Total Cost of Ownership for your Dental Website

Total Cost of Ownership for your Dental Website

How much is your practice website really costing?

Perhaps one of the most striking factors dentists miss when it comes to their websites is just how much they are paying for them. It’s often reasonably clear what the upfront costs are but the “hidden” ongoing charges can be significant, indeed often exceeding the initial cost of the website after just a couple of years of ownership.

In today’s blog we will take a look at the “total cost of ownership” for a dental website and how you can avoid getting sucked into ongoing contracts which drain your budget and don’t really offer good value.

Total cost of ownership for a dentist’s website

In a moment we’ll take a look at the total cost of a website over a period of 4 years – the average length of time a dentist in the UK maintains their site before seeking to upgrade. But before we do, let’s recap on the dental website maintenance landscape which currently exists in the UK.

Website and marketing companies in the UK typical push clients to sign up for a monthly maintenance fee, indeed most of them mandate this as it keeps a known amount of revenue flowing in. This is great for the web company as they make money even when they are not working on the client’s site. However, it’s a significant problem and poor value for the dentists as they end up paying out regularly even when nothing is being done.

You may think it’s incumbent on the dentist to ensure that they make good use of the website maintenance service, but in reality, most dentists only update their sites two or three times per year. Here’s where the web company ends up “quids in” of course. What’s worse, we’ve also seen lots of cases of those same web companies demanding additional one-off payments for anything other than simple site updates – so not just “quids in” but potentially “cake and eat it” too.

You may question whether this is actually fair? Unfortunately it’s very common in the dental web design business and even more bemusing is that some dentists seem to accept it as the norm. I think what is happening here is that so many supply companies levy the “dental tax” that it almost becomes accepted and the dentist’s pay up anyway.

Here’s what you could pay for your website over 4 years if you don’t challenge the fees:

  • Implementation cost – £4 – 8k
  • Monthly maintenance fee – £115 – £185
  • “Ad hoc” updates – outside of maintenance fees – £300 (yearly)

This gives us an overall cost over 4 years in the range of £10.7k – £18.1k – a significant outlay even in the best case!

What’s the alternative?

It’s quite clear to me that expecting to pay anything between £10k and £18k for your dental practice website over 4 years isn’t ideal and yet so many dentists are doing this. Often it’s only when they get several years in that they realise that there is an alternative way which is significantly more cost-effective and arguably delivers a better service too.

Pay when you need to update, not in case you need to update!

Here at Dental Media we’ve steered clear of mandated maintenance contracts for websites since we started trading over twenty years ago. We’ve done this simply because we don’t think such contracts are fair and they don’t represent what our business is all about. Instead we charge a fixed annual hosting fee and then a “per hour” charge when we are actually working on a client’s site.

So what might your total cost of website ownership be over 4 years for this alternative model?

  • Initial implementation cost – £4k (this is typical for one of our larger websites)
  • Annual website hosting, SSL certificate etc – £165
  • Average annual updates – £300

The total cost over 4 years here is £4960 – less than half of the best case for the monthly maintenance model illustrated above and less than a third of the most expensive case.

The savings are significant and offer significant opportunities, for example funding SEO or paid advertising to complement the enquiries coming via your website.

Are you still paying 2 – 3 times over the odds? What do you actually get for your money?

The companies who push monthly contracts on their clients might suggest that the extra fees are well-worth paying, but look closely and it’s clear they aren’t. Perhaps they claim to include SEO or a quarterly marketing call to discuss progress? Or maybe even a monthly report? Let’s be clear that any “SEO” offered within a standard maintenance package will be minimal and certainly not worth it. Let’s also be clear that the quarterly marketing call will take every opportunity to sell you something you probably don’t need and that the monthly report will simply be something automated from Google Analytics. Worth it? I recommend looking closely and then decide.

Summary

If you are in the market for a new website for your dental practice, when it comes to costs, there are two important things to consider, the initial set-up cost and also the ongoing cost. The latter can often prove significant and in many cases more than the set-up costs over a period of 3 or 4 years. More often than not, the maintenance contract model is a money-pit, designed not for the benefit of the dentist but as a cash-cow for the design company.

Fortunately there is an alternative model whereby you only pay when work is actually being completed on your site and doesn’t mandate an expensive retainer fee. It really is worth a look to see how hundreds of dentists save thousands of pounds per year here at Dental Media and please read our reviews if you need reassurance. If you need to switch your website or need a new site designed, we’ll be pleased to help – you can reach us on 01332 672548 or via our website contact form.