Let’s take a peek into the lives of two fictional computer business owners:
It’s Monday and I feel like that 80’s ad, “Time to make the doughnuts“. But wait I, love IT don’t I? I mean, we get to do some cool stuff. So why do I feel so overwhelmed and overworked?
Oh no, that call is from XYZ Customer and the message they left is that their QuickBooks server is showing a red alert on one of the drives and as usual, the owner is freaking out. Deep breath… breathe…
It’s Monday and I can’t wait to get started, see what new challenges I can tackle, and make some extra money to put towards my vacation this summer.
Dang, received an alert that a hard drive on XYZ Customer’s server has failed.
Clickety-click, click, click, click-click-click.
Bam! Looks like one of the drives on their RAID has failed. Good thing their backups are current (received an informational alert). I will grab a drive from inventory and dispatch a technician later this afternoon.
Which One Are You?
Can you relate more to Bob Breakfix or Marty Managed?
Bob Breakfix runs a fee-for-service IT services business, or what’s commonly known as break/fix. Using this method, Bob performs services as needed and bills the customer only for the work done. This may include such services as repairs, upgrades or installation of systems, components, peripheral equipment, networking or software. This type of solution is usually reactive versus proactive.
Marty Managed monitors, supervises and secures outsourced network or application procedures on behalf of the organizations that are using those services. MSP’s typically also do break-fix work but educate their customers about the difference, and tend to be more proactive versus reactive.
Is it time to make the doughnuts, or are your automation and processes being tuned to create re-occurring revenue? Are you reacting to your customers calls for help or being proactive to take care of their technology? Does your customer call you “freaking out” or are you handling things before the customer knows about them?
Typically, the reason most businesses do not provide managed services is either they are not sure exactly what managed services encompass or they are not sure how to go about providing them.
The big difference comes from a customer service mind-set when it comes to providing IT services to a client base. It really comes down to whether or not you react or mitigate problems before they happen. Without fail, most of the SMB owners I talk to and coach tell me they want to be proactive.
The problem is, how do you get there from here?
Getting Started in the MSP World
A few years ago I co-wrote a book on the topic, “MSP or Fail”, in which we present a road map of the steps to transitioning from a break-fix company to a managed services provider. Not much has changed since we wrote it, other than some details, terminology and the available vendors to assist you.
If you are considering managed services today, the assets available for you as a “Bob Breakfix” could possibly be overwhelming. So it’s important to ask a the right questions to help you start thinking about managed services.
Seven Questions to Ask Before Your Transition to MSP:
- Is what you’re currently doing working?
Think in terms of customer satisfaction, getting your time back, owning a business versus being owned by the business, and is this what you dreamed about when you started the business?
- What is the current opportunity in your area?
Consider number of businesses in your area that are Legal, Medical, Manufacturing, or Professional Services (heating and air, real estate, human resources, non-profits etc). Which are you currently servicing and which would you like to service?
- What tools are you currently using for PSA (professional services automation) and RMM (remote monitoring and management)?
If you are anything like the shops I have seen, you only utilize a third of your PSA capabilities. The two big contenders out there are Autotask and ConnectWise. I have heard all the objections why you are not using them, but what I don’t understand is why business owners are not thinking past tomorrow and their 1-3 employees? I am also an advocate of “there is no extra credit for climbing a mountain when there is an elevator next door.” (Taken from Robin Robbins in 2007). I mention both of these big companies because lately pricing has come down for the small shops and you can get started with them right away without breaking your wallet. Further, both of these PSA platforms contain aspects that assist in transitioning your thinking from break fix to managed services.
- How are you going to market your offerings?
- Are you still going to service break/fix along with MSP?
I recommend both – long term thinking in this realm is customer loyalty.
- How are you going to transition your current customers and prospect to into your MSP?
Is there value for your customers to go to the subscription model or not?
- How are you going to sustain your offerings?
For example: training, process, technology, investing in the industry, learning from others, etc.
I am convinced that unless you are willing to wrestle with these questions you will continue to get the results you are getting and not grow very much.
So, after considering these questions, are you happy with your breakfix business or would you like a dynamic business? And, finally, are you willing to ask some serious questions and do the work to transition from where you are? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for future article from me on this topic.