One of the biggest questions most web designers are curious about and that I experimented with is HOW and WHEN to offer maintenance.

If the focus for a new client is to design a website, you don’t want to immediately go into a subscription service like a maintenance plan, though we know the importance of it. It has to be presented in a very careful way to make sure you don’t come across like you’re “locking” a client into something. And keep in mind, many people are immediately turned off by any subscription style services, so the methods I’ll share in this lesson are tried, tested and proven to work.

That said, you also don’t want to spring a hosting/maintenance plan on them after a site is complete because hosting can play a big part in a website’s development and launch period. You also don’t want it to be a surprise for the client when you offer a subscription style service.

In this podcast episode, I’m going to share a lesson from my Maintenance Plan Course to help you sell your maintenance plan to new clients!

There’s no right or wrong way to sell your plan but what I learned in selling my maintenance plans for years consistently is to Sprinkle it In!

Places to “sprinkle it in”

  1. At the end of a discovery call when they ask about hosting/maintaining the site
  2. During the proposal process (as an option now or upon launch)
  3. During the onboarding process
  4. During the later stages of the project
  5. Hard sell during the launch/offboarding
  6. As a follow up
  7. Bonus: Free 30 day trial

Just a reminder, version 2.0 of my Maintenance Plan Course (where this is pulled from) is out now! If you’re ready to build recurring income and create clients for life for your web design business, join today and let’s build and grow your plan together!

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
03:57 – Sprinkling method to talk hosting
04:14 – 1) End of Discovery Calls
06:45 – 2) During proposal process
08:30 – 3) Onboarding process
09:54 – 4) Later stages
10:58 – 5) Hard sell during launch
13:18 – Buying clients out
14:22 – 6) During follow up
15:31 – Having a liability clause
16:37 – 7) Do a trial plan
18:12 – Quick recap

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #147 Full Transcription

Josh 0:14
Hey friends, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 147. This episode is going to be a little bit different. And it’s a little unique because this is actually a lesson that’s pulled from my website maintenance plan course. Now the exciting thing about this is at the time of launching this episode, version 2.0, the revised version and updated version of my maintenance plan course is live. So first of all, if you’re a current student, and you’ve already been through the course, all you have to do since you have lifetime access is just log back into the course you can see all the new lessons and revisions and new stuff I’ve added.

Josh 0:48
If you have not yet signed up for my maintenance plan course and you are interested in building recurring income for your web design business. Now is the time at the time of launching this episode. I currently have the launch sale going on. But even if you’re catching this later on, don’t worry, I’ll always have the course available for you. And I often run promos, promos, so just go to the show notes for this episode at Josh Hall co slash 147. And you’ll see an option for this course to dive in. Because having a hosting and maintenance plan for your web design is crucial, especially when it comes to building recurring income. And now I want to help you address the question of how to sell your maintenance plan, particularly to new clients. And more specifically, what we’re going to do in this episode is I’m going to share with you from the lesson in this course how and when to offer your maintenance plan because it is tricky.

Josh 1:38
And I should say before we dive in, this takes a whole different strategy than selling your plan to current or past clients, there is a big difference with selling your plan to clients who already know like and trust you because when you’re selling to new clients, you have to build that trust authority, and likability first And here is another additional tricky thing about this. When you’re selling maintenance plans. Just remember, you’re selling a subscription service and a lot of people don’t want to dive into a subscription service right away.

Josh 2:08
Now the good news is nowadays, pretty much everybody in the world, especially business owners are used to subscription model services. I mean, personally, we have so many subscriptions in my family, my wife has skincare stuff on subscription, I have my razors on subscription, we have our dog food on subscription like we’re used to buying subscriptions. However, when it comes to somebody investing in their website, you do need to go about this tactfully. And that’s what I’m going to help you in this episode here is I’m going to help you kind of show you how and when to talk about maintenance plans.

Josh 2:41
So just remember, you don’t want to necessarily bombard bombard them right away with a maintenance plan, because because it’s a subscription. However, that said, You also don’t want to spring this on them later on. And when you launch a website, and when I launched my website hosting and maintenance plan, I sold to a lot of current clients and past clients because they already knew me. And that’s actually a separate lesson in this course. But for new clients, the mistake I made early on was I talked about hosting and maintenance right away. And that kind of turned a lot of people off, especially years ago when subscription services weren’t as popular.

