|Introduction: The objective of this web page is to
inform you about my business, and why you might consider referring a customer my way. Most
of my new accounts are recommended by existing customers and professional acquaintances.
About half of these new accounts are businesses starting out with their first web site.
The remainder already have a site, which I overhaul and Langenbergize. These new
relationships often develop when their in-house webmaster gets bogged down with other
duties, or moves onto another company.
My Customer Base: Roughly 90% of my customers have chosen to outsource their web
site maintenance to me. The remaining 10% maintain their own web content with in-house
personnel, in which case I provide hosting and reliable EMail services. The number of
mailboxes per site ranges from 0 to 25.
Why Choose Langenberg: The number one reason that customers pick me in the first
place, is because they like the web sites I've created. They commonly surf some of my
references and say, "I want mine to be similar to Site A, but borrow some concepts
from Sites B and C". I have converted numerous sites to employ Langenberg type
navigation, after which I assumed maintenance of the site. But I'm generally not a fit for
customers requesting upkeep of an existing architecture.
Ongoing Web Site Maintenance is Included: Pure hosting by itself has been a
free-to-$10 per month commodity since I started out in 1997. The main thing that
differentiates me from hosting-only companies, is that I bundle one HR of ongoing web site
maintenance along with my hosting service -- which should shed some light on pricing
issues. My SAccount is $69.95 per month for 1 HR, 10 mailboxes & 200 MB. For sites
with larger traffic or EMail requirements the VAccount is $149.95 per month for 1 HR,
unlimited mailboxes & 1000 MB. Customers regularly solicit my Internet expertise, my
knowledge of virus prevention, home vs. work EMail configuration and numerous other web
related issues. Everybody has something a little different in mind. And one reason that I
earn the business, is because I'm flexible enough to do what it takes to address their
Langenberg's 10-50 Page Niche: My specialty is designing (or converting) then
hosting web sites with between 10-50 pages. The more changes a customer wants, the easier
it is for me to make them happy, because I'm responsive to their ongoing maintenance
requests. Thus my focus is on a fairly wide band -- right in the middle of the rainbow --
but I steer clear of the outsides of the spectrum. At one end, I'm not really a fit for
500+ page web sites. At the other end, my services are generally too expensive for 1-5
page sites -- unless the customer has higher than average EMail requirements. So I'm not
trying to be everything to everybody. I just do my best to provide the highest value
possible in my band of the rainbow -- for customers who need a site in the 10-50 page
range -- who want responsive service for ongoing changes -- and a snappier looking web
site than most lay people would create themselves.
Flat Predictable Monthly Fee: 95% of my customers are comfortably accommodated by
an SAccount or VAccount. I mail them a flat predictable monthly invoice which covers
everything I provide -- even if serving them exceeds an hour for a few months in a row. In
these cases it all averages out in the long haul. For the remaining 5%, who regularly
choose in excess of an hour per month, I service their requests on a different basis. For
these 5%, I log the actual time spent on their tasks, then itemize it on their monthly
Support: Some providers of technical services advertise unlimited support at
a flat fee -- until you go to use it. But if you become too demanding, they often balk at
how much of their time you're consuming -- which really doesn't sound like
unlimited to me. I've encountered this situation myself as a customer -- and I have been
denied support right a time when I needed it most. I took this fairly common scenario into
consideration back in 1997, when I started my own business. My objective was to provide
responsive service, especially at peak or problem times. I wanted the Langenberg
approach to insure that every customer was served under all conditions, and that they felt
appreciated. It's designed to be a system that makes it economically feasible to provide
my undivided attention to everyone -- the 95% and the 5%. There is only one level
of service -- the best I can provide -- and nobody ever feels rushed.
Toll Free Phone Access: If you dial 1-877-Langenberg (1-877-526-4362), I'll answer.
But more important than a feel-good vanity toll free number, is the fact that I'm nearly
always reachable. It annoys me when suppliers route their existing customers to voice mail
for support, but immediately take phone calls from new sales prospects. I answer
both types of calls with equal enthusiasm, however, an occasional caller will drop through
to voice mail. My single phone number follows me wherever I go; car phone, home-office, or
at the beach with my notebook computer. I've tried to differentiate myself by posting this
number on each page at this web site. Most other businesses answer the phone too, of
course. But this is often an exception for web designers -- where EMail on their timetable
is frequently the only option available. The phone enables me to be more responsive,
remove lag time and get tasks done on the customer's timetable.
