"Reasonable charges, plus some little extras on the side!
Charge 'em for the lice
Extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice."
-Thenardier, Master of House from Les Miserables
While IT companies that provide break/fix repair aren't as grasping as Thenardier, the Innkeeper from Les Miserables, a slice here and a cut there as you call your go-to repair shop to fix things adds up over the course of a year.
I've already written about the value of a service contract as a way to maintain productivity and contain IT costs (click here to read about proactive maintenance). Today, I'll be writing about some of the ways break/fix is cutting into your banking account.
What Is Break/Fix?
Just to make sure we're all on the same page, here's the Wikipedia definition of break/fix:
refers to the fee-for-service method of providing information technology services to businesses. Using this method an IT solution provider performs services as needed and bills the customer only for the work done. The service may include repairs, upgrades or installation of systems, components, peripheral equipment, networking, or software.
It's Reactive and Increases Downtime
There are two certainties in life: death and taxes. I'd add a third to that list: information technology will “break.” Hardware can physically break. Software “breaks” due to viruses, malware, or simple software upgrades. Many companies hold off on calling to repair “minor” issues until those issues snowball into system downtime. By waiting until you have to, you allow small issues to grow into larger ones. For instance, forgetting to update anti-virus software for a day or a week and you might get lucky. What happens when you don't update for two months and a virus destroys your network. Now you're looking at paying to update the software, you need a day to clean your network out (during which no one can access their computers), and possibly needing to rebuild infected computers.
Every Call Costs You Money
No matter how quick the fix, you're in for a minimal call out fee.
Hard to Budget
Now, it's certain that IT will break. The timing is variable (though, according to Murphy's Law, will invariably happen at the most inconvenient time possible). This means that it's hard to budget – you could pay nothing or thousands of dollars in any given month. For small businesses with a tight budget, this uncertainty can be . . . uncomfortable.
You've taken the time to create a backup plan (that's great – and better than 65% of SMBs). From there, you could just assume that it's working flawlessly. That's wonderful, until you need to access that backup data and realize that your backups haven't been working for months.
Fishing For Work
Companies that rely on break/fix repair are often in “feast or famine” mode. Again, most are on the level, but you do need to be aware that some companies will suggest improvements to keep up their cash flow, not to help your business.
Penny-Wise and Pound Foolish
While you may not have stayed in an 19th-century inn lately, you may have flown on Spirit Air. If you have, you know that you have to pay extra to check in at the airport, for each bag, for a carry on, and so on. While this can equal a cheap flight, one, the planes are uncomfortable (even if new) and, two, it becomes annoying to pay for each additional thing you take for granted as part of the price for other airlines. Worse still, if you don't pay attention, you could end up paying more for your flight than if you had flown on another airline.
Paying for IT support on break/fix model is one way to “save” money. After all, you're only paying for those services you need when you need them. If you ignore the possibility of lost data and the reputational damage when you can't properly serve your customers because of that lost data; lost productivity; and the risks of hacking if you don't stay on top of network security; then, yes, you're “saving” money. In large measure though, it truly is false economy.
And if you do think that way, I encourage you to read about how successful businesses view IT strategically, not simply as a cost to managed by cutting corners.
A managed IT services partner has a vested interest in ensuring that they IT infrastructure they maintain for you works as smoothly as possible. Read more about managed IT services by clicking on the image below.