It's another new year. We're supposed to be optimistic… celebrating all of the potential opportunities that lay ahead.
So why do I feel like I'm surrounded by nothing but "gloom-and-doom" speak about the dismal future for IT Support Providers? Blog posts… forum chatter… even a recent CRN article talking about "major shakeouts" and huge declines that are coming for the MSP market…
"Managed Service Sales are too tough."
"It's too hard to grow an IT Support business in this economy."
"Small providers can't compete with the large MSP's that are emerging."
Maybe I don't have the same crystal ball these guys are holding, but statements like these don't sound like tell-tale signs of an industry in danger. Sounds more to me like the rants of a struggling computer consultant who hasn't yet learned how to properly market and manage his or her MSP Business and is simply looking to point fingers.
I've been operating my own successful IT Support Company in the heart of Silicon Alley for the past 15+ years, supporting the networks of hundreds of New York's progressive small businesses. And if I want to know what the future holds for the IT industry, I don't have to look any further than my own client base. Because what my customers want today is exactly the same thing they wanted when I first opened my doors back in 1996:
It's hard not to be optimistic about the future, when thanks to the very affordable monitoring and remote support utilities available to us today, meeting this list of desires is easier than ever for a small IT Support Provider.
And we can do it better than our Mega-MSP competition can.
How? Simply take a look at the list of what our customers want:
They want their systems to run reliably: The best way to keep things running smoothly is to be proactive. With affordable tools like GFI in our arsenal, we can prevent problems as well as any large MSP. Instant alerts make us super efficient at addressing new issues, automated inventories help us to keep our client's systems current and the Dashboard and regular reports we can give to our clients keeps them constantly apprised of how well everything is running. We have every utility at our disposal needed to ensure our clients operate as reliably as possible.
They want problems fixed promptly: Again, with the incredibly affordable remote support utilities available to us, we can be on the end-user's desktop faster than an in-house support tech could make it down the hall. And with remote support, we can now be in multiple places at once! Talk about operating at maximum efficiency!
They want a support person who they can rely on: Here's where the small Support Provider can really shine. As long as we're running on a proper, flat-fee based business model, we can operate very profitably, while supporting just a small number of business clients. A smaller client base means we can provide a much higher level of personalized attention and dedication to our clients than our larger MSP competitors can.
If you asked the typical small business owner what his or her perfect support scenario would be… he'd want a full-time, dedicated network admin who understood his business needs, his user's needs, his technology needs... and who worked on a part-time salary.
The small IT Support Provider who maintains a modest client base with round-the-clock monitoring, instant alerts and rapid response through remote support can fit the bill for this dream scenario perfectly. We can provide the same or better high-level monitoring and support as an in-house tech, along with a level of personalized attention and dedication that a Mega-MSP would find near impossible to match - at a fraction of the cost of an in-house network administrator.
They want to pay as little as possible: If you're using the right tools, it can cost next-to-nothing to provide small business customers a high-level of IT Support that’s right up there with any MSP out there today. Lower operating costs for you allows you to offer very competitive rates to your clients.
And any savvy small business owner who relies on his computer systems will gladly pay a fair and competitive rate for a provider he trusts is keeping his systems operating at maximum reliability and performance levels.
Thanks to today's affordable technology… my clients are more satisfied, my operating costs are lower, I run at higher efficiency and at higher profit margins than ever before. The future's not looking too bleak from where I'm standing.
But what about the naysayers who still claim that "it's just too tough to sell Managed Services in this economy"?
Sales in any service industry, at any time can be tough, especially if you don't have a strong and proven marketing strategy behind you.
But I believe sales prospects for the IT Support industry are very, very encouraging. Think about it for a moment. EVERY small business that relies on computer systems (which is just about EVERY small business), NEEDS a reliable and affordable way to maintain and support their systems. The service we can provide as a small IT Support Provider represents the perfect combination of reliability and affordability these businesses are searching for. And the majority of our perspective customers are still operating on a break/fix mentality, while becoming ever more aware that support from an MSP is probably the direction they should be thinking about moving towards.
They just need us to introduce our service offering to them in the right way and help ease them into the reliable, efficient support model of the future.
A future that for me as a small MSP just keeps looking brighter!
Robert Peretson is the founder of Perry Consulting, a New York based MSP, who's been providing IT Support to many of the city's most progressive and prestigious small businesses since 1996.Robert is also the editor of http://SuccessfulComputerConsulting.com, a website dedicated to helping growing MSPs to succeed through proper business development practices and proven IT Marketing strategies.