- Ensure that Prospects Know What a Single Point of Contact Means for Them - It's true that national brands can offer prospects name recognition, but what most small business owners need is a one-on-one relationship with a highly-skilled small business computer consultant.
- Offer Open Line of Communication to the CEO - A computer franchise business owner needs to show a prospective client that there is no bureaucracy, low staff turnover, and open communications with their company. Trust each client enough to allow for an escalation safety net: Give every client access to the CEO through their mobile phone number and personal e-mail address.
- Show Clients that They Receive Consistent Service - National chains often put their "best" technicians and system engineers on the larger accounts, and the newer and not-so-experienced technicians on smaller accounts. Small computer businesses can offer clients much more highly trained and experienced technicians without extra charges to cover management overhead and national advertising campaigns.
- Be Up-Front about Potential Conflicts of Interest - If a technology provider sells computer service contracts AND products, be transparent about this. Fragile credibility can be damaged by product-driven recommendations and relationships with clients can be destroyed.
- Break Down Hourly Billing Rates for Clients - An empowered and educated client is the best client. Break down the billing rates with a simple four-or-five row worksheet to show what revenue goes to technical staff and contractor wages, administrative overhead and taxes, and IT marketing and sales activities.
"National chains are not direct competitors to small computer businesses," said Joshua Feinberg, Business Development Director of SP Home Run Inc. "They are indirect competitors that can be managed easily by following these five steps. If an IT provider follows these steps and makes sure these competitive differentiators are integrated into marketing materials, such as a "Compare Us" page on its website and a brief discussion in pre-sales meetings with prospective clients; competition from national chains will not be an issue. That said, those computer repair business owners who fail to proactively tackle these issues head-on will eventually become glorified order takers and commodity brokers. In a nutshell, computer businesses must be able to effectively convey why we're ‘different' and why we're the best choice for small businesses."