​Recently, my agency found out one of our best clients passed away from a sudden battle with cancer.

As we’re right in the middle of dealing with this situation and helping them through the transition, I thought I’d share some of my takeaways from what we’re learning and going through so that you can be prepared if/when this should happen.

Being that this was a close client of mine and due to the nature of this talk, this is definitely a heavier talk and very different type of episode, but it is very important. We as service providers need to be prepared for such events and more importantly, know how to respond and what to do when something like this happens.

Additionally, as my CEO Eric told me, it’s a great reminder that all of us have a plan in place if there would be a sudden or unforeseen passing.

If you have any additional tips or takeaways from similar situations you’ve been through with clients, please share them as a comment at joshhall.co/141!

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
03:48 – Take the high road
05:40 – 1)Backup sites
06:20 – Giving control
08:06 – 2)Users and passwords
08:57 – Organize together
09:54 – 3)Contact info
12:22 – 4)Transition plan
13:03 – Ask questions now
13:55 – Be helpful
16:16 – 5)Plan of action
16:34 – New relationships
19:03 – Recap

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #141 Full Transcription

Josh 0:15
Hello, Friends, Welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 141. And this episode is quite a bit different than most episodes, mainly because of the nature of this talk. And if you can tell already, it’s going to be a little bit heavier and a little more on a serious note simply because we’re going to be addressing something that is something me and my agency are going through right now. And it’s something that is some I don’t know if you’ve gone through it before or that you may likely go through at some point. And that is when one of your clients passes away. And as I mentioned, we’re going through this right now.

Josh 0:52
One of our A clients, one of our somebody who I’ve personally worked with for well over five years at this point, we found out that he was hospitalized for cancer, it was very sudden it was unexpected. And less than a couple weeks after we found out about that we got the news that he had passed away. And we’re kind of right in the middle of helping him in his foundation and his family transition with the website stuff because he actually has two websites with us. So we’re kind of we’re learning a lot through this transition period with this. And I just wanted to share some thoughts and some takeaways, as we’re kind of right in the middle of this because I think it’s really, really important to not only help you prepare, prepare for this type of situation, on the client side, so you know, you can potentially help in this type of situation. But also, it’s a great reminder for us as business owners that we need to be prepared for some sort of either, whether it’s an exit plan or a disaster plan or something it really kind of made me think like I need to make sure my family is taken care of in every regard. With everything that we have going on online. Make sure everyone knows what where stuff is. And I think it’s really important to look at it from from both sides.

Josh 2:05
So that’s what I want to cover in this episode again, heads up, it’s going to be a little heavier, a little more serious simply because this is somebody who was was pretty close to me and for a lot of years in the professional world. And I will just say this was the gentleman’s name or one of our best clients who passed away this was Bill Wadley, he was a former swimming coach for the Ohio State University. That’s actually how I got connected with him my professional group that I was a part of. I met him at a networking group and then he found out I did websites, I ended up creating a website for an organization he was a part of, and then that went so well, when he was close to retirement from swim coaching at the at the college he hired me to build out an entire personal brand and swim academy website, which is actually still up right now bill wildly swim academy.com.

Josh 2:54
So we were managing these two sites. And Bill was such an awesome guy, he was an A client, he was somebody who actually got us client content on time, and he was just such a great person. And again, it was so sad that recently we found out that he had a very sudden battle with with cancer that did not last long. And interestingly enough, just to kind of fill you in before I kind of share some of these takeaways with you. The way we found out is we had a very rare failed payment from him. And for those of you who don’t know, Eric, my CEO, who runs the business, he took the business over in 2020. But I’m still heavily involved and Eric keeps me up to date on everything he had let me know that he was in the hospital. But Eric was getting failed payment notifications, which was very rare. And then upon reaching out, found out that he was in the hospital.

Josh 3:38
And then I got a call from from the client CPA saying in letting us know the news that he had passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. And I just want to say, hats off first off to Eric, my CEO who really took the high road on this and as being so helpful for this situation because once I found out that, you know Bill passed away, what I did was I funneled the CPA over to Eric to take care of everything and I guess the first thing he asked was how much did Bill owe us. And Eric said don’t worry about that at all. And he has been extremely helpful and wants to help Bill’s family and the foundation through this situation I think it was one month of hosting and maintenance that was that wasn’t paid for.

Josh 4:21
So you know hats off to Eric for not worrying about that and forgoing that I would encourage you in this type of situation to you know, think about all parties involved unless it’s something that is a huge thing. I mean, I don’t know I would have done the same thing I would have said Don’t you know, don’t worry about that. That’s the last thing we need to worry I think was like 75 bucks or something like that. We don’t need to worry about that. So hats off to Eric for taking that high road and then something else is going to factor in here is what Eric’s doing through the transition period with them to help them with these brands.

