It’s been a long time coming

For 8 years now, our wonderful customers have supported us by subscribing to our monthly MemberFix plans.

Some of you have been with us since the very beginning!

It continues to be a humbling experience, a pleasure, and an honor to serve you all, to get to know you and your businesses better, and to grow professionally together.

Thank you! 🙂

Why are we doing this?

Our ultimate goal is to be the most valuable WordPress & membership site tech partner possible for you and your business.

But this is not an easy or automatic process.

It requires constant reinvention.

So, for the past quarter my team and I have been working hard to recreate our popular MemberFix subscription plans and make them better than ever.

This month we are rolling them out. 🙂 Take THAT, 2020!

clickup screenshot - Announcing Our New WordPress & Membership Site Care Plans!

(Screenshot of the Care Plans Revamp initiative in our ClickUp folder)

We had 3 customer-focused goals with this initiative:

1 – Make it as easy as possible to collaborate with us.

2 – Provide a ridiculous amount of additional value at NO additional cost.

3 – Apply the same strong project management principles to our monthly care plans that have made our Developer Hours such a successful way of collaborating with customers.

Want a live demo of our new MemberFix care plans? Just fill out the short form below! 🙂

 

 

New MemberFix Care Plan features & benefits

Ok, so what’s changed with these new care plans and what does it mean for you…?

stock - Announcing Our New WordPress & Membership Site Care Plans!

We’re retiring the “per time” system

We’re retiring the clumsy “per time” system and replacing it with an un-throttled “bank of hours”.

There will no longer be a limit of 20 / 40 / 60 minutes of work at a time on your requests.

Instead, we will allocate as much time as we have available to get the work done in as few sessions as possible.

In fact, we’ve been developing and improving our internal Resource Allocation system with our hourly customers to make this process smooth, systematic, and transparent.

res alc example - Announcing Our New WordPress & Membership Site Care Plans!(Cropped screenshot of our Resource Allocation system)

An example:

let’s say you submit a request that we estimate will take 2 hours.

Under the old ‘per time’ system, we would have to break this work up over 2 to 6 sessions (depending on your subscription level) with up to 24 hours of delay in between each session(!)

Not only does this approach make the work drag on, but it also creates switching penalties for our team, which negatively impacts quality.

2image1 - Announcing Our New WordPress & Membership Site Care Plans!(image: https://www.infoq.com/articles/multitasking-problems/)

Under the new care plans, we will always try allocate a developer to spend the full 2 hours (or however many hours is required) to get it done in one, uninterrupted sitting!

Even if we can’t complete a request in one sitting, our goal will still be to get it done in as few sessions as possible with as little time in between sessions as possible.

The result is fewer interruptions for our team, fewer delays for you, and higher quality work overall.

How does your bank of hours work?

1 – With each tier of MemberFix you get the following bank of hours:

MemberFix Lite ($397/mo) – 5 hours per month
MemberFix Mid – ($597/mo) – 8 hours per month
MemberFix Pro – ($797/mo) 12 hours per month

*Note: if you were to purchase these hours separately as standalone Developer Hours ($80/hr), it would cost you:

Lite – $400
Mid – $640
Pro – $960

So not only do you get a ton of added value through our proactive care plan activities (more on that below), you also get a progressive discount for subscribing to a higher MemberFix plan. 🙂

2 – You can use your hours on ANY type of work you want!

Use them on any of your websites, your client websites, and have us do any kind of work you want (so long as it’s work we actually do, of course).

3 – Analysis step

For every new project / task you submit, our team will perform what we call an Analysis Step.

Here’s how it works:

A) First we seek to understand and clarify your requirements before starting work.

We do this by defining a hierarchy of Initiatives, Epics, and User Stories in your ClickUp folder.

epics vs stories agile development optimized - Announcing Our New WordPress & Membership Site Care Plans! (image: Atlassian)

B) We then determine the best / fastest / least expensive way to get the work done for you.

This typically involves a bit of research, a discussion within our team, some testing, and sometimes even reaching out to the developers of a particular plugin / theme to ensure that it’s technically possible to implement our proposed solution.

C) After each analysis we provide you with a 3-point estimate, which looks like this:

– Best case estimate: “X” hours
– Median case estimate: “Y” hours
– Worst case estimate: “Z” hours

For example, if you submit a request for us to create a new checkout flow for your membership site, the 3-point estimate might look like this:

– Best case: 2 hours
– Median case: 3 hours
– Worst case: 4 hours

D) The time spent on analysis is deducted from your bank of hours.

