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techfuddle

join:2011-06-08
Carmel, NY

IT Support Retainer Agreement

I have a small IT consulting business. I have 1 large client and a bunch of smaller ones. I always bill my clients hourly for my services.

Recently, I was asked to draft a proposal for a small accounting firm. They have 1 SBS 2008 server, and 10 computers. The firm wants a retainer agreement. They just want remote support with an office visit every few months - very basic needs

Does anyone have any examples of retainer proposals for these for SMALL clients? I found a bunch for larger clients with a lot of "fluff" in them - this client wants a simple 1-page proposal.

Also - do you have your clients sign something excluding you from liability? If so, any examples?

Thanks!


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
As a side job, I'm part owner of a successful IT consulting firm in Southern Ontario, Canada, and we simply bill by the hour for services rendered rather than engaging in any contracts. I suppose it's not as monetarily proactive or sales-y, but we present ourselves as being the kind of company that bills for services rendered rather than services we claim to provide and the company's experienced steady growth since it started. Clients see us as honest, open, reliably consistent and they understand if they see us, there's going to be a charge so they don't request our services for BS calls.

We have our representatives evaluate a new site at no charge, make immediate suggestions based on observation with a rough estimate of time (but not costs), and then provide long term suggestions on how they can fine tune their IT needs to require IT services as necessary (to minimize continual calls with a proper IT structure as the lower a company's IT budget is, the better it is for you at maintaining a relationship).

I'm ideologically opposed to IT contracts for philosophical reasons and we've also snagged many clients who were paying for contractual services they were never sure they received or if they were overpaying.

We have our clients state clearly that they're responsible for having their own reliable data backup and our company, by name, and our employees are not responsible for data loss, corruption, hardware failure, etc.. We've had clients that won't sign and if they don't sign, the work doesn't get done.


guppy_fish
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Lakeland, FL
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to techfuddle
The purpose of retainer is for a defined time to respond to the need for service, in exchange for a fee, nothing more.

You could simply make your quote mention your firm doesn't do retainers, but offer different tier/hourly charges based on response time required. They get what they need and know exactly what to expect when the server crashes for service and costs.

Long ago when I contracted, I had a tier one rate that had a minimum hours billed requirement, worked great and never a complaint


Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
kudos:1
Reviews:
·ooma
·Comcast
·Callcentric
reply to techfuddle
I have to agree that it is all about expectations. I used to work for a small consulting company on the side and a small mortgage firm wanted a similar deal. They wanted 4 hour response time for an incident, to which we didn't have the manpower to support that at the time.

My advice would be to work with the firm and understand their needs. If you can support them, then do so. If you can't then don't.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
said by Nightfall:

They wanted 4 hour response time for an incident, to which we didn't have the manpower to support that at the time.

That's interesting, 4 hours is what my company guarantees for clients that are within a one hour radius (obviously not possible for clients in other countries or hours up North). Is that an industry standard or a coincidence?


Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
kudos:1
Reviews:
·ooma
·Comcast
·Callcentric
said by urbanriot:

said by Nightfall:

They wanted 4 hour response time for an incident, to which we didn't have the manpower to support that at the time.

That's interesting, 4 hours is what my company guarantees for clients that are within a one hour radius (obviously not possible for clients in other countries or hours up North). Is that an industry standard or a coincidence?

Its not a standard per se, but something that many hardware equipment companies offer. Most companies, like Dell or HP, offer a 24/7/4 service that you pay more for, but they also offer 9x5xNBD which is next business day.

As for the 4 hour response time, the company I worked for at the time consisted of just him and I. We had about 20 small businesses that we supported in addition to doing contract/project work. The simple fact of the matter is that 4 hour response time was something that we couldn't cover just based on our workload. We considered hiring someone else, but I left shortly after we had that conversation for a better opportunity.

If you can guarantee it, then that's great.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
said by Nightfall:

Its not a standard per se, but something that many hardware equipment companies offer.

I hadn't considered that and you're absolutely right. Maybe it's because we'd sold so many 4-hour Cisco agreements the number seemed to magically float into my mind... huh!