Since 10 Degrees started in 2009, we have offered hosting of our clients’ sites via 3rd parties as an ancillary service to make life easier for our clients. This has also given us added benefits in terms of ease of access to client sites and being able to action some tasks ourselves on behalf of clients. But this has never been a major revenue stream for us or part of our core business strategy.
Until recently we have been happily using WP Engine as our preferred hosting partner and believe them to provide the best WordPress hosting. Unfortunately, in May this year WP Engine notified us that they were increasing the cost of our servers by 400%. We were very disappointed to be faced with this as we have been very happy with the WP Engine service, but unfortunately we were no longer fit for WP Engine’s business model.
Faced with an unacceptable price hike and and change in account management approach from WP Engine, we felt we had no option but to look for an alternative host to provide a viable solution for our clients.
We undertook due diligence with many hosting providers at the time and settled upon the one we felt offered the best value and best technical platform. However we have not been happy with the service we have experienced from the new provider and believe it is having a negative affect on some client sites and our ability to support them (specifically with out-of-hours support).
We have therefore made the very difficult business decision to stop offering hosting services.
Why have we made that decision?
Focussing on what we do well
We’ve always been very clear that we are technical WordPress developers; that’s our strength and that’s our niche. We’ve never tried to be a one-size-fits-all agency, we believe in partnerships with other specialist agencies to get the best service and solutions for clients.
We have a small team of very talented developers who should be focussing on building and managing our clients’ websites, but instead are getting side tracked more frequently by hosting problems. This is also therefore having a detrimental affect on our project work.
Managing our service reputation
These hosting problems are, understandably, a cause of great disruption and annoyance for our clients and are also out of our control. If clients are paying us for their hosting services then they can quite reasonably expect us to manage any problems. This has put a strain on the service levels that we have been able to provide to our clients, which is something we pride ourselves on.
Better service for our clients
Our clients will be free to choose an alternative provider that they think best serves their own business needs. For those of our clients that require out-of-hours support, they will now have a direct relationship with their provider 24/7 and be able to build their own relationships with them.
We are not happy with the level of technical support from our current provider and feel our clients’ sites would be more stable if they moved back to WP Engine, or another provider experienced with dealing with the kinds of complex sites many of our clients have.
Our team welfare
Invariably, these hosting problems occur outside of normal business hours. This puts undue strain on our team to manage this, when we do not offer any out of hours responses for any of our other services. Importantly, we do not want to be offering any out of hours services, it is very important to us that our team enjoy a good work/life balance and can switch off and enjoy their evenings and weekends free of any work stress. So putting an on-call rota in place is not something we want to consider.
Our hosting service has only ever, at best, covered costs (once we take into account the amount of support time required from our team). The margin on hosting, like domain names, is so minimal that it’s an industry based on large volumes, which we do not have.
Unfortunately services which are not commercially viable or sustainable are detrimental to our longer term business goals.
What happens next?
We’re not just switching off the servers straight away! This is going to be a gradual process and take a few months to fully complete. If you are an existing hosting client of ours, we will be contacting you shortly to help find the best alternative provider for you and to assist with the migration of your site as smoothly as possible.