Josh 3:15
But what you don’t want to do is what I did a couple of times, which was to basically build a site launch it and say oh, by the way, I have hosting and maintenance. And if you don’t do maintenance, you’re likely going to get hacked eventually. So that’s also an unsub. Secondly, kind of run some spectively sued me kind of sleazy in a way you don’t want to necessarily spring that on them. So what I’m going to do here is show you how and when to talk about your website maintenance plan and offer it to clients. And it really boils down to this thought and this idea, and that is to sprinkle it in. So I hate doing a hard sell on hosting and maintenance right away. But like I said, you don’t want to never talk about it early on, especially if they’re going to end up hosting with you. That’s really key.

Josh 3:57
So the idea is to sprinkle it in all throughout the entire process. And there’s really six places to sprinkle it in that I’ve found in my journey and that my agency is using a lot of my students who have been to the course are using, and we’re going to talk about these top six, there’s also kind of a bonus that we’ll get to as well at the end here.

1) At the end of a discovery call when they ask about hosting/maintaining the site

Josh 4:14
So we’ll start off with number one, which is at the end of a discovery or sales call. So likely when you’re starting the relationship with a new client, excuse me, you’re going to be having some sort of discovery call or sales call. And the best place I found to talk about hosting and maintenance is at the end so if I could clear my throat here and talk with you, when you’re on a sales call and you don’t want to mention hosting and maintenance right away but if they don’t ask you about it at the end of a discovery call when you hear about their vision and goals for the project and you hear about you know the type of website they want the scope, just let them know. And by the way at the end of the call we do offer hosting and maintenance that way once the site is is live or we get towards the tail end of the process will be to host the site, maintain it that way we can optimize it, keep it backed up. And more importantly, we’ll be in your corner every month. And we’ll we will be your trusted webmaster, your trusted web guy or web gal. And that way, you don’t have to go this alone.

Josh 5:12
That’s how I would sprinkle this in. You don’t need to say any more than that at this point. Because Next up, we’ll talk about the details to kind of send them more, but that is how I would sprinkle this in at the end of a discovery call or initial sales call. That way they know they don’t need to worry about it right now. But that is something you’re going to offer and you’re going to be able to start the relationship, it’s going to last a very long time.

Josh 5:32
Now, the good thing is, is for the situations where if a client asks about hosting and maintenance, that’s awesome, because they just opened the door for you to talk about it in as much detail as you want. And you don’t feel like you need to try to squeeze it in there. So if you have a client that has already had a relationship with a web designer or agency, and they hosted their site, they’re already going to often know that hosting and maintenance is a part of this. So if they ask you about it, awesome, there’s your time to shine. You can even say what I just said, but you don’t want to go. You don’t want to come across too salesy, but just let them know. Yep, We absolutely do offer hosting and maintenance. This is something we can do once the site is ready to go will offer to host your site has quality hosting with good service speed, etc. We’re going to maintain the site so we can optimize it back it up, we’ll do our monthly reporting. And we’ll be in your corner every month moving forward to make sure your site is working for you.

Josh 6:23
That’s how you could frame it. When somebody asks about that. And then boom, you’ve already made this, you’ve already made the sale. So the next few steps that are coming up, if you’ve basically already made the sale in the beginning, these will be nice kind of reaffirming points. But the cool thing is you’ve likely already made the sale. So that’s awesome. So you don’t have to try to resell it later on in the process. So that’s point number one at the end of a discovery or sales call.

2) During the proposal process (as an option now or upon launch)

Josh 6:45
Point number two during the proposal process. Now what’s interesting, something I show in the course is that my agency actually had this for a little while. And I know a lot of designers who do this, and that is to have your maintenance and hosting plan options, actually in the proposal as like a line item that somebody can select and choose now, the caveat here and the downfall potentially is that they may not want to actually sign up and pay for it until the website is done. So whether this is just an option they check for future reference or whether it is something they actually pay for, that’s going to need to be dependent on your system that you have in place. But you can 100% mentioned this in the proposal process as like an item that somebody can select.

Josh 7:26
Now if it’s something that you don’t want to have somebody pay for immediately, because you want to get the website done before you host it and maintain it. Although some people do make this standard a part of their process. We’ll talk about that a little later on. But one thing you can do is just mention it as a line in your email or something separate from the proposal or even in the proposal that’s just like a line item or a clause that says, By the way, we do offer and highly recommend our hosting and maintenance plan, which we will give you more details at upon signing or at the end of the project.

