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How to Scale WordPress Maintenance Tasks at an Agency Level

Learn how to overcome major challenges in the WordPress maintenance business

Businesses with more shares of customer service roles are often considered the most challenging to maneuver in today’s industry, even as an expert. You must satisfy your clients, regardless of how much you know about their preferred methods of achieving their needs and how messy their previous service providers have left them. These hiccups are, however, on a different scale in WordPress maintenance services.

WordPress professionals in the servicing industry are subject to managing websites they didn’t build. In other words, they manage sites that vary so much in how they are built. And the fact that website development is a creative task with no absolute method as a yardstick for achieving an aim leaves WordPress service agencies with more ambiguities to handle.

Aside from handling too many maintenance tasks, another headache is to onboard clients with their existing websites. Clients with different hosting providers, different WordPress themes, different plugins, varying PHP versions, website tools the service providing agency considers obsolete, etc.

The juicy part of providing maintenance services is the reoccurring subscriptions, not one-off clients. However, maintenance tasks can be challenging to handle even when the clients’ needs and requirements are absolute.

Delivering a full WordPress service that includes maintenance, updates, and support requires a definite and carefully designed system to handle as an agency. Though many emphases are on comprehensive documentation and systemizing most maintenance processes, a practical realm seems a little clumsier.

This article will first reflect on the meaning of WordPress maintenance and its benefits before highlighting how maintenance tasks can be scaled at an agency level.

WordPress maintenance and its benefits

WordPress maintenance refers to the simple task of keeping a website up and running, and in good conditions. It requires you to consistently check for mistakes and issues on your website in order to keep it healthy and relevant.

Ignoring basic website maintenance can result in many unpleasant consequences such as increased page loading time, increased vulnerability to hackers, declining search engine rankings, etc.

Many clients believe that the only tasks related to maintaining a WordPress site are updating the WordPress essentials, themes, and plug-in as soon as they are released. The main tasks involved could be more challenging. Maintenance includes error checks, redirects fixing, spam comments removal, backups, and meaningfully engaging your audience.

What are the benefits of maintaining your WordPress site?

A secure WordPress website

Most people only realize the importance of having a secure site after its security has been compromised. As much as WordPress is known for being the most user-friendly Content Management System (CMS) for websites, it is also known as a popular target for hackers and spammers. For instance, in June 2019, the City of Riviera Beach Florida had to pay approximately $600,000 in Bitcoin to hackers who had seized their computer systems.

Some clients might insist they have no crucial information on their site. However, that’s not a priority for most cybercriminals. A secured website goes a long way to protect your private business information and to keep you in business.

Enhanced SEO and high conversion rate

In recent search ranking rules, site speed is of great importance in overall digital strategy and online presence. No one likes to experience a site that could take forever to load. Slow websites will result in a low number of conversions, a high bounce rate, and a small number of pages per visit. High site speed and performance also have a direct impact on your website’s SEO rankings and organic traffic.

Being able to maintain your website performance and speed helps to enhance its SEO strategy and Google ranking– an essential part of website maintenance services.

A website that lags or takes a long time to load discourages the brand consumers. It’s also a terrible way of presenting any brand online. There’s a loss of potential customers and online presence if a website is always taking too long to load.

In a recent survey on how website performance affects shopping behavior by KISS metrics, 40 percent of the respondents say they abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. 79 percent say they are less likely to buy from the site again. According to the results, the second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions. These challenges are resolved by promoting a good website maintenance culture.

Investment security

Like any other investment, a website needs to be protected from potential loss. Custom themes, media, templates, unique content, photography all add up to the initial web development investment, which should not be ruined by poor management. Maintenance agencies ensure that websites on their subscription list are not vulnerable to spammers or any risk that would lead to loss of investment.

In a situation where you maintain a very important business website for your client, and you fail to secure his/her investment could lead to several detrimental factors for both you and your client.

Better accessibility

If a website is not functional, its users would be leveraged the option of moving to the website’s competitors. There is no point in having a website that often comes up with functional errors or interrupts the accessibility when you really mean business. A quality maintenance service will eliminate all website errors, ensuring that all potential interruptions are taken care of before users are allowed to visit the page.

