Meeting client expectations is key to running a successful business. However, customers and WordPress maintenance agencies aren’t always on the same page.
That’s where a WordPress maintenance contract comes in. By creating this essential document, you can clarify your services and ensure that the client’s expectations align with your reality.
In this post, we’ll discuss how this type of agreement can help you avoid confusion and miscommunications. We’ll then share four elements to include in your WordPress maintenance contract. Let’s get started!
An introduction to WordPress maintenance contracts (and why they’re important)
Keeping a website in top shape can be time-consuming, and will inevitably take a chunk out of the owner’s already-busy schedule. It can also be expensive to maintain a site manually.
For this reason, many WordPress website owners choose to partner with a third party that handles essential maintenance for them. This may involve installing the latest version of WordPress core, creating backups, and even monitoring a site’s search engine performance.
Since WordPress powers over 40 percent of the web, there’s a huge demand for maintenance services. With this in mind, you may be considering expanding your business into WordPress maintenance, or perhaps you already offer this type of support. Regardless, it’s smart to start by creating a website maintenance contract:
In this contract, you’ll want to define the services you’ll provide to your clients. There’s always a chance that a client’s expectations won’t align with the actual services you offer. Without clarification, you may face significant confusion. This leads to a poor customer experience and may even result in lost clients.
Not only will that impact your bottom line, but unhappy customers may warn others not to use your agency. In this way, a simple misunderstanding can end up making it difficult to grow your business.
Of course, a WordPress maintenance contract doesn’t only clarify client expectations. It also defines their obligations to you. This includes how much they’ll pay for your services and when those fees are due. Additionally, it provides you with legal protection if your client refuses to settle an invoice.
By clearly defining your services, a solid contract safeguards your business. It ensures that clients cannot argue that you’ve failed to deliver, and can help make certain that you’re paid for all your hard work.
What to include in a WordPress maintenance contract (4 key elements)
If you want to make sure your WordPress maintenance contract sets clear expectations, it should include some essential information. Here are the four key elements to include in this important document.
1. The services you offer
This is the section where you’ll detail your responsibilities to the client. Every agency is unique, but when it comes to WordPress maintenance contracts, you might want to cover common client requests. This may include services such as updating plugins, WordPress core, and themes. You might also perform uptime and performance monitoring.
With the Wordfence Web Application Firewall blocking over 4 billion malicious requests during the first six months of 2021 alone, security is a huge concern for many WordPress website owners. As such, you may be able to boost your conversions by including a security check in your maintenance contract:
While it’s tempting to try and drive conversions by promising a long list of services, it’s important to be realistic. If you over-promise and under-deliver, that can result in a poor customer experience.
A dissatisfied customer is unlikely to renew their contract, and may even request a refund. In the worst-case scenario, an unhappy client may refuse to pay for your services, citing your contract as proof that you haven’t fulfilled your obligations.
To create an attractive maintenance package without overstretching your staff, it may help to use an automated website management tool. Our ManageWP platform can automate many essential maintenance tasks, including security checks, link monitoring, and scheduling regular backups:
Often, it’s not enough to perform this work quietly in the background. You’ll also want to ensure that your clients appreciate all of your hard work.
For this reason, ManageWP can generate comprehensive client reports that detail all the work you’ve performed for this client. This can reassure your customers that you’ve met all of your contractual obligations.
2. Your pricing
Clear, upfront pricing is essential for helping clients evaluate whether your WordPress maintenance packages represent good value for money. However, finding the perfect pricing structure can be a tricky balancing act.
If your services are too expensive, you may scare away potential customers. On the other hand, lower prices are a great way to attract new clients, but may result in slim profit margins.
While there may be some potential to upsell or market additional services to your new customers, these are never guaranteed. As a result, you may wind up running your WordPress agency at a loss.
When it comes to WordPress maintenance services, you might want to consider offering a flat fee. This fixed cost can make your pricing structure easier for website owners to understand and evaluate. It can also reassure customers that you’re not going to surprise them with hidden charges.
However, when it comes to website maintenance, one size rarely fits all. A flat fee might exclude customers who require more extensive maintenance services. At the other end of the scale, you may miss out on customers who are searching for a more budget-friendly package.
With this in mind, we recommend offering a tiered pricing structure. This involves targeting a wider audience by offering a variety of plans with unique price points:
Regardless of your pricing model, it’s crucial that you offer the client good value for their money. By using an automated tool such as ManageWP, you can minimize the time and effort required to perform maintenance tasks. You can then pass those savings on to your customers.
3. Your payment terms
Once you’ve set your price, it’s important to clarify when you expect to receive payment. Some common timelines are Net 15 and Net 30. This means that payment is due 15 days or 30 days after the invoice date.
Hopefully, your clients will all settle their debts on time. However, evidence suggests that one in ten invoices are paid late. In addition, up to 10 percent of payments are either never paid or written off as bad debt.
A WordPress maintenance contract provides the perfect opportunity to clarify your policies regarding late or missed payments. You may even want to consider implementing a penalty for late payments, and specifying those charges in this official document.
As a WordPress maintenance provider, you may also withdraw services following a failure to pay. Again, this is important information to include in your maintenance agreement.
While it’s always best to explicitly state your timeline, you may also be protected by law. Every state has its own regulations, so we recommend researching the rules in your area. For example, New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act entitles you to full compensation within 30 days following the completion of services.
4. A termination clause
Ideally, you’ll have a long and happy relationship with your clients. However, it’s still a good idea to add a termination clause to your WordPress maintenance contract. In this section, you’ll state how you or your client can cancel the agreement:
When you provide a clear exit strategy, potential customers are more likely to see you as a responsible agency that won’t keep them locked into an agreement they’re unhappy with. This can make website owners more likely to partner with you. This is especially true when you’re compared to competitors who aren’t quite so upfront about how to terminate their partnership.
In this section, you may also want to detail how the client can renew their contract. This should include instructions on how customers can begin again with the same agreement, as well as make any contract changes (including upgrades, downgrades, or customized changes).
When it comes to maintenance packages, WordPress agencies and website owners can have very different expectations. Without a clear, contractual agreement, you can easily disappoint your customers and lose revenue.
Let’s quickly recap four things to include in your WordPress maintenance contract:
- The services you offer
- Your pricing
- Detailed payment terms
- A termination clause
Do you have any questions about how to create a comprehensive WordPress maintenance contract? Let us know in the comments section below!
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