View Full Version : Starting Support & Maintenance Consultancy

7th March 2003, 18:35
Hi All

I have been contracting for over 10 years now usually for large Multi Nationals. In the past year or so I have been providing support and maintenance in much smaller enterprises.
From this it has dawned on me that there must be lots of Small to Medium sized businesses who have UNIX, Linux, Database servers that sit in the corner of the office and either aren't maintained or are maintained by some third party company that charges exhorbitant rates.

Can anybody give me pointers as to how you go about finding these companies, I approached an agency but they weren't overly interested. Would anybody UNIX, Software or RDBMS people be interested in coming in with me on this.

If you can reply initially on here and if there are some serious replies then I will post my email address which isn't a hotmail or yahoo account.

10th March 2003, 13:11
I would always be interested in a venture like this, although I am currently fully committed.

I can see a day when computer support/maintenance/upgrade is treated like getting a plumber or electrician in. Definitely think this is a growth area. How about a future where there is a fleet of car-derived vans with a happy brand name and corporate sweat shirt wearing technicians travelling about in them to resolve computer crises. Or is this a bit tacky?

roger rabbit
10th March 2003, 13:27
"a happy brand name and corporate sweat shirt "

How about

"IT Tits
we have support
do you?"

11th March 2003, 09:21
I remember back ion the 80's, whernPC only meant 'Personal Computer', working a trade stand for ICL's newest WP software based on the latest hi-tech workstation wth two standard floppy disk drives.

The two girls doing the demonstrations were clothed in T-Shirts with th company logo and the slogan "Have you seen my dual floppies?"

Ah, happy days....

11th March 2003, 10:32
A good idea but you'll have to make sure you have every angle covered. From past experience you get users ringing you for the tiniest of reasons. Sometimes things that are not even related to you e.g. the photocopier.

They also expect to see a body on site if things start going badly. They are also quick to lay blame for things which you have never even touched. This all starts impacting your normal day job and becomes a pain.
It depends on the companies you sign up and how much of an IT department they have. Remote access is probably something they have never heard of.

To answer your first question.
Try your local business link to get names. Better yet, pull a glossy flyer together and mailshot any business parks that are near you. They tend to be small businesses that occupy one or two units which is the perfect size you're aiming for.
Good luck. Let us know how you get on. Best advice is, cover all your bases.

11th March 2003, 14:03
Thanks for that advice Partimer. Already started working on some fliers and I am in the process of putting a Web Site together (add to the professional look).

22nd March 2003, 17:45
Just thinking aloud - but given there are several small support companies scattered about these days ( and likely to be more), would any of you consider subscribing to an SME-friendly offline Helpdesk service?

I was pondering the feasibility of a localised telephone/web-only service to catch the calls and answer the bloody obvious questions or else hand the details on to the most suitable local supplier to do the site visit/remote access fixes.

Obvious benefits are a reduction in stupid calls and a managed supply of incoming calls. Downsides are you might lose the personal touch in that you might be seen to be the agent of the desk rather than the real brains. And befoer anyone asks, I haven't done the costings!

Any thoughts, anyone?

31st March 2003, 13:59
I'm going to meet a local company to offer support services and am looking to offer x amount of days over 12 months for a fixed amount. I want to try and get away from having to be onsite at the drop of a hat but would rather the company save their problems then book a day ( or maybe visit 1 day per 2 weeks).
Does this sound viable to those who have done this sort of thing before? Any advice/criticism welcome. Incidentally, I am contracted and my line manager is happy for me to be out of the office now and again for other work...:smokin

31st March 2003, 16:49

I have been sub-contracting myself to a consultancy and either manage to give telephone support or on-site providing they give me at least 24 hours notice. I have been doing this for a year and only had to go to site twice although I get called on average once a month.

I like you am currently in negotiation with a small company to provide them with maintenance and support. Still in early stages but I am hopeful that I will be able to pull something off.

8th April 2003, 16:29
How much are you thinking of charging for this. I have been considering doing this for some time now but I'm stuck on how much to charge. You have to strike the happy medium between cheap enough to be affordable and not too cheap that yo starve. There is a market here though. You think how many little companies there are out there who rely on the combined knowledge of the office geeks.

Another area I have thought of exploiting, sorry servicing, is remote data storage. Basically playing on the fears of little companies that if their PC was stolen or office burnt down then their data would disappear. For the cost of x per year I would come round on a regular basis and cack up their data and store it off site.

9th April 2003, 14:51
Had a couple of thoughts on the pricing issue. Firstly, a friend of mine was contracted to a small mickey mouse consultancy and has been offered 2 support contracts directly if he sets up on his own. These are both for 16 days consultancy per year @ £8K apiece. I've also seen a couple of companies who will offer 1 site visit per month @ £400 + free telephone/remote support (but I want to set up a pricing model for this as well).
I was thinking of charging around the £400/day mark for one visit per month or per fortnight.
As for my mate, he wants the security of a permanent job (although I've pointed out to him that with another 2 contracts he'd be matching a perm wage anyway). It's also too far away from me for me to take it off his hands..:smokin

9th April 2003, 17:59
The figures sound reasonable, but the free telephone support could be a problem. You need to strike the happy medium between getting the work and discouraging them from being on the phone to you 24/7

10th April 2003, 19:12
I should be in a position shortly to offer a premium rate service for telephone support if you want to charge them £1+ a minute.

20th June 2003, 23:42
Hello I wonder if anyone can help. I am thinking of setting up a small IT consultancy aimed at SOHO and SME sectors. Offering services such as Networking: Analysis, Design and Implementation, Webdesign and Consultancy services i.e. Security audits, documentation etc.

I am CTC security cleared would this appeal to small businesses such as accountants or legal practices?. I'm not sure on how best to advertise it, although currently in the process of designing a website.

Any help would be appreciated


21st June 2003, 01:10
Misco,PCworld etc are moving into this market, check their prices.