When you were a kid, did you have a bicycle? If you did I’m sure you can recall the thrill of zooming away from home, feeling the wind in your face as well as the freedom of personal mobility. But all that freedom ended when you got a flat tire. If you were handy, you repaired the innertube yourself. You popped off the tire, found the leak and patched it with glue and a piece of rubber. In no time you were back on the road, off to find your next adventure.
These days, you run a small business that’s doing pretty well. Everything runs smoothly, that is until a server crashes or your network goes down. You’re still following the patching approach with the technical issues around the office, trying to repair things as they happen. And, yes, that strategy may work for a while, but just like that innertube, your business won’t run if it has too many leaks.
SMBs have many reasons why they let the technical portion of their business exist on the Break/Fix model. But is it really the safest way to ensure that your business keeps running? Maybe, up to a certain point of growth. But there will come a time when the breaks are outnumbering the fixes and your budget gets out of control. So, what are the other options? Let’s explore five reasons why small businesses are timid about signing contracts for Managed IT Services, as well as offer a few solutions:
Of course, the first reason is always cost. Some business owners find it difficult to see the logic behind paying a monthly fee whether they use the service or not. But they need to understand that they are using the service every day, through overnight software updates, constant SPAM filtering, and 24/7 system monitoring. And when something does break, it gets fixed as soon as possible.
It’s scary to sign up with an entity you don’t know. Your business workstations and network are what keeps you in business, so it’s not easy to trust it to an unknown service provider. The best bet, of course, is to get recommendations from friends or other business owners. And it’s easy to do a quick Google or Yelp search and read some reviews before you make your decision.
I know you’re probably thinking that Budget is the same thing as Cost, and they do go hand-in-hand, but the difference is that a Budget is something you can plan for. Unexpected Costs are what you’re trying to avoid. With a Managed Services Provider, you can budget the cost month to month, year to year. You can factor it into each yearly budget which will help you plan for company growth and expansion. On the flip side, if you’re still operating under the Break/Fix model, you can really rack up some unexpected bills quickly. Bunch together too many of these surprises and your plans for growth may just go down the drain.
When something in your office stops working, you must get it fixed and up and running as quickly as possible. Downtime is money lost! If you don't have a regular IT person you usually call, then you're searching the internet for whoever is available. You're hoping to get the best Tech you can, but in all reality, there is a very good chance you'll get an average Tech, or maybe even someone new to the industry. Then there's the Cost issue again. In the heat of the moment, you're willing to pay whatever it costs to get up and running. But a few weeks later, when you get the bill, it's much more than you thought you had agreed to. Things like drive time, off-hour calls, and even parts can inflate that bill.
Needless to say, with a Managed Services Agreement all those things are covered. You’ll also get well-trained and certified Techs who are familiar with your business. And since they are contracted with you they will make repairing your business a priority.
Signing a long-term contract for Managed Services is very much like a leap of faith. You want to be sure that you’re making the best decision for your company, and long-term contracts may seem counterproductive to those plans. What happens if you’re unhappy with the service? If you’re in a HaaS (Hardware as a Service) agreement, who owns the equipment if you terminate the contract? These are scary thoughts. Your business might falter if you make the wrong decision.
But the good news is that you can negotiate all of these things, and more before you sign a contract. Make sure to ask if there is a way to get out of a contract if you’re not happy with the service. Ask about the ownership of any hardware or software you’re concerned about. And, most of all, don’t sign with anyone who you’re not sure about. Use your best business intuition to judge if the fit is right for you.
As a small business, it makes sense to start with a Break/Fix model of IT repairs and maintenance. But as you grow it makes good business sense to contract out services and get those worries off your plate. A good MSP will actually become your Business Partner and help you with Growth. Look at it as a Force Multiplier: your monthly investment gives you your time back, opening the doors for increased productivity and more potential growth. Let the MSP worry about risk mitigation and cybersecurity updates and you can go back to doing what you do best; running your business. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have someone fix those flats for you when you were a kid?