Free Technology Advice Will Cost You

Many IT firms provide “free advice.” They expect you to pay for the hardware and software they recommend but not the recommendation. Skeleton Key takes a unique approach to this. We don’t sell hardware. We don’t sell software. Our value rests in the fact that these factors are not a part of our advice and recommendations. Our advice is free of conflict. Our recommendations are free of subversive intent and self serving motivations. No qualified advice and recommendation is free. If it has value, you’ll pay for it somehow.

I snagged the following snippet of text from an email Oliver Block sent explaining Skeleton Key’s practice of billing for time spent documenting our work and making recommendations.

“In your previous e-mail message you mentioned that you did not realize that Skeleton Key charges for recommendations. In fact, that is exactly what we charge for. Our customers pay us to give them objective recommendations of technology solutions that will give an excellent return on investment. Other I.T. providers give advice away for free while expecting to make a profit on the sale of expensive equipment and software. That advice is usually lacking in technical details and it is shaped by the fact that the expert is trying to sell the products and services that they carry. Our advice costs more than some providers, but it is measured, well researched advice that only considers your needs and return on investment. We don’t provide recommendations as part of a selling process, we provide them as part of our service to you.

“You can take our recommendations and implement them yourself if your staff have the time, e.g. buy the firewall we recommended online at the best possible price and install it per our recommendation. If you would like us to install it, we will of course be happy to provide that service, using the work we performed in making the recommendation as a plan for rapidly implementing the solution. You may even be able to save some money by performing as much of the work in-house as you can and only using us for the the most technical tasks or for advice along the way – that’s fine with us! We’re happy to train and educate your staff as we work so that they can maintain the network without our help in the future.”

Next time you’re given “free advice” ask yourself, “How am I paying for this?” The reality is You get what you pay for. Please, shoot me an e-mail if you’d like to pay for good advice.