Subject: Re: Is anyone selling support with a retainer?
From: Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 20:55:25 -0500

At 04:57 PM 2/17/97 -0800, Bob Weiner wrote:
>>>>>> "RN" == Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com> writes:
>
>   RN> Is anybody selling support with a retainer?  In other words, when
>   RN> you're called in for support, you sell them your time for a reduced
>   RN> fee IF they've already got a support contract.  It might be profitable
>   RN> if pursued in moderation.
>
>The question seems unclear.  If someone has paid for support and he
>calls you, the support is either covered by the contract or it isn't.
>If it is, there is no issue of fee.  If it isn't, then except for your
>own goodwill towards the customer in computing a discount, a separate
>fee or contract structure for the new issue is independent of the
>existing contract.

There's (at least) two ends to the spectra of "support".  At one end you have
pure fee-for-service.  You spend time working on their problem, and bill them
for their time afterwards.  The other end is pure insurance.  You don't talk to
them unless they have a pre-existing support contract, not for any amount of
money.

The latter model is what most proprietary software companies pursue.  If you didn't
buy the product (which comes bundled with a support contract), and don't have the
unique product id, you don't get support.

I was wondering if anyone selling support was used a mixed model.
-russ

p.s. A problem, by the way, of using two models at the same time is that
you're competing against yourself.  Your customers are going to choose the
model that reduces their cost.  If this is also the least profitable
model, then it's time to change your prices!