When I was starting out in business I had a sit down talk with a big video production company - during the conversation the owner of the company mentioned something - almost off hand.
“Look, when a client comes in - we charge them a certain amount - of course if they’re a bigger client - we charge them more.”
Those words stuck with me - because to me it never felt right.
Sure - a client with a larger budget could afford more features and services - but I’ve never believed it was ethical to charge a client more simply because they had more money. Maybe I was naive - but it just wasn’t the way I did business.
For a long time I had a standard hourly rate for my services - and that was the rate. It didn’t matter if you were the homeless man down the street or Bill Gates - if you wanted me to help you with your website development needs - that was the rate.
For the majority of my life I’ve worked with small and medium sized businesses - and for the most part it was easy sailing - they would tell me what they needed done - I would do it and bill them accordingly.
Recently however a client came across my desk that is in one word - huge. Basically it’s a $150M+ yearly revenue client - and I’m working directly on their website to give it a revamp (I’ve had $150M+ clients in the past but I would always be doing minor little micro sites or other things for them but never something up front and center).
Not only that but I wasn’t the only developer for this company - in fact this was a technology company - a large player in the onine gambling market - so I was far from the only IT member so to speak.
So as I worked with them I slowly realized why large companies get charged more - I hope that you can use this blog to justify raising your prices for companies that can afford it - and to do it ethically.
Simply put - this big $150M client had a ton of paperwork. And it wasn’t just a standard non disclosure agreement either. Not only did I have to sign a ton of paperwork for standard procedure and contracting agreements - but then I also had to sign a bunch of stuff that didn’t even apply to me (like for example conduct in the office etc.)
Maybe it was due to the nature of this client’s busines - but between me and you I just skimmed through it… but who knows what I signed? Maybe I signed my life away.
The point is - when dealing with bigger companies - your time should 100% be respected. Which means if you get a 32 page on-boarding contract you should add the time it takes you to read the entire thing to the final project’s estimate. Don’t think that if you get a 30 page contract you should be reading that on your own time - again - another reason why you should ethically charge bigger clients more.
The next point is the inconvenience and having to keep up with stakeholders. For example - a regular project can usually be closed with a call where I would nominate a key contact person and then just deal with that person directly.
However with a big client there are usually multiple people that are involved - these people all have to be involved in calls - which makes organizing calls more difficult.
Now maybe I’m a prima donna - but I really don’t like having to schedule meetings. I just like to get on the phone - talk everything out and then get on with my day. I tell clients they can call me anytime and if I miss their call I’ll get back to them. When I’m forced to lock myself into a scheduled meeting it inconveniences my day - I have to be available.
What’s worse is that many corporate companies for some reason love video conferencing. So now I have to actually put a shirt on and look half presentable - organize my space. This may seem strange but the reality this is more work, more inconvenience - and I should be paid for that inconvenience.
Many bigger companies require you to use certain technologies - especially when they have an IT department all ready. They’ll onload you on to systems that may sometimes not be best for you and can greatly inconvenience you.
For example the $150M client was very insistent on me setting up - amongst other technologies - a Docker Wordpress install. Docker is amongst other things - a way for you to run Wordpress locally on your computer. Now usually people use MAMP for this but the client was insistent on using Docker. Of course I wanted to oblige the client - even though I:
a)Never developed sites locally and
b)Had to upgrade my entire operating system in order for it to be compatible with Docker
And to add cream on top - once I did upgrade my MacOS for this Docker thing - which I didn’t need for development - my entire computer started slowing down (yes I believe Apple purposefully creates operating system updates that slow down older models of Macs - call me a conspiracy theorist).
And I’m not even mentioning the fact that making the database work with Docker was a project in itself - as I stayed on the phone with the tech guy from the company for over 2 hours getting that all to work…. And in the end I didn’t even have phpMyAdmin installed!
The point is - the whole thing of getting Docker setup was a nightmare… and I didn’t even end up using it! In the end I just setup my own staging server and worked off that.
Moral of the story? A bigger client is going to have a lot more rigorous processes for everything - these will inconvenience you and give you a headache - and you should definitely charge for that! Smaller clients are a lot more easy going and will just let you do what you need to do.
Look - I’m not going to say I write bad code (no developer would say that right) - but… I will say I take some shortcuts. In the end I show a client the finished product - they play with it - it looks good and we move on to the next stage.
However bigger companies - in many cases - have code checks. Ah yes - GitHub.
This is what I learned with the company I’m working with now.
Besides the fact that GitHub is its own tool that has to be learned - code checks are an absolute nightmare. Firstly - you’ve got different sets of people looking at your code - but now because everyone wants to cover their ass (understandably) - every possible security threat has to be protected against.
Let me give you a simple example of what I mean - I was asked by the client to quickly setup a video page for a competition - which required me to embed a bunch of videos (long story). So I did this and pasted it into a Wordpress page - then uploaded some CSS to GitHub.Anyway the next day I was on the phone with one of the tech guys telling me that while they had approved my changes I need to get the Vimeo script out of the Wordpress page just in case (get this) - Vimeo decided to create a backdoor and hack the site through the script I had embedded.
Yeah - highly unlikely - but again - way more work.
Maybe the developer had a point - I think it’s unlikely - but again - with code checks you can no longer take shortcuts - people have to cover their backs and it just becomes a big headache. So yes - definately charge the client more for that.
With bigger clients - there is usually a much bigger process to push a site live.
In regular scenarios I would have a staging site which I would then get approval from client on design changes etc. - which I would then push to live. However with a bigger client it’s not unusual to have 2 or 3 staging sites. Not only that but showing a (bigger) client results on this kind of setup is very convuluted.
This is because there are a number of security measures in place that slow everything down.
For example - this $150M client has a staging site for which I have Wordpress access to - which is great… but I don’t have access to edit the code. Instead I have to push the code up to GitHub - have it approved and only then does the dev team integrate it into the finished Wordpress site. This means if there is a hold up in the code review process the time that it would take me to actually show something live to the client becomes forever (to be honest I just setup my own staging server to show the client the frontend results).
All this stuff should definately be charged for of course.
The reason I wrote this is to show you that when a corporate $100M client comes to me next I will be chraging them a premium - and it won’t be just because “they have more money - they can afford it” - there will be a reason for it and it’ll be ethical.
Maybe this is not a big deal for some - but it’ll help me know I’m living to my principles.
Feel free to discuss.
If you have any questions about this post or any other WordPress topic simply head over to my website – I'm a wordpress website developer - and fill out the contact form and I can get back to you. I work with clients such as criminal defence lawyers in Sydney and others in the cosmetic industry. Thanks for reading!
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