For most managed services providers (MSPs) today, long-term growth means planning for the future—for more clients, more staff, and more work. What most MSP owners don’t think of, however, is that focusing on sustainable success over short-term wins is critical for long-term growth. As things become more complex, it’s essential that you implement a strong foundation to help your business run like a self-driving car, or a well-oiled machine. That way, you can grow your business without the growing pains.
With that in mind, here are three tips to consider as an MSP if you’re looking to achieve long-term, sustainable growth for your business.
1. Prioritize Projects
As an MSP you’re focused on servicing your clients and helping them solve their technical issues. The more you’re able to focus on your clients, the more you’ll be able to delight them, and the more repeat (and new) business will come your way. However, when you start to expand and scale your business, how do you keep from feeling overwhelmed and knowing which clients or projects to prioritize? When you’re stretched too thin, things can start to fall through the cracks, so you need to be able to prioritize your most important tasks.
Knowing where to focus your resources seems simple enough, but the unnerving thing is that two out of three service-based business managers like MSPs are “running blind” when it comes to tracking their budgets around client work. Even worse, when it comes to managing schedules and projects, more than three in four service professionals either use manual techniques or none at all, which is definitely not scalable and prone to error. If you aren’t using an integrated platform to run your business operations from prospect to close, then you aren’t able to get a clear view of how all the moving parts are working together.
Simply put: when your business isn’t streamlined, you can’t easily see where things might be missed—like neglecting a high-value client’s email, going over budget on a project or devoting more time to a contract at the expense of a more profitable one. With a smart business operations automation platform, you’ll get notified automatically if something important came in or was going off track, and in enough time to do something about it. When you’re operating with a bunch of disparate tools that don’t talk to each other well, these kinds of automated reminders and business insights simply aren’t as apparent, hindering your ability to prioritize the right things at the right time.
2. Achieve a More Balanced Workflow
When everyone is working around the clock but the results just aren’t adding up, you’ve likely got yourself a workflow issue—one that needs to be optimized. That’s where automation comes in.
With smart technology that can automate redundant work, like recurring tasks, retainers, and payments, you’ll be able to reclaim both yours and your staff’s time and generate more revenue without taking on more work. You shouldn’t have to put in crazy hours for average results. When you’re so busy trying to stay on top of your work and making sure you don’t drop the ball, you aren’t able to actually strategize around growing your business.
Think of it this way: with a balanced workflow, you’ll finally be able to work “on” the business you’ve worked so hard to build, rather than “in” it. Creating repeatable processes for your team gives them the visibility they need to know exactly how to operate. And with automated notifications and workflow progression, they’ll be more efficient and confident. If you have a million different ways of doing something, you can’t gain any real insight into the actual time spent producing a project or service, and that can cost your business big time. When everything you need to run your business is found in one integrated and automated platform, no one is working in silos and everyone is focused on the client—the heart of your business’ long-term growth.
3. Avoid Costly (or Draining) Clients
Having visibility into your business with smart automation enables you to see exactly where your big ‘wins’ are, but also, where you might be losing. Without being able to look at and compare clients, the work you’re doing for them, the revenue it’s generating and the resources needed to complete those retainers, it’s difficult to see where or with which clients you might be leaking revenue.
You need a platform that will make sure your team members aren’t focusing all of their allocated hours on one client, while neglecting another. By automatically tracking your team’s time, you’ll be able to see the hours spent on each project and the profit margin. Moreover, if your support staff are spending five minutes here and ten minutes there without tracking it, those minutes add up—sometimes to five or six hours a month!
To avoid this, create a system on prepaid blocks of time for your IT support customers with retainers that will automatically deduct any time spent on issues within that block. Let’s say your staff provides support to clients, but you have no way of identifying beforehand if those clients have actually paid for the services rendered. If you aren’t automatically keeping track of this, things can easily fall through the cracks, and you’re left with unnecessary administrative work, nevermind having to chase customers for payment after the provided service—something a business should never have to do. A solution for these types of costly scenarios (and clients) would be to implement a pay-as-you-go system that allows your clients to take out and pay for IT support within minutes of calling in. With something like smart, automated retainers or contracts, you’ll be able to collect payment before you complete the service. Smart service operations automation technology can help you spot these draining situations quickly and completely revamp your invoicing cycle.
If you’re interested in learning more about how smart automation technology will help you achieve sustainable long-term growth, visit Accelo’s blog!
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel