Automotive repair shops, electricians, plumbers, lawyers, realtors, dentists, doctors, accountants, etc. are heavily regulated to protect the consumer from receiving substandard work or getting ripped off. However, the computer industry is still highly unregulated and there aren’t any laws in existence to protect the consumer. Here are a few tips to keep from getting taken to the cleaners when choosing a managed services provider or IT consultant.
- Choosing a provider based on a single phone call. We recommend you invite them into your office and ask them for a written proposal. Be clear on what your expectations are and what type of problems you want them to resolve. As stated a moment ago, a competent professional should offer to do an audit of your network to diagnose your system BEFORE quoting you anything. After all, would you take a doctor’s word that you need surgery if they hadn’t done x-rays or other diagnostics? Of course not! Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.
- Choosing a provider that doesn’t have a written money–back guarantee. In our view, a good consulting firm should be accountable for their services and fixing things RIGHT. If you aren’t pleased with a job that was done, they should (at a minimum) make it right for free; and if they simply cannot resolve an issue to YOUR satisfaction, you shouldn’t get stuck with the bill.
Plus, the fact that they stand behind their work with a money-back guarantee shows they have confidence in themselves to make you a happy client. And don’t fall for the, “We don’t offer one because people will take advantage of us,” routine. In our experience, MOST people just want an honest service at a reasonable price. If you give them that, they are happy to pay. Are there a few unethical folks out there? Of course, but they are the minority, and we would rather bite the bullet on the very few dishonest folks so we can gain the trust and confidence of the majority of clients who just want their problems fixed fast and fixed right.
- Choosing a provider without speaking to several of the current clients. Check their references! Don’t just take the sales guy’s word that they are good – ask to speak to at least 3 or 4 clients that are similar in size and scope to you. If they hesitate or cannot provide you with references, don’t trust them!
Another good sign is that they should have multiple client testimonials and success stories posted on their web site and throughout their marketing collateral. A lack of this may be a sign that they don’t HAVE clients who are happy enough to provide a good reference – again, a warning sign.
- Choosing a provider who cannot remotely monitor, update and support your network. In this day and age, a computer consultant who doesn’t do this is living in the stone ages. You want someone to do this because it will dramatically increase your network’s security and will enable them to do faster repairs. That’s not to say they shouldn’t come onsite; but remote monitoring and repairs make fixing problems FASTER for YOU and help AVOID problems from cropping up in the first place.