling this. I'm trying to find a solid way of billing clients for website maintenance after the site is created. How do you do it?

    Do you charge a flat fee each month?
    Do you charge per hour?
    Do you have a list of services with preset pricing structures?

    Enquiring minds want to know so they can improve their business process.

    Thanks!

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    Usually, it is a monthly fee, with a set number of hours per month. If they go over that monthly hour number limit, then there is an extra charge per month. When these changes are requested, they are done within 2-business days. I also offer emergency maintenance for an extra fee, which is completed within 24 hours.

    I also offer by the hour maintenance for those that don't really need monthly maintenance.

    That method seems to work well for me. Basically, I try to be flexible without leaving myself open to getting ripped off, or without ripping them off.

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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    I tend to sell a chunk of time (say 4 hours) and then nibble away at that time. It makes my life easier because I hate invoicing.
    Little Blue Plane Web Design
    Blood, Sweat & Rust - A Land Rover restoration project

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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Normally I just charge by the hour or task on request, I don't want to be bogged down with too many monthly commitments as I'd rather be doing other things than working

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    SitePoint Evangelist ramone_johnny's Avatar
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    Just charge an hourly rate - easy.

    RJ

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    I make my clients prepay (5 hours) for maintenance. This saves a lot of time and hassle on billing. This maintenance block expires after a year as well which makes it so clients won't hesitate to use it.

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    This seems like the solution that fits my needs best. Thank you for posting.

    Quote Originally Posted by samanime View Post
    Usually, it is a monthly fee, with a set number of hours per month. If they go over that monthly hour number limit, then there is an extra charge per month. When these changes are requested, they are done within 2-business days. I also offer emergency maintenance for an extra fee, which is completed within 24 hours.

    I also offer by the hour maintenance for those that don't really need monthly maintenance.

    That method seems to work well for me. Basically, I try to be flexible without leaving myself open to getting ripped off, or without ripping them off.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Collins View Post
    I make my clients prepay (5 hours) for maintenance. This saves a lot of time and hassle on billing. This maintenance block expires after a year as well which makes it so clients won't hesitate to use it.
    I'm doing something similar, but I don't have an expiration date for the block of time. I'm just really getting started and haven't had anyone sign up for it yet, so I don't know how it will work long-term. I may have to have an expiration date.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueSquares View Post
    I'm curious to see how others are handling this. I'm trying to find a solid way of billing clients for website maintenance after the site is created. How do you do it?

    Do you charge a flat fee each month?
    Do you charge per hour?
    Do you have a list of services with preset pricing structures?

    Enquiring minds want to know so they can improve their business process.

    Thanks!
    I put a clause into the design contract specifying how a client will pay for maintenance. Options are T&M at my hourly rate or annually in advance. The annual fee starts at 20-25% of the original design/development fee and covers everything short of a complete redesign. I also provide maintenance free for six months after the site goes live.

    If a client is requesting a large number of changes, I'll estimate/bill those separately and then increase the annual fee by a percentage of that cost as well.

    Out of two dozen clients, only two have chosen T&M. The rest are happy with the annual arrangement. Scaling the maintenance fee to the development cost (and therefore complexity) of the site seems to work for everyone.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Member 21LadyLuck's Avatar
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    Most of our clients are on a flat yearly maintenance with the option to pay for the year in advance (with a discount) or pay in 12 installments at the full rate. They like this because they know exactly what they'll be paying for the next year and can budget accordingly.

    Clients that we bill yearly stay with us for an average of 5 years. And because we develop a long term relationship, we also get their business when they decide they want a complete redesign of their website.

    Clients who want hourly billing, leave us within 6 months. My guess is because an invoice encourages them to consider finding a cheaper alternative. Whatever we charge for a specific job always seems too much to them. For us, these types of clients are more interested in the $$ than in the quality of our work and fast service.

    This is our experience, but may not be yours.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by michelle1908 View Post
    [re: I make my clients prepay (5 hours) for maintenance.] I'm doing something similar, but I don't have an expiration date for the block of time. I'm just really getting started and haven't had anyone sign up for it yet, so I don't know how it will work long-term. I may have to have an expiration date.
    I've found that setting a flat monthly rate is difficult, and requires workarounds like extra charges and adjustments when the actual time spent doesn't match the forecast.

