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For small business owners, setting up a retainer relationship is a smart way to make sure your business has the IT services and support it needs, whether you have in-house IT support or not. With a retainer in place, your business receives the benefit of an entire team’s skills and know-how at a fraction of the cost that it would take to hire up the personnel. It also means that when you do need IT help, you receive it quickly; reducing downtime and increasing confidence your IT needs are always taken care of.
At Tech to U, we’ve adopted a best practice of creating retainer solutions based on an assessment of your needs. Whether you need to fully outsource your IT function, or simply fill specific skill gaps – Tech To U dedicates team members to meet needs specifically for your business.
With a retained team in place you’re always covered. They work in the background as you carry out day to day business duties and you contact them whenever you require support. This allows you to focus on running your business rather than worrying about IT.
When you setup a retainer with a provider who dedicates resources to your business you also benefit from continuity in two ways:
- Your IT provider will begin to understand your business and they are in a position to recommend solutions and changes that align IT investments with your business goals.
- Your staff get to see the same faces consistently and begin to work together more effectively.
Retainers can also be structured so you receive proactive IT support and monitoring of your systems. Problems are less likely to escalate to a critical level due to this proactive approach. This reduces costly repairs and unexpected interruptions and over the long term, it will actually reduce your retainer fees as your IT provider is not being called on as frequently to “fix things”.
If you choose to setup a retainer with an IT provider, ensure there is flexibility in the contract to scale support levels up or down with limited or no “penalties”, especially early in a business relationship. Your situation can change and you don’t want to be handcuffed with a restrictive contract.
If you’re comfortable with your provider, signing longer term contracts can offer you benefits such rate discounts or additional services at no charge. Your provider benefits because certainty from longer term agreements allows them to properly allocate resources and make hiring decisions because of committed contracts.
If you’re entering into negotiations with your IT provider, keep in mind that you both stand to benefit from structuring a retainer agreement of 12 months, or longer. Find an arrangement that allocates an appropriate level of support at a fair price and you’ve set yourself up for long term IT success.