The last year showed us just how vital technology is to small businesses. A lot of businesses had to shift to using Zoom, Google Hangouts or WebEx to conduct meetings with customers and their staff due to the pandemic. Throughout this process, many business owners ran into complications and IT issues with trying to use various web conferencing platforms. As a result, businesses turned to IT service providers to help.
As an essential component of successful businesses, having an IT person you can call for help is a must. For businesses still struggling with their information technology needs, there are a few things to know before hiring just any IT service provider.
Check Online Reviews
As the number one recommendation for business owners who find themselves in this spot, check reviews of an IT provider you are interested in working with. It’s critical to see reviews from real customers the IT service has previously worked with. If you notice a lot of negative reviews and ratings, it’s a good indication to avoid that business altogether.
Be sure to check reviews from a number of locations too. Look for reviews on Google My Business, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Chamber of Commerce and Nextdoor (if this is available in your area).
Determine A Realistic Budget
Computer support and IT services are costly. Whether you are hiring someone on an hourly basis or monthly retainer, you’ll need to determine a realistic budget for the professional. Plan to spend a minimum of $75 / hour for general IT support. If you require support for something a bit more complex, you’ll be looking at $100 to $150 an hour. Just like an attorney, an IT specialist charges you as soon as you are “on the clock” so be sure to manage their time wisely.
Just like checking online reviews for the service provider, you’ll also want to scope out the professional’s LinkedIn page. LinkedIn is essentially an online resume and will show you who the individual has worked with. If they have limited experience, you may want to find another professional. Try to find how many connections the individual has and how active they are on LinkedIn. If they are actively sharing articles and information related to IT services, it’s a safe bet that they are current on the industry and will be a good hire.
Hire Local, Always
Most computer support requires a hands-on person to do the job. While services like Fiverr and Upwork exist and you’ll find plenty of IT providers, it’s important to choose someone local who can visit your office in person. A local service provider like Gravity IT Solutions will be able to come in your office or business location, diagnose any computer-related issues and solve them for you. If you hire an online IT expert, you’ll likely be put in a queue and they will have no way to physically fix your problem.
When Is It Time for a Full-Time Employee?
Any business owner knows it’s less expensive to hire an outside consultant on an hourly basis. However, if your consultant is working 100+ hours a month, it may be time to consider bringing someone on-board on a full-time basis. While you’ll need to pay a salary and benefits, you’ll have an IT expert in-house and at willing to work on just about any issue.
If you recently hired an IT partner for your business, let us know in the comments how it’s going.