No-one sets out to do things badly. Most of us aim for best practices. But are you actually getting it right? You might think so, but you might benefit from reading about the personal experience of one aspiring entrepreneur.
Outside of his day job my dad worked as a rental property manager. His hard work and success really inspired me. I worked really hard to save up so I could buy the duplex I lived in. That was the first step to growing a property business that supports my family and the people I employ.
Before my business got going I was a sales manager, of the classic kind. That involved getting to know my clients very well, so we were always able to have a good conversation. I’d remember to wish them happy birthday and ask how their kids were doing. I had a lot of knowledge about people that helped me really connect with them.
Most of my business involves managing properties. That means dealing with tenants, collecting rent and handling maintenance and utilities issues, as well as the usual elements of running a business, like payroll and general administration. You need a good grasp of logistics to keep it all ticking over.
The business advice my dad gave me has been really valuable. One of his sayings was ‘measure twice, cut once’. Another thing he taught me was to do as much as you can and let the experts do what you can’t.
When I was equipping my rental properties that second lesson came in really handy. I try to make my residential properties really nice. They have good Wi-Fi connection, as well as smart locks and other features that need proper management. Commercial properties usually have even more tech to oversee. Managing these features takes quite a bit of effort, so my main office is all set up for that. I also rely on my technology to help me to keep track of tenants and their paperwork, as well as documentation relating to my staff.
I’m no dinosaur – I know how to use a computer for everyday stuff. But when it came to more complicated things, I followed my dad’s advice and called in the experts. A reliable IT company set everything up, including a backup system that seemed good. They trained my office manager in how it worked and came back a few weeks later to run backup tests and see it was running properly. All went well for a couple of years. Then we hit a bump in the road, with a lot of work piling up. Apart from dealing with tenants and property maintenance issues, we were immersed in tax returns – and all this while our office manager was on a family vacation.
It seems to be a rule of the universe that things go wrong when you’re least equipped to handle them. And that’s what happened. The software we use for almost every aspect of our business stopped working. Payroll, calendars and in-house communications all went down. Even worse, our data had gone bad.
No-one likes having their vacation interrupted and no boss wants to disrupt their employees’ time out. But I had no choice except to make an expensive call to our office manager, who was trying to relax on a cruise. He kindly sacrifice his free time to get us back on track and help us access the backup required to restore the system. We also called in the IT company who’d originally overseen our backup system.
The problem was that, even though we restored the backup, the data was still messed up. Repeat restores didn’t fix a thing. The IT company identified the problem. Most of the software was running fine, but there’d been some kind of software update that interfered with the way the backup data was being stored. In short, it wasn’t backing up properly. The worst thing was this: we knew all about the update but, when it kicked in, the backup system didn’t get plugged into it.
This was data we just couldn’t live without in order to function. We’d have had to contact all our tenants and ask them again for all their personal details. No-one likes to hear someone’s mishandled or somehow lost their data. It just looks really unprofessional.
The good news was that the IT firm got our data back eventually – but after huge stress and a hefty bill. But it was a price well worth paying to get back to normal. We thought we’d done everything by the book. It’s not like we had a DIY setup, without getting good advice. We just didn’t do backup tests to make sure it was still working. So now we know that we didn’t actually follow the standard best practices that could have saved us loads of time, hassle and expense.
Now we do backup tests every few weeks. We do that by running everything from the backup to see if everything runs as it should. Doing this means that we’ve also picked up some other potential problems along the way. The bottom line is: backup properly, but also do backup tests to make sure your system is fit for purpose!
What can we all learn from this experience? All networks evolve over time and you need to know all the components are still integrated and functioning properly. A malfunction in one area can ripple throughout the system. At Quikteks we do backup tests on the systems we set up so you can be confident that your system can survive any glitches or failures. We can help ensure that issues like this are caught before they cause problems and disrupt your operations. For more information and advice, call us at (973) 882-4644.