Our clients range in size from a one person shop up to 100+ devices, and we like it that way. In starting the business, it was a goal from the start to only work with the smaller clients. The theoretical maximum number of devices and users we will support is around 200.
There is sort of an invisible divide in our clients though, one that only a company like ours would see. It’s a divide that affects how a contractor deals with a business.
With our smaller clients – the mom and pop shops – they seem to like a more informal interaction. Our more medium-sized clients tend to like a more formal approach. An informal approach would be more in the way of texting questions, and a gentlemen’s agreement; while a more formal approach would include risk assessments, project plans, cost benefit analysis and so on. This really boils down to corporate culture vs. a mom and pop business. People who have worked in a corporate environment are more likely to work in medium-sized business or organization while your average joe is more likely to start a small business with one or two employees.
While the way in which you present options to these two different kinds of clients may differ, one thing remains the same. That is budget. Both groups like to get the most bang for their buck and they want what they’ve invested in to work.
I’ve had many meetings with small business owners who may spend just $500 on a new PC in which they want to discuss this decision for hours, while the larger businesses will do just the same but over several thousands of dollars.
Before they get to these meetings however, we as the IT provider must provide them with options based on their needs. Note that I said “needs” and not “wants”. There is a difference in what a business needs and what they want. For example, in a meeting with a client whose equipment is over 7 years old, they indicated to me that they wished to hold off for another year or two before upgrading anything. In the mean time, users are having constantly struggling to do their jobs with the outdated technology. In the grand scheme, there is production loss because of the issues while management wishes to save money by squeezing every bit they can from the equipment. Honestly, who could blame them? The problem though, as I said, comes down to loss of efficiency and frustration from the employees.
Now imagine that you went along with what management wanted and continued on with the ailing equipment. It wouldn’t be long before something failed and even more loss of efficiency and most likely loss of revenue for the company. You may propose some sort of band-aid solution, which may or may not work due to other ailing equipment.
At the end of the day, you as the trusted provider must give the client what they need and not what they want. All parties involved will be happier; the company will be more efficient, you as the it provider will have an easier life managing newer equipment, and management will be happier because the increased efficiency will garner higher revenue.