Over a hundred well-known businesses have crashed in the past ten years due to poor website maintenance and innovations, including the well-known blockbusters that filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Scaling WordPress maintenance tasks

Efficiency plays the most important role in how much revenue you’re able to generate monthly as a website maintenance agency. Hence, the collective input of your team members should be scrutinized to optimize the maximum efficiency possible. This is only achievable by carefully scaling your maintenance tasks in order to alleviate possible sources of ambiguity in your business. Here are a few tips on how to provide maintenance more efficiently.

Sort the services you offer

First, you’ll want to identify which services you’re going to offer and their range of services. What are your subscription plans like? This should allow you to sort those with related tasks, so you’re able to manage similar tasks together. Do you have plans that would cost more to provide? Do you have some services that would not include online advertising? WordPress maintenance services revolve around but not limited to the following:

  • Website registration and hosting
  • Design and development changes
  • Social media management
  • Security checks
  • Backups

Others include analytics, consultation, online advertising, and email marketing. You don’t want to combine details of clients in maintenance plan A with those for plan C. Do you provide services that require you to team up with other developers to complete? Create a column for the varying services to enable your team members to see or view projects that strictly require their input.

Passing too much information or bothering your team members with tasks not related to their daily input can affect their productivity level.

Automate everything possible

Gone are days when humans were preferred over the computer in many tasks. These days, computers do much more with better accuracy and less time. Why not take that to your advantage and automate all the repetitive tasks? There are plenty of tools that can take care of a huge part of WordPress maintenance, especially those boring ones, while your team handles the much more complicating ones.

How do you automate your maintenance tasks?

·         Process your receipts and expenses automatically

Apps available for this include Quickbooks, Receipt Bank, Receipt receipt tracker, etc. that allow you to process receipts easily. Email invoices could also be forwarded to email. This will allow you to save some free hours weekly at work.

·         Link your apps

You can use automation apps such as Task, Microsoft Flow, or IFTTT to connect your apps and automate workflows.  These tools can equally be made good use of in various creative ways to automate administrative tasks.

·         Automate analytics and website reports

Once a new client has been added into your care plan, you can use the relevant tools to create an automatic report, depending on the tier of service they are receiving. These automated reports can be directed to your agency for reviewing or proceed directly to the client. Apps like Sway can be used to convert your data into graphical reports that are pleasing to both you and your clients.

Create a system for every task

Handling maintenance tasks at an agency level get serious here. You’ll need to have a system and method for every single task to prevent yourself from spiraling into a frantic schedule. One very effective way to create a system is by documenting your maintenance processes with a checklist.

A maintenance checklist is one of the most reliable ways to prevent mistakes and errors. It also serves as a reminder for the little tasks that can easily be neglected.

What makes a good website maintenance checklist?

  • All procedures should fit into one page as an excessive number of pages is unlikely to be followed
  • It should also include those little details that are most likely to be missed
  • All completed steps should be acknowledged (checked off, highlighted, or filled in).

There are various check-list apps these days that can make things easier for you when it comes to creating the checklist of your choice. A few tips that can be used to maintain a system and keep all tasks and functions organized include:

  • Identify your daily goals
  • Make folders your friend
  • Create routines and expectations
  • Depend on best consolidation tools that simplify tasks management across multiple sites
  • Create several templates for invoices, emails, and contracts.
  • Use video conference, phone or email as much as possible

Use consistent page builders

There are so many WordPress page builder plugins out there such that many developers, mostly newbie, struggle to choose a specific tool in their page building process. However, not every one of them should find their way into your computer. Your service is not to promote or test-run page builder plugins. Your business is to deliver quality jobs in time consistently.

No WordPress professional wants to choose page builders that are not flexible enough to allow integration of other plugins. Your choice of page builder should be consistent across most of your websites if not all. Of course, it’s clear that some of them offer much better modules and are best recommended for certain projects.

There should be a standard for building and maintaining all websites in your maintenance list. You want a plugin that’s compatible with a wide range of themes, responsive, user-friendly, and well-understood by your team members and as well have support for SEO-friendly layouts. You should also consider features of the page builder to ensure they support most of your maintenance projects.

