5 Tips to Hire the Best IT Company for Your Business

5 Tips to Hire the Best IT Company for Your Business - Webinar

Mike Bazar: All right, everybody's coming in here. We'll give a second for everybody to kind of come on in and get this thing started. So I hope everybody's having a good Friday. It's almost the end of the week, which is fantastic. I'd say Chuck in the chat there, where you guys are from, it's always interesting to see where people are from and who we have kind of spread all over. You guys will see later. We cover a huge swath of stuff, so I'm always interested to see where our emails are landing and who's signing up. Yeah, I guess what we'll do is we'll kind of get started here. We'll go through some of the intro stuff and people trickle in over the next few minutes.

Mike Bazar: But I think if they miss this and don't know who I am, it's probably not the end of the world. So we wanted today, just go over five tips to hire the best high T company for your business. A lot of questions get asked. I think a lot of people can be confused in terms of technology can be confusing. When you really start trying to dig into and look for an It company for your business, what are some of the big questions you want to ask? And then I think we're also going to have some kind of bonus questions as we get going. Just things as we built this presentation at the end, if we have time, we want to get into, but also encourage you as we go. Please ask questions. Especially when we're on a slide.

Mike Bazar: If it's about that, you'll see one of themes that we have, Carolina, were talking beforehand and over and over again, we kept saying, Ask questions about the agreements. Ask questions. Ask questions in this. If you guys have questions, please do ask questions because that is certainly something that we need to do. So getting into this here, we'll click forward. I got to make sure I've got the buttons are clicking right. So I'm Mike Bazaar. I'm the Chief Technology Officer of you know, I've been doing technology for years and years. I started working way back in the day and kind of mining and other technology stuff that I was doing. We did big wireless networks for open Pit mines.

Mike Bazar: We just had worked through a lot of that and just these big Fortune 500 companies and these huge networks that they had and dealing with that and having to hack around in Linux and everything else. And I got tired of travel. So my record was I drove 7000 miles in a month. So if anybody's beat that, let me know. But after I did that with a newborn at home, I said, I think I'm done. And part of the reason you have to drive that is because when you're working on mine sites, I was walking on blast patterns and had explosives on my boots, and you have to take tools that are not airline friendly. And so I had to drive all over to do that. So it was a lot of fun, but I kind of got tired of it.

Mike Bazar: So I said, how do I bring that back to small business, right? How do we bring some of that experience and what we did with the Fortune 500 companies and bring it back? And so I started Bizarre Solutions in Lubbock, Texas in 2003 and been doing it since. Will and I, we kind of have been talking for a year. So will's CEO of Vector Choice. And so we decided to merge. So now we're 50 owners this thing. And I've taken the CTO role, and he's CEO and off doing something else that he's busy with anyway. But I went to the Colorado School of Mines. I got a degree in mechanical engineering. I realized that I didn't want to do HVAC and other drawings and a lot of those things that mechanical engineers do. So that got me into technology.

Mike Bazar: I like hunting, fishing, playing with my kids, traveling. I've been to every continent except for Antarctica and Australia. I hope to remedy that someday. And then like, you know, Will and I pulled this thing together this year, and our goal is to just continue to provide really good support and technology solutions to the SMB market as we keep going. And then with me, I've got Jake Mitchell. He's our VP of Business Strategy. And so Jake's, the guy you want on your team to get shit done, is really who Jake is. So Jake is rock pusher extraordinaire. He's he's really good at really taking and relating people and where they're at, needs wise and everything else to solutions that we have and what we do, and really helps drive a lot of the decisions as we talk about it.

Mike Bazar: I think one of the things we do well which, again, could be a good question to ask if you're shopping around. One of the things we do well is we really look at why are we deploying technology solutions and how does that impact customers and what do they need and those sorts of things. And Jake can help drive that because if you just let technicians drive that conversation, a lot of the time they get really tool happy and they just want to do things because cybersecurity is great and they don't maybe think about how does that impact the end user and that kind of thing. So Jake has spent a lot of time in telco networking industries. He's worked for some of the top ISPs in the nation as well as several other large companies.

Mike Bazar: And we are fortunate enough to have him on our team. I don't know if you have anything you want to add to that, Jake, or not.

Jake Mitchell: I don't think so. You just made me blush. Thank you.

Mike Bazar: And then Caroline is our senior CRM, or client relationship manager, and she does a fantastic job of really digging into people's businesses, figuring out what they need and helping manage that over time. Right. She'll help wrangle the support people if they need to help wrangle and support people really good at understanding business needs, what people are doing, and helping them be successful in their own business with the technology and the solutions that we offer. And so she, like I said, has just done a fantastic job. So she manages most of our key accounts and makes sure that people are happy and getting what they need and being that liaison between the technical mumbo jumbo we'll say and really what it means to a business and how that impacts them and working with that executive level C suite kind of thing.

Mike Bazar: And that goes from customers that have a couple of thousand employees all the way down to people that might have ten or 20 employees. So really helping sort that and guide people through the tech. So I don't know. Caroline, do you have anything to add to that?

Caroline England: No, I think that was great.

Mike Bazar: She's going to Spain in a week and a half so we're going to miss her for a few days. So anyways, so kind of getting into this, right? So we're vector choice and that's what it is. Just some of the kind of business stuff to kind of hit on some of those things as well. The executive team. I'd mentioned Will's, CEO. I'm CTO. Sarah's our COO. We've got John DePerro, who's a compliance guru. So I think that's a pretty thing to kind of stand out is a lot of MSPs don't have in house compliance, they don't have a real expert in that and so I think that helps give a little bit of Credence to kind of what we're doing and some of the conversations that we have around that.

Mike Bazar: And then Bo Dickey is our chief security officer and so helps make sure again all those pieces are coming together and security and things are what they need to be and then just kind of continuing through management know, we've got Gabby who's our finance manager, john Vines who is the wizard of all things technical. I think John does a good job and this is tooting his horn even though he's not on here. John does a really good job as well, I think, of, like, working with Caroline and Jake and really trying to help understand the business process and what that impact is with the technology. And I think he brings a lot to that because I think there's a lot of people that want to get technology right, but they discard what it means to the end users and those sorts of things.

