April May Newsletter
Remote Support vs On-site
Because of rising fuel prices some service companies are passing the costs of doing business to their customers by implementing trip charges.
While I’ve always had a policy of charging door-to-door for trips more than 15miles from my office, I’m not planning on adding any trip charges or raising rates to cover gas costs. In lieu of added charges, I’m trying to encourage customers to take advantage of my remote support services if the situation allows for it. My On-site rate is 110/hr. This is billable in 30 minute increments the first hour and then every 15 minutes after the first. The remote rate is $1.50 /minute. This roughly translates to $90/hr. In addition, except for virus removal situations, there is a 2.5 hr maximum charge for remote services per incident. The coupon below applies to remote services as well. Just tell me you want to use it when you call.
The things I cannot do remotely are as follows:
Complete virus removal services (I can scan and diagnose but I can’t do a full verified removal)
Hook up hardware.
Reload operating systems.
So the next time there’s a difficulty, Give a call and lets see if I can handle it remotely.
Reducing support costs.
Reducing costs is the concern of most businesses and rightly so because the less overhead you have the more profit you make. IT support costs for small businesses can be scary at times due to the situation small businesses find themselves in. Discounts for hardware bought in bulk are generally not available to them. Software necessary to everyday functioning like MS Office, Peachtree or Quickbooks can often break a budget if multiple licenses are needed.
An office of 5-10 employees or a home based business that only has 1 or 2 staff don’t have the ability to hire full-time IT support. The smallest company I’ve seen with a full time IT person was 20 employees. This was a special case due to the nature of their work.
What most small businesses do is Buy PC’s and software as they need them resulting in a mixture of hardware vintages, Operating Systems and brands of computers.
Most small business owners only call for help after they’ve spent hours trying to troubleshoot the problem themselves. This has the effect of taking them out of the business they’ve built, and puts them into the role of support technician. Many times I’ve followed up after such attempts and wondered why someone would spend a full day working on a problem to save the cost of calling a professional. It could be that the problem looks too complicated and they think that if they can’t figure it out themselves that a professional will take a large amount of time to repair it. For example, I received a call once for a software problem a user had spent a week trying to figure out with the aid of their boss. Turned out the error was a file permissions issue. A quick look at the logs and the error messages clued me in to the issue quickly.
Over the next few newsletters I’m going to try to outline steps that large businesses take to reduce costs and how small businesses can scale it down. I’ll cover such things as Standardization, Budgeting & polices.
First lets talk about knowing what you have.
Step 1: Identify what you have and who’s using it.
Occasionally I’ll get a call to repair a PC that ends up in a reload situation. I take great care to determine what’s installed on a PC and to preserve the data in case of a reload. However, there are times when I either cannot reinstall some software because the media is missing or the user forgot where they downloaded it from. There have also been occasions when I spend a great deal of time trying to get a piece of software to work only to discover it’s outdated, left over from a previous user or just not used anymore. Regular software inventory and management can save a lot of time and money on a service call.
If you regularly take stock of what software you have and who is using it you can save licensing costs and plan upgrades easier. You may also find that software is installed on 2 PC’s at once, thereby violating the licensing agreement with your vendor. Or you may have moved a PC to another user that doesn’t need all the things you installed for an worker in another role.
There are several utilities that can help you do this. Contact me for more info.
Our next newsletter will cover how standardizing things can save you money.
This was the text of my monthly newsletter. In it I offer tips for system maintenance, general computing and other issues that relate to the Small or Home Based business. I also include a coupon good for service that you can share with your friends.
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