GEEKNOTE: It has been a busy week with several former clients taking a fresh look at what we can do for them that we couldn’t do even two years ago. I would like to attribute this renewed attention to my marketing brilliance, but I know that the truth is that we’ve completed some major technology upgrades that have positioned us to provide better service and hopefully grow faster now that economic worries are becoming less of a concern. Those upgrades have totalled tens of thousands of dollars over the last couple of years and they are definitely an investment rather than an expense.
The most recent upgrade was this past weekend: We had a software update to our RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) system. The RMM system is what we use to handle real-time tracking of our business customers’ computers and computer networks. The update adds tracking for Apple OS systems and also adds integration features that will let the RMM system work better with the remote support system we use to take remote keyboard and mouse control of customers’ computers.
I was working Saturday morning, mostly on getting mid-month invoices ready to go out, when the phone rang. It was a fellow in Ohio who had been unfortunate enough to get the FBI/Moneypak virus on his system. He had visited a friend down here some months back and had come into the store. Fortunately, he had been impressed enough to pick up one of my cards. I walked him through the steps necessary to get him back online and then we set up a remote control session so that I could install various decontamination tools and eliminate the virus. We got things cleaned up and I mailed him his payment receipt along with the business cards he wanted to hand out to his friends.
I have absolutely no problem doing telephone support for folks in Ohio or elsewhere for that matter. We have the technology that makes this possible, so we might as well use it.
I assisted a business client in Kentucky this past week, working his on-site geek through how some network changes would effect their mail server. We handle software updates and routine off-site backups for the server.
Closer to home, I had a business desktop come in late Friday. I ran a whole battery of tests on it over the weekend, but could not identify what is causing the issue the customer is seeing. You’ve probably seen the same thing when you take your car in for service and the car behaves while the mechanic has it. The computer will go back Monday morning with a plug-in for our RMM system so that I can gather real time data on what is going on when it is in use.
The Internet creates price competition for locally owned businesses, much like the price competition from the big box stores. If someone is shopping solely on the basis of price, they can always find someone willing to work for less. When someone tells us that the kid down the street will fix their computer for $20 and a six pack, we just smile and thank them for calling.
The flip side is that the Internet allows us to cast a wider net for clients who recognize that low price is not the same as value. They understand that quality workmanship is worth paying for. The remote support tools we use minimize how often we actually need to physically touch a computer. That is how we can service our satisfied clients in California, Kentucky, Ohio, and other places far removed from our home base in the Tampa Bay area.
That is also why some of our local clients have discovered that while they don’t see us as much as they used to, their computers and networks simply don’t have problems. We are monitoring those computers and networks and doing the things necessary to keep them running without having to repeatedly go on-site. We charge a fair price for our service, with our clients realizing that downtime is far more expensive than any service we might provide.
Is quality something that people are willing to pay for? We believe the answer is “yes”.
As always, feel free to drop me a note or give me a call (727-847-2424) if you have any questions about your computer or the Internet.
Rob Marlowe, Senior Geek
Gulfcoast Networking, Inc.