Mike Bazar: Again mentioned Jake earlier, troy is our VP of marketing, we've got Daniel who's our project manager and then Sarah and Emma who are both in marketing as well to help drive that awards. I know I don't want to sit up here in two horns as much as I like to have this up here, because it just gives a little bit of credence into what we're doing. So people are on and saying, who are these people? What are they talking about? What authority do you have to speak or whatever? I think when you're going to Ink 500 and the MSP 500 lists and some of these other kind of awards that we've won, it just shows that we're doing some things in the right way. And so just hit on that and then just kind of, again, hitting on where it is we've worked.

Mike Bazar: Serve clients in over 23 states. All the blue there, we have offices in those blue spots, yellows where we've worked. If anybody in here is from Mississippi, I'll make you a hell of a deal just so we can color that state in. Shoot me an email and we'll do something just so we can color in Mississippi. I don't know exactly how we missed Mississippi there, but anyways, we cover a wide range of states as we kind of keep going and working on things and growing. And I think, again, asking questions and kind of that this can be an important thing to look at is where can your MSP get coverage and what can they do and how do you get support. If you have remote offices and are spread out, those can be important kind of questions and things to look at.

Mike Bazar: A little bit of what we do and then we'll pretty quickly get into it. We're Cybersecurity managed it consulting It services. You guys can read the slide. Really, at the end of the day, if it's got to do with flashing lights and technology in your business, we can probably help you manage it, maintain it, implement it, whatever it is that it looks like. We've got a nice big wide team that helps do a lot of that. And so we're really out there looking to try to help people take that technology to the next level and not just be a transactional It provider, right? Like anybody can fix your printers, anybody can help fix your logins, but people that go past that to the next level. Some other solutions. We've got a lot of data center services, we've got some data center stuff.

Mike Bazar: We can help you set up your own, whatever it might be. Security services, cloud supply, chain management, how do you build technology, maybe how does it also on the other side of that, security and other things around your building. Subscription support and management, other networking services and then collaboration services, know teams and how do your teams work together, help and understand and drive. That one of the things I want touch as well. And I think this is important and this can kind of be one of the questions to call this bonus question zero and I didn't want this up here just to be like, here's our process and what we do. This really drives a lot of questions. So Jake and Caroline chime in here as we go through it.

Mike Bazar: But one of the first things, I think that your first interaction and connecting and working with an MSP often is what does their process look like? Right? Do they take time during that initial meeting and really uncover your needs and what it is? Do they do a network assessment? And I was talking to another MSP owner that I know, and this is just a good example of it. And what he had was he had done a quote, and it was actually a friend of his he'd known for a while. He did a quote for services, and they liked it. And then they had another company come in as well. They liked that presentation better. But the second guy that came in didn't do any assessment or anything else. He basically asked a couple of quick questions. How many computers? How many users? That's it.

Mike Bazar: Here's the proposal. But they gave a really great presentation with it. So they were actually leaning towards them. And so when they called the other MSP and they said, hey, we're thinking about going with this other company, he said, well, what about all these other things? Like what audit did they do? Did they talk about your firewall? Did they talk about your servers? Did they talk about your desktops? We put in this time and effort on the front end to understand your network. And we know initially a lot of these things, and that was in our proposal about what we need to replace or do or start building budgets about. And so ask those other guys what they're going to do about that.

Mike Bazar: And so they went back and they asked the other guys, and they're like, we don't know, but we just figure you'll probably spend $10,000 on the first 90 days fixing problems like, whoa, whoa, you don't even understand our problems, right? So that network assessment becomes a really big thing because you don't want to have somebody just come in and say, do a thing, here's what it's going to cost, and they don't really understand what it is or how you're working. Once we go through that, then we get estimates in terms of work and get people to sign off on proposals. Then we start doing our onboarding calls. It's really important, again, of asking what that onboarding process looks like. Are they going to talk to everybody? They have documentation? Do they have things like mouse pads or documents or stickers or whatever?

Mike Bazar: How do people turn in tickets? What does that look like? All of those kinds of things. And then what's the implementation, the install look like? And then how does that carry on in terms of strategic meetings? That becomes really important with, say, Caroline, who's going to be an account manager and how are you going to have that? What's that going to look like going forward? And that becomes a really big deal. Like I say, a lot of MSPs don't have an account manager. And I say this, we've grown through this right, where we didn't have them either and all that stuff.

Mike Bazar: And so it's not that in and of itself is bad, but if that becomes one of your real heavy needs that you need somebody to help be a liaison through all that, then you want to make sure you're finding somebody that not only has an account manager, but has a good account manager.

Jake Mitchell: Yeah, and I'll jump in there Mike, and just say that I think that's one of the most important steps in this entire presentation. That's the first time that you're really going to see the inside operations of an MSP. And I would ask about that during the initial call to see what the handoff process is from signature through the end of the onboarding process. Because if there's not a clear and defined process, that's your first time that you can actually see into the processes that MSP has in place. And they should be absolutely well defined.

Mike Bazar: Yeah, no, for sure. And I think that's where you'll see a lot of fall down is they don't have a process. They willy nilly, they wing it. That's how you can start to tell the difference between mature MSPs that are going to handle things better and those that won't. Real quick too, especially if you guys need compliance or have it. Will has recently was the author of this compliance formula, so if you scan that QR code, you can order a copy of the book. But if you have to do CMMC or other compliance strategies, there's a lot of good information in there to kind of put you on the path. Obviously, in terms of the other shameless plug of that, we can help you do that.

Mike Bazar: But even if it isn't something that you use us for or whatever, if you've got compliance needs, a lot of the time, understanding what they are helps you ask better questions, which leads directly into this next slide of define your needs. Right? So if you know you need compliance but you have no idea about it, go read some books or other things, get some questions or talk to some experts around that to try to figure out what are those questions you should be asking and trying to define it. And so one of the big things that we see a lot of is we go in and people don't know what they don't know, but they don't even know how they want to use technology. They just have no defined needs. We need somebody to manage our it, right? And that's okay, right?