Solution to EMail Tag: Some customers don't want to waste their time explaining
requests via EMail. And it doesn't make sense to bounce numerous EMails back and forth
over a period of days to clarify a 10 minute task -- which will happen from time to
time, if EMail is the only option available. There's just nothing like a phone call
to put an end to EMail ping-pong -- and immediately spell out and address the issue. Most
people like the ability to reach me by phone, while others rarely use it. But I've never
had a customer complain yet about me being too easy to reach. In fact, accessibility to me
via the phone -- at the customer's convenience -- has tipped the scales, and won me
business on a number of occasions. Each person that I deal with likes to mix it up
differently -- so one size definitely does not fit all. So as it should be, the
customer decides whether a phone call, EMail, Fax or snail mail is the desirable way to
address their issues.
Satisfaction Guaranteed and Pay After-The-Fact: All four ways to contact me appear
on each monthly invoice. While I'm on this topic, please know that I mail out invoices after
services are rendered, on the last day of each month, on a satisfaction guaranteed basis.
This applies to my web site design work as well as hosting. Most everybody else in this
business charges in advance. But this policy of payment after-the-fact keeps me where I
need to be -- on my toes. Let's just say that this is the method I use to discipline
myself. From the viewpoint of a customer, payment after-the-fact is even better than a
money back guarantee -- because the customer retains the leverage to delay payment until
after they are completely satisfied, if they feel it's necessary -- or indeed not pay at
all if they're not satisfied. I hope this approach demonstrates good-faith and that I'm in
it for the long haul.
Initial and Ongoing Invoices: The initial invoice will include pro-rated hosting
for the first month -- as well as the cost of the initial web site design. Sometimes
though, I hold off on mailing out the initial invoice for an additional month. It just
depends. Invoices after the first one, are either for the SAccount or VAccount.
Customer Direct Relationships: I've been approached by entrepreneurs who wanted to
be a middleman; collecting for my services, factoring in discounts, markups and all sorts
of formulas. Others have wanted to be my sales agent; with me paying them an ongoing
percentage for each customer they've referred to me. Although I'm flattered by the offers,
I do not, and have never engaged in these types of arrangements. I don't even let
discussions like this get to first base any more. However, I do pay a flat one-time
referral fee for new customers. Beyond that, there are absolutely no ongoing payments to
the referrer, no contracts to sign, no forms to fill out, and no employees. I have no
interest whatsoever in forming any type of a partnership, nor any other type of a special
deal or arrangement. As a sole proprietor, I am a vendor seeking customers to serve and to
deal with directly. Most importantly, the customer will receive the best possible service
that I can provide -- because I won't engage with other parties in the middle of my
services. I deal directly with customers of my SAccounts and VAccounts.
Interpreters: I've also had people attempt to add value by being an
interpreter between the customer and myself. Of course they'd be creating the web site
themselves if they had the know-how and the time. I understand that I need to listen to
what everyone has to say. So it's not that I won't deal with middlemen. But regardless of
who I speak with, I must be in a position to interact directly with the actual
decision maker. And since everyone is able to view the progress -- as the site is being
developed -- in a preview area on the Internet -- they're able to provide me with
extremely pertinent feedback during the site development.
I have satisfied numerous customers since I became a webmaster for hire in 1997. Before
that I spent 15 years as a data processing manager working directly with executives and
end users. So I believe I'm speaking from an experienced point of view, when I make the
statement that any layer of interpretation between the decision makers and the doer
has the following adverse effects:
The issues above are not cost effective on a 10-50 page web site design --
and they're not factored into the prices that I quote. And I've never yet met a customer,
who was willing to pay twice as much for reinterpretation anyway. The web sites that I
create, come in as quoted because I'm experienced, and I deal directly with decision
makers and any employees they delegate. My objective is to build a quality web site at a
predictable competitive price. I listen to all sources, and for these reasons, I
really do need direct access to the actual customer beginning with the initial site
|Re-interpreting everything takes about twice as much time for the
decision maker, middleman and myself.|
|Pertinent information always, always, always gets scrambled.|
|The web site completion date is prolonged by 1-2 months, and the actual
amount of time spent by everyone involved is doubled due to rework.|
The Site Development Process: During the site creation, the customer observes how
it will be maintained on an ongoing basis. Because once a site has been initially
developed, that's not the end -- it's just the end of the beginning. Sites live on, they
need changes. And when those changes are necessary customers call on me, the same guy who
did the original development. So from the outset customers experience the actual
process that will be used to maintain their site. Thus they see first hand how future
changes in their business will be effortlessly reflected on their web site.
