Break/Fix – Why this model can be toxic for your business.

Their are two main IT support business models that are widely used. The first is Managed IT Services, which we discussed in a blog post a couple weeks ago. If you have not read it yet, I recommend you do so as it will help you understand the difference between the two models. In today’s post we are going to discuss the second model called Break/Fix.

Break/Fix is how many IT support companies start off because its the easiest. Many of these businesses start off as Techs looking for side gigs and only support their clients after hours because they still hold an normal 8-5 job. You often hear this from business owners when they refer to a friend they have that helps them out every now and then (this has its own risks I’ll touch on shortly in the 5 points below). You pay an hourly rate and they come in, fix whatever is broken (hence the Break/Fix term), then leave. The biggest benefit to you the business owners is its cheap when you don’t need it. If you are technology savvy enough, this can be a great model for you if you have a solid trust in your provider and use them just for the few things you need help with. But what you need to be mindful of is the hidden costs rack up quickly. How so? In several ways:

  1. Most importantly, their business model is not in line with yours. You don’t want your equipment to break because it costs you money, money lost in payroll from employees that are unable to work, money lost because now you have to pay for someone to come in and fix the issue, money lost in lost opportunities. They, on the other hand, are hoping for your equipment to break so they get that call from you for help and can bill you to keep their own lights on. Break/Fix shops are feast and famine as they typically see work surge.
  2. No predictive billing. You don’t know what your bill is each month so you cannot budget for it. Yes you can guess/ask, but its never a good feeling to have the UPS guy drop off your bill because it won’t fit in an envelop.
  3. Lack of flexibility/Innovation. This kinda touches back on point #1. They have no incentive to adapt their technology stack to improve or innovate with with you to help you keep a competitive edge. Also if its someone running the business as a side gig, their employer is their focus as its paying their bills. So if you need any work done it can take a long time before its completed which drives up your cost.
  4. Insurance. While dedicated break/fix shops will typically have business liability insurance, the side job worker typically doesn’t. This puts your business at risk should their be an issue or mistake that negatively impacts your business.
  5. Maintenance – IT is a lot of work, work that goes on in the background such as keeping equipment up to date, updating certificates, monitoring, backups, etc. In break/fix model their is little to no room for these tasks.

While break/fix may work for some who are technically savvy enough to handle their own IT, its not a good model. In the long run it will cost you more time and money because it takes you away from running your business.