Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Whenever you hire a technology consultant, ask for references. You will likely be inviting the consultant into your home, where he or she will have access to your personal computer files and passwords. Verifying references is one way to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable provider.
Also, be sure to meet with the consultant and ask plenty of questions before he or she begins the task. Because many clients are uncomfortable with technology, they hesitate to ask questions out of fear of looking silly. Trust me, there are no silly questions, and the job will go best if the consultant has a clear picture of what you need.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. Not all technology consultants are created equally. Some are formally trained in a technical school setting, others were computer science graduate students. Some have professional experience outside of technology, others have been network administrators for their entire careers. Make sure you understand your consultant's background. In my opinion, formal education is less important than work experience, and references from actual clients are the best judge of what to expect from your consultant.
Also, check out the consultant's website. Any capable technology consultant should have a stellar and informative site.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. 1. What is your educational background?
2. What is your professional background?
3. How long will the maintenance take?
4. If there is a problem, will you charge me to return later?
5. Do you have any references?
6. What operating systems do you specialize in?
7. Do you charge for travel time?
8. Are your rates negotiable?
9. Have you ever done a project like this before?
10. Do you do the work yourself or do you hire out subcontractors?
11. Are you able to offer help over the phone after the work is done?
12. How long have you been in business?
13. Are you insured?
14. How many active clients do you currently have?
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. Cost is probably the most prohibitive element in any situation, so it is best to have a maximum budget outlined. Next, it is good to think about potential maintenance costs. For example, are you able to update your computer on your own, or will you need to be taught? Remember, a good consultant will teach you how to maintain your own systems, which saves you money in the long run. Finally, have a written list of the problems you want the consultant to solve. Most problems are extremely complex and a shift in one area can drastically change other areas. Know what you want and make sure the consultant explains all of the consequences of any changes he proposes.