Episode 135 Talking Raising Pricing With Ryan Waterbury
From the center of the universe, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is the SDM show with your host Rob Cairns. The SDM show focuses on business life productivity, digital marketing, WordPress and more. Sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink and enjoy the show here is Rob.
Everybody Rob Cairns here. I’m here with friend of the show and a good friend of mine, Ryan Waterbury, Ryan, in his business, one dog solutions has just increased all his pricing. So I thought we’d get right on and talk about why he increased his pricing, how we increase this pricing and share that because I truly believe many businesses don’t charge what their value that so sit back, relax, grab a drink and enjoy this conversation at Ryan.
Hey, everybody, Rob, Cairns here. I’m here with my friend Ryan Waterbury. And we thought we talk about pricing for an agency and why Ryan changed all this pricing. How are you today? Right? I’m doing great. How are you doing? Doing? Well. hotter than hot Canada, as we’re talking in the pre show is in the deep heat wave. We’re over 100 in Toronto today with the humidity and I don’t want to go outside. So we might as well stay inside and record the podcast. It’s a better idea. I think.
Exactly. We’re finally getting a little spotter rain today. So it’s time to stay inside and and do work. stay dry?
Yeah, I know you’ve been on with me before. And we’ve done a couple together. Let’s talk about a little bit about your background. If you give you a background just for people that haven’t heard you speak before, please.
Sure. I had been in the communications industry for over 20 years. Traditional graphic design and technical management and for large web and commercial printers in North America. I mean, the started making the shift to doing consulting and digital work from 2010 2012 and fully shifted completely to a full digital agency and dropping all my offline network in 2016. So since then, I’ve been doing web design, SEO and PPC management for clients full time. So almost 10 years in the in the agency world on my own doing that. So it’s been fun.
Yeah, I’m sure and I can, I can appreciate that. We thought we’d get together days talk about pricing a little bit, which is always the problem in the WordPress space or the agency space. A lot of companies look at pricing from me, what can I get, and not pay a lot, which personally I think is a big mistake. Because one of the things you pay for in pricing is expertise. What’s your What’s your feeling around that?
Oh, you know, and it was last year, actually, I wrote a blog post about should I hire a web designer. And there are so many DIY solutions out there, Squarespace Weebly, Wix, even wordpress.com. That, to get to get up to get a website up, isn’t really difficult. It’s it’s only getting easier by the day. But you know, I made the point in that article that you get what you pay for. And 90% of the websites out there. Don’t get any traffic. I mean, zero, they may get one visitor a day, not usually. So if you’re not getting any visitors, you know why? Why put up a website. So that’s where the working with a professional comes in, and helping to optimize your site. And that takes that takes time and experience and expertise. So there’s some cost involved with that. So
I would I would agree with him. It’s funny when we talk about that, because the episode that released a couple of days ago 133 was do not DIY your website. And if you remember, and I basically took this on head on because I don’t think business owners spending their their money in the right place that looking at it saying Oh, it doesn’t cost me anything. And I always look at it from the perspective Well, if you spent five I was doing a website, what would you have been making hourly in your business? If you spent the time working on your core business? And then what would a web designer a pro have done? They probably would take them two hours to do what took you five? So you’re paying for expertise and getting it done faster and allows you to concentrate on your core business, right?
Oh, exactly. And it’s, you know, I talked about, you know, our maintenance plans that I do through the agency, one dock solutions that WordPress is easy. If you know what, and if you work with anything, I shouldn’t even say that. You and I both know that. There, there are fun times, even when you think you’ve got everything buttoned up that something happens. And it’s, that’s when you can turn to the professional because if you break your website and your customer, you DIY, can you really afford to spend a day working on fixing that, and not working on running your business and making money?
Yes, it’s so true. And I mean, I take that approach, even with other stuff that’s not website based, like with accounting and legal stuff. I will go when I have a lawyer on retainer, and I have an accountant on retainer, because frankly, I’m better off doing other stuff than doing those particular things. Now, you talked about the website of breaking, I’ll share with you a story I haven’t shared with you, you know the story of the client who decided to go elsewhere and all that, well, they’ve been out, they decided to go on her own for three days, and they’ve already been hacked. And that the cleaning up the hack is costing the client more than if they had paid for a maintenance plan in that proper backup state.
