Finding A Good General Contractor Is Hard To Do

reliable webmaster

If you own a home, then you know that finding a good, reliable and honest general contractor is pretty hard to come by.  In fact, finding anyone these days who’s reliable and honest is pretty dificult.  It takes time.  Maybe you hired a guy to fix some wiring in your house, messed it up, doesn’t take accountability for his mistakes and now you find yourself having to find another guy not only to undo the mistakes that were done but to fix whatever was broken in the first place.

I hear it all the time with web development.  “My last guy did this, or told me that…”  leaving the client in the dark with a half working website.

So how do you find a good reliable general contractor for your website?  ie. a webmaster.  Like most things that matter to you, you ask people you trust.  You ask people who have websites and are happy with it.  How is the response time when you need something updated?  Does the webmaster provide different options, explaining the pros and cons of each.  Is the webmaster responsive and attentive?

If not, then you need to get with Frog On Top.  Our team of responsive professionals will make sure all your questions and concerns about your website and your web presence and thoroughly answered in a timely manner – typically within 12 hours.  So if you’re not happy with your current web situation, it’s time to end it.  Why go through another day of aggravation when there are better options out there.

Get in touch with us today and we’ll have your brand new website up and running before you know it.  Ask us about our WordPress solutions starting as low as $800.

Say Bloody Mary 3 Times Into A Mirror, An MLS WordPress Plugin Will Appear

mls plugin myth wordpress

MLS WordPress Plugin ~ Hopefully you will read this article before you agree to develop a website for a real estate client using a WordPress solution.  At first glance there appears to be 100′s of awesome WP plugins to help when developing an MLS (multiple listing service) website.  It’s only after you spend about 20 hours of research you realize you’ve been chasing a dragon.  There is no such thing as a plugin that will retreive MLS data and import it to your site.

I stumbled across this (after all my research)

“I receive calls and emails daily for a WordPress Real Estate plugin that will magically import data from a MLS database into a WordPress real estate website. That plugin does not exist and never will.”

There’s no simpler way to put it.  MLS data is very heavily guarded.  They can’t have their info splattered everywhere, in any format.  They need to control it and more to the point; you have to pay for it.

So let’s start there.  Your client needs to be part of the MLS club.  They need to have an account number.  With that, we can get access to the coveted data.

What seems to work is WP-Property in conjunction with WP-Importer.  You can import/collect the data from a RETS server http://www.realtor.org/retsorg.nsf/pages/developerstart then from there you lay it out as you wish onto your site.  The downside is, it’s not live.  You’ll need to set up a little cron job to fetch the data as often as you need.  But we’re selling homes, not hotcakes.  So I think refreshing the data every hour would be fine.

One headache… or trust me, there’s more than one.  The data comes back incomplete and in some cases, lumped together.  For example, everything comes back as single family dwelling, so you have to manually set the listings to categories that you have assigned.  Condo, high rise, townhome etc.  You also have to set the, “sold” feature.  It’s work, but if the client wants the design to be exactly the way they want it to be within budget, there are sacrifices.  Unfortunately, this isn’t good news after you have signed on.

If you need absolute real time listings site where you don’t have to touch a thing, it’s best to leverage off of something like www.mlxchange.com. Use the client’s existing company and create an out of the box ready to use template.

Know your song well before you start singing.  Do some in-depth research on the limitations of WordPress and MLS/IDX/RETS.  Understand the pro’s and con’s.  Most importantly, be involved as best you can with the design phase and the supporting documentation.  But then again, no matter how involved you are, unless you know the beast that is MLS, agreeing to wireframes and outlines on a project, means nothing.

Forecast Budget And Schedule Completion

forecast budget and schedule completion

Forecasting your budget and your receivables is crucial for any business, let alone a small one.  And by small, I mean you.  You and a ragtag  team of merry men that may include a couple of developers and designers.  After you ask your client, their budget, you then should ask what their  time frame is.  This helps in 2 ways.  It let’s you figure out who you have available and how to schedule them, and of course, yourself.  The other reason you are asking is to give you an idea of when money will come in.  Put those reasons in whatever order you like.  In a perfect world, you want to finish the job within 2-3 weeks.  That happens about 10% of the time.  It happens when your client has a very specific launch  date that may include press releases, screenings, or launch parties.  The rest of the time, 2-3 weeks turns into 4-6 and in some cases, 8+ weeks.

The reasons why, vary.  But it’s typically the client that holds things up.  If they are in no big rush, if their livelihood isn’t directly  impacted by a web presence, if they’re just doing it as a hobby, you can expect delays.

Unfortunately what happens is, you’re 90% done on your end, and the client owes you 50% of the final payment.  There’s really not much you can do. You can hound the client, but that’s just poor relations.  You can drop them an email every few days, then every other week…if it happens to go on that long.

So depending on the project itself, not the cost, but the actual project requirements, you can break your payment structure in 3, rather than your usual 2 (50% up, 50% completion).  So this way, you’ll at least only be stuck waiting for say, 25% of final payment.  The downside, you’ll get a smaller payment up front.  If you’ve been doing this a while, you can pretty much gage those who needs to adhere to a specific deadline, and those who don’t. So what’s it going to be boy…