    So I agree with the "block of time" method that people like Michelle are trying. Mine also expires in a year, like a gift card; if it doesn't get used, it's to my advantage.. although as a microbusiness I'm lenient, of course.

    Here's where I document this for my clients:
    http://www.redesignlab.com/content/rates/updates.php

  12. #12
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    Always charge a monthly rate !

    I find customers that do not wish to pay a monthly rate / maintainance difficult to process in the first place. I have to say we always come to conclusion (together with the client) that it's in his best interrest to pay monthly rate + pay for any website content changing base=hourly rate.
    I think it's all in how you present your work. This way you can act professionaly to all the demands they have. Puting up a website and having it run is not a one time job, mostly if the clients are "normal" they do accept the fact that they have to pay minimum monthly rate for their website to run without any problems.
    Well there are few that dont. I usualy dont take their projects. In the past few years I can only remember two that didn't come back after a year and was then willing to sign a contract as they have suffered a bad choice consecuences or sth else made them change their point of view on this aspect.

    You should always look for projects that stick to you longterm and have something more from them than just a pay on sight for the work done. I find my customers fairly happy with our arrangement and they bring me more and more new clients each year.

  13. #13
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    I was just thinking about posting this very question as I am currently in the middle of my first paying freelance job.

    I was leaning towards a flat anual rate that could be billed monthly, quarterly or all up front. I hadn't thought of the "prepaid hours" idea and I think this might fit my current client.

    If you bill hourly, do you bill by the minute, or is any job that takes under an hour, a minimum 1 hour payment?

  14. #14
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by muaysteve View Post
    I was just thinking about posting this very question as I am currently in the middle of my first paying freelance job.

    I was leaning towards a flat anual rate that could be billed monthly, quarterly or all up front. I hadn't thought of the "prepaid hours" idea and I think this might fit my current client.

    If you bill hourly, do you bill by the minute, or is any job that takes under an hour, a minimum 1 hour payment?
    Hi,

    I don't do everything perfect...or anything for that matter, but here's my thoughts on billing clients for services post website/project creation.

    I bill in 15 minute intervals for graphic design work, because of the rate per hour I charge. I keep every minute logged (for my personal reference) in a spreadsheet (which I'll post if someone is interested) and then take the total and round to the nearest 1/4 of hour.

    You mentioned the idea about minimum 1-hour of payment and that intrigues me. If I'm working for a client and I'm able to fix something in about 5 minutes, then I won't charge them as it takes 15 more minutes of my time to process the paper work and then another few minutes of my time to focus my mind on the next project, so now I've taken 20-25 minutes. Actually, this sounds a bit anal, but playing the role of devil's advocate, I hope this might give you some more ideas to consider.

    As you see, I'm kind of in the same boat. I figured out a method for charging graphic design work that works for me, but am still trying to figure out a working solution for web site updates. I read the blog and it seems you should meet your customers where they are, which theory alone I agree, but I still need to figure out exactly what is included in "monthly" maint. service and that is a task I'm not going to finish today.

    Peace,
    Shad
    Trying to get back to where I came from...

  15. #15
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    well in my opinion you NEVER bill someone for 5 minutes of your work. You either do it for free (thats an option when you have a contract with the client that requires him to pay monthly rate) and make it as a special/extra treatment that the client is getting because of the contract or the second option bill him for the whole hour. Never drop the minimum 1 hour limit to 5 or 15 minutees. Thats not prosperous for your business in a long term. Think of it this way; if your client is a mechanic and you don't know **** about cars; would he drop the price/time charge for you? well in you case your knowledge is worth exactly the same (read much more) but there are many people out there that would do the job for one buck and thatswhy lets assume that the value is the same; You have to think of the work you have put in already to get to where you are now, and to the future business, as when you are to stand on your own you are going to have to make this choice anyway. The more uniqe the project is the more you can and ought to charge.

