When “Maintenance” is a misnomer

I’ve got a long history of many feelings about the word “maintenance”. I’ve run the gambit from loving it to hating it and everything in between. My CoFounder even wrote a blog post at one point and time about how we had temporarily banned the word from our company vocabulary.

As the original WordPress maintenance company, it makes sense that we’d have a strong connection to the word. Our use of it actually came around pretty organically. Our clients would leave after some WordPress Support or Development and then come back again and again. Each time we’d have to clean things up before we got to work. “Maintenance” seemed a no brainer and it made sense at the time to the folks who kept returning.

Everyone is a specialist.

WordPress now powers 30% of the internet, and that number is growing daily. We WordPress folks were bound to attract some attention from smart folks who know a good opportunity when they see one.

The amount of tools and options available to WordPress users has grown to exceed tens of thousands. The WordPress Plugin Repository alone boasts over 53,000 different addons for your WordPress installation. There are other paid repositories that are rapidly expanding to match this number. With so many folks aiming to get into the game you end up with a tower of Gurus claiming to be the best and the most and, of course, the cheapest.

Websites based on any CMS have a number of concerns. SEO, Security, Hosting, etc. Toss these into the mix and you have a kaleidoscope of opportunity for carving out a niche as a specialist of one kind or another.

This creates an economy where words are used to attract and excite. Words like ‘maintenance’ are used in many different contexts and draw in customers with varying expectations.

The businesses.

If you look up “WordPress Maintenance” you will get dozens of results. There are an incredible amount of options. Most of which are competing for your business on the basis of price. You’ll find some clever names and a pretty ‘buy now’ button that promises to solve all of your problems.

However, not all maintenance is created equal.

You should certainly expect the nuts and bolts from any service provider, but it’s important to understand that part of what you’re buying is actually in your head. I’ll explain.

When you reach out for maintenance or support help it’s because you have a problem you need to solve. A pain or issue has caused you to seek outside help. Your understanding of what the problem is or your understanding of what is needed to fix it drives your selection process on whom you choose to fix it. This leaves you subject to two potential problems:

1) A company that fixes only what you ask for.

2) The inability to ever really fully use your website the way you want to.

If you walk into a maintenance plan with eyes wide open and these terms are acceptable to you then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! You do what’s best for you, absolutely. But you have other options.

main·te·nance /ˈmānt(ə)nəns,ˈmān(t)nəns/ noun

the process of maintaining or preserving someone or something, or the state of being maintained.

‘Maintenance’ means no change. And while a degree of reliability is absolutely necessary, do you really want ‘no change’?

More than Maintenance.

What many companies are really shopping for is more than maintenance. Even if you are just looking for a point and click helper that will do exactly what you say, you’re still shopping for more than maintenance.

If you’re not interested in having to tell someone exactly what you want or have the burden of understanding the backstory or tech behind each issue then be sure to shop smart. There are very few maintenance companies that hold values based on long term relationships. Many were created to take advantage of the easy, automatable tasks of ‘maintenance’ for one low price each month.

If you want good advice and someone to get in front of your issues and make sure you’re getting what you need you can find it. There are a couple of businesses based on the idea of consultation and support that offer maintenance as an added feature, not the main business model. This is how my company operates. We’ve had the privilege of helping many clients that have come to us when their commodity choices didn’t pan out as they hoped. The issue almost always stems from using a word like ‘maintenance’ as a catch-all term.

Without defining the other things they provide many maitnenance companies benefit from the purchaser’s lack of understanding of what they really need.

A strong foundation for maintenance is critical. Just be open with yourself when you’re shopping around about exactly what you’re looking for. If you want more than just maintenance you might want to choose a company that competes on service, not on price.

Professional Website Management Services are available for serious companies that need a team to invest in their success. We are few and you will pay a fair price for the expertise, but you won’t have to compromise and you certainly won’t have to worry about there being ‘no change’ in the way you leverage your website.