However, if your request is relatively simple, the analysis will be quite quick.

If your request is very complex, the analysis could take up to several hours.

We’ll also give you a good faith estimate on how long we anticipate an analysis phase to take BEFORE beginning the analysis.

This way you always have the info you need to adjust your priorities and utilize MemberFix as a resource in the most efficient way possible.

Thanks to this analysis process you will always have visibility into our collaboration.

You will know:

– How long your request might realistically take
– The exact technical solution we plan to implement
– Whether or not it’s worth it to move forward on this task, or prioritize something else

And because we did a proper analysis from the start, you can even queue up your task for a later date, and it will be ready and waiting for us to implement when you decide it’s the right time. 🙂

Now you may be thinking…

Why would we add this step to our workflow when we can just start work on your task straight away?

Well, in our experience, the Analysis phase (also sometimes called “discovery” for bigger projects) is absolutely critical for successful collaboration.

Not only that, it helps establish realistic expectations regarding the delivery of your requests.

The only time we don’t do an Analysis is if we are 100% sure that we can complete your request without it (e.g. “change this button color to blue” doesn’t require any kind of prep).

In other words, we’ll always do an Analysis when it’s needed (which is 95% of the time) but we won’t arbitrarily do it when it’s clearly NOT needed!

E) If a median case estimate for one of your requests is 4 hours or more, then that request will not be eligible for completion under your care plan.

It may seem arbitrary but there’s good reason for this boundary.

Care plans are meant to support your business and give you access to our tech team for small to medium sized requests.

While we don’t want to create bottlenecks, once a request requires 4 hours or more of dedicated work, it enters into “full blown project” territory and needs to be treated as such to get a good result.

This requires a higher level of project management, resource allocation, and coordination with you (and possibly 3rd parties).

In fact, you could argue that 4 hours is already a pretty beefy cut-off.

So we did our best to balance competing interests and decided on 4 hours as a reasonable threshold.

So what if a request requires 4 hours or more, can we still do the work for you…?

Of course! 🙂

In this case, we would apply your existing bank of hours to the project and ask that you purchase additional developer hours at a discounted rate in order to complete the request.

Alternatively, you can purchase a batch of developer hours and leave your Care Plan bank of hours untouched and available for doing general website maintenance and tasks.

(In effect, you would be running an hourly project and a care plan in parallel).

F) Unused hours don’t roll over to the following month

While we never want our customers to spend money with us without receiving value in return, rolling hours over to the following month presents a significant practical challenge with regards to resource allocation.

On any given month we know our team’s capacity and the potential volume of requests our customers can submit.

But if hours roll over we would likely end up under-staffed and/or over-allocated on any given month.

Since we make hiring decisions on the basis of team capacity and number of active customers, this would remove predictability for our team and our customers and potentially get us into trouble with payroll situations.

While we can’t accommodate the rolling over of hours, we try to balance it by removing all minimum terms and contracts from our terms of engagement.

In other words, all of our customers are completely free to upgrade and downgrade their plans, cancel and resubscribe as their business needs require.

We have no contracts, no minimum length of engagement, and flexible upgrade / downgrade paths as well as ad hoc developer hours available for purchase.

So if you feel like you’re not using us to the max, simply downgrade or cancel.

Then when you need us, buy some developer hours or resubscribe to a plan.

You have total flexibility!

Hope that sounds reasonable, folks. 🙂

Putting the “care” back into care plans

In addition to the improvements we’ve just gone over, we’re introducing a suite of hands-off, proactive services that our team does for you on a monthly basis.

These activities are what make our new MemberFix plans true “Care Plans”.

Here’s what we’ll be doing:

1 – Proactive updates of your plugins and themes

2 – Daily incremental backups of your files / database

3 – Automated uptime monitoring with live notification system

4 – Security setup and monitoring with live alerts

5 – Unlimited emergency requests regardless of bank of hours status

6 – Monthly reports in a tidy PDF format

These proactive services are included in every MemberFix Care plan (1 domain per plan).

And this care plan work does NOT use time from your bank of hours! 🙂

Now let’s explain what each of these activities looks like…

Proactive updates of your plugins and themes

The most common source of WordPress website hacks is vulnerable plugins / themes.

This is the main reason why it’s so important to keep your plugins and themes up to date.

However, WordPress is open source and updates to plugins, themes and the WordPress core often break functionality and mess up the look & feel of your website.

When you’re running a paid membership or any kind of serious website, you can’t afford to stress over a broken site or scramble to find a backup and restore an earlier version!