Mike Bazar: That's part of our job and everything else. But if you really want to go sort through multiple providers and find out who's the best provider for you kind of got to know some of those needs, right? Do you need a specific system if you're in legal and you've got a document management system and do they have any expertise managing that and some of those other things? And we'll talk about some of the industry specific questions, but as you start finding that out, Caroline, you had a really good if you want to chime in with a customer recently that you had talked to that they decided that price wasn't more important. It was really the CRM was more important.

Caroline England: Yeah. I think from a business perspective, It companies, especially during that sales process, they're going to ask you a ton of questions, but being able to know what's most important to you and then being able to identify that if you really need quick support or you need Redundancy because you can't be down for more than five minutes in this scenario. We had originally talked with them and they decided to go elsewhere just because were priced a little bit higher. But they really wanted the account management and what comes with that is that quality and sometimes a little bit of a higher price tag. They actually ended up going in a different direction.

Caroline England: Emailed me about seven, eight months later and said, you know what, price actually wasn't the most important thing because we are not happy with our account management and we need to get out. And so we actually ended up bringing them back in and working through that. But I think have in your mind, from your business perspective of kind of what are your biggest bugaboos right now currently? Like, what bothers you, what do you really need? What's going to be most important to you and making sure that those things are going to be met outside of what the It company is going to tell you with your infrastructure. It's like, I really need good customer support. I really need someone who can come on site at the drop of a hat. Those type of things I think are really good to be specific on during that process.

Jake Mitchell: I'll pull some threads on that one as well, a good way to figure out what you need or at least to identify how to identify the differences. I would take a sheet of paper and just write down everything that you believe is different about your business because most likely those things that you believe are different are going to be the things that cause issues if they're not identified. So if you believe that you have a specific process or maybe a program intellectual property that is different from somebody else in your industry, write that down and bring that up to those It folks and see if they can actually manage that. You might get in two months into Onboarding and you've got a line of business applications that It company may not know anything about. And that's just going to cause resentment, it's going to cause issues as you move down the road.

Mike Bazar: Yeah. And I think, too, there's a lot of this know, we talked about, too, like, is redundancy important to you? There's all these things know, if you pitch uptime to your customers and then you don't talk to your MSP provider, your It provider, about how uptime is incredibly important to you and your business and they don't put in redundant systems or help manage that, then that all falls apart. But if there was missed expectations, that can be hard. And when you start asking those questions, you can find out who can actually develop and support that. Because there's a difference in complexity between a standard system and a fully redundant system. And some people understand that better than other people might. And so there's a lot of these times where it really is like, you want to understand what your needs are.

Mike Bazar: What are the most important things to you? What is it that matters? Carolyn's point do you need somebody to come on site? If you need that quickly, then that should be a question that you're asking. Right? And so when you really start defining your needs, what makes you different, what makes you unique, what is non tolerable? Right. One of the things we talk about when people talk about different types of backups, right? You could backup systems 400 ways, and I could go from it takes Chisel and Stone to restore forever, or I could have you back up in an hour, but there's a cost difference on that, right? And so we'll ask people a lot of the time, hey, if I came in and just unplugged all your servers, how long before you scream? Right?

Mike Bazar: That's a question we ask to gauge which one we're going to recommend. Because if you say minutes, you need fully redundant and all the other things. If you go, you know what, I can run my business for 48 hours without it. Okay? That's a different kind of backup or strategy or solution. And so if you start thinking about those needs and that thing like, I can't have downtime or I can tolerate downtime, I can't have security. Right? I've got a ton of compliance. I'm CMMC. If I don't have this level of compliance, I can't transact with the government and my business disappears. That's really know. Carolyn, do you have something, a good.

Caroline England: Example, I think, just for everyone. We have worked with a suicide hotline in the past, and they came from a different provider. Basically what happened, as you can imagine, that hotline being available and up is everything. They ended up being down for two to three days over a weekend, which could truly be like a matter of life and death in their industry. And I think understanding that the setup that they had was never going to support that failover. If something goes wrong being able to be up all the time. So one of the reasons that were actually able to bring them in was talking through. Okay, that's a really big point to make.

Caroline England: So as the client or as a company, I would say be very specific about what that means because, yes, it was more expensive, but it makes all the difference to be able to answer those phone calls as they come in and not have any downtime. And so I think just making sure that they understand your needs. And if they're not asking questions, make a mental note, because a lot of times when you are specific in what makes you different and what's really important to you, there should be a lot of follow up questions, and it should be a conversation of how does it work right now and how do you want it to work?

Mike Bazar: Yeah, and like a couple of examples to hopefully spur people's minds. Is there's an entertainment center that we work with? And one of the places has their call center, so they take all the reservations for birthday parties and everything else. Most of their sites probably don't need fully redundant internet and firewalls and all that expense, but that one probably does because then you start losing real money when you can't book parties, but you can still take credit cards if your Internet is down for half an hour. That's the way those systems are designed. But if I can't get through, I might book a party somewhere else. And now I've lost revenue, so that becomes worthwhile. We had a funeral home that we did. And a lot of the time printers are low priority problems.

Mike Bazar: Well, when you're in a funeral home and your big copier is what you're using to print all of the material a day or a couple of hours before a service happens, you get one shot to do a funeral, right? So if you don't understand that printer is urgent when it goes down and you don't talk to the provider about it, they don't understand it, then there'll be a disconnect. There accountants, we just know from January until April 15, it's go time. Everything's an emergency, right? And so if you know those and can communicate those specific needs, that can help tailor the plan, tailor what you need, help define that.

Mike Bazar: And if you get a provider who's not answering those questions well, who's not digging deeper into those questions, who's not pushing you'll, pretty quickly start to see the people that are understanding and the people that just want to go sell you a service and be like, it's going to be X dollars per device. We'll manage your stuff. Right? They're not going to understand your business and help drive that forward. And so that becomes a really big part here around defining your needs. What are your specific needs? What are you looking to achieve when you bring in an It company, all the different questions that need to come around that and just start trying to really define what those specific It needs are. And I think as you do that, you'll see more and more what you want out of an It provider that helps.