Ongoing Site Maintenance: My happiest customers are the ones who are able to spend
the least amount of their time and get the most out of me. Once their site is live, they
often call and say something like, "I want a new button named ABC in position 2 on
the menu. While you're at it, rename button DEF to GHI and move it to the bottom of the
menu -- and get rid of that JKL button, we're dumping that product. Gotta run."
And since my SAccounts and VAccounts include an hour of my time each month, I'd love to
gab about cats, baseball or satellite radio.
Ten Page Site Design Promotion: Most customers take advantage of my $300 web site
design promotion, which includes up to 10 average sized pages, plus $30 per additional
page. While we're on this topic let me say, that a site can be kind of clunky if it has
(for example) 18 pages of content globed into 10 extra-long pages -- just to come in at
$300. I'm pretty sure the board of directors won't feel misled -- assuming they're
informed in advance, that pages in excess of 10 are $30 each -- a price tag that's
pretty easy to take.
Customization to Fit the Customer: Included with each site is a framework that's
been customized to the company motif, logo and color scheme. There's a familiar menu down
the left-hand side of each page, similar to this web site. A
compliment that I hear often is that the sites I create are immediately understandable and
easy for anyone to navigate. All sites include a sharp logo, and take advantage of
my graphical talents, which are described and demonstrated on the LusterPix
The Langenberg Edge: My niche is to excel on two fronts; 1) Crisp web site designs
at an unmatched value, and 2) Hosting service with exceptional responsiveness. When my
customers call, I immediately answer the phone and I almost always know their voices. When
they EMail, snail mail, or fax me -- I resolve their issues as suddenly as possible.
How I Provide Customers with High Availability and Reliability: Every provider on
any layer of service in this business depends on other providers, in order to function
themselves. I pay a premium for services which are backed up around-the-clock by phone
support from live personnel; not voice mail, not EMail, not problem tickets. I
only sell services for which I am able to speak personally on the phone with my upstream
resources on a 7x24x365 basis. I do random spot checks on any supplier that I
depend on -- and I make 3AM calls to wish staffers Merry Christmas or Happy 4th of July,
and to thank them for their service.
Just like with cable, phone and electric companies -- web outages occur too. And when
it happens, I am in a position to determine a problem source, and to speak with the
accountable party. I never have to deal with an EMail support request of mine getting lost
in a spam filter, or sitting in an inbox for who knows how long, responded to by a
gibberish reply, from nobody knows who, a few days later, if at all. The end result of the
deals I've made over the years, has been that my customers
have viewed my services as -- available and reliable.
Referral Fee Overview: Let me start this fee section by stating the most important
aspect; "The customer will receive identical price, quality and service -- whether
they were referred or not." Beyond that, I did my best to incorporate good faith into
my referral fee approach -- and I've tried to make it as flexible as possible for the
referrer. The way I look at it, unless I find a new customer by myself, or they called me
out of the blue, then I'm going to be mailing out a referral check to somebody. All I
need, is to know who to send it to. As far as the referral fee goes; simply put, after a
new customer pays the initial invoice, I immediately mail out a check to the person or
company who initially referred that new customer to me. Incidentally, I established my
referral system in March of 2001.
Personal Introduction: Personal introductions need no confirmation. Because in this
case, everybody knows who introduced the customer to me. So it's easy for me to determine
who I should send the referral check to. If you personally introduced someone to me, who
eventually became a customer, then I'll mail a referral fee check out to you -- without
your having to mention it to me. But please feel free to bring it up anyway.
