On-going work support contract (web design)


We are finding that we are performing lots of minor changes for clients websites without charging for it and we were wondering if anyone has had the same issue and is considering or has a monthly support contract in place to prevent this?

To give examples we have many clients who run eCommerce stores and whom are not technically gifted, therefore we seem to spend some time making minor amends to parts of the site or explaining SEO procedures etc. This all adds up each month and we’ve found it has been affecting our work flow.

Essentially we were contemplating emailing some of our ‘bigger’ clients and mentioning a support contract. Possibly with an option to choose their own monthly support hours which we will then multiply by our hourly rate.

Anyhow thoughts much appreciated.

Cheers :slight_smile:

If you can find the right price point and your clients go for it, this can be a great way to go.

My only concern is that some clients would take advantage of it? But I guess if we keep track of the hours used each month it should be OK. Although what happens if we agree 5 hours a month with a client and 1 month it only adds up to 3 hours worth a support. Should it be a fixed rate each month or a roll-on? Just don’t want to complicate things either!

What about charging a flat monthly fee for a certain number of support hours (say 10 hours for $500) and whether they use those hours or not they pay the fee. Additional hours above 10 would be charged by the hour at $100 an hour. (Dollar amounts are for comparison only - the idea is that the hourly rate for the first level of the support contract is at or even a little less than your normal hourly rate and extra hours are a lot more expensive.)

You can then offer additional levels of support with more hours per month at increasingly lower hourly rates but maintaining the much higher rate for overage hours.

The tradeoff is that they may not use the entire allotment of hours every month but they’re not paying your full hourly rate for those hours they lost either…

It has to simple and bring value to the client. If the can get a better then normal hourly rate for up to 5 paid-for hours per month, and they typically use a few hours per month, then they might go for it. Anything over 5 goes to the ordinary rate, or a special discounted rate for monthly maintenance customers (this makes it an even better deal).

The math, however, is up to you. You need to figure out how the clients will actually use the time and whether it will be profitable. I’m sure that there are clients who might always max out the x hours per month, but most [good] clients are too busy to concentrate on getting free services just because they can.

What do your customers want?
Can you profit on it?
It sure seems worth looking into…

This doesn’t make sense to me. In order for a client to see any value in the monthly retainer, the cost per hour should be substantially less than the ordinary rate. Otherwise, there is nothing to be gained from the client and they can lose out in a big way.