In this article, I would like to talk about a great position to be in if you own a Computer Business. This position is being “a cog in your clients business machine”.
So, what do I mean by a “Business Machine”? Most businesses are a series of systems where one gear turns the other. For example, when you order a burger at McDonalds, the front desk person takes you order and enters it into the computer. Your order then shows up on the screens in the back area where the burgers are made and then someone makes your burger. That is the simplest part of it but there are other systems such as ordering the produce, managing staff etc..
McDonalds have mastered their systems and it is well documented in manuals. This is why all pretty much all McDonalds operate the same way. Most McDonalds restaurants order the same product from the same supplier nationwide and that is why the taste is consistent regardless of which one you goto. These suppliers are part of the McDonalds machine and it is a great opportunity for them because the franchises dont shop around for produce, they just go with whatever supplier is part of “the machine”.
Now how does this apply to the Computer Business?
If you can become a cog in someone elses business machine, its a great place to be because you are far less likely to being replaced by someone else.
I personally do some repair work for a very large business and they have 3 locations in my city. This business has their own systems that they share between these 3 locations and these systems include a list of businesses they outsource work to.
They have a certain electrician that they use between all three locations, a certain sign maker, a certain telecommunications person and of course, a certain computer technician – me.
The inspiration for this article was when I got to see one of their manuals a few months ago and noticed that I was printed in it. These manuals are properly bound and they are not easy to make changes to.
Once you are incorporated in their systems, its harder to replace you. If your cog keeps turning, doesnt squeak and keeps their business machine running well, there is no reason to replace you anyway.
So how can you increase your chances of getting incorporated into their systems?
First and foremost is to do good work, be reliable and be on time which is no surprise.
Increasing your businesses “stickiness” can help a lot. A good example of this is to place a sticker containing your businesses details on top of the computers that you work with. Lets say that they got a new receptionist who had been working there for a few weeks and then the boss tells her to call someone in to fix the computers. This receptionist had noticed your stickers on top of the computers during the week and she is far more likely to call you than some unknown person from the Yellow Pages.
Setting up accounts with businesses is also a good way to get incorporated in their systems. Most business that you invoice will keep your details in their accounting system. Once you are in there, they constantly have your details on hand and its easy to pay you. Sometimes getting someone else is more trouble than its worth.
Last but not least, be nice to the receptionists. You should be nice to them anyway but a lot of people often see them as one of the lower jobs in an organisation. However, they are usually the gate keepers to an organisation. While they cant judge the quality of work I do, they can judge me on how nice I am, how easy I am to work with and how I can make their job easier. Guess who calls me to come onsite and fix the computers? Its not the big boss of the corporation, its the receptionists. If the receptionists dont hear anything bad about you from the other people, they will keep calling you because:
1, You are written in the businesses systems. If something bad happens, they were “just following the manual” .
2, They like you and people like to work with people that make them feel comfortable. If someone more skilled than me tried to take my position and was condescending to them, guess who’s still getting the call?
In conclusion, try to become part of your clients systems. Be the cog in their business that doesn’t squeak, keeps the business machine turning and you’ll be with that client for the long term.