Exactly. And, you know, you don’t realize that you need maintenance and need to keep up on supporting your website and spend time on it. until it’s too late, you know, one of my former clients had moved to another local agency do their hosting and maintenance. And that asked if I could look at something for them. I think they had 35 plugins out of date, WordPress was three versions behind. The theme was extremely outdated. And they were all security flags and security updates. I just said, What are you guys doing? And I just told them, come here, here’s where you need to get that information, I strongly suggest you take some time. and update your website, if you’d like to contact me again, to go through and help you with that I’d be happy to. And you know, I haven’t heard anything from next thing I know their websites offline for a month while they screw around with fixing it.
Yeah, of course, because they don’t realize that you have to do timely updates. I mean, nine out of 10 times most new websites I look at when I take people on as a client, they’re four months out to date, five months, and to date six months at a date. And that was and I don’t know about you, but I even on care points, I brought a different approach than many people. I don’t include the cost of the plugin licenses in the care plans. So if you want to use Gravity Forms, you better have a license for it. If you want to use Elementor, you better have a license for it, because I’ll update them. But if they don’t update, you don’t have a license. That’s, that’s fine. You and one of the reasons I’ve taken that approach is I believe in client ownership of things and that way they own their property. So if they decide they want to go elsewhere, they’re not in this, oh, well, this isn’t my plugin, this isn’t my typically the only plugins I do provide security plugins. And that’s another story. So right.
And, and I’m on the other side of the fence on that one where I’ve got agency licenses, or a lot of the software. And I’ve opted that as an attractive piece in my web care plan that we keep these updated. We know this stack of software works well and works well together. So your website will be trouble free. And you can use those as long as you stay on a care plan. So it and you know, I have clients that most of my clients on the web care plan, I think one of them one of the larger ones, they have a lot of users that log in to do different things on their site and update information. But I have one other client that’s the only other one that ever we’re logged in, and that’s where that’s to post the blog once a month. That’s it. Most of my other clients don’t ever log into their sites.
I, we are pretty well in the same here. I most of my clients don’t log in their site, either. They just like it all to be done for them. And then that’s just the way it is right? There wanting to login to post something. This, could you could you do this for me? Go ahead. Yeah, so I was gonna say, so what do you use as a measurement for pricing when you’re dealing with care plans? So what is your How do you measure now your care plans, your prices have all gone up? How did you come to the new figures? And what did you What did you do?
Ironically, no, it was earlier this year. I have been ramping in, you know, half an hour maintenance on, you know, my lowest care plan, I had three plans. The lowest care plan was really basic, half an hour of you know, updates a month. And you know, it was fine. Some clients never use the update, some did somewhere over the next plan added in some ecommerce. Because WooCommerce extensions, now agency licensing is gone. So you’re on individual. So that plan went off, you know, a good chunk, because I do include those extensions. And I have some other third party add ons that are agency license, but not all of them. So that had to go up because my cost went up. And then the third plan, well, that had everything in the kitchen sink. And I looked at raising the pricing on that, realistically, I said it’s going to be high. And some people don’t need all that. So what I did is I kept my two lower plans, the same price. And what I did is I broke out different add ons for email sending service, membership add, add privacy policies, terms and conditions, policies, additional time, if somebody wanted to do those regular blog updates, and had me do those or update things in their, their site, they could buy those blocks of time, pre build and a monthly recurring as a as a small routine. So it’s split down the middle about 5050 that some clients cut their plans, and they said, we’re good. And the other half, either update their plan or added additional panels that they had before. So it was a modular approach that didn’t rock the boat for clients that, you know, didn’t want to be shocked with the price increase. But it also allowed the clients that wanted those additional services to say, hey, I need that. And I will pay for that. So I gave them a choice. And I always believe in giving my clients a choice rather than wrapping in a big all encompassing plan. And they finally look at it one month and say I don’t need. So you know, that was the first step. But, you know, inflation is coming. And I looked at, again, my SAS providers, their licenses are going up. So in turn, I recently sent out an update to my clients that, hey, our vendor pricing this resin. So these few items are going up in price. And my hourly rate, if they ask for additional work has gone up, not a lot, but enough that it warranted communication.
