IT Service Provider Misconception #1: My computer network doesn’t need regular monitoring and maintenance.
This is probably one of the biggest and most costly misconceptions that business owners have about IT service providers. Usually this is because they’ve been fortunate enough to have never encountered a major IT disaster; but that’s similar to someone thinking they don’t need to wear a seat belt when driving a car because they’ve never had an accident.
Computer networks are complex and dynamic systems that need regular updates and maintenance to stay up, running fast and problem-free. In fact, it’s surprising how fast a brand-new PC will slow down after a few weeks of use without proper updates and maintenance. Here are just a FEW of the critical updates that need to be done by an IT Service Provider on a weekly – if not daily – basis: * Security patches applied – with NEW viruses and hacker attacks cropping up DAILY, this is a CRITICAL part of maintaining your network * Antivirus updates and monitoring * Firewall updates and monitoring * Backup monitoring and test restores * Spam-filter installation and updates * Spyware detection and removal * Monitoring disk space on workstations and servers * Monitoring hardware for signs of failure * Optimizing systems for maximum speed
Your computer network is just like a car: if you don’t change the oil, replace the filter, rotate the tires, flush the transmission and perform other regular maintenance, it will eventually break down and cost you FAR MORE to repair than the cost of the basic maintenance.
If your IT support company does not insist on some type of regular, automated monitoring or maintenance of your network, DO NOT HIRE THEM. Lack of computer system maintenance is the NUMBER ONE reason most people end up losing valuable data and incurring heavy repair bills. If your managed service provider isn’t offering you these services, you need to find someone else to support your business, for two reasons:
- Either they don’t know enough to make this recommendation, which is a sure sign they are horribly inexperienced, OR
- They recognize that they are profiting from your computer problems and don’t want to recommend steps toward preventing you from needing their help on an ongoing basis. After all, they’ll get paid MORE to remove a virus than to make sure your system is patched, updated and secured (which can be done quickly and inexpensively with good monitoring).
Either reason is a good one to get as far away from that managed services company as possible!
Misconception #2: My nephew/neighbor’s kid/brother-in-law/office manager knows this computer stuff and can take care of our computers. Most people look for a part-time “guru” for one reason: to save a few bucks. But this often comes back to haunt them. We frequently get calls from business owners who desperately need our help to get them back up and running or to clean up a mess that was caused by an inexperienced neighbor, friend or relative who was just trying to help.
If the person you have working on your does not provide IT support for a living, there is a good chance they won’t have the knowledge or experience to truly help you – they are a hobbyist at best. And do you really want a part-time, inexperienced person responsible for handling something as important as your company’s data and network? As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. That’s not to say you need to go broke to find a great IT support company, but you shouldn’t be choosing one based on price alone.
Here’s what one of our clients had to say:
“We knew that to grow our business and to get to the point where we can practice good medicine, we needed the right IT help, instead of using friends, relatives and one-man shops. The old saying is so true… you get what you pay for. We decided there were two options; hire an experienced IT person or outsource. We learned that retaining an IT company is less costly than a new hire. ~ Mara Parish, Business Administrator, OBGYN of East Brunswick
Misconception #3: All it service provider companies are created equal. Your best option will be the one who offers the lowest price. As stated above, you get what you pay for. A cheap price usually means a cheap job. Really good technicians do NOT work cheap because they are in high demand, just like every other professional service category. The only technicians that will work cheap are those who are just starting out, and they are grossly inexperienced.
And some shops will hire college kids or newbie technicians because they will work for next to nothing to gain experience, OR they allow interns to support your network because they don’t have to pay them at all – but what you don’t realize is that an inexperienced technician like this can end up costing more because:
- They improperly diagnose problems, which means you’re paying them to fix the WRONG thing and they STILL won’t resolve your problem. Case in point: A few years ago a TV reporter went undercover to 8 computer repair shops in LA with a perfectly working PC, but simply disconnected a cable in the back (a fix that the AVERAGE computer tech would have caught in minutes with a visual inspection). Several shops improperly diagnosed the problem and wanted to charge them anywhere from $59 to over $275 to fix it!
- They could take 3 to 5 times as long to do the same repair an experienced technician could fix quickly. Again, you’re paying for those extra hours.
- They could do MORE damage, costing you more money and downtime.
With your client data, accounting records, e-mail and other critical data at stake, do you REALLY want the lowest-priced shop working on your machine?
We take the view that most people want value for their money and simply want the job done right. At Certus Technologies, you’ll find that we are not the cheapest, but we don’t apologize for that. I decided a long time ago that I would rather explain our higher rates ONE TIME than make excuses for POOR SERVICE forever. That said, we’re not the most expensive either. I simply feel that we should offer great service at a fair price. That’s been my business philosophy for over 25 years and across 1,000 business clients.
Misconception #4: An honest IT service provider company should be able to give you a quote over the phone. I wish this were true, but it isn’t. Just like a good doctor, an honest and professional IT support company will need to diagnose your network before they can quote any price over the phone; consider the example above where all that was needed was to plug in a simple cable. If someone brought that to us, we would just plug it back in and not charge them; but without SEEING the machine, we could have never diagnosed that over the phone.
Also, some consultants will quote you a cheap rate over the phone to get in the door, but then jack up the prices once they get in your office by taking 3 times as long, selling you add-ons and up-sells, etc. And finally, reputable firms don’t usually charge by the hour anyway – they either give you a fixed, flat rate or a not-to-exceed amount. Here’s why…
One of the easiest ways to take advantage of a customer is to get them to agree to a time and materials repair. Unless you know what’s wrong and how long it should take, they can soak you on the fees. And what are you going to do when they get 5–6 hours into a repair or project and then spring on you the news that it will take even longer than they anticipated to fix, costing you MORE money?
Always, always, always make sure you get a flat-rate, fixed-fee quote in advance so you don’t end up getting burned – and NEVER take a phone quote!
Questions? Call me personally at 973–944–5000 or e-mail me at EBerk@CertusTechnologies.com.
About The Author
Evan Berk is Managing Partner at Certus Technologies, an IT Managed and Cloud Services firm that specializes in helping clients dramatically improve their business productivity.
Evan is passionate about simplifying and demystifying complex Information Technology systems and believes that the best IT systems should make our lives easier and more productive, both in the workplace and at home. He can be contacted at EBerk@CertusTechnologies.com or at 973-944-5000.