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  Post #1 (permalink)   02-19-2008, 09:22 AM
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It seems like so many people are starting forums for all kinds of stuff these days, and I notice more and more hosting companies are offering forums as part of their package. Are you? What does it cost you, and how difficult is setup? Is it in big demand?

I recently had a prospective ask if I offered forums, and then he went with someone else, so I feel like I'm missing a market.
 
 
 


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  Post #2 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 04:00 AM
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Tools like Fantastico and Installatron help the end users to easily install a good number of popular and free applications, including forums. I guess this is what that customer was looking for.

These applications, as I said, are free, and anyone could go to say phpbb's site, download the package and then install it on his hosting account.

Few hosting companies truly support these applications though, inthe sense of guiding the customer in how to install them, troubleshoot them etc. It can easily take a newbie customer hours to understand the application, how it works etc. Hosting is simply too cheap to suport the level of hand holding that such a customer would require.
 
 
 


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  Post #3 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldcdc View Post
Tools like Fantastico and Installatron help the end users to easily install a good number of popular and free applications, including forums. I guess this is what that customer was looking for.

These applications, as I said, are free, and anyone could go to say phpbb's site, download the package and then install it on his hosting account.

Few hosting companies truly support these applications though, inthe sense of guiding the customer in how to install them, troubleshoot them etc. It can easily take a newbie customer hours to understand the application, how it works etc. Hosting is simply too cheap to suport the level of hand holding that such a customer would require.
Thats a problem with phpBB support.
If its a preinstalled application and there are problems, they basically tell you to go to your host to work out the issue.
 
 
 


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  Post #4 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 09:37 AM
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Thanks ldcdc. I didn't realize it was something I could do for free. I guess it would be in my best interest to familiarize myself with forums installing so I can offer it and help with set up.

Anyone have any experience with them? I don't know much at all. I will go to phpbb's site and dink around a bit.
 
 
 


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  Post #5 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 10:47 AM
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Generally, with Fantastico, installation is a one click process.

If you have Fantastico on your servers, and the forum software enabled for Fantastico, simply tell your customer yes.

It is then really up to them to install the software.

Now, if you really want to hit a market, offer to install it for them...keeping in mind that this could be pretty time consuming depending on how many people ask you to do this.

The thing to stay away from is opening the door to allowing your customer to think you'll provide technical support for the application, outside of the realm of hosting it.

In other words, if your server environment supports the software, but the software still doesn't work, then it's not your problem.

If you fall into the trap of allowing them to milk you for customer support for the application itself, you will do nothing but this, and the customer will come to you with a ton of things that you can't do anything about, and ultimately get angry with you when you can't.
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  Post #6 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 02:51 PM
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I wish more hosting companies would stop offering things that are for free. Could you imagine being the one to get that call "Hey why are you charging me for something I can do on my own for free"..................that would be such a nightmare to deal with.
 
 
 


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  Post #7 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 03:12 PM
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I see what you're saying. So do you suggest that I offer setup, but direct customer service to the forum software provider? Or would it be better to offer a tutorial on installing the forum software oneself?
 
 
 


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  Post #8 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 03:12 PM
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Not really a nightmare.

When you get the customer who calls to say "Hey why are you charging me for something I can do on my own for free?"

You say "Yes. That is why I'm charging you. As you said, you can do it yourself for free, but the fact is you're not doing it. You're asking me to do it, and as such, I charge for my time."
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  Post #9 (permalink)   02-20-2008, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SarahKay View Post
I see what you're saying. So do you suggest that I offer setup, but direct customer service to the forum software provider? Or would it be better to offer a tutorial on installing the forum software oneself?

I would provide instructions to the customer on how to do it themselves. Only charge if they still want you to do it for them.

Fact is, if they can do it free, they'll probably try. However, the overall importance is as a benefit to them. Customers look for "benefits" over the actual service offering.

The reason is, hosting is hosting, no matter how you slice it. It's the benefits and "extras", along with good customer service that get them.
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  Post #10 (permalink)   02-21-2008, 05:25 AM
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Thing is, installation instructions are almost always easy to find at the developer's site, and they tend to be quite detailed. The not so experienced customer will not look for them, but a simple link to the right web page might solve the problem in most cases.
 
 
 


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  Post #11 (permalink)   02-21-2008, 09:26 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm going to give it a trial run and set up a forum for myself (probably just to delete it once I run some trouble shooting), and then alert my customer base complete with links, but also an offer to do it for them for a low, one-time fee. (so long as it wasn't a pain in my booty). Some may go for it, but I imagine most will try it for themselves.
 
 
 


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  Post #12 (permalink)   03-03-2008, 02:56 AM
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Fantastico is a good tool for 3 clicks to install forums like phpbb ect.
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  Post #13 (permalink)   03-04-2008, 02:31 PM
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We dont offer the free install stuff from fantastico unless a client asks for it....and most dont it seems.
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  Post #14 (permalink)   03-06-2008, 05:51 AM
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If the third party software configuration is a time-consuming one, I don't see any problem in charging the customer to install it for him.
 
 
 


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  Post #15 (permalink)   03-08-2008, 06:33 PM
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It's great that it's free to install. Not so great that you have to figure it out yourself. My problem is that in this sort of application I have not found forums to be that useful. Besides there is work in maintaining a forum that even if I thought it were slightly helpful for hosting I still wouldn't add it because I don't think the extra work is worth the return.
 
 
 
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