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Choosing a web hosting reseller provider

March 15th, 2010

Customer Support NerdBecoming a web hosting reseller can develop into a profitable business. Many web designers, application developers, and graphic artists (and others) resell web hosting services to their clients. Many entrepreneurs start their own web hosting business to earn additional income. But to get started reselling web hosting services, they first have to choose a web hosting reseller provider.

But how do you know which web hosting reseller provider to choose? How do you know what services to look for or what makes one provider better than another? Which web hosting reseller provides the best profit margins, best support, best tools, and so on?

To start, look at a web hosting company’s age and reputation. Everything else will fall into place such as support, tools, and profit margins.

Age and Reputation

HostNexus Hosting CompanyWhen choosing a web hosting reseller provider, look at the age of the company. Laurence Flynn, Head Honcho at HostNexus, says, “The hosting industry is rife with ‘fly by night’ firms due to low entry level requirements into the hosting business.” He recommends that potential web hosting resellers select a hosting company that has been in business a while and has no indication of closing shop suddenly and dropping your reseller accounts.

“The first two years of business for a hosting company are its most critical.” If a hosting business can get through the roller coaster ride of those first two years, it emerges as a stable and established web host. Once established, the chance of the web hosting company suddenly collapsing is extremely slim.

Once you identify a web hosting company that has been established longer than two years, determine the company’s reliability. According to Laurence, select a host with a proven track record on customer service. Be sure that your new host will not close or suspend an account for petty reasons without attempting to communicate with the customer.

“Many hosts offer huge reseller accounts for low prices only to have strict Terms of Services (TOS) rules in place and will pull the trigger for the slightest reason so they can continue to maximize profits on servers (aka oversell like crazy),” says Laurence.

Quality Customer Service and Performance

Site5 Web Hosting CompanyAccording to Ben Welch-Bolen, CEO of Site5, the focus for a customer looking for reseller hosting should be two things, quality customer service and performance. “Customer service is key as you need to make sure that when you have a problem the support team at your hosting company can respond quickly and resolve the issue in the quickest possible manner,” he says.

Welch-Bolen suggests web hosting resellers test hosting companies before they sign up by asking them a common question on live chat, email, or a helpdesk ticket to get an idea of the company’s speed and quality of their answers. For example, a good question to ask is, “I have a client who is getting an error when sending mail, what should I do? The hosting company you are testing should respond back after asking you a few questions with an alternative SMTP port for your customer to use as most ISPs block the default port.”

HostGator Web Hosting CompanyDouglas Hanna, Customer Service Manager at HostGator, also says customer service is an important factor when choosing a web hosting reseller provider. “Customer service should be a reseller’s number one priority when choosing a reseller hosting provider. If a reseller’s hosting company offers sub-par support, that sub-par support will trickle down to the reseller’s own customers and cause problems and frustrations in the long-run.”

Hanna says that resellers should not be afraid to call up or email hosting companies they are considering and test their support. “If you are considering using a web hosting reseller provider, you need to get a firsthand understanding of how fast a company replies, answers the phone, responds to an email or chat, and also look at the quality of their answers.”

Aside from customer service, the second thing you need to look for in a web hosting reseller provider is performance. Welch-Bolen says this is not quite as easy, but he still recommends it to those looking for a reliable web hosting company.

“Just sign up for two to three hosts and use the 30-60 day money back guarantee they offer to see how their servers perform. This makes the process longer so you might have to cut the time down but it is still great to do to help you choose the right provider.”

Welch-Bolen’s plan: For the next few weeks log in every few days to each host during peak times and see what the load is like on the server (this should be shown in WHM or via shell if you are trying Site5’s services). One thing to keep in mind is if the server is new. The hosting company might not have the server fully loaded yet since new customers are still being added to it. And you need to be aware that a load of four on older hardware or an older server means something different than a load of four on a newer machine with a lot more processing power. Another trick to checking performance is to read each hosting company’s forum and make sure there are few, if any complaints.

Reliability and Pricing

Reseller Zoom Web Hosting Reseller CompanyGreg Landis, CEO of Reseller Zoom, says, “When choosing a reseller hosting provider, you need to find a reliable partner foremost and one that actually provides you with enough tools at a low enough margin for you to be competitive in the hosting market. With over a decade of experience, and massive investments in recent years to improve infrastructure and expandability, with some of the best margins in the business, we remain a leader in the industry as a web hosting reseller provider.”

“What you should never do is fall for gimmicks or choose a reseller based solely on price,” says Welch-Bolen. “Free billing software is great and most hosting companies offer that with reseller packages now but do not go for a host just because of features. It is better to get a good hosting company and pay a little for software you need. And remember that performance and good customer service cost money, so do not go for the cheapest option.”

Conclusion

Starting your own web hosting business or providing hosting services to your clients with the help of a reliable web hosting reseller company can be lucrative and enjoyable. Take the advice of the web hosting reseller providers in this blog post as you choose a web hosting reseller company. Look for a hosting company that has been around for two years or more, has a great reputation (according to testimonials in forums or other related sites), provides quality customer service, has great server performance, solid reliability, and great pricing (remember, do not be cheap when it comes to hosting). So go ahead, find a reliable web hosting reseller provider, and start making some serious money.

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