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Managing The Local Tech Guy (Or Gal)

Five tips on how to choose--and manage--your support vendor wisely. The business you save may be your own.

“We had someone who was wonderful, then all of a sudden, he quit showing up.”

That’s how Joyce Gioia, president of The Herman Group, a firm that advises clients on business trends, describes one of her experiences using a local computer specialist.

After a few weeks, she found another specialist via a referral, but in the interim her business suffered because glitches--and there are always glitches--remained unfixed until the new technician was found.

This is the dilemma that many small businesses face. As technology becomes essential for everyone from automotive shops to home businesses to Mom and Pop retailers, a computer or network crash can severely curtail operations--or in extreme cases, cause a business to fail.

Although increasingly major firms such as Best Buy and IBM are providing national support networks for small businesses, many smaller businesses opt for local computer experts for their support. The reasons for doing so are many: for starters, they're often cheaper. And, when it works out, you can get more personalized service. But not all local firms are the same, and learning how to choose--and manage--these vendors can make a huge difference to your business.

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