So we take this responsibility completely off your hands and perform it using a carefully defined process.

care plans workflow - Announcing Our New WordPress & Membership Site Care Plans!

Our Miro diagram of the update process and schedule. Each node has SOPs attached to it. 🙂

Now let’s quickly explain each part of this workflow:

1 – Minor updates weekly

We do what we call “minor” updates on a weekly basis.

These are minor releases of non-critical plugins and themes.

2 – Major updates monthly

These are major version releases of plugins and themes, and minor releases of critical items (e.g. WooCommerce, your membership plugin, etc.)

3 – Critical updates ASAP

We have live alerts coming from several vulnerability databases directly to our Slack and emails, as well as automated alerts from our security (WordFence) and management (ManageWP) apps.

We immediately patch any newly discovered vulnerabilities for our customers (like the recent Easy WP SMTP plugin exploit, which was active on our site and several customer sites, and which we updated straight away).

4 – Regression testing of all updates on a staging site before pushing live

We perform all updates on a staging application of your site first, not on the live site.

We also perform both visual regression testing and functionality testing using a combination of automated and manual processes to ensure none of your core functionality or look & feel is broken by updates.

Only then do we push the changes live.

Further, we perform a second layer of manual testing once we’ve pushed live.

5 – We disable update notifications in your WordPress dashboard

It’s tempting for you and your team to run updates when they become available in your WordPress dashboard.

But just because an update is available doesn’t mean you should perform it right away.

In fact, it’s best to wait a little while.

For example, the recent release of WordPress 5.6 broke a lot of plugins and themes because of changes to Jquery.

If you performed this update as soon as it became available, chances are good that you accidentally broke some functionality on your site and had to revert to a backup.

By only performing these major updates once per month and thoroughly testing them in a staging environment before pushing them to your live site, we both avoid headaches for you and your members and keep your tech stack up to date.

In other words, our team is working on these updates in the background so that you don’t even have to think about them, much less perform them yourself.

This way your life is easier and your members’ experience on your site remains smooth and uninterrupted. 🙂

6 – On demand backup before pushing live

It goes without saying that we take a backup of your live site before pushing our changes live.

7 – Manual check once pushed live

While we perform all updates in a staging environment and run regression / functionality testing there, sometimes a push from staging to live can still cause an issue.

This is generally the case with some hosting providers who arbitrarily rewrite database tables when going from staging to live (Siteground, I’m looking at you).

Why any host would do this is beyond me and is one of the reasons I recommend CloudWays to all of our customers as a truly professional hosting solution for their membership site.

But nevertheless, this is a rare possibility we have to be prepared for by running a manual checking process once we’ve pushed our changes live.

Specifically, we check all core functionality (payment, sign up, access to content, visual layout of main pages).

Daily incremental backups

Using our management solution, ManageWP, we take incremental secure cloud backups of your site every day.

This backup solution is rock solid and it doesn’t even store the backup files on your server; they go straight to the cloud!

This is in addition to any backups you may be running on the server level (which we can configure for you).

We can also make on-demand backups before any kind of critical update or event.

And of course we can then easily restore previous backups if needed.

Uptime monitoring

We use several services to monitor your site’s uptime.

Any time your website goes down it costs you money, time, and annoys your paying members.

Whenever our automated tools detect that your site down, it automatically creates an urgent request for our team to look into it immediately.

Sometimes tools produce false positives and indicate that your site is down when it isn’t.

But believe me when I say we take this situation seriously and investigate as soon as we see the alert.

As an emergency request it does not come out of your bank of hours. 🙂

Once we fix the issue we will create a new, non-emergency request to investigate the root cause and prevent the problem from recurring (often it’s a hosting issue or false positive).

Security setup and monitoring

When you sign up for a MemberFix care plan we want to secure your site against bad actors and hackers.

1 – We do this by first doing an initial security assessment.

This is to determine whether or not your site currently has any malware or backdoor files on it.

(Believe it or not, many WordPress sites are hacked and the owners don’t even know it!)

If we find that your site has been hacked, we will create a request for us to repair it and harden it. 🙂

2 – Configure custom security rules

Some security plugins are too aggressive and randomly lock out legitimate administrators and customers.

When we install our security plugin, WordFence, we want it to keep out the bad guys.

But we don’t want to annoy you, your team, or your customers in the process.

So we deploy WordFence with custom rules we designed specifically for membership sites.

This prevents issues for you and your members but still keeps your site secure.

3 – Live alerts

Much like uptime monitoring, any suspicious activity alerts go directly to our email and Slack and turn into urgent requests if we suspect a threat.