Mike Bazar: And the other thing about this, and it's pretty easy to say we're just trying to sell stuff, or anybody is a lot of the time the agreements. If you know you need very specific things, that should be outlined in an agreement. Because otherwise you can get a lot of gray area and you can just be mad at each other, and that's not really good for a relationship. But if you know you need to have zero downtime or other things that should be in the agreement and you can have it go both ways, where if they don't meet that SLA, maybe they give you a refund or other things could be built into that to make sure that happens.

Mike Bazar: And that's usually the best way to start those relationships, because otherwise if you start it off and people have wrong expectations, then you're just in a lot of the time can be bad. I know, Caroline, you've had that not to I guess I'd like to move on a little bit. But you had mentioned before as a CRM, sometimes you'll take over a new account as they come in and they had no idea what they had before, or they just didn't even understand what their old contracts were and other things. And that's the value of the CRM side too, is working through that, understanding that, making sure they know what they get, that they're getting what they're supposed to get, that it's being delivered, all those kinds of questions that can come up.

Mike Bazar: So next question is, you want to choose the right It company for your industry. So this isn't necessarily a question, as much as you should be asking that question to the providers that you're talking to. What other experience do they have? Who else have they worked with in the industry? Do they understand that industry? Do they understand if maybe they're just getting into the industry, that can be okay if they understand similar kind of things, right? If you're in the medical industry, that's a really wide field. So you might think as an endodontist that you're different than everybody else. But if we understand Hip and all those other things, we can probably come in and figure out what it is. But we should be asking a lot of questions. Again, back to Jake's point, what makes you different as an endodontist?

Mike Bazar: What makes you different? And if we can do that and drive into that, we can understand the differences and translate that across. But do they really know the industry? Do they know how it works? Do they know what's going on with it? And a good example of this is there was a. Lawyer that they were getting everything moved into the cloud and they got really mad because what they really needed was a document management system geared to law firms, and moving everything into the cloud wasn't the right solution for them and never should have been proposed or done. There was another company that we dealt with that we pulled. It was an engineering company. And somebody moved everything to the cloud because that was better than a server. Well, everything they had was huge files. And then they sold them a cheap Internet connection.

Mike Bazar: So they moved everything onto the Internet. Then they gave them a small pipe, and then they wondered why everything was slow when they went to open documents. Hey, why does it take two minutes to open this drawing? Well, because you stuck it in the cloud and you have a crappy internet connection. Right. They didn't understand the industry, they didn't understand the backup needs, they didn't understand the operational needs, they didn't understand how they work. And that became a really big hindrance to what they were doing. And so you really want somebody who knows and understands who you are and how you work. Jake, you got something?

Mike Bazar: Yeah. I think to go further on that, it's not just about whether or not your network is going to be fast or slow. It's also about the regulatory concerns. So if you're in medical, you could be covered. There's quite a few you could be covered under PCI, HIPAA as well as any. If you choose the wrong company, you could open yourself up to quite a bit of liability because the cybersecurity industry is about as regular or MSPs, It providers are about as regulated as a barber shop.

Mike Bazar: Right. There's just anybody barbers are more heavily regulated. The barbers are more heavily regulated.

Jake Mitchell: Absolutely. A barber, anybody and everybody can pay $20 to get a website off of GoDaddy and put and slap Healthcare on a page. So one thing that I would highly recommend, figure out, if they do cover your niche, and once they do get some references, you should be able to call on their clients and they should have that readily available if they don't want you to call their clients. Run for the hills.

Mike Bazar: I think with that too, I have a lot of history in oil and gas, which is a huge market, costs millions of dollars if you're down for an hour. But coming into that as a client, and especially me not being technical, I think that's a way that I can relate to businesses. But you coming in as a client, you're not an expert in it, and you shouldn't have to be, so you shouldn't have to know that. But when you're meeting with a company, for example, like within oil and gas, knowing that fracking has to happen at a certain rate, knowing what it costs to be down for that long, we never went in with a proposal without having at least two firewalls, at least this many redundant switches. We came to the table with that.

Mike Bazar: And what happens is, even if they say that they work in that industry, let them prove it to you a little bit. Let them say, okay, so what would you do? What would you propose? Because what happens is if they just want to sell you and they just want to land you as a client, they're going to say X, Y and Z should work. However, then when you get to your account manager is going to be like, well, actually, you need three other servers, eight other switches for what you do if you don't want to be down. And nobody likes to be blindsided or surprised by any of that.

Caroline England: So if they work in that niche, have them, I would say definitely challenge them and say, okay, so what you know, what I have right now, based off of the assessments that we've done, the conversations that we've had, what would you say needs to happen and how would you go about that? And I think that is a very clear indicator of do they know the niche or not?

Mike Bazar: Yeah, and I think one of the things too, because Jake hit it, I think, just sideways and didn't realize what he was hitting. A bit of Spurden in my head was a lot of the time you'll have somebody come in and say you're in medical industry, and they'll start talking about HIPAA and HIPAA fines and everything else. And I think last year, 30 companies got fined under HIPAA, but the ODS are way higher. You're going to get sued by somebody for a data breach. You're going to get sued by somebody because you didn't follow HIPAA guidelines. You're going to get sued by some customer or something else. And so, again, if somebody's in the right industry, it's not coming in to be like, OOH, scary, HIPAA fines. Yes, we want you to be HIPAA compliant. Yes, you need to do that.

Mike Bazar: Yes, we want to work towards that. But the real, actual risk to your business a lot of the time is the other lawsuit that's going to happen, not the government coming in and finding you, and it could happen. You need to be compliant. I'm not saying any of that, but for sure, those are the kinds of things where if somebody knows your industry, they're going to know those things more and be able to talk to that more educated. Because at the end of the day, most of what you want out of it is operations and risk management. That's how do I lower my risk from a cyber perspective, how to do that and how do my operations work well with the technology? And so if somebody knows the industry, they can help you on both of those things.