Josh 4:52
So I want to share some takeaways in this process that you know my CEO Eric is learning about that I’m kind of learning about over We’re seeing some of this and thinking about it. Again, just remember whether whether it’s our side as the service provider of helping a client out through this or if it is just us being prepared and having login saved and having us SOP standard operating procedure in place having some of that in place, just in case the old like you know, got hit by a bus fun kind of thing happens. Or as Shannon who I recently had on the podcast, and our web design club, she she lives by the beach and she said it’s my eaten by a shark fun, so are eaten by a shark plan.

1) Backup Sites Externally

Josh 5:33
So whatever it is, it’s good to have these type of things in place because of what I’m about to share with you, which are these takeaways. So the first takeaway I have for you, as a web designer, is to make sure you have all of the site and numerous sites if you do have number of a number of different sites backed up, there are a lot of different tools to do this we use managed WP, reason I lead manage WP is that you can create restore points. There’s also a lot of options for backing up things externally. There’s other plugins for that as well there’s updraft was Updraft Plus I think a lot of hosting companies will have different backup services as well.

Josh 6:10
So first off, make sure you have your websites backed up, just in case, in the in the situation that we’re going through right now, we want to give, you know, Bill’s family and the organization complete control of the websites with whatever they want to do, if they want to move them or take them in house, they can they’re welcome to the the thing about this, though, and what is also really important to remember is that just because you have a primary contact, or a client who may potentially pass away, it doesn’t mean depending on the situation that they’re necessarily necessarily going to pull the website from you. In fact, if there’s a silver lining to this, it would be that there is a chance here for a new relationship to start. And that would be who’s going to come in next.

Josh 6:55
So I, this was the first time I had dealt with somebody who had passed away, who was the primary contact, but I actually did have a few years back, I did a website for an organization. And one of the contacts that I knew he was an older gentleman and he was retired, he did end up passing away. And I ended up helping them through a similar transition. But it wasn’t, they weren’t an A client. So it wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t quite as intensive as this. But what they did is I ended up meeting somebody new, and they were very quick to want to, you know, take things in house and I was fine. But in this case, we’re actually working with Bill’s organization to to stay with us and keep these websites going for hosting and maintenance.

Josh 7:36
Because as we’ll talk about in a little bit, we might do something completely different for the swim academy site that we had created for Bill and obviously he’s not with us anymore. But there’s a lot that can be done on that from a standpoint of you know, his legacy and training videos and things that he’s done that could last for, you know, years generations maybe so first off, have all your sites backed up man’s WP or whatever tool you use, make sure they are backed up that way, you and the potential client and whoever is going to take over things have full control.

2) Organize Usernames and Passwords

Josh 8:06
The next thing is to make this the biggie make sure that you have all logins and recent logins, users and passwords organized and filed somewhere. We use LastPass. There’s a number of different password organization organizers that you can use. This is crucial because when it comes to a primary contact, or somebody in this case, you know, passing away, if they’re the only ones with access to the website, that’s a big problem. Now there are ways to get in through hosting companies and see panels and manually getting in and adjusting users and passwords however, and I would say you know, I’m guessing you as the web designer, you should and hopefully you have your own admin password to a website and you don’t just give it over to a client. But either way, it is really important to have those organized.

Josh 8:54
And hopefully, this is something I cover in my web design process course. But you want to make sure that you store all users and passwords in some sort of password organizer like LastPass or one password for numerous people who are in the website if they are and again, that’ll make it easier in this case when you need to log in and add somebody or in the case of somebody who updates the site a lot, you may want to have somebody log in with their username if they want to do that or just attribute all posts and content and post types to the new profile.

Josh 9:26
So either way, step number two here make sure that you have all logins and users and passwords organized just in case for some reason somebody is trying to log in and can’t get to it particularly if you do have a client that is very active on their site. And again God forbid something happened. Suddenly no one can get in so make sure you do that. And speaking of manage WP if you don’t already know if you are using managed WP, you can log in straight through that so you don’t even need to log in right through the site which is pretty cool.

3) Have Contact Information of Primary and Secondary

Josh 9:54
Next thing up here. Make sure you have your primary and secondary contacts. For the website in the business as a whole organized, where you do this would depend on what platform you’re using to host all your clients information. So I use 17 hats. My my agency right now and Eric are actually currently using sweet dash, whatever tool platform you use to manage all of your client info, make sure you do have your primary and secondary contacts in there. If there are multiple contacts for a website or for an organization, now this isn’t always going to be the case, sometimes entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, they will be the main contact.

