As a business owner, you may be thinking about hiring an IT Services company to help you with the computers and technology in your business. If this describes you, this blog post will help you get your arms around what it means to have an IT Services company servicing your business technology.
Hi! I’m Wally. In this post, I’ll be sharing real-world questions, problems, and solutions with you based upon my experience in the IT Services industry.
Everything you’ll read here is true
My experience and the experience of our company, DTS InfoTech, LLC, has been learned on the job over many years. We are not writing about hypothetical scenarios that we’ve read about or heard.
We live IT Services and have for many, many years
Here at DTS InfoTech, we have many rules we follow daily. I am assuming you live by rules as well.
Some rules are subtle and unspoken, but some rules when broken, have a major impact on how we conduct our personal lives and in our business.
Our first rule is a biggie! Treat other people as you would treat yourself
Why? Because potential problems never become a problem. Good treatment heads off problems businesses will face day-in and day-out.
So the post you’re about to read has at its core the idea that we must treat people the way we would treat ourselves
All that said
I’ve written this post “How IT Services Should Work” from this notion that you want an IT Services company to treat you like they would treat themselves. Pretty simple, but it raises questions for us to talk about and they are:
- What does "treat you like they treat themselves" mean within the technology industry?
- What can you expect from an IT Services company?
- What should you be looking for from an IT Services company?
These are good questions with helpful answers.
In the beginning
How you get started is our first point:
- Finding an IT Services company has to start somewhere, but where do you start?
- What should you find out about these companies?
- What should you look for in any company you want to hire?
After you finish the beginning, what’s next?
After the beginning, you are maintaining the relationship
After you’ve hired a company to help you with your computers and technology, you should have some idea of what to expect from this company going forward. How do you maintain the relationship, so it’s healthy and productive, which ensures it will provide your business with consistent technological support?
Lastly, how to discontinue IT Services
Companies discontinue service from an IT Services company for numerous reasons. The way to discontinue the service is to get off on a good start, which is the last point in this post.
Whew, that long introduction is over, let's get started!
One: How IT Services Begin
When you call a service company, keep in mind that they know very little about your business. If you’re a car mechanic, of course, they’ll have a general idea about what you do, but they will not know exactly how you do it with computers and technology. Why? In our experience, we have learned over many years all businesses are unique even within the same industry.
Businesses will not give you a quote over the phone. At best, the car repair shop may give you a range of pricing, a minimum to perhaps a maximum, but it will only be a ballpark price at best. IT Service companies are the same.
An IT Service company will have to come over to your office and physically look at your computers and technology and “take a look under the hood” if you will. Known as a network evaluation or health assessment of your computer and technology, the service company will also want to find out about you and how you do your business.
After the initial visit, the service provider will require some time to create a written proposal that they can submit to you, requiring a second visit to your business, for a question and answer session based upon what they found on the first visit.
The second visit is where you find out about your technology: what the technician found that was good and what they found that was not so good, if any. You’ll find out how much it will cost to fix any outstanding problems you have.
Their proposal will also list the monthly price you’ll be required to pay to have your computers and technology maintained every month.
Two: How The Relationship Between Customer and Service Provider Is Maintained
Let’s assume you like the service company. You’re encouraged and anxious!
The proposed solutions and the monthly price are agreeable to you, and you want to get started with them. What can you expect from this service company? How do you maintain a healthy relationship? Good questions!
A well structured and written proposal will spell everything out for you as their customer. It will include numerous items, too many to list in this blog post, but here are a few.
- How do you get help when your computers or any technology you have is not working?
- What hours are they open?
- Do they provide emergency support after hours and on weekends?
- How long is the agreement?
- Do you have to sign a long term, i.e., two to three-year contract?
- Is there any contract at all?
- What services are included for the monthly price?
- When you have problems, how long do you have to wait for them to arrive, or remote into your systems?
- Do they guarantee their work?
- Do they service all of your technology or just some of it?
All these questions and more you must find out. Answers to these are very important.
A good relationship with a service provider = knowing what you’re getting for your money
. . . and what you are not getting. Knowing the service levels is very important for a good start, and a good ending, should the time come to discontinue the relationship.
If you decide to hire a services company, a well structured and written proposal that is followed by both companies will give you a good start on a long, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.
Three: How To Stop IT Services
All good things come to an end. Companies are bought and sold. Management changes. Businesses go out of business, etc. As a business owner, you know this.
So how do you terminate a relationship with an IT Services company? By the book! Also known as a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and based upon a well structured and written proposal, conceived during the IT Service company’s first visit to your office.
You will have to follow the agreement to terminate their services. Pretty simple, really, but not always fun or enjoyable.
You can have a great relationship with an IT Services company over many years that sadly comes to an end because your company is sold off, or the new “bigger fish” owners bring their IT Department or outsourced IT Services with them. It happens. But it should not end poorly.
How should an IT Services company approach your business? What is their philosophy about doing business?
There are numerous IT Service providers for you to choose from. You can hire locally. You can also hire nationally. You can even hire internationally! How do you decide to hire?
DTS InfoTech recommends at least ten business philosophies for IT Services you should look to hire, but there are probably more
When you invite an IT Services company over to visit your business, we suggest you set the tone of the meeting (if they don’t) by establishing some ground rules.
Tip: set expectations on the phone as part of your first conversation!
If they are not agreeable to these suggestions in part or whole, keep looking for a service company who will. You’ll be glad you did! Trust us.
In no particular order:
- Ask them to come and visit you in your office and talk to you about YOUR business, not theirs.
- Ask them to not sell you on THEIR business. There will be time for that later.
- Ask them to check out your computers and printers and server room and software, all the technology and computer skills of your employees, before they tell you anything. The second meeting is where they will tell you what they learned.
- Ask them to propose solutions for your business that will solve problems for YOUR business. Making money off of your business should not be their first objective.
- Tell them that their proposal should spell out exactly what you’re getting for your money.
- Tell them that some of their proposed solutions may not make them any money; right now. That’s just how it works out sometimes.
- Tell them a service company should try to save you money if they can, when and where they can.
- Ask them to help you figure out a way for your business to do technology better if it even can be done better than how you’re currently doing it.
- Ask them for a proposal, written in plain English, on paper, using no —zero — geek speak.
- Tell them you will not sign a long-term service contract, e.g., two or three years. You want the freedom to terminate services at any time and for any reason.
I could go on and on about attitudes you want from an IT Services company, but I think you get the picture
You essentially want to be treated the way you treat other people. That is you look for ways to Listen, Communicate, Teach, and Help. Imagine a world where everyone acted this way. The evening news would be inspiring, even enjoyable to watch!
Summing it up - pretty simple attitudes and actions we think
The attitudes and actions we’re talking about here are the ones we’ve learned and used over many years. Our experience has shown them to be very effective for our customers and us.
- When you listen to a business owner and understand their technology challenges, you provide better service.
- When you communicate in a clear, concise, and honest way, a business owner will make a better decision for their business.
- When you teach someone everything they need to know to do their job better, you earn their trust.
- When you help a person who needs help, you make a friend. The tech term for this is - good!
DTS InfoTech Can Help
We’re good at IT Services. Seriously, we are. It’s how we’ve made our living for many, many years.
On the other hand, most small businesses do not have the expertise, technical resources, or time to understand all this technology stuff. If this describes you, we can help.
If you would like more information, please give us a call, we’re always happy to chat, and the call is free!
Dedicated to your success,
dts|infotech . . . secure computer networks that work