We do not have many sole proprieter types of clients but recently we had such a client pass away.
It’s sad, of course. He was only in his 50s. Yes, this is business, but I can’t help building some sort of personal relationship with our customers. Grieving happens, both for him and his family, and about my own mortality as well… but that’s not the point of this post.
“B” had been a small client of ours for over a decade, although all we did for him since the first year was arrange for his hosting, and his domain renewal. I can’t say his business was a very active account, but we had a good relationship and our price was fair and he appreciated what we could tell him about his site and the web in general, so we stayed together in our business relationship.
His wife emailed me a month or so prior to his passing to let me know he was very ill and that the business had been closed for good. I appreciate her contacting me more than I probably told her, because it prepared us for what we would need to do, and to figure out what we wanted to do. What we needed to do was to prepare the site for archiving, to archive our Google Analytic and other log analysis reports we had generated for his site, and to discontinue all of our regular “business” emails that are sent to clients: Analytics reports, client newsletters, renewal notices, etc. If there’s ever any need to get all the files affiliated with his web site, we have them. And when he passed away last week, we knew we wanted to make a small donation to the charity of their choice in his name. It was the least we could do for such a loyal business client.
Web sites are built so they can continue as long as someone’s paying the hosting and domain charges. We work on an annual contract basis, so we would have found out about the discontinuation of the business by the end of the contract at the latest. But many hosting companies and domain registrars allow you to pay for your services with an automatic renewal as long as the credit card is valid. It’s good for a sole proprietor to let a loved one know the business end about their business website, such as who’s responsible and who charges the proprietor. That way, proper arrangements can be taken as quickly as they need to be taken if the proprietor is incapacitated in a way that causes the business to go out of existence, and the web site to be unnecessary. There’s no reason to continue expense, communication about the continuation of the site, and the confusion that can come for clients and market by maintaining a ghost business website.
B took care of that, and it made the web site discontinuation a nonissue for both his wife and for us. He planned well even to the end of his life.