Top 10 Things Every Business Owner Must Know About Hiring An Honest, Competent, Responsive and Fairly Priced IT Company

09/28/2013 10:08 am ET | Updated Nov 28, 2013

Choosing a computer support company isn't easy. There are no shortages of horror stories about incompetent computer repair "gurus" bungling jobs and causing MORE problems as a result of their lack of knowledge. I'm sure if you talk to your own friends and colleagues you will get an ear-full of the unfortunate experiences they have encountered in this area.

Why is this? Because it is not regulated like many other professional service industries, which means ANYONE can claim they are a "computer repair expert." In fact, a lot of the businesses in this industry started because the owner was fired or laid off from their job and couldn't find work anywhere else, or they hire people who are not properly trained to support a business.

Unfortunately they will try to take advantage of trusting business owners who simply do not have the ability to determine whether or not they know what they are doing. From misleading information, unqualified technicians, poor management and terrible customer service, we've seen it all.

This is why it's so important for you to arm yourself with the information below:

Here is my list of the Top 10 things you should look for (or look out for!) when hiring an IT company...

10. They own all the IT problems.
When something goes wrong with your Internet service, phone systems, printers or other IT services, a good IT company should own the problem for its clients (versus saying "that's not our problem to fix"). As a business owner, you shouldn't have to try and resolve any of these issues on your own - that's just plain old good service and something many computer guys won't do.

9. They conduct periodic test restores of your backups.
The worst time to "test" a backup is when you desperately need it. A proactive IT company will insist on performing regular "fire drills" and perform a test restore from backup to make sure your data can be recovered in the event of an emergency.

8. They offer a TRULY all-inclusive support plan.
Many IT companies say they offer all-inclusive plans, but they are saddled with "gotchas" hidden in the fine print. An authentic all-inclusive managed services plan is just that - all inclusive.

7. They provide you with a monthly report of your network.
A good IT company should provide you with a detailed report each month that shows an overall health score of your network that includes all updates, security patches, and status of every machine in your network so your know FOR SURE that your systems have been secured and updated.

6. They monitor your network 24-7-365.
Your IT company should continuously watch over your network to look for developing problems, security issues and other problems to address them BEFORE they turn into bigger problems.

5. They consistently (and proactively) offer new ways to improve your network's performance instead of waiting until you have a problem to make recommendations.
A great IT company will invest in their people with training and education to understand the latest offerings that will fit into their client's businesses. They will also conduct monthly on-site visits with their clients to look for new ways to help improve their operations, lower costs, increase efficiencies and resolve any problems that may be arising.

4. They avoid "geek-speak."
A competent IT company should take the time to explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms you can understand. You should never be made to feel stupid for asking questions. And they should meet with you on a regular basis to make sure you are using technology to grow your business.

3. They have a written, guaranteed response time to your calls.
Your IT company should have a technician working on your problem within 60 minutes or less of your call. A great IT company will have this written into their service agreements.

2. They answer their phone live.
When you have a computer problem that is keeping you from your work, it is especially frustrating to have to leave a voicemail and wait for a call back. A responsive IT company knows this and will answer your call live, every time 24/7.

1. They will offer to complete a FREE audit of your network.
A truly competent IT company will offer to come out to your office and conduct a complementary assessment of your entire network to help you look for any potential issues you are facing, or to at least verify that your current IT company has all your bases covered.

Sign up at www.mxotech.com or call us at 312.554.5699 for access to the complete list of the 21 Revealing Questions You Should Ask Any Computer Consultant Before Giving Them Access to Your Company's Network.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.