Web hosting is a ruthless business. To survive and succeed as a web host, you’ll need to provide super fast services, high service uptime and 24/7 friendly support.
But it’s easier said than done. You’ll need to maintain your servers like a fine racing car, and be available 24/7 for your customers.
For that, you either end up spending all your time at office, or you pay through your nose to hire experienced web hosting technicians.
Which brings us to the question :
How much does web hosting tech support cost?
Depending on your location and the complexity of support, the salary of a web hosting support technician can range from $13/hour to $20/hour.
That translates to $35,000 to $50,000 per year.
That’s a lot of money – in fact many times more than what you’d spend on servers, bandwidth and software licenses.
This is the cost of just for one support person. Translate that to 24/7 support (which is pretty much the industry standard), and you’ll be looking at at least twice that amount.
But, that’s not all. There are hidden costs in setting up a support team.
Hidden costs in providing tech support
When you tally support costs, the elephant in the room is staff salary, but there are other costs which are significant. Here are a few of them:
- Infrastructure costs ($7000 – $12000 /year) – You’ll need to buy and maintain way more facilities than you would as a single person company.
- Office space – This is often quite costly in many large cities
- Work equipment – Computers, printers, telephones
- Chairs, desks and other office furniture
- Comfort facilities such as air conditioning, rest rooms, etc.
- Food and beverages
- Utility bills ($7000 – $10000 /year) – Not everyone uses the facilities as you do. Expect at least a 3 fold increase in utility bills. It includes:
- Accounting bills ($5000 – $10000 /year) – The paperwork quickly gets a lot more complicated when your financial accounting involves others as well. You’ll probably need a CPA to take care of it for you. This includes:
- Salary management
- Hiring and training ($500 – $1500 /year) – Many hosting companies struggle with staff churn. Good technicians demand a high salary, and the average ones leave the job within a few months. Expect to shell out hundreds of dollars to HR agencies and job sites.
- Employment benefits ($7500 – $11000 /year) – You’ll need to provide employment benefits such as medical insurance as per local and federal law.
All these will bring the total to at least $60,000/year to hire just one web hosting technician.
The final cost : YOUR TIME (priceless)
Perhaps the most overlooked fact in many cost calculations is the amount of time you would spend in managing the facilities and staff.
From managing staff performance and monitoring daily work to taking care of additional paperwork to run your office, you would still spend 3 hours or more per day on maintaining your business.
You cannot put a $$ value on your time because without your vision and leadership the company won’t progress. Each minute you spend maintaining your business is time lost in building up the company.
So, that brings us to the question – What is the way forward?
How to control tech support costs?
Small and medium sized businesses still need to compete with the big hosting companies that provide 24/7 support and super stable servers.
Here are a few ways in which you can keep your costs down, while delivering comparable service quality:
1. Limit the support hours
Some companies take an educated risk by limiting the support hours to 12 or 16 hours during the business hours.
This is possible when your customers are from a small geographic area, your servers are relatively stable, and if you don’t get too many support calls after business hours.
Still you’ll be working almost all your awake hours including weekends.
2. Ask upstream provider to take care of servers
Some data centers provide server monitoring and emergency support when you are not around.
That is a good way to cover your servers during off-business hours. But these companies will charge a premium per hour rate to do anything more than rebooting your servers.
If your servers are not optimized, you’d end up spending more on server administration than on the server rent itself.
3. Hire a server management company
A majority of the support issues boil down to poor server health; that is insecure file system, fragmented databases, laggy web servers, unpatched software, and more.
A professional server management company like Bobcares can help you prevent all such issues for as low as $69.99/month.
An added benefit of hiring a company is that you no longer have to pay a premium when you need extra help (like installation, website troubleshooting, etc.).
You’ll have experts familiar with your server who can resolve these issues faster, and you’ll get a subscriber special discount. For example, here at Bobcares, additional hours are only $29.99/hour (vs regular $70/hr).
4. Outsource night time & week end support
If you get more than 50 support calls per month after business hours, or if you get a steady stream of server alerts, you’ll need someone to take care of your servers at night.
Hiring a web hosting expert can cost you upwards of $60000 per year.
Instead you can get it done by a remote technician from an outsourced support provider such as Bobcares for $2000/month or less.
If you want to cut down costs even further, opt for shared support plans which will get you night time coverage for as low as $350/month.
The best way forward – Dedicated remote technician
Hiring a hosting tech inhouse allows you to mold them in your unique way of delivering support and managing your server. Eg. you might treat your premium customers differently from others.
Using a shared model of outsourced support will sacrifice some of that flexibility.
But there’s another way in which you can get all the benefits of hiring an inhouse staff, while cutting the costs by over 60%.
That is by hiring a Remote Support Tech that works ONLY for you. Bobcares provides such a facility called “Dedicated Support”.
A dedicated tech works exactly like an inhouse tech. They work in a shift you want (eg. night time), and follow your company rules in managing your customers and servers.
You can see and talk to the person over video, IM or email and coordinate work, very much like how you’d do with an inhouse staff.
The only difference is that you’d be spending only $24000/year instead of $60000/year in comparison to an inhouse tech.
How Bobcares provides service at low costs
Bobcares splits the cost of office space, utilities, hiring, training, accounting and more among many companies.
We further drive down costs by running back-end services such as server management from India while running direct customer interaction services from our office in USA.
This way we do not compromise on service quality or customer experience, but cut the costs by more than 60%.
Avoiding the pitfalls
How to choose the right tech support company
Much like how there are “Free hosting” companies that you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, there are “dirt cheap” support companies & free lancers you need to be wary of.
From clueless techs to disappearing companies, there are far too many pitfalls that can hurt you if you choose the wrong support partner.
The good news is that you can avoid these issues by sticking to a few time-tested best practices while choosing a support provider.
1. Look at the years in the industry
This is the most important factor. The longer a company has been in the industry, the greater they have invested in the business – and by extension a lot more they have to lose with a poor service feedback.
Small companies that want to make a quick buck signup a lot of companies with dirt cheap pricing, and fold up when they cannot manage it any more.
So, always ask a provider:
- How long have you been in business?
2. Is it an individual or a company?
What if you login one day and see your tickets unanswered and your remote tech unreachable?
If you’ve hired a tech from a company, you can always call their registered office and ask what happened, and even get a replacement to take care of your business.
At Bobcares, account managers monitor staff availability, and take precautions to cover un-expected Medical leaves or other such eventualities.
3. Ask for customer references
Nothing speaks louder than an endorsement from an existing customer, because only a truly delighted customer would take time to answer a reference from another business.
So, when considering a support provider, ask them:
- Can you provide a reference to one of your customers?
4. Look at the qualification of the staff
Many support companies try to cut corners by employing students or people with experience in certain software (like Plesk or cPanel).
These techs usually have only a superficial knowledge about systems – leaving you high and dry when an issue crops up that’s not covered in the product documentation.
Here at Bobcares, we employ only Computer Science engineers with 4 years of rigorous training in operating systems, networking and coding. This helps us resolve any technical challenge regardless of what software is used in the server.
When considering a support provider, ask them:
- Are your techs Engineering graduates?
You need 24/7 support and flawless servers to survive and grow in the web hosting industry. To maintain the service quality you’ll need experienced support techs, who can cost you anywhere from $60,000 to $75,000 per year. Today we’ve seen what are the ways in which you can cut costs, and how hiring a remote tech from a reputed company can give you all the benefits of hiring an inhouse support technician while cutting the costs by more than 60%.