Why would you as professional web developer ever want to make it easier for your clients to leave you? Some of you might have thought of this when Acquia announced their Drupal service lineup and it might be somewhat true but that’s not the entire story.
As a professional web developer I make money off of creating websites, upgrading existing websites and yes, sometimes fixing my mistakes as well as others. Why would I ever want to make it easier for clients to leave me, costing me money in lost updates/fixes? In truth, I don’t want to lose clients, nobody does.
I would wager to say that nobody is going to lose a client just because Acquia now supports all Drupal modules. Yep, I said it. Acquia might be the new foreign exchange student that draws all of the chicks in the lunch room but lets face it, if you are delivering a good service and you have a good relationship with your client, they won’t be running to Acquia. They will stick with their tried and true hero. Now don’t go too far with this analogy, I’m not saying you should ignore Acquia’s services all together. In fact, you should be using Acqua’s services to enhance your own offerings (those of you who thought threesome, get your mind out of the gutter).
I now propose using the Acquia Drupal distribution with or without the service offerings from Acquia to all of my clients in order to provide them options and assurances. By giving the client options I’m saying to the client “I’ll create the website for you with all of my expertise and at the end of the project, you can stay with me or if for some reason that doesn’t work for you, there is a large corporation that has your back”. The assurances that there is a large corporation of Drupal experts that are only a phone call away is a huge benefit for most of my clients (even if they don’t use it) regardless if they stay with me or leave. Most of my clients see Acquia as an isurance plan, if there’s a problem and the generalist (me) can’t solve it, they can go directly to the experts.
I now also use Acquia as an exit strategy for troublesome clients. In the past, if I chose not to continue the relationship after developing their site, I pretty much left them high and dry by saying I would do no more work for them. Now with Acquia, I just refer the client and let them know that I won’t be working with them any longer. While the end result for is the same for me I generally feel much better of at least giving the client an option.
Did you notice that none of the reasons I listed involved my clients running off to Acquia to create their Drupal site leaving you in the lunchroom crying? I know, I know, I went back to the metaphor. That’s because it’s not Acquia’s focus, they are there to support Drupal, it’s clients and it’s developers.
In summary, treat your clients right and build a good relationship with them while using Acquia to supplement your own offerings and both of you (the developer and the client) will be much better off. Best of all you can now tell the annoying Microsoft IT guy at your client that Drupal does have “Enterprise” support.