Price + Service + Confidence

I recently added a blog post called 'Stealth Marketing Gave me 10 New Customers in a Week' which described how I came across a web hosting company that had lost its way.

From all of the customers I had spoken to, they had each started hosting their web sites with them around 10 years ago when the service was fantastic. At some point in recent years, the company rebranded and it appears was bought by someone else. Since then, they have failed to maintain their servers and so things have slowly started to go wrong. This came to a head in recent months when their servers went down for over a week, leaving everyone without access to their own e-mail accounts and web sites.

After trying to contact the support team (via e-mail, they don't offer telephone support) a lot of customers got frustrated and found my hosting company. They got in touch and decided to move over to us. Why?

Service

When their hosting went down, they got in touch with me for help. I only offer a limited number of ways to get in contact - you can either e-mail in or call. Some people e-mailed and immediately received an auto-response message to say that their message had been received and someone would be in touch soon. This was then followed up by a full response, from me, explaining how I could help, how much it would cost and how quickly we could get things back up-and-running for them.

For those that called, I picked up the phone immediately. If I couldn't, because I was out, the call went through to a virtual receptionist who took the details and sent them to me so that I could get back to them as soon as I could. Either way, their phone call was picked up and so we were already 1-0 up on the previous host! The service I was offering was already better because whether they got in touch via phone or e-mail, they got a response. With the previous host, there was no response. E-mails just went unanswered, not even an auto-reply and they didn't have a number to call.

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Storms and Viruses

We are in the second day of storm Ciara, a storm that is battering the UK and other parts of Western Europe. There's flooding in some areas, power cuts and trees being blown over, causing traffic jams around the country.

On Saturday morning I spent some time preparing the house before the storm hit later in the day. I checked the outside of the house, located some candles in case of a power cut and tied anything in the garden that could get blown away, down.

Whilst doing all of these bits, my mind was also wandering, making sure that I was ready from a work point-of-view.

I do have an office and a desk at home which I work at most of the time but everything is stored in my backpack, like an emergency grab bag, ready to to go if I need to leave.

I did some checks to make sure all of my kit was ready just-in-case there was a power cut - I would still be able to work if needed. I made sure my laptop and two power banks were fully charged. This meant that I could work for at least eight hours before I would need to find another source of electricity.

I checked my backpack to make sure everything was there so that if I did need to go somewhere else, I had everything with me to keep my business running. An overreaction? Maybe but I would rather be sat in a blacked out office but able to work if needed rather than frantically driving around trying to find somewhere that still had power whilst all the time a customer is shouting down the phone to me because they need help 'now'!

All of this preparation reminded me of something which I set up when I ran a small I.T. department. During a training course it was suggested that each department like ours should have a manual. One that can be easily accessed by trusted staff which contained information about the computer network, how it was set up and passwords for all necessary systems. This was in the event of an accident or emergency where the normal I.T. staff could not get into work for whatever reason. This manual became christened the Red Bus Book, the morbid joke being that if all of the technical staff got mowed down by a big red bus, someone else would be able to pick up the manual and at least have half an idea of how things operated.

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Digital Nomad vs Nomadic Settler

The internet is full of bloggers and Instagrammers who seemingly travel the world with little more than their passport and laptop whilst earning plenty of money as they do it.

This is the dream though, right? You are young, you do not have any commitments, want to visit new places and as a digital native, you can find ways to make money online. With the reduced cost of living abroad, what can go wrong? Plus, it’s much more fun than starting a business at home!

My whole business and blog, obviously, are based on how location independent my businesses are i.e. that I can be anywhere in the world and still make a living. Recently though I have been listening to more business podcasts which extol the virtues of doing just that, working from anywhere, and I’ve found myself thinking: I do that but that’s not how I do it.

I am a digital nomad, although I hate the term, in that my business does literally fit in my backpack and I can work from a coffee shop, from the back of a motor home or from the other side of the world. But I don’t.

I work from home around 99% of the time.

I have a partner and three children. My partner has a job, which she loves, but it is location dependant. The children are settled and the thought of us all travelling around the world together, moving on a regular basis would be the most stressful logistical nightmare I can think of.

I say this yet I still have my business backpack-style set up and so you may ask why? I have been thinking that too and as it seems have some others over at the Tropical MBA podcast.

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Stealth Marketing Gave me 10 New Customers in a Week

Around this time last year, I added a blog post to the web site of my hosting business. Around 12 months later, this one post bought in 10 new customers within one week and more are still trickling in.

10 customers may not sound a lot but as a one-person business, using a recurring business model, those 10 customers are going to bring me in quite a bit of income over the next few years. Plus, they are hosting customers and how often do you change web hosts? Every five, maybe every 10 years? They are going to stick around for a long time. 

It all started in October 2018. We took on a new customer who wanted to move their domain name and hosting over to us. Moving their web site and e-mails was fairly easy but there was no way to move the domain name. Their previous host’s web site did not have the option to transfer the domain so I contacted their customer support department.

They didn’t have a phone number to call or even an e-mail address. There was a support system in the customer’s account though, allowing you to leave a request and track its progress. We logged the request and waited a week. We hadn’t heard back so we updated the request with a new note. A week passed, a month passed until three months later, I checked again and the support request had been closed.

There was no response and they had not released the domain like we asked them to. They had read the request, ignored it and closed it.

This sort of customer service really annoys me. Not only is it terrible for their own business (as we will see later), it also leaves customers in an awful position.

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