They get sticky with clients is to do communication just to be upfront. In terms of your care points, do you have any restrictions around? And I know it’s not really a pricing question. But do you have any restrictions around what web hosts they can be on? I can be gone that far and said the effects on certain hosts. I won’t touch it. Actually.
I you know, I haven’t done that. And I haven’t, I probably should add that clause recently went through and and did some testing to website optimization for Google’s core web vitals and tested a few different hosts and went through several of the big name providers and I was just floored at how difficult it was to set things up. And so I’m probably gonna have a no GoDaddy rule here pretty soon.
I actually I actually have a no GoDaddy rule and no one and one rule and No EIG rule. If it’s on any of those, I’ll move it off, but I’m not going there.
Right, you know, and I actually, with the baseline test Hostgator, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to work with their control panel work great. They actually had some server side caching. So I want to go through and test a few more hosts out there. But every one of my clients wants to be on my hosting, I manage vulture highfrequency servers or upcloud, the fastest cloud servers out there and have an aggressive caching stack. So the biggest, the biggest benefit or upgrade, and the testing that I had from a baseline hosting provider, you know, through a full optimization was just the hosting, being a good hosting, getting points for Google. So,
and good and good caching. The host I use is all lightspeed cache based on the back end. So the way speed caching plug in is a wonderful thing in that case, and I’m really people need to start working at hosting when they’re looking at pricing as part of their solution, not part of the problem. So they need to go and find a host that’s a partner to them. And I don’t mean just for hosting. I mean, for security, I mean, for everything, the host has to be a partner in this they can’t be.
Yeah, I mean, managed hosting, you know, and you asked kind of where I where I come in for baseline, you know, I look at other managed hosting out there. So I’ll take kinsta as an example, Google Cloud and the back end, and they’re extremely fast, they help you with WordPress problems, they manage your your hosting, I mean, they start at 30 bucks a month. But when you sign up, you don’t have that, that personal touch, you know, for any minor updates or issues. But you know, we start to to compare that that pricing, you know, managed, fast hosting cost money, it’s not 275 a month that you see out there in the long haul all the ads.
So true. And it’s worth mentioning. Sorry, I said, it’s so true. And it’s worth mentioning that anybody that’s looking for a way to test their hosting, I don’t know if people know there’s a really cool, faster flow website by the folks over at wordfence. And they’ve now even included in the faster so uptime monitoring for free, believe it or not sell off. And that’s a change they made in the last well, couple weeks. So a shout out to those guys. I need their I know on the security side, that means our word fence or a I think depending on the site. I like both products very well. So I think the folks over at wordfence are doing a really good job. And and I think that’s worth checking to if you want to measure hosting. Let’s move on to pricing for PPC campaigns. How do you typically do PPC pricing? Because I know the way I run it is I do a percentage of ad spend? How do you do?
It? I’ve done that purely if I have a customer that’s going to spend a lot of money on the campaign. But you know, with the mid level or you know, mid level businesses, regional businesses, normally I have a base monthly retainer plus percentage of that where the percentage of ad spend is a little bit lower, because they’re spending less. But I found that that’s something that most most clients are happy with. As far as they’re seeing results, they can justify the cost. And as we scale up with ads, and spending and more management with more campaigns, certainly that comes back, you know, in revenue for me, but they see more results out of that as well. So ever everybody’s been happy with that type of pricing.
Do you take the approach on PPC campaigns that the cost to the ads has to be built directly to the client so you don’t even see the cost of diverged you owe it to the ads to you and then build the client back the end.
Now clients, they own their ad accounts, particularly with the with Google ad campaigns. I add their ad account to my account. Your controller, their credit card is on their account. They’re responsible for all the campaign billing. And at the end of the month, you know, take a look at the spending the account, put together report on, you know, how many conversions we had traffic changes we’ve made, and include that along with with an invoice.
Now, the other one to move on to, which always gets people into trouble is Seo pricing. Oh, yeah. How do I handle that? Because a lot of people have the attitude that SEO is she said it once it’s done, you don’t go back to it, and then they don’t catch it. And they wonder why they started to fall off the grid? What’s your theory on that and pricing around that?
