Being a web host requires knowledge and skills. It also requires access to some business resources, to be successful. Here are a couple of generic things we’d like to recommend. Each one might be beneficial to your success running a web hosting business.
Domain Name Registration
To become a full service hosting provider, domain name registration is an important service to offer your clients. There are several wholesale companies out there where a web host can buy domain names in bulk for resell. Prices and services range from about $7.00 to $20.00 per wholesale domain name. Some providers even include a free software package for their wholesale clients to be able to sell the domain names to the public. Others offer different levels of credit card processing, so that the web host does not have to take care of this himself. Compare packages and services and read through the terms of service.
A professional looking helpdesk software allows you and your clients to keep track of all support related issues. It also helps to make a good impression to the customers. Plain email might work, but a sophisticated software with a professional look, is just a little more impressive. It helps the web host to save time, too. It gives the customer the feeling that they are not alone and that they are dealing with a professional organization.
If you want to be a web host, you need to have a professional looking website. The site needs to have a modern look and needs to be easy to navigate for the client. If a client can’t find the way to your order form, you will have a problem. If a client can’t find your support area and knowledgebase, you might either lose them or they email you on your sales or information email address – which might not be read during non-business hours. The website should not have music – it just looks unprofessional. You’re running a business – not a disco on the web.
More and more successful web hosts have shown it: building an online community around your company and around your products can be very effective and good for your business. Use a professional software that offers many features. Make sure you are highly visible in your own forums. Do not fight with customers in public though. Concentrate on business related topics to show your expertise.
3rd party monitoring service
Spend the money and order server and website monitoring from a 3rd party company. Showing in public how much uptime of server service you can provide, shows how confident and honest you are. Explain why downtime happened (when it happened) and what you learned from the situation. Every web host will experience downtime. Only who is honest to his clients and who shows the necessary action taken, will benefit from this and succeed over the immediate competition.
Make sure your business will accept all (!) major credit cards. Yes, PayPal allows you to charge credit cards but that is not what I mean. It might be an option but it does not look professional enough to business clients. Make sure you have a real merchant account and the tools to accept credit cards. If you can’t afford your own merchant account in the beginning, use a 3rd party service like 2Checkout, PayPal, or PayQuake. At least of the writing of this article they seemed to be reliable.
Offer free tools to your clients. Unless they are included in the online control panel of your hosting packages – offer scripts or search engine tools (no support of the same though). Or offer a collection of the most common website scripts and a link collection, so that customers can visit the maker of these. Customers with personal websites are not always knowledgeable about these things and some helpful guidance might make the difference necessary to sign up with you and not the competition.
Write some easy to understand tutorials or purchase some of the available tutorials on the Internet. Especially if you use the well-known Cpanel there are several flash tutorials available. They can be branded to your business. It will make a very professional impression to your clients and shows that you care. Customers like this and if they have to decide between a host who offers tutorials and one who doesn’t …..!
If you’re good enough or have friends or partners who can do it – offer web design service. This could even be outsourced, but as an add-on service this can be a winning card to win the customer. Many small business start their website with a web designer and stay for a long time. Once they are ready to move away from the web designer, they look for web hosts who also offer web design and who offer some guidance. This could turn out to be a big market segment. Somebody just needs to be there with the right products at the right time.
Find products that you could resell to your clients and that are related to your business or the industry. This will add value to your business and also helps creating customer relationships. There are a lot of products out there – especially software. Just be creative in creating several streams of revenue and to attract new clients