Is My IT Company Ripping Me Off?
With technology developing daily, organizations have decided to outsource their IT department to a full-service IT company. Outsourcing can be done for various reasons, the most frequent being a company’s lack of expertise in the equipment and technology required. They decide to hire an outside business to manage the network so that they may concentrate on their products and services.
While a reputable company can provide excellent service, there are horror stories of IT companies taking advantage of small businesses by running up their fees or failing to provide anything. While you cannot monitor everything they do for your business, you should know of the requirements and any red flags that may arise while they are involved.
What IT Companies Do
Full-service IT companies can provide many services, including cloud services, backup support, network security and monitoring, business IT support, email services, information reporting, troubleshooting and tech support, technology training, cybersecurity, and hardware installation and maintenance. Hiring an IT company gives you access to employees with specific skills and knowledge. Employees will always be available to complete tasks as needed. This saves time and money over hiring someone for each service separately.
The needs of the business determine the frequency of visits. Many factors can influence how often you need support, such as: What is the total number of computers and peripherals in the office? How many people are there? Are there any developments or changes to your business that will involve technology?
When hiring a company, it’s best to discuss your needs and seek their advice on how frequently they should come in and what can be done remotely. For example, discuss equipment timelines and when items will need to be replaced or updated.
Red Flags to Watch For
While we hope that any company we work with is reliable, there are always a few bad apples. These companies attempt to overcharge you, reducing your company’s profits. Here are some things to keep an eye out for when choosing an IT firm:
- Don’t Feel Like They Take Initiative
- When an employee looks like they don’t want to be there or rush the job they need to do, it can cause concern. Are they just doing the bare minimum, or are they taking the time to find any other issues that could pop up? Are they asking staff if there are any other problems while they are there?
- Never Come to The Site
- Remote services are effective and efficient, but sometimes it is necessary to go onsite. Your IT company should make at least one monthly or quarterly visit to check on changes to your office environment, any new or potential vulnerabilities, and hardware condition.
- Different Employees Every Time
- When you deal with an outside company, you generally want to have one contact you can call upon for any issues. If you are dealing with someone new every time, how do they understand your business needs? How do you form a good working relationship when you never see the person again?
- Oversee Everything They Do
- You hired a professional service for the expertise and customer service. It can seem a bit suspicious if you must chase them to find out what issues they fixed or what updates they did. Then you feel you need to watch over everything they do, taking you away from your tasks.
- They Frequently Suggest New Equipment to Purchase But Don’t Tell You Why You Need It
- It’s essential to upgrade failing or outdated equipment, but if you replace items more frequently than needed, why are they replacing them? If they can’t be honest and tell you why they purchased items, you may be paying for things you don’t need.
- Invoices Have Additional Costs Billed with No Approval or Reason
- When checking the monthly invoice, you may notice additional hours charged. There may be a plausible reason for these charges (phone support, extra time needed for work being done), but sometimes employees may tack on additional hours thinking you won’t check. If you know for a fact they were in your office for 2 hours, and they charged you for 4, you may need to ask them why.
- You Keep Calling Them for The Same Issue
- If you have a continuously erroring printer, is your IT company fixing the root cause? Troubleshooting can take a few attempts, but if it’s a recurring issue, are they just pretending to fix it and charging you a fee each time they come out?
How To Prevent Being Taken Advantage Of
You can do some things to prevent IT Companies from overcharging you.
- Ask Lots of Questions and Get Answers
- You should be able to ask your IT employee about what they are doing and why they are doing it. It’s essential to be informed about what’s being done. You don’t need to know all the technical terms, but a basic understanding of technology is an asset. The IT staff should be willing to educate you.
- Have a Set IT Budget
- Knowing how much money to spend on IT will give you an idea of being overcharged. Take inventory of your IT equipment and plan for future expenses. Consider recurring expenditures for hardware, software, personnel, and disaster recovery.
- Have Everything in Writing
- When you sign a contract with an IT company, have everything written into the contract. What are their hourly, flat service, emergency, travel, and after-hours rates? How often will they perform maintenance? When everything is in writing, there are no surprises on your bill later.
Having monthly or quarterly meetings with your IT company is recommended to review their services and get their recommendations for the next month’s tasks. When you have open and honest conversations, you can trust that they are giving the best information to you and providing a good service. If you ever feel that a company isn’t being honest and they evade your contact, it might be time to find a new one.
Steve Calicott is the CEO of TechSeven Partners> Tech Seven Partners is a leading business IT services firm serving small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses. The vision of TechSeven Partners is to provide reliable, innovative technical solutions to clients to allow them to focus more on their business. So when it comes to business IT support Charlotte, look no further than TechSeven Partners.