I would caution against that. For one thing, I think it's unethical; the domain should be registered to the customer, not used as some kind of blackmail to keep their business. For another, I was involved in the aftermath when a local developer who had done just that died suddenly, and his clients were left battling to prove they had the right to have their domains transferred to them. Not a happy situation.
I can see how you would think that.
I'm not saying don't give them an option to purchase it. If they (the client) know nothing or little about building a website and are relying on you to look after them, then getting a domain name for them would be considered smart, as would offering to look after it for them. I would think it would be their 1st tick for your service. In the 1st 24-48 hrs you have secured a domain name, have a template/homepage for them to look at, complete with a blog site they can start using immediately. Surely a client would be impressed with that service.
What if after 12 mths their business goes broke and I'm stuck with a domain name, no business or client for it. Am I unethical then.
All I was trying to say was that IF a client was considering leaving the service being provided they would see the domain name as another stumbling block, they need to transfer it etc. It gives them more reason to stay with your service. If they really want to leave they will ask how much for the domain name. If they were clients as William described they probably wouldn't know you could transfer a domain name.
If the client had been a good customer I would ask why they wanted to leave, and if there was anything I could do to improve my service for them. If I couldn't resolve things I would probably give them the domain name, or at worst give it to them at cost. After all we are only talking $10 or so. If you have been hosting a clients site for 12mths plus, then giving them the domain name wouldn't hurt.
I was never suggesting blackmail, I was only looking at how a client would consider things when considering moving hosting across and the hassle involved. The domain name becomes another hassle (only because they didn't ask) and could be the difference between them staying and them leaving.
You don't need to be unethical to do all you can to retain business.
I will get a domain name for a client to help them, because they often do not understand or want to take the time to understand the whole process, but the domain name is always paid for with their personal payment method, and is always registered in their name, with my name and contact info on the registration as the tech contact.
So they 'own' the domain name and my service to them would be to remind them when the domain name comes due for renewal if they want. I think there is never any need to have client domain names and web hosting in your own name in order to retain business.
I think the whole point seems to be lost here.
Williams problem was that he lost a client. From what I could see it was not just one thing.
Your post (to me) implies that you run a business in a very professional manner, and you do well out of it. Williams situation is completely different.
From what I could figure out things took too long and the results over that period were not up to the customers standard.
You may very well have days/weeks where you can discuss things with your client. Things such as domain names, web design etc. I dont think William (for a couple of reasons) has that same grace period. I think William would be better off showing some initiative, register a domain name, get a home page of sorts up with a link to a blog site/page. From this point on William can discuss things in more depth, start getting graphics together etc.
Before I go any further I want to make it very clear that I do not have, nor want, a business that involves the internet or computers in any way.
Its been more than 10 yrs since I have registered a domain name. But, by memory you select a name and if its available you pay for it by visa there and then. I don't seem to remember any 30 day free trial or anything, but there could be. Now lets say I have purchased a domain in the hopes that a client will want it for their site, I'm now unethical, or so it seems. What if the client decides they want .biz or .me instead of .co.nz. What am I now. And what makes the domain name "theirs" anyway. If it was that important they could have just picked up the phone and given their details to some-one.
The same people that cant be bothered registering "their" domain name are the same people that will give themselves an excuse why they cant move to another host. The ownership (or lack of) of the domain is just the excuse they needed and it has nothing to do with ethics, its human nature.
And I never said that you need to have client domain names in order to retain business. What I was referring to was that by nature people are lazy, and they would see that having to buy (additional cost) and move (additional cost) the domain as an extra hassle and more importantly effort. And that would be the excuse they needed to take no action.
Most clients would balk at your hosting price on this one, the reason for that is that it is 1/10th of the cost of the website, and a that being a month. So they will automatically think that they need to spend another 360 dollar a year to host the website. When they consider this up against the website price of 300 dollar, it sounds high.
The tricky part with hosting websites for clients is being the contact person. With some clients this is never an issue, and you wont hear a word from them. While others can be a nuisance. This makes the cost for hosting a balance process of getting it to a part where you make money, but with as little work required as possible.
What you can do that normally work better than just selling hosting, is selling it as a maintenance/update package. This means the $30 could include two text changes a month in addition to the hosting for example. If you do this it is usually easier to sell, than as pure hosting.
If you go this route, make certain that the contract specifically specify what is included, i.e. text change for up to X characters, and that any unused changes a month does not roll over etc.
If this is a country tld/cctld (and not those mass selling domains), and you register a domain using a company's registered name, or even a similar name, they have a possibility to get the domain from you.
In the past I have helped several companies get back their domains, free of cost, by sending a complaint to the national organization handling the domains.
Another caveat is that unless you specify directly that you own the domain in the contract, (in which if the client read it they would most probably complain) they can take you to small claims court, and their chance to get a ruling in their favor is big. The reason for this is as others has mentioned earlier, that holding the domain as ransom is frowned upon.
We have quite a few domains registered for our clients, simply due to the rules/requirements for our country tld. In these cases we pay for the domains, and bill the clients. For all of these, the whois owner information is always set their name/organization, and we are on the contact and tech information.
If you purchase domains on behalf of the clients doing that is vital. As if something happen, the client can always launch a complaint, and get the domain transferred after proving they are the person/organization set as in the owner information.
Also, as a last note in regards to holding domains ransom.
Do you really want to keep a customer that for some reason does not want to work with you anymore?
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