Managed Services Providers - Bigger Doesn't Make It Better

Robert Peretson

Small managed service providersYou’re a talented IT Support provider. You’ve got the skills, you’ve got the experience and you have the know-how for keeping the computer systems of a small or mid size business humming along at full speed.

But your competitors can do it too… and they’ve got a staff of dozens of field and helpdesk technicians to help them get the job done.

How can you compete when you only staff a handful of consultants, or even if you’re operating as a one-man or woman-show?

Well, the fact that you’re smaller can be one of the stronger components of your USP and, if you present yourself properly, can help you stand out from the crowd and make yourself the preferred provider of the group.

Think Like a Client

Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal small business client for a moment and imagine exactly what they’d want from a perfect IT Support Provider (and please ignore the temptation to wish for free support for life or computers that never need service).

I’m willing to bet they’d be looking for a provider who is:

  • highly responsive to their needs
  • highly responsive when they call
  • who knows their systems intimately
  • who knows (and is well liked by) all members of their staff
  • who has the technical qualifications to support the systems they have now, and
  • knowledgeable enough to make the right recommendations for their business down the road?

This list of requests is easiest to meet when a single, qualified consultant services the client regularly, rather than a revolving roster of whichever tech is available at the moment.

And ultimately, isn’t that exactly what the client wants? A single, primary consultant dedicated to their account, who knows their systems, their users and their business?

A large Managed Services Provider with a large client base will have a difficult time dedicating a single consultant to individual accounts. With a larger IT firm, maximizing employee productivity is critical – and keeping field consultants sitting around waiting for one of their clients to call is very counter-productive. So it’s very common for a client to call and have to accept a backup consultant if they want service promptly.

A smaller or an independent provider with a much more manageable client base can provide a much more dedicated level of support.

When operating on a proper managed service model where proactive monitoring is keeping problems to a minimum and remote support allows you to be in multiple places instantly, a single consultant can easily maintain a full client base from just about anywhere, with little more than a broadband enabled laptop and some inexpensive applications.

Because the client base is kept small and the systems are easy to manage, the smaller Managed Services Provider can offer a level of dedication and personalized attention to each of his valued and loyal clients that larger MSPs will have a hard time matching.

But what about the fact that the large MSP can provide backup consultants when the primary consultant isn’t available? Clients take great comfort in knowing that all their support eggs aren’t tied up with just one consultant.

A small or independent MSP can easily offer a similar level of comfort simply by partnering with other local IT Support Providers, who can cover for work overflow or on projects outside of your skill set for a pre-agreed fee structure.

Add to your client’s comfort by providing a simple “hit-by-a-bus” document, which keeps up-to-date details about all of their important technology related account and access information (you know… the information they’d need if you happened to get flattened by the midtown express).

Use IT Resources at Your Disposal

But what about the large Managed Services Provider being able to have multiple consultants address a complex problem? Having an extra set of eyes or two on a tough issue can be very useful.

Well, maybe the large MSP has several consultants who can work together to fix a problem, but you have a force of thousands of highly skilled consultants that all have your back.

When you find yourself in a difficult spot with a technical issue you can’t seem to get past, you have plenty of resources to help you out of your bind. You can ask the members of your favorite tech support forum, you can simply Google the error message, you can contact the manufacturer and get support from the team that made the product that’s giving you trouble.  Use the resources available to you and you’ll never be without a highly skilled technician who can give you a hand.

Just because you operate on your own or with a very small group, doesn’t make you any less qualified to support a small business network than your larger competitors.

You can provide the same level of proactive monitoring and remote support that the large Managed Service Providers do, you can offer a much more dedicated level of support, and chances are, you’ll be able to do it for less.

Visit Robert at his website,, where he’s giving away some very useful (and very free) tools and marketing strategies that can help you build your MSP Business today.