Josh 7:58
That way they know again, they just see it, they see that okay, Josh and his team, they’re gonna offer to host and maintain our site. But we don’t need to worry about that yet. Let’s get the site done first, but at least you put it in there. So whether you want to put that in your email that you send when the proposal or the proposal itself, again, those are options just to let people know or if you’re on board with, you know, having your setup to where people have to host and maintain with you in order even start a project, which is very common in subscription style, web design services, that’s always an option. So that’s point number two in the proposal process.

3) During the onboarding process

Josh 8:30
Now, third place you can sprinkle it in, this is a really important one, the onboarding process. So if you don’t know and you haven’t seen this, I actually have a page on my agency site, you can go to in transit studio slash get that started. And actually hold on, is it getting started, make sure I got that right for you getting started in transit slash getting started, you can check this out live. This is the page that I would send to clients during the onboarding phase. Those of you who have been through my business course you’ve seen this in detail, what I do in this page is essentially outline what to expect as we get on boarded.

Josh 9:07
So I basically tell people what to expect in the first phase, the tools that we use our process. And then I mentioned in that page, and you can do this with an email as well. If you’d rather just have like a getting started email, you can just mention at the end of the project, then we’ll talk about hosting and maintaining your site just again, letting them know so right there, those are three places that you’ve sprinkled this in, that gives them a heads up that during the sales call. You mentioned it during the proposal process. You mentioned it during the onboarding process. You mentioned it there too.

Josh 9:37
The cool thing about this is that not everybody is going to see all these all these reminders like some people may remember the conversation from the first point with a discovery call, but they may have missed it in the proposal process. So it’s always good to just have it in there. Just sprinkle it in there.

4) During the later stages of the project

Josh 9:54
Now, you don’t want to hound your client during the process with hosting and maintenance but you also do Don’t want to neglect the conversation at all, just in case they do forget. So the fourth place that you can sprinkle it in is at the latter stages of the project during the the wrap up period or at the you know, towards the end during the revision period, you don’t again, I wouldn’t recommend talking about hosting and maintenance all throughout the process, because the client is likely going to be fairly overwhelmed with getting new client and during revisions and talking about the project and figuring all that out all the work that goes into a web design project. But once the project gets close to wrapping up, that is when you need to talk about this and sprinkle it in even, you might want to do a bigger dash of sprinkling at this point, especially if you want to host the site, because you don’t want your client set up for or sign up for a GoDaddy hosting account. And then they set that up and you’re like, oh, shoot, I should have talked about hosting more. But again, likely, they already have thought about this because you’ve already sprinkled it in. But latter stages are a great place to kind of sprinkle this in.

5) Hard sell during the launch/offboarding

Josh 10:58
Now number five, is when you really want to push this and this is your hard sell period, during launch, either shortly before launch during launch, or in the case where they already have hosting and you’re not hosting the site and you just launched the site. Now is your time to sell this bad boy, whether you want to do this on a call, or whether you want to do this on any sort of onboarding process or whether you want to do it as its own separate email once the site is live, all those strategies I’ve done and have worked, but you have got to sell your hosting and maintenance plan right now near or at the time of launch.

Josh 11:32
Now, what I have additionally, for those of you who have seen this, or heard me talk about this in the podcast, or been doing my business course you know what’s coming, a moving forward page. So I also have an additional page you can check out live. It’s an in transit studios comm slash moving dash forward. And this is similar to my getting started page. But it is the steps on what to do once a site goes live. And you guessed it, one of the last things I mentioned in there is our hosting and maintenance plan. So it is a hard sell period. This is where again, you want to be confident you don’t want to shy away from getting people onto your hosting and maintenance.

Josh 12:05
Now, you’re not going to get everybody at this period you’re not you’re never going to sell 100%. But I’m hoping that you get your plan to myself and a lot of my students percentages where you’re selling it at 90%. Because you do want to try to get most all your clients on your hosting and maintenance. Although a little side note, this is something I show in the course as well. Eventually, if somebody neglects your plan, you make sure that they assume full responsibility. And even when their website gets hacked, that’s actually an amazing selling period because they’ll pay whatever for you to get their site cleaned up and on your maintenance plan anywho.

