What to charge for managing a clients store?

I have a Website client that runs a wholesale business selling candles, but she sells to retail clients online. I built her Website. The shopping cart software is Zen Cart.

I have been doing maintenance and charging her an hourly rate when there is something to do, like adding additional retail stores to the list of “where to buy” etc, and problem solving if some issue with the contact form or email crops up.

However, this lady wants more. She absolutely refuses to log into her Admin to check for new orders, depending only on PayPal to notify her of any orders that come through (she only accepts PayPal — no credit cards). She says she is “too busy trying to grow her business”, yet she only works 4 hours/day (according to what she told me), because she needs to be home when her kids come home from school, and she doesn’t get into her shop/factory till 9:30am or later. So, her work day is roughly 9:30am to 3:00pm, with lunch, of course.

As a result of her refusal to do what most other business people would consider their responsibility, she missed a few orders recently when there was a problem, and some orders went through as CC (Credit Card) orders for offline processing (the default), meaning she would have to run the cards on her machine at the office. No PayPal notification; therefore, she didn’t know she had the orders. Had she logged in to her Admin, she would have seen them.

She complained to me about this, as though it was my fault. I told her she needed to log in daily so she wouldn’t miss anything, to which she once again replied that she just didn’t have time, and she expected me to do that and to “test” her email contact form from time to time to make sure it was working properly. That is what she expects of me for me to be of “value” to her and in return, she would reccomend me. In short, she wants me to “manage” her store!!

I don’t want that kind of involvement in her business. I want to design Websites.

What should I charge her to “keep an eye on” her store for her, by logging in two or three times per week?

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Bill O.

Figure out a small maintenance package for you which will include checking for new orders x times per week and whatever else she needs. Be clear on what you will do for that package, and what you won’t do.

Then quote it at your hourly rate + 50%. The 50% surcharge is because you don’t really want to do that work.

Better yet, tell you that you are a web designer, not a retail clerk, and that she should hire someone else to do that work.

Just dont do it, it’s not your job to run her business for her. Tell her that you are a web developer and she should hire someone appropriate for the job, like a minimum wage teenager.

Both good answers, and I’ve had the same thoughts as both of you. This lady is a real PITA for sure (Pain In The Ass if you never heard about the PITA charge).

What she really wants me to be is her “Site Administrator” not her Web Designer and Host.

I am in the process of building another site for her so I don’t want to make her more upset than she is already (for her new site she chose to go with her so-called “graphics designer” for the design and layout (and is it ever ugly!); but, neither women have a clue about how a Website is built, and I mean it has been a hassle. The graphics person doesn’t speak in terms used in Web design work, and thinks Web designing is no different than print media.

My client wasn’t happy with what I told her, about the missing orders, that she would have seen them if she were logging in daily. I was trying to be as nice as I could, but I wanted to make it clear that she needs to be logging in daily to see if she has new business or new customers. She told me in an email that I acted like she was an “idiot”. Well??? She calls herself, “Marketing Director”!

Thanks for your replies.

Bill O.

Well you could suggest to her that she hire someone to manage online sales. Its either that or she start paying you a salary to do it. You just need to drive home to her that your job was simply to build the website and do updates as needed. You are not responsible for her online sales in any way shape or form. I would be clear that if you have to sign in daily for order related issues you should be paid for your efforts just like any employee would be for working every day for someone. I think that you might get better results if you were actually speaking to her instead of e-mails. I have found that to be much more effective when you are telling the client something they don’t seem to want to hear.

You are the multi-tasking web designer, BillO. I believed the lady like your honesty and she felt comfortable when dealing with you :slight_smile:

No doubt, there are people really expect the web designer do all the things for them. Talk to her nicely that your profession is a Web Designer. You are not her clerk :slight_smile: Ask her to hire a clerk/sales personnel instead. Talk to her that a clerk or the sales personnel who get the paycheck from her for sure will check all the orders and report to her daily.

Stand firm with your words and talk nicely to her :slight_smile:

Thank you all again for your advice. Okay, I have thought about this for the last couple of days, and I haven’t answered her email yet. Here’s what I think I’ll do:

I’ll apologize if my tone sounded condescending and assure her that I wasn’t trying to make her look stupid, but only to emphasize that she should be logging in to check the orders at least a couple of times each week.

