Moving from the break fix model to managed services isn’t easy, and many IT providers struggle with the transition. However, the benefits of the managed services model are worth the extra effort. Managed service providers (MSPs) get more stability and better time management, and their customers get improved support and less downtime. If you are considering starting an MSP, the following tips can ease the process.
Focus on customer service
Managed services success is all about delivering an excellent customer experience. This means taking a proactive approach to customer service as opposed to the reactive approach associated with providing break fix support. It sounds simple, but this is where many shops stumble. The reality is that it’s a pretty big cultural shift.
If you’ve built a career hopping from project to project fixing issues as they pop up, ongoing monitoring and management of customer IT environments can be feel foreign. It makes sense, because the break fix environment (as the name implies) is about resolving IT problems. Managed services, on the other hand, is about preventing problems before they happen.
To succeed as an MSP, it’s essential to develop a customer service mindset and incentivize your employees to do the same. Good customer service does not come naturally to everyone, but it can be learned. Consider outside training if it makes sense for your team.
Deploy the right tools
Obviously, services you choose to provide will largely dictate the tools that you use. Or the IT needs of a specific vertical, such as legal or health care, might dictate the services you choose. Some common managed services include: network monitoring, patch management, helpdesk, security, backup, and disaster recovery.
Whatever services you provide, the tools you decide on can have a huge impact on your success. So, when you are evaluating products, consider the following factors:
- Remote monitoring and management is 100% essential for MSPs. The only way that you can effectively serve multiple customers is to be able to monitor, access, and resolve issues remotely. Rolling a truck to fix customer issues on site should be avoided whenever possible—it’s resource intensive, expensive, and doesn’t scale. Tools that enable remote access are a must.
- Multi-tenancy is another key feature. Products that allow you to manage multiple customers from a single portal dramatically streamline management. Look for products that can automate routine tasks across customers. Tools that increase efficiency in this manner allow you to serve more customers without increasing headcount.
- Take advantage of partner programs. Many vendors offer special benefits for valued partners. When evaluating products, consider whether the vendor has a strong partner program. Some vendors, like Carbonite, offer partner benefits like tiered discounts, marketing collateral, market development funding, and early access to new products. These benefits, usually found in a vendor’s Partner Portal, can make your life easier and show that the vendor is committed to the channel.
Learn from peers
Networking with IT providers that have already made the move to managed services can also be helpful to learn how to start an MSP. And, opportunities to network with other MSPs are plentiful. Conferences held by channel vendors can be great opportunities for picking the brains of successful MSPs. There are also a number of industry groups dedicated to spreading knowledge among MSPs. For example, CompTIA offers a variety of educational and networking opportunities. Additionally, many MSPs are active on Reddit.
Peers can give you valuable insight into all kinds of business challenges, from choosing new or troubleshooting existing technology to developing the right pricing strategy for your services. This kind of firsthand advice is invaluable when you are getting your managed services business off the ground.