Well I have finally signed up, I wanted to wait until I read over most of the posts here to get as much info I can before posting the typical newbie questions. So anyway, just a little background on myself and my plans.
First of all, been reading this forum off and on for a few months, gained a lot of helpful information. Second of all, I've been slowly planning my reselling strategy for about 8 months now, so no I'm not just suddenly deciding to do this as a hobby. The main reason I determined reselling was for me is because after 4 years of college I'm not sure I want to do what I went to school for, at least I know it won't make me happy. I enjoy computers, I run a few websites as it is and really enjoy helping people, etc etc. So reselling is for me.
But, as many of you know you can't be very sucessful unless you stand out in some way. It took me a few months of thinking and trying to see what I could do to make this all work and I have finally pieced it together (for the most part). I have studied my market during this time and do see a need for my services, infact, a fairly strong need. Just from browsing forums for sites in my demographic I can usually count 10 or so people a week who are asking for a host, etc.
Lastly, I have most things determined. I have decided on a host. I have decided on a merchant account/card processor, registered my domain name, and have pretty much setup my various plans and prices. I have had to wait a while to get going because this week I am now moving to a new permenant address, so I figured I'd wait until I was situated there to get my DBA and such.
So, just a few questions to help guide me to get down to business. First of all, this will start out part time. I have plenty of time to setup clients and such between my other job, that isn't much of a problem. I plan on starting as a sole proprietership, but would eventually like to go LLC, but not until I deem the business profitable and continuing to grow. So, that leads me into this, say I ended up having 100 or so clients and I found I could no longer provide the time/money to keep doing it. What would happen, would I be forced to close all accounts? Or could I offer to move them to the current host but on their plans/TOS? I would hope failure won't be an option, but we all know how business is.
Second, I know many of you offer some site design as included packages. Now when you do this do you have basic templates you pretty much use and let the clients choose from or do you completely tailor to their needs? I would like to offer some basic design services but at the same time would like to keep it somewhat simple to do and not completely design a site from scratch everytime. I am fluent in graphics and html so its not that I can't do it, but I wouldn't have time to custom design each site individually.
Lastly (I know, this post is long, I'm sorry), what do you guys use for your storefront or ordering system? I don't have the time/energy to program my own and after searching through dozens of shopping cart software I notice those really only seem to be for tangable goods, not services. I simply want to have users click on an order button, be taken to a page to fill out their information, perhaps purchase other options, and be taken to their payment page. But at the same time I would like these orders to enter into a database with all my clients for ease of keeping track of everything. Haven't found any software out there yet to quite do what I'm looking for, so wondering what you guys are using.
I know that is a lot to read, sorry. Just wanted to get it all out at once instead of making multiple posts about it. Any help is appreciated, thanks!
Answering in reverse order:
Many people use phpmanager.com for handling orders, but there are alternatives - ubersmith and modernbill are more expensive, plus there are some GNU ones (try sourceforge - there's at least 2)
If there's a suitable template available, I use it, but some sites need a custom template - such as reptile shop that recently wanted a website. Other people do it differently, depends on what your customers want as well.
If the worst does come to the worst, you are likely to find a home for your clients fairly easily, particularly if they are on monthly packages (a buyer wouldn't want to be lumbered with yearly contracts if you've taken the money and there are 11 months left )
1) Depends on host.. or like uber said it be very easy to get your clients a new home. You may even just stop taking new customers, explain your time issues w current (seeing as they will really only need help in event of a server issue(provided they have been setup and running awhile)). Or if your making enough profit use soemthing like bobcares.com and pay them to resolve your tickets (and keep takin new orders)
2) Depends on pricing... uber has to be the first I ever heard of customizing those kinds of services per customers request. 99.5% of them have limited selection of very basic templates.
Thanks for the help. I'm in the process of checking out phpmanager right now, looks pretty nice, at least from the admin standpoint. I am going to try the trial out and see some of the features first hand, but after seeing the pricing of other software, phpmanager seems to be the best bet. Not to mention even supports the credit card processing I planned on using
Still welcoming any other comments/suggestions, but I believe phpManager is the answer to part of my question. Thanks.