Bernadette Bourke had heard it too many times: "So, your computer's down? We'll be out in a couple of days."
That answer just didn't cut it for Quadrant Insurance Managers Inc., where Bourke is MIS manager. The five-employee company, which does $10 million in policy premium services annually, depends on its half-dozen computers for their databases, writing and issuing policies and keeping records.
About a year ago, a radio advertisement for PC On Call said exactly what Bourke wanted to hear: The company wouldn't take days to respond.
She called to find out more and, before she signed up, reiterated her concern: "When we need you, we need you." She can't wait around, and she must reserve time to wear her other hat as the company's underwriting manager.
PC On Call didn't disappoint her.
"The very first time we called them, it was in 35 minutes that they were out here," Bourke says.
Now Bourke uses PC On Call not just on an emergency basis, but to do regular monthly maintenance on Quadrant's computers and to help her make decisions regarding hardware and software purchases. She gets all this for $8,000 a year under PC On Call's Mobile IT plan.
"I couldn't hire somebody for that by any means," she says. "And frankly, I couldn't put a full-time MIS person to work."
Bourke, who has a background in computer programming, says PC On Call provides the peace of mind of quick service -- and access to expertise in areas she's lacking, such as networks.
Once, Bourke contacted PC On Call when she realized someone was trying to dial in to the company's computer system. The company told her what had happened and gave her the good news that security had not been broken, then helped her decide whether she needed to tighten security further.
The Mobile IT plan also gives businesses a single point of contact at PC On Call and discounts on standard hourly service charges.
The average annual Mobile IT plan at PC On Call costs between $4,000 and $16,000 for small businesses, says Michael Dorne, the company's Columbus branch manager, but fees are based on the number of computers and are higher for large businesses. Plans also are available by the month or by the quarter.
In addition to service contracts like the Mobile IT plan Bourke uses, PC On Call provides businesses with technical support; assessment and evaluation of information technology to handle growth; annual check-ups; disaster recovery; and help in customizing computer solutions to support the company's business plan. Service also is available for residential customers, and PC On Call sells its own line of systems, from desktop PCs to high-end servers.
Bourke prefers the Mobile IT plan over other computer services she's used because it puts her at the top of the service response list when she requests assistance.
"One morning I called in before their company opened, and I got whoever answers through the night. I told her, 'It's OK, when the office opens have somebody call me.' I was in here at 7 something and 15 minutes later I was on the phone with our technician," Bourke says.
"It was very comforting to know that when our system totally ties up and we have a major problem, they're there."
How to reach: PC On Call, www.pconcall.com, 885-5552.
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.