When I asked a caller “Do You Own Your Website?” he was confused.  He said “Of course I do.”  Very quickly we found out he was wrong.  He called because he wanted to migrate his website from another vendor to a company that would let us manage his website without accessing his financial or credit card information. There are a few that do it, but we highly recommend ionos. The bottom line is that he figured out that the basic templates the other guys were providing looked like every other website they hosted.  He didn’t want that.  He had a unique business and wanted a unique website.

He found out about us through another client and liked our services.  Before talking with anyone he signed up, which was great, right up until he tried to move the website.  So he called our marketing office asking if we could move the website.  The answer was yes and no.   We could move it but not exactly since he didn’t own the website.

Hidden in the EULA or End User License Agreement is a little clause that the web hosting company owned the template, layout and management system for the website.  He only owned the name and the data.

He was shocked when I showed him where to find this.  The deal is simple. In order to offer “free” website building as part of their package, these guys expect that you will not grow bigger than their services or use more than the basic amount of storage.  This lets them reduce hosting costs and support costs.

Ganache from Cake Tahoe

The truth is many small businesses need very little with a website, so these programs work.  If you don’t have customers coming in to your office, you can get away with stock photos and a simple website.  Our business is built around small businesses that customers actually walk into.  Stock photos here make the business look fake. 

If the customer walks into a bakery and nothing looks like the photo you put on your website, there is a good chance they will leave.  It is critical that everything matches the customers expectations.  Congruency is a key factor in the success of online businesses.  If you are a one or two man shop, don’t call yourself “international” and have a phone system with 90 extensions and crazy sound effects. Show them what they are really getting online and in person.

I will tell you now the Bourquin Group LLC and all of its businesses are “virtual”.  We have office space and if you visit, it will be empty.  When you see those high dollar marketing offices on reality TV shows, keep in mind that cost is passed on to the customers.

You don’t want your website hosted in a high rent office in Los Angeles or New York.  Low rent warehouses on the outside of Sacramento or Fort Worth Texas are more easily secured and much lower cost to maintain.

Eventually, we decided on a “down day” so we could move the domain name to his account at ionos.com so our team could install WordPress and get a basic website up and running for him.  We copied most of the text and the photos from his template website and found him a layout he liked.  He took over from there with our support.  His total cost was under $1500.  Sometime starting over costs less than fixing big problems.

So the next time you pay your website hosting, ask yourself, “Do I own my website?”.