From being in the IT industry for over the past decade, we have seen it all. From computer freezing pop up ads, to deceptive sales practices, there are a million ways to “trick” business owners into buying services they may not necessarily need – or even worse – not actually fulfill the promised services.
1. Charging Per Hour With Junior Technicians
Different companies have different billing models, not that any particular one is “right” or “wrong” there are certain practices that some can use to take advantage, like billing top dollar, but using a technician that isn’t qualified.
When you are paying per hour for a technician, always ask the credentials of the person who is doing the work. Then follow up by researching that particular certification to see how much work it actually is and whether or not it is relevant to your situation. Or – simply ask why this particular technician is working on your particular issue.
2. Check Your Update History
Checking under windows security and updates to see when the last update patch was actually applied. This page will display whether or not your patches have been kept up to date. When you click the “Check For Updates” button it shouldn’t come up with any results. Or at the very least, less than one week worth of results. The way this works is when your security isn’t patched and up to date – the computer can crash.
When the computer crashes – who gets paid next? That’s right, the IT guy. This problem is solved by patch management tools, which should be part of any reputable managed service provider’s toolkit.
3. Only Selling the Kitchen Sink
The reality in IT is you can position virtually any product or service as “NECESSARY.” and while that is true, that each has it’s own merits, there are some low hanging fruit where you get a lot of bang for your buck and others that aren’t worth the price of admission.
For instance, using 2FA (2 Factor Authentication) is a standard best practice which can significantly reduce the chances of your software being hacked. The cost is usually $0 and some companies even lower their fees if you use it.
On the other hand, tech companies can sell you on virtualization and cloud computing. I’ll say up front, there are times where this is definitely in the customer’s best interest, but not all customers are created equal. A solo lawyer working out of their living room (pre COVID-19) that is using CLIO will not get a ton of value out of having Microsoft 365 Business Premium, which includes mobile device management and active directory instead of Business 365 Basic (which costs 4x less). Then include the tech companies mark up, and you’re paying $350-$400/year for software you are only using the $60/year piece. Multiply that by how many employees you have, and that’s a large chunk.
4. Not Using / Offering Security Awareness Training
A majority of the issues in cyber security come from the weakest link in the organization. 94% of malware is delivered through email. With that statistic in mind, why wouldn’t one offer ways to prevent this from happening? Back to the billing per hour model – because the more it breaks, the more you need to pay to get it fixed. PLUS the IT guy looks like a hero with a ton of value because he is able to remediate your immediate issues.
When security awareness training is implemented (which is legally required for some certifications) it will drastically reduce the amount of malware that gets in a system. Which, drastically reduces the support calls, which drastically reduces the IT guy’s pay day.
5. Using Reactive Consumer Anti Virus vs Proactive Monitored Anti Virus
We hear all too often, I have “Insert Weak Consumer Antivirus” so I am covered. While it is better than nothing (sometimes) it still gives malware the opportunity to get on your system. When malware happens, who do you need to call? The IT guy… who do they send? The junior technician. What do they charge? Top dollar. As you can see it is a vicious cycle of making money because the users are not tech savvy, and it isn’t in the IT company’s best interest, financially, to do anything about it.
What Can I Do About It?
Armed with this knowledge, you can ask your current provider why they charge per hour? What proactive measures they use? Or if you prefer to avoid the awkward conversation, you can use a company like Rush Tech Support, who is offering free security checks for small business owners and can give you a report on what to ask, and show where your current provider may be taking advantage of you.
Unfortunately, we get many of our new clients after the current managed service provider dropped the ball and it is too late. They have their entire company encrypted from malware, updates never were applied, backups were never checked, and now a junior technician is charging over $100/hr to try and fix something they caused to happen.
In order to combat the injustice, we implement proactive solutions at a fixed monthly cost. This protects the business, and stabilizes the IT cost. Our motivator is keeping the business running smooth, because we lose money every time your system has an issue. We feel that it is best for the customer that our financial incentives are in line with their own.