Josh 12:39
This is when you want to sell a big time, you can do it through your moving forward page or again as a separate email like once the site is live and say okay, now that site is live, boom, here is our maintenance and hosting plan. Even if you already have hosting we can offer to do the hosting and a little side note of genius gold nugget that one of my colleagues Jake Kramer talked about from Artillery Media who was on an episode 49 and talked about selling and maintain or how they sell their hosting and maintenance plan.

Josh 13:08
By the way, if you have not listened to that episode, do yourself a favor, Episode 49. Go back to that one. And one thing he said was if they already have hosting, just buy them out. And that was such a gold point for me because I suffered with trying to work with clients who were already on terrible hosting like GoDaddy or Bluehost. And I was trying to maintain their sites and do all the optimizations while they had bad hosting. And they had like a year on their plan for 100 bucks or something, just buy them out, it’ll be so worth the time you can offer a discount for them to sign up. Or you can just take that off and a future our retainer, whatever you want to do, or you could just pay them 100 bucks to get them on the plan. Buy them out, get them on your hosting and maintenance plan. That is the name of the game because clients rarely cancel their hosting, especially if it’s with a trusted web design partner. Unless they’re moving elsewhere, the business has shut down.

Josh 13:58
So all those strategies sell hard right there sell your maintenance and hosting plan, especially while the iron is hot. While they hopefully had a really good experience with you. And they love their new website. That is when they are going to be so much more likely to sign up for additional services with you. So if you have more upsells like SEO and content, etc. A one you know I wouldn’t throw too much at them, I would focus on hosting and maintenance right now.

6) As a follow up

Josh 14:22
Now, if they don’t go for it, or you just don’t hear back, it’s follow up time step six. This is where maybe a few days later a week later and even up to a couple of weeks or a month later offer this again, what I would do is have three email follow ups, one a couple days after the site is live if they haven’t heard if you haven’t heard from them once a week later, and one potentially two weeks after that you could go a month out but that gets to the point where it’s like man, if you haven’t heard from them in a month and the site’s already alive, they’ve already paid you you might not hear from them again until their site gets hacked. And then you’re in business but definitely offer some follow up emails.

Josh 14:59
You can they Basically just sell just like you would sell on the launch period, you could sell as a follow up, and just let them know, Hey, we have our hosting and maintenance plan, it’s so important and critical that we maintain the site for optimization. For speed for security, we need to have your site backed up, we want to be able to report on the site so you can see how it’s doing and check traffic. And here’s the biggie. If somebody just flat out says no, or you don’t hear from them, you have got to make sure they understand their responsibility. And what I would do is send them a liability clause.

Josh 15:31
Now in my maintenance plan course, we have a full lesson on the liability clause. And I’ll share a couple points from it here. In short, you just say you client assume full responsibility of things like updates, backups, optimization, security, monitoring, reporting, all the things prior automatic privacy policy, all those things that we cover in our maintenance plans, you basically tell the client you are responsible for this, and you that way, even when their site gets hacked, they’re not like frickin Josh, his website got hacked, that he built for me got hacked, you just say, well, we sent you the liability clause, you assume full responsibility, because you neglected the plan.

Josh 16:09
Now, you don’t want to make clients feel stupid. And you don’t want to, you know, burn bridges, but you just need to let them know, if they don’t do your hosting and maintenance plan. All responsibility is on them. And that can be another great sales tool as well. And actually, that liability clause that you send them, often they’ll see that and be like, Oh, God, I don’t want to deal with any of that, sir, let’s do it. So there you go. You’re welcome. for that one. Again, I have a whole nother lesson in that in detail in the maintenance plan course, even when you’re ready to join that so we can do this together.

7) Bonus: Free 30 day trial

Josh 16:37
And then finally, like I mentioned, there is kind of a bonus tip number seven. And that would be to do a trial period, if somebody does want to try it out, you are welcome to do either a 30 day or 90 day or 60 day type of trial. That way, at least they can get on the plan, they can see what you’re doing with backups, reporting, optimization, all that good stuff. Now, what I do recommend for all of you doing websites is that at this at the time of a launch, that you would offer some sort of either 15 or 30 day period where you’re in the corner of a client just to make any final tweaks or anything that were missed during launch period. So this kind of bleeds in with that.