Josh 10:34
But even in this kind of case, when somebody reaches out to us, they’re likely going to be the secondary contact. And it’s kind of one thing we’re working on with Bill and his family and his organization, and who’s going to who’s going to be the contact next for us. And then we need to make sure we keep that updated. And, again, whether it’s in 17 hats, which is what I use, or wherever you have a client profile, make sure you do have those stored and updated just in case something does happen. And for the case of you as a business owner, and being prepared for a worst, worst case type of scenario. This is something I’m kind of challenging myself with because I’m not the best at this kind of stuff. But I want to make sure I have everything in place. That way, if somebody would need to step in and know where everything is hosted. And you know where subscriptions are and everything that’s got to be somewhere.

Josh 11:23
So you can do a lot of that with LastPass. And just keeping passwords and logins organized. But, you know, in the case of Bill’s CPA and stuff, I think I’m not exactly sure how he ended up calling me. And then I funneled him through my CEO Eric, but I don’t know if he just looked at, you know, site designed by Josh hall with InTransit Studios. Maybe that’s how he got to me, I’m not actually sure I’m going to ask that. But either way, people are often going to be scrambling to find out who they need to talk to. And again, in a case of like a sudden, you know, situation like this, it is really, really important to at least have contacts backed up for both you personally and then for your clients. That way, you know who’s the primary contact, and if, if there’s a partner in the business or somebody in the family who is also in the business, they’ll likely be your secondary contact. So make sure you have all that stored.

4) Create a Transition Plan

Josh 12:14
Now, the next couple things I want to mention, are going to be a little more practical and a little more intentional for you as service providers for your clients. So first off, this is going to fourth main point here is to help with a transition plan if this were to happen, and this is why I just want to give another quick shout out to my CEO, Eric, this is one reason why I’m so glad that I had a good gut feeling about him and realized that I would trust him with my clients because he is really doing things the right way is being super proactive and helping them and everything he’s doing, I would do myself, which is huge.

Josh 12:50
So my tip for you here is to help them with a transition plan. Now next we’ll talk about offering kind of a plan of action moving forward. But for right now, there are a lot of things that need to be handled with the transition, like, you know, do we need to put something on the website? Do we need to, you know, if somebody else is going to take over the websites right now for hosting and maintenance? Who do we need to build out for this? Is it going to be obviously it’s going to be somebody new? What does that look like? Do we need to put a pause or a hold on a website, whatever is going to help with the transition plan. Sometimes there’s assets like that there’s different logins, like, if somebody is needs to get to all the logins for the website, and social media and other assets, then hopefully we have that saved in LastPass, stuff like that help with the transition plan.

Josh 13:35
Now, there is an element of time to this for sure. And I would imagine in most cases, you know, if it’s something you could do fairly quickly, I would I’m sure everyone listening to you would you know you would recognize a situation and do what you need to do to go above and beyond for somebody. But if it does end up getting, you know, really costly from a time perspective, I would encourage you just to work it out with whoever’s taking over. As far as you know, if there’s needs to be any compensation for time eventually on stuff. Again, totally best judgment call I trust everyone listening that you would you would put yourself in the shoes of the family or the organization and do what you know, somebody that you would expect to do you know, with you if you’re on the flip side.

Josh 14:16
But either way, my encouragement would be to help with a transition plan, and then offer a plan moving forward. And this is where you as the web designer are really going to come into play and can be really, really helpful. And again, looking at the silver lining here. You may create a whole new client for life just by offering a plan of what to do moving forward. So like I mentioned, we were actually running two sites for Bill, a nonprofit organization and his personal swim Academy. So the question for us is what do we do with these moving forward.

Josh 14:48
But there’s quite a few things that we’re doing personally on this and for the website itself. You can go to Bill Wiley swim academy.com. You may or may not, I don’t know when we’ll get this up, but we’re gonna have something there, some Sort of note or cover page or a landing page or something that, you know, says what happened and, and spreads the the news. But also the question would be, what did we do moving forward with this again, in the case of Bill’s site, he had a lot of training videos and a lot of really great experience in the swim world that that website could live on for a very long time. So the plan of action for us may be to keep that going and memory of Bill and kind of leave a legacy and be able to send people there.

Josh 15:29
And then another thing you could potentially add Is there like a donation fund that family is taking, I don’t know, I’m not saying we’re doing this. But in this kind of situation, it might be something that you mentioned an offer, because just remember, when somebody takes over in a case of a death or something like this, they’re going to be completely scattered, there’s going to be a bazillion things going on. So if you just ask them, What do you want me to do with the website, they probably have no idea. So my recommendation to kind of cap this off here is to offer a plan of action, say, you know, here’s one thing we can do, we can put a note up or we can just we can take the website down, but just put a cover page on that just says, you know, what we’re doing here, or we could put a donation fund or we could archive some videos or posts and keep it going, you know, keep the keep this, keep this mission alive.

