Aside from being a regular contributor to MAX-IQ, Karl is the author of 15 books, and a longtime event speaker, blogger and business consultant. His Wikipedia page provides more detail, though it doesn’t explain how he launched a successful career as an influencer in the IT and managed services space nearly 20 years ago.
Karl, a keynote speaker for the MAX 2015 customer conferences in Melbourne, Australia, July 27-28, and Washington, D.C., September 9-11, was teaching political science at California colleges when he began inputting political data into computers and selling his work to state lobbyists.
“I took on the job of converting that information to a Windows NT system running SQL Server, and took the operation from two states to five,” he says. “After that, all my jobs have related to technology.”
And he has plenty of insight to offer today’s managed service providers (MSPs). Karl spent 16 years as an MSP, selling his business in 2011. He currently runs two businesses, including a technology consulting firm, in Sacramento.
What is the most common question Karl is asked? He responds with the speed of a reliable remote management solution.
“I’m often asked if it’s too late to become an MSP,” he explains. “I’ve long been an advocate that it is not too late. In fact, this is the way technology is going to be delivered going forward. This will be the reality from now on.”
There are other realities, too. But many MSPs, he says, fail to recognize them. That’s why, save for a joke or two, Karl’s MAX 2015 keynote address on two different continents will otherwise be identical.
“Whether you’re in Australia or the U.S., handling patch management or invoicing, there is a model of how a successful business is run,” he says, adding that a handful of standard operating procedures, which will be the focus of his keynote, can make a dramatic difference.
Asked where MSPs can make immediate improvements, Karl points out the following common problem areas:
Get rid of the “nice guy” persona
Karl says that too many MSPs are just too nice. They undervalue their services. They don’t charge late fees. And those are merely two mistakes that jeopardize cash flow.
The business of business, he says, is to make a profit.
“You seriously need to up your game,” he stresses. “You owe it to your family and yourself to have a profitable business. That means you can’t give away the farm.”
“Get a guru!”
Too many MSPs think the first person they hire must be a technology wizard with endless certification. Not so, says Karl. In fact, he insists the first hire should be an assistant who can dramatically reduce the administrative workload.
The second hire, he adds, should be a low-level technician who can be trained to do jobs exactly how you want them handled.
Get what you pay for
Seems silly, right? You’d be surprised. Karl says MSPs often invest in solutions but fail to configure them properly and ensure they work in cohesion with other solutions.
As a result, the tools don’t effectively do the work they are designed to handle – leaving the MSP to lament a lack of value.
Karl says it’s analogous to buying QuickBooks – and not adding customers’ names into it.
Here’s one more for the list of things MSPs often fail to realize: Karl contends that people who attend conferences, while there to learn, also serve as industry “leaders.”
“By attending, they are part of the solution,” he says. “People who have decided to invest in their own business and commit to taking a few days to go to a conference separate themselves automatically as leaders of their profession.”