Mike Bazar: Quite a so, you know, just a couple examples of like, if you're in healthcare industry, cybersecurity becomes important because of protecting data, because of HIPAA, because of those potential lawsuits, the other things that might happen around that, right. Financial industry, if you're in that, do you know about the FTC safeguards? That's a new thing that has come out this year that has been more recent, that some people know about and some people don't, where you have to have certain things in place, according to the FTC. And finance is one of those, right? Manufacturing, it's about uptime, it's about going. Right. Oil and gas, Caroline's point is millions of dollars of downtime. I was talking to a guy that works at a car dealership and they have one of the biggest Chevy parts, warehouses and operations in the country just selling Chevy parts and whatnot.

Mike Bazar: And somebody drove into the pole that provides their Internet and they were down for a couple of hours and they figure it cost them 16 $18,000 to be down for it because all the online orders they lost. Right. So if you know that and you know what that means, and you know what the e commerce piece is, then how do you build redundant? And not only that, I'm going to ask questions like, and this is where Jake's great with telco background, right? If you have the right team of people, is not only do I want redundant Internet, I want the Internet to come from a different direction. Right. I don't want them both in the same trench because the same backhoe is going to kill both pieces of Internet.

Mike Bazar: I want it to come from a different area or I want starlink or I want something. Right? And when you understand the industry and whatever, you can start to drive into those questions better sure. And answer those questions better, then you get a better outcome. And that's, again, one of those things. So you really want to, again, recap as we go, right? What questions are you going to ask identifying your needs, find within that somebody that knows and can work in your industry and can help bring expertise on the technology side? Because the other side of that is there's a lot of times we can bring in technology and we did something for another company that's similar to yours and we can bring that in.

Mike Bazar: And now you can get benefits of technology you weren't thinking about because we've worked with five of that same kind of company. We found different solutions that helped improve productivity, those sorts of things. So you can get a lot of benefit out of that as well. So the third question is you want to inquire about the company's cybersecurity. So this becomes more and more important these days because MSPs are high risk. They really are. A lot of insurance companies are backing out of it. They don't want to insure MSPs. I don't say that for other things. One of the last things is to talk about insurance, but you want to know what people are doing, because if they don't have good cybersecurity, there can be a really big risk there.

Mike Bazar: And so you want to really talk to people about what are they doing for cyber? How can you verify that they're doing it? Are they getting audited by a third party? What things are they doing to talk about security? Don't just go, hey, do you guys have good cyber? Because they're all going to tell you, oh, we have the best, right? That's what they do. And again, I'm not trying to knock other MSPs as people grow and they go through things. But if you are in a highly regulated industry, if your needs are cybersecurity, if these first two questions we talked about lead. You to somebody that has to understand cyber and then you don't really talk about it and say, Prove it, then. Are they really good at cyber or are they just buying some stuff off and throwing on your computer?

Mike Bazar: Buying off the shelf, throwing it on and saying, we do cybersecurity. Because, again, as a barber, you have to get licensed as an MSP. I don't our people get certifications and training. And part of that is around this specifically, how do we make sure people are good at security? We make sure we put all of our people through industry training that will show them the best practices to do things from a technical perspective and a security perspective, right? We get them to work through that so that they understand. So when somebody calls in and goes, this two factor is really annoying. Turn it off, they go, no, because here's why not. No, because your company policy that we helped you wrote said that everybody has to have that, right? So you really want to know, how are they going to do that?

Mike Bazar: How are they going to work with that? What do they do to prove your cybersecurity? Do they have reports they can run? Are they audited by a third party? What things are out there that they can sit back and talk about and you can ask about process and other things about security? How often do they test backups? How often do they maybe run a tabletop exercise of what happened if went down? All those kinds of things that you can talk about and really try to help understand what they do for security. So it isn't just taking their word for it and saying, we do security. Now this, oh, Carolyn, you got something.

Caroline England: I was going to know. Combining points one, two and three. Anybody who is shocked for an fee or provider, you're going to know. Any company will come in and say, hey, we'll look at your environment, we're going to look at everything and we're going to come back to you. Tying in the security piece. Something that we see a lot is you get this binder of, like, 89 pages, and it's like, here's all the things that your current company is not doing that you need to do. That's great. One of the things that kind of building on this is when they highlight all of these things that they're going to do for you. This is a really good question to say. Okay, well, you've just highlighted 87,000 things. How do you guys go about doing that? What does it look like for me?

Caroline England: How do you guys implement it? How do you prioritize these things? Because I think that really sets apart a good It company on how honest they are with your environment, where you're at the priority levels. Hey, we need to take care of this immediately, because this is a huge concern. This we can plan for in a year. When a company is in that sales process, it should feel more like a collaboration meeting. You should not feel like you're at a used car dealership where somebody's like, I'll make you a deal. You want it to be, here's where you're at. Here's where we would take you. Here's what has to be done right now. Here's how we would implement it. And if you really should feel that from any company that you're talking to yeah.

Jake Mitchell: It's also very important to ask that company that you are interviewing, what do they do internally to ensure that their data is safe? Do they have a third party that audits them on a consistent basis? It's very easy to just say, of course they're doing it. They're a cybersecurity company, or they're an It company. I think you'd be surprised at how few checks and balances internally are there across the industry. Again, there's just not a bunch of regulation, and so anybody can call themselves an It company. Furthermore, you kind of want to know the basic foundation of the company and their security policies. Is it an It guy that grew into an MSP? Do they have people on their staff that specialize in cybersecurity? One important thing to always remember is that It and cybersecurity are not the same.

Jake Mitchell: In fact, they butt heads on a very consistent basis. It is all about efficiency, all about making sure that things work properly. Cybersecurity is risk assessment. It's managing risk and lowering permissions to the least amount for you to be able to do your job effectively. And those two often butt heads. So if you've got somebody that isn't focusing on cybersecurity particular on staff and separate people for It, they're probably just a jack of all trades, not a master of.

