We talk to a lot of people from a plethora of companies on a daily basis. We are constantly shocked with some practices of other IT firms and are amazed at how they possibly still sign up businesses! There are 4 things that really surprise us every time we come across them. We want to let everyone know some of these red flags that should have you running for the hills if you come across them.
They lock you in
One sure-fire way to tell that you should run very far from your current or a potential IT support provider is if they lock you into their service. Usually, this is part of the contract that you sign when you first hire them. If the contract specifies a long term, like a year, and has stiff financial penalties for ending the contract early it is not a good sign. Your IT support is not a cell phone with its 2-year contract. You don’t need to be locked into the same company for the next year or even longer. This clause only makes us think that the company is not confident enough in its abilities to make you WANT to stick around that long. Plus, once they have you locked in, there is no incentive to continue to provide excellent support, since you really have nowhere else to go for a while.
They hold the passwords and keys to your kingdom
If you are the owner of your business or the person who is put in charge of managing the IT support, there is no reason for you to not know the administrative passwords on your systems. There are really only 2 reasons your IT consultant would have for keeping the passwords, license codes, and reporting away from you. The first is that it makes it extremely difficult for you to switch IT providers. If you don’t have the ability to give someone else administrative rights, you are reliant on them. This also points to not having confidence in their own abilities to keep you as a happy client. The other reason they would keep that information from you is that they don’t trust you enough to hand it over. Perhaps they are nervous about the potential damage that you could do to the network, or they think you may pass it around, or stick it on a post-it note in your office. The reason that would be a red flag is that there should be trust on both sides of the table. Your IT support should be just that, something that supports you and your business.
They have slow response times
There is nothing more frustrating for a business owner than downtime. Even if it is only one employee that is experiencing the outage. Lost productivity can never be regained, and can cost your company thousands of dollars every day. Today’s businesses are run almost completely on technology, and waiting for someone to fix the issue can bring your entire company to a screeching halt. Time-to-resolution is critical, and your IT support provider should be very aware and sympathetic to it. There still may be times when you have to wait for a resolution to smaller issues, but critical “business down” situations should be treated as such. If you constantly have to wait an unacceptable amount of time for a solution to your technical problems, it’s definitely time to start shopping for a new provider.
There are unexplained charges or confusing invoices
For a business owner that isn’t very familiar with a lot of technical terms, reading an invoice from your IT support provider should not feel like reading Greek. Each line item should be clearly explained and there shouldn’t be any surprises on the invoice. When signing up for service, your provider should go through each charge for approval to make sure you are both on the same page. Great IT companies will offer a flat rate monthly service on a per user basis and only charge hourly for special requests and occasions like upgrade projects. If your invoice is consistently based on an hourly rate, there should be detailed explanations as to what was accomplished during that hour of work.
Don’t get stuck with poor IT service! There are a great number of options out there for you to choose from, just don’t choose any that have the above mentioned practices!