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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Kick Those MSP Bad Habits: IT Resolution Day 8

Posted January 23, 2015by Nate Teplow

We may not admit it, but we all have bad habits that we want to quit. Breaking bad habits is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and also one of the hardest to keep.

MSPs have their own bad habits. I’m sure there are plenty of things you do as a business owner that you just wish you had time to fix. Unfortunately, client issues come up, and you spend exorbitant amounts of time trying to find a new technician. You just can’t put in the energy to fix your bad habit. Sound familiar? 

Ray Vrabel, Continuum’s Director of Technical Account Management, has a series of blog posts on SMB Nation that teach MSPs how to break some of their most common habits. For this blog, I’ve decided to take three of his most popular posts and tell you how you can solve some of your bad habits this year. 
 

Putting BDR & Security on the Backburner

Backup & Disaster Recovery (BDR) and security are important services that MSPs provide to their clients. However, it can be easy to fall into a routine, without giving your services much thought.

BDR and security plans are not “rinse-and-repeat." It’s important to craft procedures, policies and solutions that are custom to your clients’ needs. It’s also important to keep up with industry trends around backup and security. You should be regularly evaluating your backup and security procedures. Some good questions to ask yourself and/or your clients are:

  • What data is most critical to your business and how has that changed since the last time we asked this question?
  • What are the current security threats, especially those affecting small and medium sized businesses?
  • What new technologies in the channel are changing the way security and backup are done? How will these technologies benefit (or hurt) my company and my clients?
  • When was the last time I performed a disaster recovery test? Do my employees and clients know the right procedures to take? What are my RTOs and RPOs?

It can be easy to let your BDR and security procedures get a bit stale, yet they’re some of the most important services you provide. Make sure you’re staying on top of your policies and the latest technologies so you’re ready in case disaster strikes.
 

Lack of Face Time with Clients

We talk about this a lot on our blog, and it's even an IT Resolution Challenge. Face time is a really important part of being an MSP, but it’s not something many budget into their schedules.

It’s important to maintain regular face time with your clients for a number of reasons.

  1. It makes you a better MSP: If you know your clients needs and can address them with the solutions you provide, that’s ultimately going to make you more effective at your job. Regular conversations help you uncover these needs.
  2. It establishes a relationship with your client: Sometimes half the battle is just showing up. Sure, you can be just as effective remotely, but coming to meet with your clients and speaking to them makes them feel valued and important. It deepens your relationship with them.
  3. It helps you stay in touch with the industry: If you can understand your client’s pain points, chances are that other companies in that industry are having similar struggles. Helping other companies identify and meet these needs allows you to find new business and grow your company.

Of course, none of these are possible unless you are regularly spending time with your clients. It doesn’t have to be a weekly meeting, but make sure you’re calling them at least once every few weeks and that you schedule a business review with them quarterly.

Making the Best Use of Your Employees’ Time

Focusing externally on your clients is important, but it’s equally important to look internally at your own employees. Employee churn can be a huge cost for MSPs, and it always seems like there’s a lack of talent, rather than an excess.

For this reason, you have to keep your employees happy, motivated and fulfilled by their work.

Managed services can be a dirty job. Clients can be a pain, issues can arise unexpectedly and it’s easier to get bogged down by routine maintenance tasks than to feel like you’re solving problems. 

Ray offers some good tips for keeping employees happy in his SMB Nation blog post. Here are those tips at a high level:

  1. Spend the time hiring and retaining good talent: Don’t just hire the first person that walks in the door looking for a job. Make sure you’re spending enough time finding the right people.
  2. Offer incentives and feedback: This makes employees feel like you’re investing in them and that you’re helping them grow. Sometimes a simple conversation can be all you need to fix an undiscovered problem.
  3. Invest in employees: It can be more cost-effective to spend more on better talent than to try to skimp and end up having to replace that person at a later date.

It’s also important to think about what tasks your technicians are doing on a daily basis. Are they working with clients or are they buried under piles of support tickets? Offloading basic IT tasks can help free up your technicians' time so that they can focus on solving business problems, not simply resetting passwords or upgrading Office365 software.

Conclusion

As I said before, we all have bad habits that we want to break. It’s easier said than done, but thinking about ways to fix these bad habits is a good exercise to undertake. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Pick one habit you want to change, and map out a plan to do so.

Do you have a bad habit you want to quit? Hopefully, by this time next year, you’ll be able to look back and see just how much you’ve improved!

Nate Teplow is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Continuum, currently managing the company's RMM marketing initiatives. Nate's experience spans inbound marketing, content strategy, marketing communications and B2B lead generation. A proud Miami Hurricane alumni, Nate enjoys staying active, traveling to new places and performing A/B tests.

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