That’s all monthly retainer. And that’s actually a pretty Bell before. So the month, month prior? And so generally, what, what we’ll do is, we’ll start with an evaluation, see where we’re at, see what the talk about some goals with the clients. And in 90 days, then we take another evaluation and say, Okay, here’s some things that we did, we say that, you know, you know, your, your lead conversion from organic traffic is up, you know, we can do some more work here. And then we take another look at the retainer. But, yeah, that’s, that’s always a monthly retainer. There’s just no ifs, ands, or buts about that. And we agree on the scope of work, it doesn’t go outside that. And that’s why I take you know, that first 90 day approach to say, Okay, what did we do? What’s working? And do we need to do some more things or less?
What’s your approach on clients who call you up? And they say, hey, Brian, I got this little job. And I know, it’s only gonna take you two hours, and I’m not gonna go above the two hours, how do you handle suffering?
That happened recently, where it should be, it was one of those things. And it was a tie in with WooCommerce, our show me We should be able to do this. And I said, No way. That’s not only integrating with your, your membership levels, but WooCommerce, your end billing, and also your email marketing list. So that’s, you know, a whole lot of touch points to go through and test to make sure everything’s connected. It’s not just this. And anytime a client says it should just be this, you can guarantee it’s, it’s got to be three times the amount of work involved with that, to do it the proper way.
Almost always, yeah, and then we all get those clients who call you up and say, I’d like to talk for 10 minutes, and you know, 20 minutes in and they’re trying to get advice that they should be paying for. And so, how do you handle that?
And so that’s, that’s one of the things that when, you know, I put ongoing updates, right, my description, I say that, you know, it can be for blog posting, and review updating a menu, you know, helping you format a newsletter, or meeting time. So, if they want to, they want to do weekly meetings, that’s part of the ongoing updates plan. And, you know, I do 30 minutes, one hour, three hour and five hour blocks. So that, you know, if you want to continue on that plan, I mean, that’s time out of my day, you know, I’m not working on other projects. And inevitably, it’s always additional advice on things that they should be paying for, you know, yeah, that’s, that’s one that I’m putting a firmer foot down that if you want to build some time, that if you want to talk and take some time, you can buy a block of time that we can schedule recurring or going to start adding book time where you can pay prepay for you know, whatever time you want. If it’s at that level,
the the book time approach I know is the approach our friend vendor goes is the approach I go to somebody calls me up and says I’d like to talk to you. I my rule of thumb is I usually will give them 10 minutes and then after that, I stop and say okay, so you want some more advice. So here’s here’s where it inevitably goes. And here, here’s a payment way you can make a payment once the payments are made. If you want to continue the conversation now we can if you want to continue later we can. But please understand there’s a cost to this. And that’s just the reality of
Exactly. And that’s, that’s it’s just the nature of the creative industry that the sites like Fiverr have really ruined some of the the pricing that some of these things that become a commodity. And, you know, that’s just the nature of technology. But when it comes to my time, if you want to waste my time, and instead of yours, if you’re looking for a solution, then you should pay for it. Because I spent time learning that.
Yeah, I would agree with him, and you haven’t, and you’ve kept yourself up to date. And people will say, Oh, it’s time. But what people forget is, you have a house to run, you have utilities to run, you have expenses from running a business, there’s way more there than just somebody time, like I always say to people, you’re not selling time you’re selling to the person you want to work with. And I I’m really kind of, kind of hard on that one.
Yeah, it’s the experienced expertise, I have been doing server management for 25 years. And I know that admittedly, well, if you have a problem and want to have me help you through it, I’d be happy to. But you’re also going to pay for my 25 years of experience.
And it’s much different than somebody who’s got one year experience out of college. And I don’t understand how some business owners turn around and say, Oh, I want to hire that kid out of college. And but I want him to have, and you look at the laundry list of what they’re asking for. And it’s like, somebody who’s been doing this for 20 years, and he’s got he’s had some days and saying, Is this really what he wants? You know?