Mike Bazar: That. That's it. You want somebody who knows and can marry those well, because that's when you get the best operational efficiency with the security that you yeah, I think it is. I think, Carolyn, you use were kind of talking before the analogy of if you go to the doctor and they say you have cancer and then they don't offer you a treatment that's not very good, right? And so what are they going to do about security? And so that can be part of it. When they come with that report and say, here are all the bad things. How are they going to fix it? What are they going to do? How are they going to audit it? What reports are you going to get?

Mike Bazar: All these things can be questions that can help you figure out how mature they are at cybersecurity, because a lot of them will just be like, well, you don't need to see the reports. They're all too technical. Well, there's truth in that. But there also is, if they're good, they can boil some of those reports down and give you some overviews and some executive summary kind of things and say, hey, we handled these things on your behalf, and this is meaningful to you. You don't need to know about all the other crap. You don't know how I exactly did it, but the fact that we did it, that's the kind of stuff you want to know. So they can keep reproving value, right, as they go, ask what kind of.

Caroline England: Reports you can expect, too. So using that cancer analogy, let's say your doctor says, hey, guess what? You're cancer free. We got it all. Well, how do you know it's that peace of mind. So if you're going to do all these security things for me, and that's something that we do on our technical business reviews, as that strategy and that client relationship meeting, we kind of give you a State of the Union. It's like, hey, you're cancer free, and here's how to rest assured that you're cancer free. Here are your scans. Here's how you can sleep at night knowing that this is taken care of and also coming proactive if there's something that comes up, bringing that back up. So I would definitely ask. Everybody deserves that peace of mind.

Caroline England: So what can I expect from you guys to know that you're doing what you say you're doing?

Mike Bazar: Yeah, no, 100%. So moving on. So the next one is examine reviews from previous clients, right? Jake had mentioned this earlier. Who do they work with in that industry? Right? You want to talk to other people. If they refuse to give you any kind of reviews or referral or client testimonial book or whatever that is and let you call and talk to some customers, then you should walk away, right? I think, Jake, you said run for the hills, and that's true, too, because if they're trying to hide something or not be as upfront as they could, people are starting out sometimes, and that's okay, right? They may not have as many reviews, but they should have somebody you can go talk to. They've done stuff. And so if they're trying to keep you from talking to existing clients, that's usually a bad idea.

Mike Bazar: And so go look at those Google reviews. Go look for testimonials on their website know that a lot of the time when they say, here's the person to call, it's because they've got a good relationship with, right. They're not going to give you a bad referral. But things like Google and other stuff have a lot of truth in them and that it's hard to get bad reviews removed unless it's flagrantly fraud or whatever else. So if you go look at some of those external sources, you can really usually get a feel for it. Mix that with what it is. And this goes back to that first question, what are your needs? Because when you call that other client of theirs, you want to ask some of those questions, hey, I have this need and this need.

Mike Bazar: Do any of those overlap with you? How do they handle that? What does that look like? What are your experiences around that? That becomes the part that if you've defined that up front, you can have a better conversation to make sure from somebody else's perspective, not just us talking and saying, look at all the great things we do, or you getting a warm, fuzzy, great presentation. You want to go look at those reviews. Because the truth is everybody it's like a job interview. Everybody's going to give their best foot forward when they interview, right? If we come give you a proposal, we're going to tell you all the wonderful things that we do. Prove it. That's the other side of it. What reports, what customers can I talk to? What else is out there?

Mike Bazar: And if you can get that, then you know, you can step into that with a significantly higher level of confidence because they can prove it. And that's one of the things you really want to look at, right? How much and how many reviews and what do they look like and are they good? One of the things that we do, and it's on our website, is every ticket we close, every note we make, there's a little thing goes out and you can say it was a good, bad, or kind of experience. And so you can get those tagged. And so it's a constant feedback that comes in. And we ran over 100%, probably for nine months. And then we recently got one bad one, and it was basically somebody wasn't happy with the answer. They wanted us to delete data. We asked the business owner.

Mike Bazar: The business owner said, no, they should delete the data. They weren't happy with that, so they gave us a bad thumbs down, but we left it because that's the truth. And I'd rather talk about that than hide it, right? And what it was and what it looked like. Because from my perspective and from a potential customer's perspective, that was good security. You right. We aren't just going to let you delete things. We want to have a conversation. You can't just call us and say, hey, delete all this data? No, I need verification. I need to know that's okay. We need to talk to people about that. We can't just go delete things because somebody asked us to. That's not good. Just something Carolyn, I was going to.

Caroline England: Say, you mentioned job interview, and it just sparked a thought in me know, sometimes we ask hard questions interviews. Something I would ask, if you're meeting with an owner, a, you know, like you said, everybody puts their best foot forward. What's something that you guys have experienced? Like what was a tough situation and how did you guys handle that? Everybody's biggest fear is being hacked, having a compromise, being breached. I think asking them to kind of give you some examples of some tough things that have happened with clients, whether no matter whose fault it was, how did you guys go about handling that? How did you guys work through that? And then talking to clients, too, about how have they handled emergency situations with you? If something did go down, if something was down, did they communicate well?

Caroline England: Did they communicate consistently throughout that outage? Did they just asking those kind of questions? Because at the end of the day, that's what's going to matter to you, right? As long as everything's going great, everybody's happy. But how do they handle the harder conversations? If something, God forbid, were to happen, if there's a risk, if there's a breach, how are they going to handle that? How are they going to be a partner to you?

Mike Bazar: No, I think that gets real important. So, last one, we got a couple of little things after this and some bonus questions, but if you guys have questions, please keep putting them in the Q A so we can go through those. But one of the big ones that I like to say is verify the company is properly licensed insured. Again, there is no governing body over MSPs. It's coming. It's going to happen eventually. We talk in the industry about it a lot, that it's going to come. But there's different things that people need. What are their security programs? What are their training programs? How are they using certifications and other things amongst their employees and their staff? What insurance do they have? Can they prove that they should? It's really easy. I can get a certificate of insurance and show it to you, right?