Manage multiple websites with the right tool

Managing multiple WordPress websites can be a hassle. While WordPress is easy and simple to manage as a content management system, dealing with multiple admin panels can get increasingly difficult and take up a lot of time. Managing multiple sites require you to update plugins and themes individually and as well as keeping track of all completed tasks, from core updates to security checks and regular backups.

The good news is that there are several ways to run multiple websites from one platform. Using any of these tools helps you to easily moderate comments, publish new content or update plugins without moving from one browser to another or login to several pages.

A few of these tools are:

ManageWP: This is one of the best tools out there that can be used to manage multiple websites. It allows you to access multiple websites through a single dashboard loaded with all the information and makes updates, backups, and security scans very easy.

MainWP: A free tool for WordPress websites with lots of features. MainWP allows you to enjoy great flexibility while managing several WordPress sites and keeping them secure.

You have the option to choose any other tool available to you provided they would allow you manage several sites at a go. The idea is to manage different WordPress themes, plugins, and perform security updates and performance scans with ease.

Document everything

The efforts to maximize your team’s efficiency doesn’t necessarily need to involve cross-training the employees to ensure that no task is undermanaged when one calls in sick or applies for leave. Keeping records of every task’s procedure not only helps your team in sticking with already approved strategy but would help to alleviate the effects of employee turnover.

Documentation assures you that your team clearly understands how to handle every task without supervision. Instead of consulting another member to educate them on how to handle a situation, the available documentation allows them to figure out how to handle them on their own.

Your documentation should also include procedures on how to handle uncanny situations like when clients make special requests.

You also want to ensure that your team members have every necessary resource. This allows them to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Outsource for contractors when there is a need

As your maintenance service office grows, it could bring up a time to bring in additional resources and create a team that will assist in keeping up with your service demand. Here are six tips to ensure that you get the possible best while considering contracting contributors instead of hiring more team members.

Be clear on your mission

You need to make your contractors familiar with your general mission so they can focus on that as they work. This will help you in making decisions and helping your contractors understand clearly what you require from them.

Write a clear job description

Create a clear model on how to evaluate the contractor’s output as you create goals. Also, you want to have a clear budget for every segment of the work so as to clarify them on financial expectations. You also need to have a clear deadline to cover each month’s task.

Don’t burden your team with unnecessary information

Ensure that your contractors do not know about any external problems facing your business at the moment or disclose any requirements not related to the projects they are working on, including financial pressures. Allow them to focus on the current work.

Communicate effectively

You need to understand that outsourcing is a two-way street. There is a great need to communicate effectively. Ensure to provide quick and straightforward answers about a project each time the contractor reaches out to you with a concern or questions.

Start small

You can start outsourcing small if you are not sure of it. Let them handle a small task so you could evaluate its potential, if your agency would need a hand in that and how it affected your productivity.

Evaluate if they follow instructions and if they are able to deliver the task in time. Are they communicating effectively?

If they meet your requirements and satisfy the need, go ahead and contract them. And consider keeping the same group for future engagements.

Provide support

You’re going to need a contractor that not only delivers on time but is also available for follow-up if required. If you’re checking references, find out about their reliability, cost, and the contractor’s quality of service.

Review your task management system

There are chances your current maintenance tasks system is underproductive. This calls for a review of your entire systems, including your agency’s task management software, to ascertain the most time-consuming procedure and if they are worth it. Each system in your maintenance procedure should be carefully reviewed and assigned with a completion timeframe and desired results. Underperforming systems should be re-evaluated to improve efficiency and every input.

Consider getting feedback from your team members for a better assessment of how their current routine is contributing to project completion or failure. You may develop a chart or integrate an automated system for monthly or weekly reports on the performance of your systems.

In conclusion

Managing your maintenance tasks effectively helps to cut down the churn rate, which is often a major challenge in WordPress maintenance business. However, there is no business model with a 100% consumer retention rate. How you deal with the consumers also contribute greatly. Some experts suggest it’s smart to have an onboarding fee for new clients with an existing site. While this could be helpful in identifying clients that are serious about working with you for the long-run, it also justifies the cost of migrating them but could cost you the lower-level customers.

Maintenance tasks should not be solely focused on how to deliver the services. There’s a need to include how your various customers are treated, i.e., the ongoing rapport between your agency and its consumers.

How else do you scale WordPress maintenance tasks as an agency? Please tell us in the comment box below.