Like, it’s, yeah, it’s some of the requests out there for employees and experience are just ludicrous. But yeah, it this year, especially looking at pricing of all all the goods and services around me rising. And then I started seeing the direct costs of my services that are for two. Let’s server hosting costs, you know, email marketing software costs, that’s the first one that I noticed. I said, Well, this has gone up considerably, I really need to look and adjust my pricing, because now it’s costing me money, instead of B being part of one of my profitable solutions. So
I always the approach I take to when I’m billing is so say you have a client, and you decide to do a discount, for some reason, I always bill out in full, and then I show the discount on the invoice. And the reason I do that is I want the client understand how much this actually costs them. And what they’re actually getting.
I did that for a client for an e commerce add on. And I gave him pretty healthy to discount because it’s a nonprofit that I’m you know, involved in and support. But I took the total billable hours. I said okay, this is actually about normal for e commerce. And it wasn’t anything too crazy, but just baseline and gave them a flatline discount. And they said they looked at the total hours total time, they were absolutely tickled pink with the results of the store, when it was done. It produced 10 times the amount of revenue that they anticipated. And then they look back and they say, Well, that was nothing. You know, when when they looked at the cost, and they looked at the line on just line item discount. I said, You know, I can’t donate this, you know, huge amount of money. But I can give you a nice break on this as an intern donation. Yep.
Yep. And I think you have to do that. Because I think honestly, when you bury discounts in yourself, I’ll give you $10 off my hourly rate or whatever you decide to do. You will never get to kind of appreciate it till you actually show it spelled out. And that’s something I’ve learned.
Well, and yeah, I’ve learned that too, that if you start at a baseline rate, you don’t show it. That’s the rate that you’re always going to be boxed into. Always that you’ll you’ll never, you’ll never be on what you and it’s not even want to make. You know, I’ve done all the calculations where you know, I look at my bills at the end alimony, you know, putting money in for a child for taxes at the end of the year and bills and, you know, working back from that on what do you need to make? It was really an eye opener on, you know, the first time I went solo on adjusting my racism, holy cow. I am not charging enough at all, you know, and I, I still do it today. And you know, I’ve been consulting for 15 years. You’re still making pricing adjustments? Oh, it’s always always
know. Yeah, one of the things I did this year to share is I upped all my campaign prices, everything for security updates. And one of the reasons and people say, Well, how can you do that? And I said, Well, I’m actually updating your sites three times a week, not once a week. And the reason and the reason I’m doing that is the WordPress space has changed so much with the pandemic, all these hackers are at home. And all these hackers are are looking for divorce like everybody else. And so I made a decision this year that I was gonna update sites three times a week, and that man, pricing went up. And people said, Don’t wait a minute, I’m getting the same. And I’m saying no, you’re not getting the same. No,
no. There, there have been so many security exploits, you know, uncovered. One, I got to think a lot of the plugin developers for being more diligent. But you’re right, I worked on my security logs when the pandemic started. And within the first week, the amount of IP addresses and hosts blocked by the web application firewall and failed the band was just two or three times within the first week. Yeah, it was ridiculous.
It’s like I have a couple sites, honestly, they’re taking 100% more script attacks, then they were taken before the pandemic. And that’s not being outrageous or are discussing, and clients are looking at this saying, Oh, well, it’s the same amount of work. And I’m like, No, it’s not. I mean, it’s not the same amount of work.
Now, the security. I theme says a nice security update. And it used to come out monthly, it comes up. I think it’s been coming out twice a month for a while now. For over two years. Yeah, it comes up at the beginning of month and mid month. Yep. Yeah. And I’m glad that I read that I’ve been fortunate not to have too many, too many pieces of software that hit the list. But you know, keeping up on that and making sure that your sites are clean up to date, that your firewall rules are up to date. And you’re constantly improving to stay one step ahead of you know, clients are appreciate how much time it takes,
you know, they really, they really don’t. And if anybody’s looking for some information on security, I will be signing up free I themes update, it’s free for anybody, I would be looking at the think like a hacker podcast by wordfence, I would be working at wordfence is office hours on our YouTube page at 12pm. Eastern on Tuesdays. I also subscribe to sophus, which is one of the big security podcasts out there, which it’s it’s pretty heavily tactical. And then there’s a really cool security newsletter called Hacker News. And I’m telling you, all you got to do is spend some time reading this stuff and keeping up to date with small business owners not going to do and your head is just going to hate you’re gonna hate your head in the morning. Like honestly, it’s pretty. And those group of stuff is part of my regime every, every week, every day. And typically what I do with the office hours is I’ll watch them on the weekend just to kind of keep up to date. But I mean, honestly, there’s a lot of stuff out there and if you think you can handle it, go ahead and try but I would say you’re better off than a care plan and let somebody do it. who’s done it?