Mike Bazar: But if they can't show that they're insured and other things, that's a problem. The other thing I would say, and this is just a big misnomer, and I think it's important that everybody knows this is a lot of the time, people think that my insurance of our company is going to cover you. And if you screw up, it doesn't at all. It protects you against my mistakes, right? But if you click an email and you go give somebody the password and you get hacked because of that, my insurance isn't going to cover you. Yours is even that is part of this conversation of a lot of time is we want to make sure our customers understand that so that they can properly manage their own risk. And that, again, it's a partnership and a team. It's not that I'm trying to hide.

Mike Bazar: It's that if I make a claim against my insurance, they're going to say, no, that wasn't our fault. We're not going to pay for that, right? And so you want to make sure they have the right levels of insurance. So if they're drilling a hole in your wall and they pop a pipe, is that going to be covered? If they're not doing their updates and their security and they get hacked and that causes you a problem, how are you covered? Those kinds of things to make sure that they've got that professional liability and the cybersecurity side of that covered? Well, on the backside of that and with any of these things, and we're always talking about this is, if you don't understand, talk with your insurance agent about it, right? Like, they're experts in this.

Mike Bazar: Take their if you need to and you want to look at it and you're worried about it, bring an insurance agent in if you need to do it. But the point is, you should be asking and making sure they have proper insurance, that they're properly insured. And the other side of that is, do they have any industry specifications? Have they done anything to prove that they're good at security? Do they have a third party? Right? So you can work with different companies, and even if it's not required, you can work with companies to get different certifications. Like CompTIA has their trust mark that basically shows a company is doing what they're supposed to be doing. Like I said before, we do certifications for A Plus network, plus Security, plus Microsoft certifications.

Mike Bazar: We have the techs go through that because that's industry standard learning, and they get better, and then they can support you better, and they understand security better, and they understand how it all comes together better. Whereas I know a lot of guys that might have 20 years of experience, but the truth is they haven't updated their skill set in 15 years. And so they're still doing things the way they always did things and that kind of stuff. And they may be great at fixing problems, but they might not be the best at doing what you need to do today. And that's why you want to make sure they're keeping up with certifications training, making sure the insurance and the thing is good. Carolyn, you had something.

Caroline England: Conversely, they should also 100% be asking you if you have cyber insurance and wanting to review that with you 100%. I've seen it so many times where the thing about insurance is it's really long. Nobody wants to read all of those pages. And if they do, their name is John DePerro and he's our compliance officer. He loves that. But I personally don't. However, just like you mentioned, know, am I covered because my MSP has insurance? I'll tell you the same thing. If you're not marking off, you might have cyber insurance. And if you don't, they should definitely help you get some. If you do, you also have to make sure that you're crossing off every T, dotting every I, because let's say you do have it.

Caroline England: Your MSP should want to make sure that you are fulfilling all those things because you will not get paid out a dime if you're not meeting one of those things. For example, MFA, if you don't have MFA but in your insurance policy it says that you do. Guess what, that's not great and it's not a good position when something happens. So they should 100% be asking you about your insurance as well.

Mike Bazar: Yeah. And another good example, as we just took over a customer, we asked to look at their insurance. One of the things they had in the insurance form they'd already signed and gone through earlier in the year before their customer was that they were doing security updates as released. Well, our policy is to usually do most updates and patches. And it was written pretty vaguely. It wasn't critical, it was just security and patches is to actually hold off about a week. We'll do critical security patches quickly, but we do a lot of other patches. We'll hold off a week because if Microsoft screws something up and it breaks a lot of like, we don't want to cause you downtime, so let's vet those things out.

Mike Bazar: Well, the problem is that if we now don't do those patches immediately, their insurance policy is not void, is no good. So we go back, have a conversation, say, hey, we're going to do these updates to meet this or you got to talk to your insurance company and update this form. Either one we can do. But if an update causes a problem, this is why, right? So if you come back and when it's time to resign this form, we'll update everything correctly. But we want to make sure we're doing what you said that you were doing so that policy you have is still good. So that's why I say not only do you do that, but do they understand the insurance and the other things. It becomes a big conversation.

Mike Bazar: So additional tips that you guys might find helpful is ask you, we've talked about it before, what's their training and development program? What are they doing? What certifications? Do they require it or is it not? I know a lot of MSPs that say we offer training, they don't push anybody to do it. Know, we got real serious about it a couple of years ago. We basically forced everybody to get through a plus and network plus in six months. And in doing that, we gained. A lot of knowledge and the guys got better at their jobs and a lot of really good things came out of it. But not only that, they now understand it and most everybody's continued on. A lot of them have got Security Plus or Microsoft Certs. Like, they saw the value and they keep pushing it.

Mike Bazar: And so we've got a whole plan on how people should basically be progressing over their careers in training, and we try to help them down that road as much as we can and then make sure your company is responsive to your needs, right. You want to be able to get in touch with them easily. I always tell people, call them, right. You don't have to do it during that meeting or whatever, but call the office. Hey, I just wanted to shop and see how long it takes to get to support do those kinds of things where you can see what that looks like and how long that takes. And you might do it once or twice. I usually say do it two or three times.

Mike Bazar: There's times and this isn't trying to make an excuse, there are times that we'll get 100 phone calls in an hour. And so even if I have a ton of people on the phone, there's a chance you might have to wait a minute, right. Because we just got a ton of phone calls at that particular moment. And so there's got to be a little bit of grace on both sides. But I would say we do a really good job overall. And I can run reports to show you how fast we answer the phone, right, which is good. But it never hurts to make a phone call and see what it looks like. And do they answer and do they seem responsive? And who do you know with that?

Mike Bazar: And we've got a few minutes left here, but I don't know if anybody else has any other questions. I don't think in the chat, but one of the things that I saw pop up is and really actually, I think, Caroline, you said this was phrased a little bit different, but it was what do you think my biggest risk is? Is one of those questions that we are somebody asked in a slightly different way, but that is one of those things kind of earlier you talked about it's almost like how are you going to deal with it? But if I come back with this binder of all the things that are broken, what's the biggest risk in that? What's the thing I need to do? What do I need to address? How do I get around that? What does that look like?

