When I started in the web development industry, 7+ years ago, providing clients with support and maintenance services was a lot of work. And beyond the amount of work, it was hard to get clients to appreciate the value enough to pay a price that made the work worth it.
I sometimes hoped they would get hacked, or do something to erase their database, something that would put them in a situation where they could experience the value of my support services.
However, all that said, for the developer or entrepreneur that wants to start a support and maintenance business today, it’s so much easier!
Mostly thanks to smart entrepreneurs like @corymiller303 founder of iThemes, providing really good support doesn’t have to be the overwhelming task it once was.
Here’s how it works, iThemes has a suite of plugins that gives you exactly what you need to provide regular support with the ability to monitor and protect your clients WordPress websites.
This is the list of plugins you’ll need:
iThemes Security Pro
iThemes Sync Pro
If you want to make invoicing easy and automated, try these plugins:
Exchange Invoice Add-on
There’s one other cool thing you can do with Exchange:
Setup a members only forum so only your support clients can submit a request. These are the plugins you’ll need.
Exchange Membership Add-on
Exchange bbPress Add-on
Another option for support request:
If you don’t want to use the members only forums, you could use Gravity Forms and create a really simple ticket system that you can manage via email.
I prefer email, and use a Mac app called Unibox to handle all the support emails from my clients.
24 Hour Access on the Go:
Back in the day, the other issue was how to provide continuous monitoring without having to pay someone to be available 24 hours a day. Fast forward 7+ years and with a smartphone and the iThemes Sync mobile app, you can keep an eye on and service your clients sites from your smartphone.
A little about pricing
With these awesome plugins and the mobile app, you can run a very successful support and maintenance business. However, the key to success is making money from your efforts. The plugins listed above all have some cost associated with them, so you need to be sure to cover your expenses.
I’d recommend you provide, at most, 3 support options. Each one providing a few more options increasing the price.
Your basic option should be providing 24/7 monitoring, security, WordPress and plugin updates, and offsite backups.
Then up the ante a bit by adding limited email support with a turn around time of 24 hours.
From there, your third option could offer performance and analytic reviews / reporting and then up the turn around time for support to same day. You could also lift the band on “limited” email support, but be sure to charge more for option 3 then what is listed below.
Now for pricing.
Option 1: $29/month (minimum)
Option 2: $97/month (minimum)
Option 3: $167/month (minimum)
Backups can be scheduled and done automatically through Backup Buddy, the monitoring and security is handled by Security Pro, updating WordPress can be done remotely through iThemes Sync Pro and the mobile app, performance reviews can be reviewed in Sync Pro, and analytics can be managed through Sync Pro and Google Analytics.
So all you have to do, turn the reports into PDFs do a simple right up, the review part, and send it to the client. You’ll obviously need to handle all of the support emails, which will be a minimum because you’re providing 24/7 monitoring.
One important tip, be very clear about what is covered in the clients email support. Otherwise, you’ll get request for things you cant possible do for their monthly fees.