Price isn’t everything. Or is it? As a business owner or manager, the decision between cost and quality often comes down to you, and it’s not an easy one. Especially if you’re a smaller agency working with limited resources, the temptation to trim expenses is strong, and in some cases, not out of place. Shopping with price in mind is important for a small business looking to endure and grow in a competitive landscape.
But when you’re shopping for hosting for your clients, in many cases, the best value hosting is managed hosting, even though it’s more expensive than the alternative. If you are currently or have recently been shopping for a hosting provider for your digital marketing or web design agency, you’re likely familiar with the price tag that comes with managed hosting services. How can you possibly argue that managed hosting is a better value when it costs so much more? you ask. Simple: price does not equal value.
Not convinced? Fair enough – you’ve been in the market for a while, maybe you’ve been burned by hosting providers before. A healthy dose of skepticism is not unwarranted. To make my point, let’s go through a few true “apples to apples” comparisons on the bang you get for your hosting buck, and by the end, I think you’ll agree that the best value hosting is managed.
Reliable, Consistent Service – Guaranteed
Imagine you were shopping for physical premises for your business. You check out different properties offered by different landlords, you compare the facilities, square footage, and so on. In the end, you’ve narrowed the choice down to two different locations, both of which provide the basics that your company needs to operate – a store your customers can visit with lights and power and displays for your products. One landlord pulls you aside and says that he’ll charge you half what the other guy wants, and there’s only one catch – for up to 88 hours a year, your store will be completely unavailable to you. He can’t predict when the store will spontaneously shut down, or how long the shutdowns will last, and any customers on the premises at the time will be forcibly ejected from the store, without being allowed to conclude their business. What a deal!
Obviously, this is a ridiculous scenario – no self-respecting business owner would accept such terms, which is likely why you’ve never heard of a landlord offering them. What about for your virtual business or online presence? 88 hours a year translates to 99% uptime, which you may think sounds like a pretty reasonable number. That said, experts estimate that every minute of unplanned downtime can cost businesses $5,600 in lost profits, productivity and reputation. If that still sounds bearable (and I’m surprised if it does), consider that a hosting provider offering you 99% uptime is basically saying you can expect slightly over $29 million worth of unplanned downtime annually. That figure throws into sharp relief the importance of finding a hosting partner that can provide you maximum uptime, and a guarantee for how they’ll make it right when things go wrong.
Expertise You Can Afford
Do you keep a plumber on staff in your agency? How about an electrician? No? What do you do when the lights go out, or the toilets won’t flush? You’re rolling your eyes at me, of course, because everyone knows that for utilities and services that require a particular level of training and expertise, you call in an outside expert to solve your problems. You may have a particular specialist that you rely on for all the problems within his field, but he’s not a member of your team – he’s a partner. Someone to whom you outsource problems that are beyond the scope your team can handle, who you rely on to provide the solutions you need to keep things running smoothly.
If that’s all so patently obvious when it comes to services like plumbing and electrical, why is it that we expect we should hire an IT expert to handle our computer problems? The explosive development in hosting and IT technology, tools, hardware, and software means earning the title of expert in the IT field is a full-time job, and certainly not one you yourself have time for. An experienced professional (or a team of them, depending on your workload) to assist with site deployment, migration, maintenance, and monitoring is a valuable asset to your organization. But in-house IT teams don’t come cheap – even a single IT expert will cost you an average of $65,000 (average base salary plus benefits and vacation pay) annually, and that’s assuming you have an office space sitting empty waiting for them.
Flexibility, Scalability, and Agility
Consider this scenario: You’re on vacation and have booked a number of excursions to various sites you want to see. One of the most popular tour offerings, the agent at the resort assures you, is a ride on a rickshaw bicycle into the local downtown to go shopping – the tour guide pedals, and has a bench behind him that seats two tourists and he speaks to you while pedaling to point out interesting shops and local landmarks. Another tour involves some sightseeing slightly further afield, and the guide arrives in a van that seats up to 10 people. When the time comes to head to the nearest major city airport to catch a plane home, a full-sized coach bus pulls up to accommodate yourself, the 40 other tourists travelling, and all your luggage.
You are not a tour operator, you’re a web agency. But like the resort arranging transportation for different guests’ needs, you have clients with different needs too. Maybe your clients are just starting out – they might be fine with a rickshaw (where a rickshaw is a smallish hosting package that can handle limited traffic). But what if one of your clients runs a really successful campaign and their web traffic spikes? Do you want a hosting provider that will just keep sending you rickshaws, or one who can offer you a faster, more robust service when the need arises? Your clients’ success should translate into success for you, but it won’t if you don’t have a van or a bus ready to handle the extra passengers.
The Best Value Hosting Gets You More Than You Pay For
You get what you pay for is another oft-touted adage thrown around by those trying to market a more expensive service. But in all the cases above, I would argue that the value provided by the services you paid extra for – the store that was always available, the expert plumber to fix your leaks, the bus that kept your passengers from piling uncomfortably on a rickshaw that would never handle them all – was worth more to your business than the actual cost. It’s not just that you get fair value for the service you paid for, you actually wound up far better off by spending a little bit more to ensure the success of your business.
Could you run a business in a store that sometimes spontaneously closed? It’s a bit silly, but it’s not impossible. Could you learn how to fix the wiring and repair leaking faucets yourself? Most likely. Could you ferry passengers back and forth using overloaded resources? At least until your legs gave out – but there is an opportunity cost to cutting corners and trying to do more than you’re really qualified to do. And that, in a nutshell, is why the best value hosting is managed.
Are you ready to spring for the best value hosting? At Liquid Web, we specialize in providing managed hosting that delivers more than what you pay for. Get in touch with our team today and let us show you how we can make you a hero to your clients and your team.