Do you know exactly what your I.T. support will cost each month? Why not?
If your I.T. support company is like most, your bills can vary month to month, sometimes by thousands of dollars. This is because most I.T. support companies bill hourly for many of their services. If this is your current relationship, you need to ask why. Would you bring your car in for service, agree to pay hourly, and leave it with no idea how big the bill would be? Then why are you doing this with your I.T. support?
How does your I.T. support company invoice you? If it follows the most common procedure, then you are billed by the hour for some or all of the services. A mature I.T. support company should be able to give you a fixed fee, based on your environment, that you can understand and build into your budget. Why don’t most I.T. support companies do this? One word: RISK. With an hourly model, you own the risk. If they give you a fixed fee, then they own the risk.
For example, what happens if a virus gets into your network and creates a need for major repairs or even a complete rebuild? Who pays for that work in an hourly model? You do. A less drastic example involves new PCs: When you buy a PC, who pays to put it into the network? In an hourly model, you do. So the cost of a new PC is not just the hardware and software, but also the service charge to get it on the network. How long should it take? If you are paying by the hour, you need to know because the meter is running. Do you look over your mechanic’s shoulder when he or she is working on your car? Why would you do this with your I.T. support?
The Conflict of Interest in Hourly Fees
In spite of the inherent conflict of interest, almost every business operating in the I.T. support space has the same billing model: hourly charges for some or all of the services rendered. It’s a conflict of interest because any hourly billing provides a reward for doing the work and you are now responsible for managing that work. Was the work necessary? How long should it take?
If each hour of work adds to the invoice, then a company is rewarded for each hour. Even the most ethical company has a conflict with the reward of doing hourly work. Look at network security breaches as an example: They often require significant repairs, so when you’re paying a company by the hour for network security, it gets a massive payday every time you have an issue. Of course, you will eventually fire the company if issues keep occurring, but who owns the risk in the meantime?
We’ve gotten that call more than once. A business was paying an I.T. support company for security, and when the business network was infected with ransomware, the company had to pay the ransom and another $10,000 or more to rebuild the network. If that doesn’t feel right to you, you’re not alone.
In the same vein, I.T. companies might respond to complaints about a slow network by suggesting a server upgrade. While new servers will certainly increase speed, they can also result in a financial windfall for the installers. How do you know what is motivating the recommendation for that new server? Could other items better impact performance?
Changing the Game
At The Purple Guys, we price the only way that makes sense to business owners wanting accountability and return on investment from their I.T. support: a fixed fee based on the number of employees at your company. In the same way employee benefits increase with the addition of each new hire, I.T. support needs will increase and cost slightly more. Each employee uses computers and your network data, and they will inevitably need support.
Fixed fees mean we own the risk for I.T. support. We want what you want, stable, consistently running systems with productive employees. When an employee encounters an issue, we want to fix it quickly and permanently. We make money only when employees are productive and when things are running smoothly. Network issues hit us financially just like they hit you. It puts us totally on the same side.
Money is not the only measure of our success: We actively solicit feedback. Each interaction with our service team provides an opportunity to offer feedback on our performance. It’s quick and easy so we get a 60 percent response rate, and the survey answers are 97.4 percent positive. If you want to have that experience with your I.T. service provider, look for these two factors:
- Consistent response time: Any service agreement you sign should lay out expectations for an acceptable response time. Whether it’s a week or an hour, you should know what it is and be able to hold your service provider accountable. Our customers’ experiences are overwhelmingly positive, and that’s in large part because we’re able to deliver service when it’s needed most.
- Predictable pricing structure: Do you know how long it takes to replace a PC, install software on multiple devices, or implement network security measures? Probably not. If you’re paying a fixed fee, however, you know that your I.T. service provider will work efficiently to save time in the short term and preserve long-term margins.
Speedy service and predictable pricing are two important pillars in any business relationship, but they’re even more imperative from an I.T. standpoint. You’re probably not in the know when it comes to the I.T. side of your business, which is why you’re outsourcing it in the first place. When you know how quickly I.T. support can respond and can count on a fixed cost each month, you know you can trust the work that I.T. professionals are doing.
For responsive, cost-efficient I.T. solutions, visit The Purple Guys for our list of all-inclusive services.