Ongoing proactive maintenance - how do you justify it?

I'd like to hear people's thinking / justification and how they deal with clients on proactive maintenance.  I'm coming into several opportunities to roll out SBS to small businesses I've been dealing with for the last couple / few years.  Some have NT server in a domain that was set up by others, some have workgroups, etc.  All would call me when things went wrong (which wasn't all that often) - I'm basically a break / fix technician.  They underutilized what they have - basic file sharing, outlook or outlook express to a pop server outside, and printer sharing.  No more than 10 seats.

So the desktops are getting old, the server hard drive might be getting full and they are looking for me to propose replacements.  Yes, they all like the idea of shared calendars and contacts, but most don't have external email for all the users.  But the idea of internal email sounds nice.

Anyway, you go in and propoise thousands of dollars of services and hardware..... a 'better / more stable OS', etc.   and then say that we'll charge you a couple / few hundred $$ a month to keep it ship shape?  I envision them saying - the odler arrangement didn't have ongoing preventive maintenance and kept running (for the most part) pretty well.  why does this newer / more stable / better OS need more babysitting?!

And you would say?

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The world is more dangerous than ever.
It use to be a few viruses. Now Hacking has become like a new career people learn how to hack.
Years ago most stores didn't have the use for video Cameras but today it is almost a must.
Years ago Computers where limited to Big Coorporations very few people surfed the internet.
Today everyone has access to a computer and the internet. Therefore Good and Bad user are sufing the internet.
It would be suicide not to have a proactive maintenance.
Its almost buying a Benz and park it with the keys in the ignition with not alarm no protection.

Come on! there is a lot you could say for them to understand the risk that they are taking by not having any proactive maintenance.

Will there be someone dedicated to Test and Apply the patches fro the servers and workstations. Microsoft release a patch almost everyday who will take care of that?
Will Someone makesure that  backups are successful?
Will someone take a look at the event viewer every day and make sure everything is running like clock work?

If they can do all these things by them selves maybe they they don't need proactive maintenance.

The best reference for SBS is entreprise computing and not home computing.  Home computing is about a desktop, mail and some backed up files.
SBS 2003 offers a set of entreprise servers shoe horned in a simple cheap package.  For entreprise computing the maintenance cost can be set to 1000-2000$ for each desktop.  I think the TCO discussion offered by Microsoft and others is the best starting point.
Your customers have to look at it like an insurance policy.

Also here in the US many years ago there was a TV commercial for engine oil.
The final line in the commercial was you can pay me now (for quality oil) or pay me later (for an engine overhaul).

I have extensive experience with MS Exchange servers. I cannot tell you how often someone has called with Exchange database problems. I ask how long has this been going on and the answer is "several months, we didn't think it was an issue." Well needless to say it usually takes a lot longer and more money to correct at this point as opposed to working on the issue when it first started happening.

Just my 2 cents worth.
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
I suggest that you join the following Yahoo Groups which have continuing discussions on these issues:

General Small Business IT Consulting Issues

A new group that specifically focuses on Managed Services (Proactive Care):

There are a lot of things to consider in this realm.  Since I ONLY provide this kind of service now I have found that the MOST important issue is communication.  First you need to find out what their concerns are and then you need to communicate how you've addressed those concerns EVERY MONTH.

You also have to be very clear about what is and isn't covered.  Read through the groups and you'll learn a lot.


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