Interview with Matthew Hymel of Switchfast Technology

Recently, I had a chance to interview Matthew Hymel of Switchfast Technology, a leading small business IT consulting and support firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and an office in Rochester, New York.  In addition to those two cities, Switchfast also provides full IT service in the following metropolitan areas:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • San Francisco, California.

Below are the highlights of my interview with Matthew.

SoHoTrends: Matthew, I appreciate you taking the time today to answer a few common questions that readers of SoHoTrends.com have about small business IT issues.  What common problem(s) do you see at your small business clients?

SwitchFast: The most common problem we see in small businesses is a lack of technology support and expertise afforded to their bigger competitors. We find they often settle for lower quality resources. Compared to larger companies, downtime lasts longer and affects more of the company when problems like data loss, computer failure, and e-mail downtime arise. These can grind operations to a halt- and without the financial safety net a bigger competitor might enjoy.

SoHoTrends: Great answer.  As a small business owner, my IT issues really affect my bottom line adversely.

Let’s move on to another popular topic, web sites.  Very often I’ll hear readers ask, “My son/daughter/cousin/next-door neighbor/friend designed my web site a few years ago and it needs to be refreshed.  How do I get started?”

SwitchFast: Here are four things to consider:

  1. Think about your “ideal” visitor. Try to define their purpose for visiting: e-commerce? Lead generation? Information? Membership?
  2. Take a new look at your website- as a first-time visitor. How easily can you find what you’re visiting for? What would get in the way?
  3. Consider implementing or updating a “news” or blog page. Communicating with new and returning visitors builds credibility and fosters an ongoing relationship with your target clients.
  4. Develop a list of words that potential clients would “Google” to find your business if they didn’t know your business’ name. Work with an SEO specialist to incorporate these keywords into your pages, and work to drive yourself to the first result for those keywords.

SoHoTrends: Cloud computing is a topic that seems to get all the buzz recently.  What is cloud computing?  Is this something that a small business should consider using?

SwitchFast: Cloud computing is a relatively new term for a familiar concept- buying vs. leasing. Imagine buying a car for your business, and the related expenses (maintenance, insurance, fuel, etc) and compare that to a company leasing the same car for a low monthly price. Now, you can’t be sure that the company leasing your car will be in business forever, and you’d trust that company with your belongings stored in the car. However, being released of the headaches of owning the car, and paying only for the convenience of it, is truly an enticing proposition.

Now, apply that idea to almost every aspect of your business- e-mail, phone systems, accounting tools, sales software, data backups, and so on. Hundreds of providers offer a similar proposition for every conceivable need.  A small business should certainly consider their needs and evaluate the “cloud” options open to them, especially as an alternative to internal investments.

SoHoTrends: Unfortunately, I don’t live in one of the areas that SwitchFast serves.  What should I look for in an IT service provider for my small business?

SwitchFast: Here are four different things to consider when looking for an IT service provider.

  1. Prevention- How proactively are problems handled? If your IT provider isn’t focusing on the source of problems, you might continue paying for fixing the symptom, not the cause.
  2. Responsiveness- How quickly are problems addressed- and fixed? Your needs should be a priority, not a pest.
  3. Expertise- What certifications and experience are you getting? If they aren’t experts in your system, you might be paying for on-the-job training.
  4. Pricing- Are you charged a flat rate (per-month, per-project), or hourly? Without a flat, predictable rate, your IT expenses can be difficult to control and impossible to predict.

SoHoTrends: What services does Switchfast offer to small businesses?

SwitchFast: Switchfast is the IT department for our small business clients whether for a specific issue, a project, or ongoing support.  We offer:

  • IT Support/Consulting
  • Website Development- Online Strategy, SEO, Content Management Systems
  • Application Development- Streamline business processes, improve sales process
  • VoIP Phones- Unify communications, gain efficiency.

SoHoTrends: Wow, Switchfast offers a very broad set of services to small businesses.  How would I get in touch with someone at Switchfast?

SwitchFast: E-mail TheFutureOfIT@switchfast.com or call 773-241-3007.

SoHoTrends: Thanks again Matthew for addressing some of the more common concerns that our readers, small business owners, have about information technology.

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