  16. #16
    chown linux:users\ /world Hartmann's Avatar
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    I charge by the hour for maintenance tasks. This is always spelled out in my contracts and the clients know that once they sign-off on the project the maintenance fee kicks in if they want anything that is out of scope.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandstorm View Post
    well in my opinion you NEVER bill someone for 5 minutes of your work. You either do it for free (thats an option when you have a contract with the client that requires him to pay monthly rate) and make it as a special/extra treatment that the client is getting because of the contract or the second option bill him for the whole hour. Never drop the minimum 1 hour limit to 5 or 15 minutees. Thats not prosperous for your business in a long term. Think of it this way; if your client is a mechanic and you don't know **** about cars; would he drop the price/time charge for you? well in you case your knowledge is worth exactly the same (read much more) but there are many people out there that would do the job for one buck and thatswhy lets assume that the value is the same; You have to think of the work you have put in already to get to where you are now, and to the future business, as when you are to stand on your own you are going to have to make this choice anyway. The more uniqe the project is the more you can and ought to charge.
    Hmm, I like that approach.

    Now, how do you charge for 18 or 36 minutes worth of work? $65/hr (or whatever is one's rate is set at) or quartered time allotments of one hour?
    Trying to get back to where I came from...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmann View Post
    I charge by the hour for maintenance tasks. This is always spelled out in my contracts and the clients know that once they sign-off on the project the maintenance fee kicks in if they want anything that is out of scope.
    Do you charge per 1, 5, 10, 15 minutes? What do you do in the situation that the update only required 18 minutes?
    Trying to get back to where I came from...

  19. #19
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    it's always one hour charge with me, I never charged 1/2 of an hour, it's sometnihng I do not do. If it's 1 hour and 10 minutes I charge 1 hour, but if its 1 hour and 15 minutes I charge 2 hours. Simple.

  20. #20
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    Hello, I think I'm missing something here.

    Suppose you develop a site (or host a site that was developed by someone else) and this site does not require maintenance (for example an institutional small site that always remains the same). Do you always charge maintenance anyway? (apart from the fixed hosting cost) Or you only charge when any changes are required by the client?

    Thanks

  21. #21
    Keep Moving Forward gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeLaVega
    Hello, I think I'm missing something here.

    Suppose you develop a site (or host a site that was developed by someone else) and this site does not require maintenance (for example an institutional small site that always remains the same). Do you always charge maintenance anyway? (apart from the fixed hosting cost) Or you only charge when any changes are required by the client?

    Thanks
    You can't charge people for something they aren't getting.

    That's bad business.




    Trying to fill the unforgiving minute
    with sixty seconds' worth of distance run.

    Update on Sitepoint's Migration to Discourse

  22. #22
    Keep Moving Forward gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    ...actually, let me re-phrase that...

    You shouldn't charge people for something they aren't getting.




    Trying to fill the unforgiving minute
    with sixty seconds' worth of distance run.

    Update on Sitepoint's Migration to Discourse

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaun(OfTheDead) View Post
    ...actually, let me re-phrase that...

    You shouldn't charge people for something they aren't getting.
    Yes, I know... I don't charge anything if I don't do anything... but not everybody works the same way.

    That's why I'm asking if you do that, just to know more about how other people work. If I interpret ok some of you charge in advance for maintenance that can be used or not by the client (maybe He does not want to change anything this month). I only charge when the client request something to be done.

    Thanks

  24. #24
    SitePoint Addict goodmast3r's Avatar
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    How can you charge per hour? How do the client know how much time we need to do the changes? If I'm the client, how do I know if my web developer say that it is really 5 hours of work.

  25. #25
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    Well you don't, I mean know how much work developer puts in to changes or adons. Thats where the "I'm satisfied with their response time and the work they do" kicks in. Nobody will ever question the bill if the work is done properly and in a reasonable time. And yes YOU NEVER charge people for sth you didn't do or they're not getting. It'l eventually bite you in the a[s]s and you'll never work with that client again, in the longrun it can cost you all of your business, that's just sth you don't do. So if you only host a script or forum on site charge only for hosting.
    Last edited by sandstorm; Feb 9, 2008 at 03:12.


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