Well, yeah, I over the past year I’ve done some different scheduling techniques and Mondays and Fridays primarily I you know, I do catch up client work in the more little things that I you know, find that I need to do or smaller requests. But primarily that’s you know what i’m doing updates And then I work on my own business things in the afternoons. And part of that is, you know, what I what you just talked about reading those security blogs, reading, reading a Search Engine Journal, and other educational tips so I can stay stay on top of things that are relevant. That, you know, you write your regular business owner doesn’t do that at all. And, you know, that’s part of the expertise that that we offer. And it takes time to learn.
It’s so true. And it also takes time to make the contacts I mean, I’m pretty, I’m pretty lucky. I’ve got contacts up, but I think I’ve got contacts, separate websites. I mean, Kathy’s as the marketing manager is a Facebook friend, I talk quite frequently on Facebook or LinkedIn I’ve got or Twitter as I am doing less and less Facebook by the day. But I mean, her team’s all pretty accessible. They’re all pretty Converse, if you want some really hardcore security, you can always go listen to security now, which has Steve Gibson. And then if you know, Steve, he’s the Creator, spin ride. And many, many, he’s actually the guy who coined the term spyware, believe it or not. So, you know, he’s been around a long time. He’s older, he’s quirky, but he knows what he’s doing. So yeah, that’s that factors. And, you know, I’ve rattled off five podcasts and three journal sets, like 12 hours, 13 hours a week there and just keeping up to date.
Oh, exactly. I mean, you can spend as much or as little time as you want to keeping up to date on things. It’s there, there’s just so much stuff out there. It can become overwhelming.
And that’s why I’m sort of saying to people, you know, if you’re a small business owner, get a hold of somebody like Brian or myself and get get a counterpoint because you don’t have time to do all this. And the other thing, too, is what people don’t realize is, in the developers, community, people talk, we all talk, we have daily conversations, something breaks, you’re gonna know about it, somebody’s gonna throw it out there sooner than later. So
Oh, exactly. And that, that’s the, I mean, that’s the nice thing about WordPress, and that the community in general, that the market and groups I belong to, I also exclude SEO from that, because some of those folks can be pretty helpful. But marketing, they don’t, they don’t want to give you the secret sauce. They’re not super helpful. But when you start talking with the open source community, like WordPress, there’s discussions happening daily with other agency owners and, and other professionals. And we all learn from each other. That, you know, we, we have some of the same problems, some are different. Sometimes we’ve learned not to make some of the things. But, you know, it’s and, you know, that’s a benefit to every one of my clients on the care plan, that, you know, it’s the research and community that I take in. So it’s not just me that, that they get it, you know, whole world of resources. So true. Before, you know,
we wrap this up, one last question I wanted to get to is how do you handle grandfathered in pricing? Like, if you’ve got a client that’s been with you, say, for five years, and then you kind of increase your pricing the past set on your browser percentage on how do you how do you handle
So true. So true. Thanks for your time today. Ryan. If somebody wants to get a hold your house the best way.
Ah, you know, at one dog solutions on Facebook, although I’m not on there very much anymore. One one dot solutions on Twitter, Instagram, or rind at Waterbury at one dog dot solutions.
Thanks, Ryan. Have an amazing day, my friend. We welcome you as well. Thank you. I want to thank Ryan Waterbury for joining me on today’s episode. It’s always insightful to sit down and talk to Ryan, and have a great chat with him. We always enjoy our chats and we hope we gave the listener some great value today. Thanks again, Ryan. You’re always appreciated. Thanks for listening to the STM show shows the production of stunning digital marketing and all rights reserved. Rob can be reached by email at VIP at stunning digital marketing comm on twitter at Rob Cairns on his website stunning digital marketing calm and on his website there’s links to all his social media platforms. This show is dedicated to my late father Bruce Cairns. Dad, I miss you very much. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars make your business succeed.