Last week I met with a potential client. They were paying about half of the normal rate for IT services from a low cost provider in Colorado Springs – and complaining that a building in the network was offline for three weeks and a PC took over two weeks to get repaired. I also have a friend who has an MSP who charges top dollar for a higher level of service. We sometimes lament together about tech companies who charge half or less than the industry norm.
All of this got me thinking that IT really is like the rest of society and the things we buy.
Many years ago I had a Volkswagen Kombi that I worked on myself. At the same time my brother worked in an auto shop and we had a friend whose dad drove a Snap-on truck. Because I hated breaking wrenches, I bought Craftsman tools at Sears yet I envied my brother who had the Snap-on truck stop by and sell really nice tools. There were also times that I mistakenly bought tools at K-Mart which were a deal until I had an engine out of the car, loosening a bolt, and the wrench snapped, ripping skin from my greasy knuckles. At that point I had to beg friends or steal Dad’s car to drive to Sears to get the right tool. I learned the hard way that buying tools at K-Mart saved money in the short term but ate up my time in the long run. Finally, every vintage VW owner has had to learn to improvise and sometimes make tools to accomplish a repair. This usually took more time to improvise than actually buying a good tool. This also carried the risk of stripping a nut or breaking something more valuable.
I recently bought some jewelry for my wife for Mother’s day. Luckily she is not a big jewelry fan and she picked out what she wanted. I went to Macy’s and there was a really nice lady behind the counter, she helped out and advised on all things jewelry and it was an easy process. A few months earlier, I just needed some basic hoop earrings and happened to be at Walmart so I thought I would grab them there; 14K Gold earrings should be available anywhere right? What a comparably horrible experience, it was mid-day and I had to spend 15 minutes finding a sales person. The process took too long and in the end my wife could tell they were inexpensive jewelry – not that she was expecting fancy. Contrast that with people I know who make their own jewelry – it is beautiful, one of a kind, well built, but it takes them quite a while to make one piece.
The IT world is similar to Jewelry and Tools.
1. If you would like to work on your own IT and build your own network, you will spend a lot less money up front. You will also, like the jewelry and home made tools, end up with something completely unique and built for a specific purpose. The biggest bit of advice here is to document everything and make sure someone else has a copy of your passwords.
2. If you would like the Walmart or K-Mart version of IT, it is out there and many companies buy it. Please understand that you will get what you pay for and like shopping at Walmart – you will eventually get taken care of – but you will be frustrated and those employees you care about will know that something is just not right, like the earrings.
3. The sweet spot is the Macy’s and Sears of IT. It is not the highest cost option, you do occasionally question if the extra expense is worth it, however in the end, your expectations are always met and most often exceeded. You have IT staff to advise and work alongside you and you feel well taken care of.
4. At the high end, as with Snap-on and Tiffany’s you are always taken care of and your expectations are almost certainly exceeded, however you always question that bill every month. You are most likely paying for the name of the IT company and the exclusivity of its service.
The bottom line for Colorado Computer Support is that we are striving to be a great company, which always meets and usually exceeds expectations. We do not want to overcharge, however at the same time realize that if we undercharge I will always have to explain why I cannot hire the right staff. I never want to explain to clients why we have delivered a K-Mart experience.
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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