I will tell her that I cannot oversee her sales for her, she needs to have someone at her office for that (she has “a girl” — that’s what she calls her, “my girl”) that does her books and other things.

I’ll remind her that her father (I think he has a lot of say-so in her business, and my be bankrolling her) chose not to have a maintenance contract, but to pay me only for hosting, and maintenance on an “as needed” basis (I don’t really think I want to get into a maintenance contract anyway — that could turn out to be an albatross).

And finally, “Please accept my apology”.

This lady is not the kind of person I want to be “married” to for any reason. It’s bad enough working with her as it is. Hahaha!

I think she felt guilty, 'cause she knew I was right. Perhaps that is why she reacted the way she did. You should have seen the email she sent me. Not nice. :frowning:

If you are going to decline her request to manage her store, I’d do it in as few words as possible.

Tell her that you are unable to provide such a service, that your hosting contract is still in place and that you are available for website maintenance (but not retail management) at your hourly rate.

You don’t have to explain yourself or apologize for saying no to something.

Hi BillO

Just had to jump in here. Sagewing’s advice is spot on - so it should be, he’s old, experienced and has lived on the forums since 1952! (Just kidding on the old bit Sagewing - hope you’re well.).

I wanted to say this - saying “No” is just about the most important skill you can have in business.

Once you start saying “No” to clients you don’t feel right about, you have tons more time to focus on the clients you like, who value you and who pay well. You’ll do much better work for them and grow your business.

We’re all in business. We want to please our customers so we can get hold of their money and get recommended by them.

But you’ve already identified that this client:

  • annoys you,
  • doesn’t value your time and expertise.

So you’re not going to work well for her, you’ll make no money and it’ll al turn bad. Much better to say “No” at the start and move on to work with profitable clients you like, who value your time.

Hope that helps.

Maybe it’s not possible but…

What about if you program that the application sends her a daily email with a summary of the pending orders? (or the orders of that day). And maybe another email weekly.

If some emails are missing, when she checks the summary email she will notice the pending orders she didn’t receive before.

Not sure if you can add this customized programming in Zen Cart, but IMHO this would be better than checking her admin everyday :slight_smile:

Well, I’ve made it clear to myself that if a client is not OK, I will fire them and search for others. And this actually worked. Had some “tough cookies” to deal with and I just let them go. Weird enough I soon found excellent ones I can work with. For any bad client I got at least 2-3 that were a pleasure to work with. If you’re not feeling comfortable with her, just say good bye.

I doubt it is a good enough reason to fire the client, really.

I would never think of it as ‘firing’ a client. That’s pretty final, and there is really no reason to look at it like that especially considering that it’s clients that are paying the bills.

Every client that you decide not to work with is a potential future client. Most clients will learn, gain experience, and become better clients over time. So, always good not to burn bridges.

Some clients are just nightmares and should be shown the door, but in general it’s good to be graceful about these things.

I have a Website client that runs a wholesale business selling candles, but she sells to retail clients online. I built her Website. The shopping cart software is Zen Cart. I have been doing maintenance and charging her an hourly rate…"

Interesting situation… I also have some of this kind of clients who wants me to maintain their stores and keep checking everything. This hardly takes around 30 mins to check everything daily so 15-20 hours work is involved in this work monthly. So make a package based on these hours and yours hourly rate and charge her.

I don’t want you to leave this work because there is actually nothing to do over here. You don’t even need to check the code everyday because code is not going to expire. So I’ll say it’s less work and more money :slight_smile:

I would offer to develop an add-on to the shop that will send her (or her girl) sms notification about orders (I assume there are not hundreds of them per day).

This way she has less chances to miss them and has happy clients.

If I’m not mistaken, there is a flag in ZenCart to get notified about new orders. Go into her BO and enable the flag and she will get an email for all new orders. What she does with them is up to her.

Well sounds like you are overqualified and you don’t want the job…so dont…

It helps a lot. Thank you very much for this sound advice.

It is far to easy to want to please someone; but, this leaves one open to manipulation, and this woman is an expert at that.

I am still a “newbie” in the Web design business, but she has taught me a lot (about setting policies, etc.). She wants more than she is willing to pay for.

Thanks for your valuable input.

Bill Otis

She gets them.