4 – Working around limitations

In some cases we can’t use WordFence (for example, WPEngine hosting doesn’t allow it).

In those cases we may even choose to implement cloud-level security using CloudFlare rules.

In any case, we will deploy the best security measures for your specific situation and monitor your site for any unusual activity so we can prevent problems before they occur.

Unlimited emergency requests

1 – What is an emergency request?

A legitimate emergency request meets one or more of the following conditions:

=> You’re blocked from being able to accept payment / rebills
=> Your customers are unable to sign up
=> Your customers are unable to access their paid-for content
=> You’re unable to access your website
=> Your website is down / offline
=> Your website is hacked

2 – How will you work on my emergency requests?

Whenever you submit an emergency request we will work on it as soon as possible.

Essentially, this means dropping what we’re doing, allocating a team member to the request, and addressing it right away.

We will take and resolve all legitimate emergency requests regardless of your bank of hours status. 🙂

Even if you’ve used all of your hours for the month, we will always address all legitimate emergency requests.

We don’t want to create any bottlenecks to resolution when an urgent situation comes up (wouldn’t be much of a care plan if we did).

Nor do we want to use a vulnerable moment for our customers as an opportunity to charge them additional fees which they would feel compelled to pay.

Our goal with the new care plans is to provide total peace of mind and remove as much uncertainty and friction as possible for our customers.

Resolving emergencies unconditionally is part of that.

3 – Emergency request vs deep dive

While we will fix the immediate issue that causes an emergency, any additional work required to prevent such an issue in the future, or to repair underlying functionality would become a separate, non-emergency request.

And for that, our standard typical analysis process and corresponding hours usage applies.

In other words, if your house is on fire we’ll rush to put it out and it won’t cost you anything because your taxes already cover the Fire Department.

But the job of then going through and removing all flammable material from your house, fixing the gas stove, and setting up fire alarms would be separate and important—but ultimately non-emergency jobs that require a separate statement of work. 🙂

Yes, I’m a master of analogies.

4 – Reprioritization of emergency requests

If you submit a request that does not meet the conditions of a bona fide emergency request as laid out above, we will most likely deprioritize it (after communicating with you about it).

Likewise, if you submit a request that we deem to be an emergency, we will escalate the request’s status to reflect the urgency required.

Monthly reports

Once per month we’ll send you a nice, formatted report that summarizes the care plan work that we did that month. 🙂

Complementary monthly strategy sessions

We believe in truly partnering with our customers and getting skin in the game with them, getting to know them and their businesses, and doing everything we can to help them succeed above and beyond the tech work that we do.

To that end, all of our MemberFix customers are entitled to a complementary strategy session with our founder, Vic Dorfman, once per month.

These sessions take place on Zoom.

We use this time to strategize at a high level, dive into bottlenecks and issues, and move the needle on your business objectives.

This is also your time to bounce ideas, talk about best practices, and get access to our years of experience as membership site tech experts and fellow entrepreneurs.

These sessions aren’t just some random item to artificially inflate the value of our care plans.

We’ve scored some huge, measurable wins for our customers in these strategy sessions; wins that have translated into thousands of subscribers and tens of thousands of dollars in revenue (not to mention gains in operational efficiency / energy management).

Common topics include:

– Marketing
– Sales
– Hiring
– Project management
– Retention / churn

…etc.

This is your time to not only define high level goals and get a trained eye to help you refine them, but it’s also an opportunity to queue up the requirements that get you to the next level, and then have our team execute on them.

Vic charges $150/hr for 1-on-1 consulting but as a MemberFix customer you get this awesome value add at absolutely no additional cost, every single month!

Switch from FreshDesk to ClickUp

Last but not least, we will use ClickUp to collaborate with all of our new care plan customers.

FreshDesk is ugly, disorganized, and not made for proper management of tasks and projects.

ClickUp, on the other hand, is robust and customizable and has been the backbone of all of our hourly projects with customers.

It’s not perfect (no tool is), but the level of organization, project management and ultimately—results, that we’re able to bring to our collaborations is far superior to what we can do with FreshDesk.

If you’re a legacy MemberFix customer and you’re used to FreshDesk in your workflow, don’t worry, you’ll have the option to stay with FreshDesk or to migrate to ClickUp. 🙂

Of course, if you have questions, comments or concerns please post them below or shoot me an email.

Onward and upward!

Want a live demo of our new MemberFix care plans? Just fill out the short form below! 🙂

 

 

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