Josh 17:14
But if you wanted to give say two months free of the plan, you could absolutely do that. And then after two months, they could decide to continue on and if they’ve already given you your credit card and you just have a trial period on there, then boom, they don’t need to re sign up for it they already did. That’s an option as well my agency did that a little bit it’s not something I recommend totally because I do recommend that you get that hosting and maintenance plan paid for right when the site is live particularly to cover your time for any additional updates. But that’s always an option that you can do is kind of a plan B so.

Josh 17:44
Hopefully those help guys just remember there’s really most people offer maintenance and hosting plans as an option. I like that route I like giving clients the chance to choose whether they want to sign up for this just because it gives them a little more it makes them feel less like locked into something whereas some agencies do require hosting domains in order to work with them which is honestly fine too but either way these steps should help you figure out how and when to offer your maintenance plan.

Josh 18:12
Let’s recap real quick number one at the end of a sales call or discovery call sprinkle it in just remember that’s the overall thought sprinkle it in number two during the proposal process as either an actual option they can select or just a heads up that we’re going to talk about this later on number three during the onboarding process with a little getting started page or getting started email number four during the wrap up or revisions you know the later stages of a project just sprinkle it in little dashed little data maintenance plan number five hard sell during the launch and offboarding stage this is you got to get them on your plan at this stage especially if they’re going to host with you for whatever reason if they don’t number six follow up few different follow ups and then send them that liability clause let them know you are responsible for this if you don’t sign up on our plan and then finally you can offer a trial if you’d like if you want to go that route.

Josh 19:02
So there you go guys Those are my top tips for how and when to talk about your maintenance plan and offer it to clients This is based off things that I have actually done in my journey my agency is doing and I’ve seen a lot of my current students who have gone through this course do with great success because it really and and it also kind of depends on the personality type of your client. They might be somebody who was down right away they might need to get to know you first. They may be more numbers minded, they may be more emotionally minded so maybe the thought of like having their hard work be compromised and hacked really gets to them a lot of different sales strategies in here but either way, this is how you can sell your plan to new clients.

Josh 19:41
So hope you guys enjoyed this episode again, my website madness plan course 2.0 is out now I can’t even tell you how it’s I’m just gonna lay it out there. This is the best freakin course I’ve ever done. I’m gonna say it right now. So those of you who have already been through the course go through it again. I would love to hear your feedback. Those of you who are ready to start your maintenance plan Right now this is your complete guide start to finish start building your recurring income, it is so crucial for your business and even if you already have a plan this will help you take your plan to the next level. I’m guessing you didn’t have a liability clause if you’ve already got a plan in place, I’m guessing nine out of 10 of you I know I’m guessing 99 out of 100 of you don’t have a liability clauses Cindy clients when they neglect your plan.

Josh 20:23
So just an example of one of the many things you’re going to pick up from my main is planning course when you join right now because the launch sale is on even if you catch this late Don’t worry, I’m always going to make sure to have an opportunity for you to join the course so check it out, go to the post Josh Hall co slash 147 you can get access and I can’t wait to help you guys build grow and run your maintenance plan like bosses so you can build recurring income and you can make clients for life and be in their corner so alright, don’t get me started on selling the maintenance plan. It’s just it’s so important for your business guy. So enjoy this. put these into action. That’s my challenge for you put these steps into action, see what kind of results you get. And I’m really really excited to be able to help you build your recurring income and build your website means plan. Alright, I’m giving you guys a Midwestern goodbye which usually take about 15 to 20 minutes so we’ll end it off here. So you guys on the next episode, which used to be really excited about so get ready enjoy guys Cheers.


Episode presented by:

Learn how to build recurring income RIGHT NOW by offering your own website maintenance plan!

 Put an end to the "feast or famine" of web design
• Create consistent, stable, recurring income for yourself every month
• See how to craft your own plan that's based off of what has worked for me

"As a new web designer, I understood the power of recurring income and knew I needed to be able to offer a maintenance plan. Even with all the research I’d done on my own, I was struggling to put all the pieces together. Josh laid it all out beautifully in a step-by-step process that’s easy to follow and implement.

Now my maintenance plan is right on target. Not only has it paid for itself but it pays for itself each and every month. It was the perfect investment for my business. Thank you Josh for putting this together and teaching it in a way that anyone could follow!"

Tami K.

“I used the exact training methods, resources and strategies learned in the course and landed 4 clients right away, paying off the initial investment immediately. 4 months later, I have 18 maintenance plan clients with over $1,500/mo of recurring income!”

John Bendever

John B.

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