An IT support company can make a huge difference to the way a small business, even if, on the surface, your IT needs might appear minimal. Even for ‘straightforward’ businesses, regular cloud-based backups and data management can preserve the integrity of your business and the security of your customers, while hosted Office 365 and email solutions can reduce your dependence on solid IT hardware, giving your team the freedom to work remotely. However, before signing up to a service provider or lengthy contract, there are some things you need to know. Here are the most important things to consider when you’re looking for the right IT support company.

1) What kind of support is available?

‘IT Support’ covers a very broad range of skills and activities, from physical server repair, to cloud migration, and everything in between. Therefore, while the average IT support company has good rounded knowledge in all these areas, they will invariably have areas in which they shine more brightly. The takeaway is to make sure the partner you choose has the right match of skills to meet the needs of your business, both now and in the future, or you’ll end up being under-provided with the support you need.

The means by which the company supports you, and how you get in touch with them, is also important. Many people prefer being able to pick up the phone, rather than having to send an email, and most people like the option of both, depending on the problem and the circumstances! That’s particularly true when you have a problem; talking to another person at the end of the line can lead to faster, simpler solutions, rather than an endless emails back and forth.

That’s why it’s a good idea to seek out a support company that has a landline you can call, and not just online ticketing, email, or webchat. F1 Support’s telephone support is unlimited, with just a monthly flat rate to pay. This can make a big difference to your productivity, as well as your relationship with the IT team.

2) Do they provide you with hardware?

Most support companies start from the basis of the IT hardware and software you already have, rather than what you necessarily need. This is fine if you’re already well set-up with IT infrastructure, but it’s worth looking for a company that can help you with procurement in addition to support. When your hardware needs replacing, a good IT support company can deal with that, advising you on the best purchases to make to support your team and ensure a good return on investment.

3) Are there hidden charges?

No provider will admit to ‘hidden charges’ but it’s worth asking what is included in your contractual fee and what additional services may incur a charge. Some providers, for example will charge an extra fee for hardware maintenance in cases of ‘physical damage’ – e.g. if a laptop has been dropped or a printer jammed, and many will apply callout charges outside your contractual SLA. That’s why it’s essential to weigh up all the likely costs of your IT support company upfront before committing to a contract. In particular, look for one-off charges, such as set up fees and admin charges, and if they levy commission on spare parts and hardware procurement. There’s nothing inherently wrong or unfair about these charges but providers do have a duty of care to be transparent and consistent about costs.

You should also check how onsite charges are calculated. Many companies charge in 1-hour increments. This can mean hefty bills for short visits, especially in comparison with a company like F1 Support, who use more precise 15-minute increments instead.

4) Do they understand small businesses?

Small businesses have their own particular needs, especially when it comes to finances. You may not have a huge budget for IT, so you should look for a company that will provide good value for money and be responsive to your working patterns. A larger business may be able to afford the cost of a major shutdown or change to update software, for instance, whereas a similar loss of productivity could cripple a smaller enterprise. A support company like F1 Support can also help you here, because of a deep understanding of different types of software, hardware, and IT frameworks for various small business models. We’ll help you find the right software that fits your business requirements, so you don’t waste money, time, and resources trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

What next?

Got more questions? If you’re still curious about how to find the right IT support company for your business, get in touch with F1 Support. We’ll talk you through our services, and help you make the important IT decisions that can have an impact on the future of your company.