Staying In Your Lane

Over the years, we’ve built great relationships with most of our clients (hopefully that means you!). The nature of our flat fee relationship lends itself to being great partners. Both Howard Tech and our clients win when their technologies work well. Providing unlimited support also means we get asked tons of questions that might or might not be in our area of expertise.

Of course we take ownership of things we know about – support for workstations, servers, network configurations, security, email and many other things.

What happens when we are asked to help with something that’s just outside our scope?

Our team loves helping others, including our clients. We’ve gotten ourselves into trouble many times by trying to serve someone with an issue that’s outside of our sweet spot. I’m regularly preaching to our team to “Stay in our lane.” Let’s be experts on the things we know, and help our clients identify better solutions for the areas we aren’t experts in.

Last week, a client asked me to help with their audio visual system. They’d like to have a conference center like system, and want to host audiences with a variety of lighting, sound systems, multiple screens, audio and more. After making the same mistakes in offering ideas where I don’t know too much, it was easy for me to offer to help them find an expert of these technologies. The AV solution is just one of many things that our team gets asked about. We’re trying to balance our desire to serve clients well, with understanding our own limitations.

What about in your company?

Are you asked questions by your clients or partners that stretch the limits of your knowledge? Are you cautious with what you say to whom, how and when? For Howard Tech, once we offer advice on a given technology, we are in small measure “owning” the success or failure of that initiative. That’s a very risky place to be for a company providing unlimited support and desiring to maintain great relationships.

We are working to memorialize the many things that we are not experts on. These include website development, custom software, iPhone or Android repairs, live streaming services, electrical systems, air conditioning units and more. Our goal is to help educate our clients on the many things they might consider, and provide a list of vetted vendors that can actually assist with the client’s real needs.

Our hope is that by saying “we’re not able to do that” in an honest way, coaching them on how to make a decision and helping the client find a great partner – our client will ultimately be best served overall.

I’m certainly not an expert on everything, and my relationships will be best served by staying in my lane.