Are you losing out on new deals because your prospects think you’re too small? Are you losing deals because you think you’re too small to get bigger customers?
Sometimes it’s just a matter of perception. Working for large customers is really not that different from working for small customers in many respects. As a managed service provider (MSP), you are responsible for securing, managing and remediating all IT issues for your customers. Warranted, if you are not already providing fully managed plans to customers, then scaling up can be more difficult. If you have all the tools in place to provide fully managed services, you should be able to scale up to large organizations without much trouble.
The keys to scaling are processes and standardization. Sometimes this means “acting big” before you actually are. Many of you know I owned a break/fix company before I owned my MSP. The lessons I learned in between taught me that businesses scale when the founder replaces themselves with defined processes that can be taught and repeated. When I started my MSP, it was all about tools and processes to take my knowledge and skills out of the equation. From day one, I had a PSA and an RMM (remote monitoring and management) platform in place, and it was the most effective thing I did. Thanks to those tools, I was able to simply add more techs when I needed to scale up.
So how do you “look big” even when you are not there yet?
Attitude goes a long way—so long as your skills and the skills of your techs can back it up. Here are a few ideas to help you make the right impression:
A quick note about SLAs… Do you really need them? The easy answer is, only if the customer asks for them. However if you want to land larger clients, it is usually part of the package. So the question then becomes how do you prepare for meeting SLAs?
This is easier than you might think. Start managing SLOs internally. Most PSA solutions allow you to set thresholds on tickets. So, start using that feature to collect data on what you are capable of now and to create processes to improve them. This way, when a prospect asks for an SLA, you know if you are able to deliver it or if you will need to spin up another tech to meet the new demand.
Most of the problems around SLAs come from the switch from business hours to 24/7 always-on support. There are still plenty of larger customers out there who work only weekdays between 9am and 5pm. I had several customers with over 100 devices each that did not require SLAs. However, if you can do it, 24/7 support will increase your chances of landing larger clients.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, your tools play a big part in the ability to scale your MSP business quickly. You must have a system for creating incident tickets from at least four sources: manually; customer-created (portal/email); RMM alerts; and scheduled. These tickets help ensure that no matter how many customers you have, everything is tracked so nothing gets left behind. Notifications to make sure incidents do not break your SLAs or SLOs are critical. The time-tracking feature of the tickets helps ensure you capture any billable time incurred.
The other important tool is your RMM. Your RMM tool allows you to manage thousands of devices from a single console. From software and security deployment to backup and restoration, your entire IT environment should be managed from your RMM tool. In the event you have to remediate an issue, your RMM tool should allow you to quickly and easily access an endpoint to avoid an onsite visit.
In the end, being able to take on larger clients means preparing ahead of time. It also means making some small investments that will help make you more profitable across your entire client base.
You do not have to be big, you just have to think big. That way, when opportunities emerge, you have the ability to scale up to meet the challenge.
Eric Anthony is director of customer experience at SolarWinds MSP. Before joining SolarWinds, Eric ran his own managed service provider business for over six years.
You can follow Eric on Twitter at @EricAnthonyMSP
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