Promotion Without My Knowledge: Some people just have a lot of contacts. In this
case the subject of web hosting and design may come up during the course of a
conversation. And so I'm trying my best to reward people for mentioning my name in these
cases. This enables potential referrers to informally tell people about me without filling
out some form, and without telling me beforehand. Some prospects make it easy when they
call up and tell me that so-and-so mentioned me. But if there's no indication of who
referred them, it's going to be tough to know who or if a referral fee is due. I always
ask, but I don't beat an answer out of them. That said, I would not feel obligated to
write a referral check if somebody says they told John Doe about me after John has already
made his initial payment to me. All I need is to hear John Doe's name from somebody -- a
phone call or an EMail -- from John himself or the customer -- even if it's after I've
begun the web site design -- as long as it's before I receive an initial payment from him.
It's unlikely that I have plans to serve whomever you have in mind. But one way to confirm
this is to chat once in a while. And I always go out of my way to let referrers know the
status, without them having to ask.
Fine Print: I will pay only one referral fee per any new customer, and I don't get
into split payments. I will send the referral fee to the first person (or company) who
mentions a new customer's name or introduces me to them -- as long as this was done before
the customer initially paid me. I endeavor to pay a referral for all new customers, while
avoiding any misunderstandings. And of course a good way for me to get future referrals is
to be up front about everything. Speaking of which; if Company-A is an existing customer
of mine, and their Employee-B generates some business for me, please know that I feel it's
appropriate that I first receive the blessing of the senior person that I'm on a
communication basis with at Company-A before I write a referral check. This is so
they won't feel like their toes were stepped on. It's also intended to respect any
policies which that company may have about this sort of thing, and which I would not
likely be privy to.
Ronald McDonald: If you're offended that a referral check showed up in your
mailbox, how about endorsing it over to your local Ronald McDonald House -- or some other
charitable organization of your choosing.
One Time Referral Fee: At the bottom of the referral check I write, "Single
payment for the referral of [customer name]. Thank you". The verbiage on the check,
along with this supporting web page, makes it clear that the check completes any and all
obligation to the referrer.
Referral Fee Based on Service: I pay two different flat referral fees depending on
whether I host only -- or host as well as designed the web site. I don't pay based on
percentages. And I don't pay extra for the referral of larger site designs. When a
customer elects to have me design (or overhaul) their web site, and also has me host them,
I immediately mail out a $250 check to the referrer upon my receipt of the customer's
payment of my initial invoice (assuming that the payment included the site design). For
the remaining 10% of my customer base (i.e. hosting and EMail only -- but no site design)
I mail out a $100 check, immediately upon payment of their initial invoice.
Objectives: The $100 (hosting only) or $250 (hosting with site design) referral fee
per new customer was a challenge to arrive at. It was imperative that I achieve each of
the following objectives:
Three Year Time Limit: Sometimes customers decide on the spot -- but
it's very common for them to think it over for a year or two -- that's just the way it is.
A couple years later they call up and say, Chuck's still there, I guess he's our man. But
it just seemed prudent to put a time limit on how long my commitment is good for. So if
I'm referred to someone who becomes a customer up to three years later, I will still pay
the standard fee to the referrer. I would not pay a referral fee if they become a customer
after that time.
|First of all, and most importantly, provide the customer with identical
price, quality, and service -- whether they were referred or not.|
|Keep new and existing customers happy by not paying too large of a
|Inspire the referrer as much as possible -- through a reasonable
payment, but mostly my assurance that I'll take care of the customer they referred to me.|
|Create a clear, concise and understandable system with a single
one-time payment per new customer.|
|Follow my own eleventh
commandment and publish the fact that I do pay for referrals. And in my opinion, the
existence of this web page satisfies that requirement.|
Success Ratio: My batting average on hooking up with referred potential customers
is around 50%. Sometimes there's a fit between us, sometimes not. But even when it isn't
in the cards, I always go out of my way to arm that person with valuable information that
they didn't know about. I never use pushy sales techniques, and I don't burn my bridges.
Summary: If you send a customer my way, I will take care of them. When somebody
dials 1-877-Langenberg, I'll answer -- and do my best to address their web related issues.
Because that's just the kind of guy I am.