I'm not a salesman, but if I was, I'd target churches, especially if I was looking to make the most amount of money with the least amount of work. The two factors that make churches appealing to those who want to make a quick buck include lack of knowledge and trust. Because of a church's limited staff, a lot of decisions are made by folks who are not trained in making the decisions. Beyond that, the church employees are good, trusting people. Both of these factors make your church a target, and not just for web design services.

Let's begin with web design because that's what we know here at Luthernet. Most of the companies you hire to work on a site will have the following types of employees, some of which might overlap: UX/UI, Designer, Coder, Manager, Graphic Designer, Junior Web Designer, SALESMAN, office assistant, and more. I know some of these jobs often have different titles, and some will have the same person doing three of the jobs. The point is that before the salesman gets to you, the new site you purchase has to support several other $100,000 a year jobs. There's probably a CEO taking a cut, as well. You're supporting a lot of people if you buy a website this way, but you also deal with a huge markup. They are good, and they know they have to hire good salesmen who will tell you there's some need for their services on a website that, in all honesty, does not require most of their most important skills (like creating shopping carts or mobile apps). Your church is a target because you might not know exactly what you need and you know that quality often costs money. Luthernet web design is kind of like going right to a great mechanic to fix up your car rather than buying a new one that you have built from scratch. That's why our websites are so much cheaper. We pay the UX/Coder/Manager/Designers/Programmers to sell us a way to make you a great site (like owning a car frame), and then it's just about the time to put it all together. They build from the ground up. And I've seen this: a company charging a church $10,000 and taking a year to build a site that would have been a three-day, $1000 makeover for us. When I told a friend (web designer) about this fiasco, he said $10,000 wasn't too bad, probably because he saw it as a $15,000 site.

Another reason your church might be a target is because of the nature of gifts (and salesmen know this). Someone leaves the church $5000 for a specific purpose, but your staff can only think of one item to buy, and therefore you start looking for a single $5000 item. There might not be a worse way to shop, especially when the people making the purchases have no experience with the items being bought, like a new intercom system or artwork for the fellowship hall. On top of that, when these gifts are used, the funds are not part of a specific budget, meaning there's little incentive to save any of it. Because good salesmen can get church staff to trust them, that means the church will be strung along for years to come, often selling upgrades and replacements. If you notice that every electronic item is purchased through the same salesman, you might want to check online prices and reviews on some of the items you own.

Let's say your church has $5000 to spend on video equipment. You record sermons and put them online. Do you need a $5000 camera in the balcony to replace the one worth $35? Maybe, if you intend to use it in other places rather than mounting it permanently, if you have a lot of extra space to store huge files, and if the better quality recordings translate to better quality online videos. However, you might be able to continue using the old camera or buy a $100 replacement. In fact, it's often LESS work for your volunteers to keep things simple. The problem is that your favorite salesman only makes $10 on the cheap camera instead of $500 on the super-duper-pro-cam. Plus, that's easier than selling a dozen different kinds of prosumer cameras and accessories. One item and a day off instead of days of research to help find the right item. Make sure you expect a little work out of your salesmen.

Another dilemma you might be having is the need for screens or computers. You have to get different opinions and quotes. But it's not a bad idea to ask people who attend your church what they might do. For example, as a former teacher, I know that only some teachers really use or want to use SmartBoards. Just about everyone wants computers and projectors, but only some really want the full SmartBoard setup, so it wasn't a surprise that every teacher in my department received $5000 SmartBoard setups when many of us would have preferred full HD hdmi-ready projectors at less than half the cost. At church, the question might be whether to get projectors or replace projectors with huge televisions. If your church is small enough or dark enough, have you even tried a "normal" projector rather than the ones designed specifically for churches? Can you borrow a test TV in the size you're thinking about so that you'll know before week one of the new TV whether or not it works. Have you thought of mounting 4 TVs together to make one big screen? Have you asked your members for ideas? Staff? Someone other than your best salesman?

I remember when I worked at a retail store that the manager told me it was cheaper to continuously buy new soap dispensers because they came with new soap instead of buying refills on the dispensers already owned. This meant a lot of holes in the bathroom wall and a lot of extra work. I don't know how much soap we went through at the store, so I can't say this manager was saving our store a ton of money, but he was impressed with himself. It seemed like small potatoes to me, but I guess if you save enough, it adds up.

Sometimes, you can save on the front end by SPENDING a little extra. Let's say a church is remodelling, and it could rewire for future security, knowing it would cost $10,000 extra now or $20,000 to retrofit the system later. It might be nice to save the $10,000. It also might be nice to see if there's a DIY way to add the security system when you do need it. With a decent plan and some volunteers, that $50,000 security system might run $10,000. Or, it might be too complicated, in which case it was still a good idea to think ahead. Should you lease computers or buy them or have staff/students bring their own? Ask a few people, staff, and parents before the salesman. It depends on what you need, not on what your salesman needs.