Mike Bazar: And can we prescribe a plan or is it just we're going to come in and say, you got to buy seven new servers and 40 new desktops and all this crap and we're not going to plan that out at all. We're just going to tell you to do it. All right. Now, that's not really a good plan.

Caroline England: And sometimes I would say, err on the side of asking too many questions. There's never such thing asking too many questions. When it comes to an agreement that you're signing for a year, 24 months, 36 months, there should be no stone left unturned in your eyes. You should feel totally confident in what you're signing up for, what you're getting, and have a clear understanding. Sometimes salespeople are not technical, which is sometimes what you want, but bringing in those technical people, if you have specific questions on your industry, if you have specific needs, making sure that before you sign, you feel totally confident in exactly the services that you're going to be getting. How it works. One thing is the SLAs, which is service level agreements. Make sure that things are really clearly defined, like you mentioned earlier.

Caroline England: And when can I expect if my system goes completely down, what timeline can I expect to hear from you? Initially to get a plan and then for resolution? I think that those are really important because that's the stuff, especially on the account management side, that can cause animosity if that's not clearly defined. Straight out of the gate is, here's what you can expect from us. And I think I would just ask as many questions as possible, because if they really want you and they really want to earn your business and they really want to partner with you even more, so they're going to answer all those questions and make sure that you're completely comfortable.

Mike Bazar: Yeah. One of the other questions, because were talking ahead of time, I'm trying to figure out what are a lot of the questions we get asked because everybody wants to know them. So we figure we'll feed them out there. And, Jake, you had one where you know if you should ask and see how they answer, basically to, can you guarantee I won't be hacked?

Jake Mitchell: Yeah, absolutely. There are so many tools out there, it's just incredible. And tools come out every day. We get tons of emails on them. We're constantly looking at them just to try to make our security posture as strong as possible. But I would ask the question, if I take your services, am I guaranteed not to be breached or hacked? If they say yes, that's a telltale sign that they are not experts in cybersecurity. The fact is that we're always kind of playing catch up to the hackers. They come out with something new. There are certain things that we just absolutely cannot control. And just as an example, it might be a vendor piece of software that hadn't been patched yet that they're supposed to patch, or that the software was written incorrectly.

Jake Mitchell: There's not many ways that we're going to be able to figure that out. So there could be the potential that with all the security in place, they could still get in. Also, you've always got to worry about the human element. There's a stat that 95% of all breaches are going to be user error. And if you've got that human element out there, and we all know that folks don't always do all the training and everybody's not reading it in cybersecurity, that's not top of mind awareness as of yet. Hopefully it will as we move forward. But if they can get into the human phishing, whatever it might be, by stealing their password, then that will always be an issue or a potential breach just waiting to happen. Hence the reason why we try to consider as much employee training as we can.

Jake Mitchell: But again, if they say that they've got the silver bullet, then they're just not thinking of all the it's like.

Mike Bazar: I've talked with NSA guys, CIA guys, all this CISA people, and they all basically say there's two types of companies, those that have been hacked and those that don't know that they've been hacked. That's and so again, for us, it's always how fast can we react? How fast can we get them out? Can you minimize damage? Can you do that? And we have a track record of showing where somebody got into a network and we kicked them out in ten minutes. Somebody got into a network and we hooted them before they could do damage, before it was a problem. So I can't prevent that initial breach every time. I'm going to try my hardest. I'm going to make you harder to hack than the guy down the street. We're going to do everything we can.

Mike Bazar: But the truth is, if CISA and all these other government agencies that spend billions of dollars on cybersecurity are getting hacked, you can too. But how do you react? How do you make sure you kick them out? How do you make yourself a harder target so that these hackers will move on down the road and go pick somebody else? But you can't say that you're unhackable. Well, you can it's back to get a stone tablet, disconnect from the Internet. Don't do any of that stuff. And if you do that, then you can see, I mean, even the post office these days is saying don't send checks anymore because there's a rise in check fraud if you're connected to the world, there's risk in that.

Mike Bazar: And so our job is to minimize that risk as much as we absolutely can and then have things in place to react around it. And so that's a really good question to just say, like, can you guarantee or will I never get breached? Those kinds of things.

Caroline England: When the Titanic said that it was.

Mike Bazar: Unthinkable, the Iceberg had something to say about that.

Caroline England: I think the only other thing I would suggest too, with that is when you're talking about your biggest risks, if finances are a thing and it's preventing you from having certain things, or you have to pull back certain things, make sure that you're fully aware of what that would entail and what that would mean if there was a breach. I had previously worked with a company who did not want backups. They were expensive for the level that they needed. They said, you know what, we actually do them on our own. We're good. So we had them sign a denial of service. A week later, that human element came into play. Somebody clicked. They got ransomware. It was a nightmare. It took us over a week to build them a new server. They lost a ton of files.

Caroline England: And of course, I get a phone call. Hey, why did this happen? How did this happen? I can't believe this. You're not backing up our stuff. Well, when went through your agreement line by line and on the quarterly business reviews, that's another thing in account management, making sure that you have that constant state of the union, hey, you still don't have backups. We really need those understanding that because at that time, our hands were tied. We did everything we could. We ended up obviously keeping the client and then building them. And they did get backups eventually.

Caroline England: But I think just making sure that you have an understanding if there are certain things that you have to pull back on financially, make sure that you're talking through that with the team and understanding the what if, the domino effects that could happen because of that.

Mike Bazar: Yeah, what are the changes in risks? So we're getting to the end here. I want to make sure we get everybody out on time. And so if you've got questions, shoot an email over to Info at Vector Choice, give us a call and then know. You can get a hold of Jake or Caroline. You can scan the QR code to go to their booking link if you want to do that. Or there's phone numbers and emails there as well. But, yeah, that's what we had. So I think that all went well. And so I appreciate you guys giving us the time, and I'm going to stop sharing there as we kind of end this thing down. I hope everybody has it Saturday or Friday. So have a good weekend and we'll talk to you guys later.

Mike Bazar: Shoot us an email if you have any other questions.

Caroline England: Take care. Bye.