SMBs: What Your IT Contractor Should Be Telling You - Page 2

iCloud, Google, Microsoft. All the big email companies offer this. Your IT person should recommend you take advantage of it, if not just automatically set it up for you.

3. Simplify and Consolidate

A lot of companies will sign up for a service during the first year of their business. Five years later, they're still using that service, though just one aspect of it. And they are using 10 services that way.

"Just find the time and consolidate. Have everything stored in just, like, Google Drive. And that saves a lot of trouble," said Lopez. "One thing I'm always pushing is workflow. You shouldn't have to go to 10 places to get something done. You should go to one or two. … The things you do every day should be as simple as possible, so you can get your work done. … We're all getting pulled in a million directions. The less distraction from the work you're trying to do, the better."

A contractor that helps a business streamline its practices essentially pays for itself.

4. Hire Someone Who Shows Up On Time

While acknowledging how simple it sounds, Lopez said he's gained and kept countless customers with this one simple tactic: showing up on time.

"People tell me, 'The past tech guys have said, “Oh, I'll be an hour late. Oh, I can't make it on Tuesday." But you always show up when you say you're going to, and we love that.' It's as simple as that, and I win a lot of business just for that," he said.

In short: Hire a contractor who's respectful of your time and behaves like a business professional.

5. Transparency as a Selling Point

Ask for references, suggested Lopez, and look for people with certifications, whether from Apple, Microsoft, Cisco Systems or Google.

When he mentions that he often turns down work—from people with Microsoft problems, which aren't his area of expertise—another recommendation becomes obvious: The ideal IT person for a small business is not only straightforward and a straight shooter, but also someone who understands that one of the most helpful things he or she can do for a small business is to make it as self-sufficient as possible.

"IT professionals have enjoyed having a veil up and behaving like what they do is so complicated and you could never do it. But, no. Hire someone who wants to remove the veil and show you what steps you can take on your own," said Lopez.

"I tell them, 'If it says X, you can really take care of this on your own. Do this, this and this. But if it says Y, then give me a call.'"