5) Have a Plan of Action Ready

Josh 16:16
Whatever it looks like for the for the website, offer a plan of action. And again, I don’t want you to think that in the case of a client passing away, that is necessarily the end of that business or the end of that website, depending on the situation, if somebody else takes over here is your opportunity to make a great impression and to start a new relationship with the next person. So if I could end this on a kind of a positive note, it would be just that don’t take this as a situation that is the complete end of something, come in and be as helpful as you can. Because I think what we’re gonna find out through this situation. And what you can do as well is that you can, you can really make an incredible impact on somebody and you could again, start the relationship with somebody new, and if they’re involved with this company, and something else who knows, it could open up tons of doors for you in the future.

Josh 17:07
So then the business side is like, Oh, you know, depending on if a client leaves or something, or in the case of death, it’s like, yeah, it’s a bummer. We’re not going to be hosting and maintenance. But there’s bigger fish to fry in life when it comes to something like this, which was sudden everything. But again, it doesn’t have to end necessarily. For me personally, I want to see Bill Widely swim Academy live on for years and make a big difference because he was such a great guy. So as we wrap this up, I do want to say RIP to my to my friend, Bill, who was such a great guy, and a client and I really, really hope his website will live on for a very long time.

Josh 17:43
And I hope these takeaways and tips that we’re going through right now have helped not only for you, as a service provider for your clients for a if the situation should happen, but just remember, as business owners, we do need to have this this kind of emergency plan of action or got hit by a bus plan or got eaten by a shark plan, whatever it is, we do need to have some things in place, whether it’s just a LastPass account, whether it is a sap with our logins and subscriptions listed out this is something I’m challenged by by myself just because quite honestly, with my brain at Josh Hall, co everything is me, I don’t have other than the folks who I am hiring out to help me out with a lot of the moving pieces here. I don’t have like a partner in this with me that is also managing logins and subscriptions.

Josh 18:31
So this is something I’m really taken seriously it actually, despite it being a very, you know, heavy situation emotionally and everything, it was almost a good wake up call to be like, okay, you know, God forbid, something happened. I don’t really have everything in place like I need to. So I’m challenged by this myself, guys. So I hope you are too And again, this was a heavier kind of episode. But I hope it was at least some of the takeaways that we’re going through right now, I hope this was at least enlightening for you and challenges you in a good way to, again, quick recap, have all your sites backed up, have all the logins users and passwords organized, have your primary and secondary contact for the website and the business as a whole organized in some sort of Client Profile, help with the transition plan during the badness of the period and then offer a plan of action moving forward and don’t think it’s gonna be the end, it could really be the start of a new relationship.

Josh 19:25
So I hope this has been helpful. I hope it’s something you don’t have to go through or it’s something you won’t have to go through through a very long time. Emotionally, this will depend and vary drastically depending on your relationship with the client. But either way, you know, when there’s a sudden situation like that, it’s definitely it takes you off guard and I think for me, it just offers anytime something like this happens, it just makes you sit back and get a little perspective on life. So maybe that’s a takeaway, I hope you can have from this as well to just enjoy every day, to love your business to be as prepared and planned out as possible. And just to get Have a blast every day you’re doing business because life is definitely short and you never know what’s going to happen but in the case of being prepared this episode will hopefully help you out with that so.

Josh 20:09
Hope you guys enjoyed this one hope it helps you out hey if you have any tips of your own if you’ve gone through something like this or if you’d like to share any tips, just go to the post at Josh hall.co/141, drop a comment there I would love to hear some other perspectives on this and I look at all those comments and I will engage with you personally on there. So go there, drop a comment. If you have any other takeaways or things you’ve learned from a situation like this I’d really really love to hear your thoughts as well. I shared this in my web design club which you’re welcome to join if you would like to be able to chat with me regularly and get coaching you can go to Josh Hall co/web design club.

Josh 20:45
I shared the situation and that kind of inspired me to share it with you on the podcast as well because it’s very important hopefully is it going to happen often but definitely something to be prepared for so join the comments Joshua co slash one for one drop a comment we’d love to hear from you. I hope this has helped and get ready guys because we got some incredible incredible episodes coming up here on the podcast super excited and again, just a farewell and an rip to my my good friend Bill Wiley former swim coach of the Ohio State University. You can still check his website out at Bill Wiley swim academy.com thank you all for listening. see on the next one.


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