I’ve reached the stage in the development of my computer business where I think it’s time to start constructing a website. Over the last few weeks I’ve been tinkering around with different layouts for the site. In doing so I realized that before I bother with the design I really need to pin down the content that I intend to include. The content will then dictate the layout and design of the website.
Some questions I’ve been considering for my website content include:
- What do I want the customers to focus on when they first visit my website?
- What message do I want to convey?
- What aspects of my business do I want to feature?
After visiting dozens of local and national residential computer consulting business websites that do similar work as I do, it appears that most of the content is pretty similar from site to site. They include a listing of services, contact information, reasons why a customer should choose that company over another, blogs/news, about/company info, etc. However, there is one bit of information that seems to have a strict division of preference from site to site: the inclusion of rates.
It seems to me that there are an equal number of websites that have their prices displayed as those that do not. In conducting a quick informal poll of my twitter followers I found that this division holds true for them too. Some folks say it’s okay to display rate, some say they choose not took, while a good majority of my peers say it depends on a number of factors.
After some consideration, I’ve decided to include rates prominently on my website for two main reasons:
1. Transparency - I feel like getting the price out of the way up front helps provide a level of transparency that will instill some confidence in the average residential customer. Since my business is not yet established in the community, I will be an unknown entity to the typical person who stumbles across my website. Displaying my price shows the customer that I’m not hiding anything. They’ll have piece of mind knowing that I wont blind-side them with hidden fees or charges after the work is done.
2. Targeting - I’m targeting two types of customers in the initial stages of my business: residential computer users searching the web seeking professional, friendly, local service and those who are referred to me via friends/family/word of mouth. My website will be specifically geared towards those customers that are seeking local service via the web. They’ll be typing in search terms like “my town computer repair” or “computer help in my county“. Once they click on my website in the search results, they will immediately see the price listed. There’s no guess work and no grey area. I only want people who can afford my service to call me. I’m not the cheapest in town, but I’m also not as expensive as most franchise and nationally known computer repair shops. And my website will be designed in such a way so as to portray my business in a professional light, in stark contrast to the less-than-professional websites of many other local consultants.
With a part-time business, I’m seeking only residential customers. My whole strategy would change if I were running my business full-time and/or targeting primarily small businesses.
Should YOU display your prices?
Now that I’ve explained why I decided to display prices on my website, I’d like to offer some advice and food for thought for those of you who may be facing a similar situation.
Things to consider about pricing:
- Who are your target customers? – Are you selling to residential customers or businesses? Displaying pricing is appropriate for residential customers because they are normally more concerned with price up-front. Businesses, on the other hand, tend to be more concerned with results than price, especially the larger the business. In that case, it may be more appropriate to concentrate on a results-oriented website and skip price negotiations for later.
- Are your prices competitive? – If your price is higher than most of your competition, you may want to skip displaying them on your website. Customers may be turned off by the high price before they get a chance to see what you are offering. On the other hand, you also want to avoid displying your price if it’s considerably lower than most of your competition. This guarantee that you’ll be called by people who will try to find ways to squeeze work out of you for as little money as possible. It also gives off an unprofessional vibe, screaming “my service is not worth much!”
- How does your rate structure work? – Charging per-service is the easiest rate structure for clients to understand. They expect to pay $xx for x service. This makes it easy to display on your website. Hourly rates may seem relatively simple too, but keep in mind you may also need to explain if you charge on a pro-rated basis for any time over an hour. Also, it might be a good idea to give an estimation of how long some common services take, so customers can get an idea of what the final price might look like.
Finally, if you plan on charging on a per-contract basis, mostly for businesses, then you’ll probably want to avoid displaying prices all together. Contracts are usually unique business arrangements that are negotiated based on the project or work being requested.
Ultimately, the choice of displaying rates is a personal one. However there are many best practices and considerations you should take into account before making the decision to share your prices with the world.
What is your opinion on prices being displayed on a computer repair business website? I want to hear both from seasoned consultants and regular computer users on this one!