November 05, 2018
Question: What have been your biggest lessons learned since you first started out?
Bruce Lach: The biggest lesson in the MSP model or the MSP world is that we have really smart and talented people, and we'd be silly not to listen to them. A lot of what we're taught is to, at least as an MSP, is to standardize everything to make the technology stack of the customer the same. It makes it easier to support, and we're just a little bit different than that. We tend to focus on a great customer experience, and that doesn't always mean we're going to rip out what they have and replace it with a standard set of technologies. It's really about how we can serve them, serving their missions. And with that, we need probably more people than most MSPS. We tend to think in terms of having too much of everything so we can respond… to be responsive to them not only when it comes to opportunity, but also when Murphy] hits in their business organizations.
Jamie Wolbeck: When MSPs first start out, they might put themselves in a position where the customer knows best, and so they find themselves really trying to do things that they shouldn't be doing or maybe aren't capable of doing. So they let the customer really lead the relationship and we find ourselves now going to the customer and having to disagree with them at times and educate them on what good looks like— and that just seems to make more sense. We come in as the experts instead of, "Hey, I'm a customer, I want this thing. Give me that thing." We sometimes have to reset with them and say, that's not actually what you need in this situation. We help educate them to what the right solution might look like.
Brent Morris: Just trying to figure it out and grow was one of the hardest things for us and I think that leveraging people who knew better than us and investing in those relationships was critically important. Involvement in peer groups specific to our industry was a big catalyst for us in our growth. And so I would say, you know, if there's any one thing I wouldn't tell a business owner, is get involved sooner with your peers than you think. And we're not afraid of sharing this information with our peers. Even the local ones, we find that there's always something to learn and there's always an opportunity to give as well.
Question: Anything you would do differently?
Chris Taylor: We've seen a lot of transition in those last 26 years from much more of a reactive customer’s call, is they need to much more proactive, much more guidance-based, much more consultative-based. So I think if we looked back to do it over, we'd focus more on proactive consulting versus reactive. But that's easy to say in your 26 years of history.
Fred Alonzi: Well I probably wish I would've started managed services earlier, 10 years ago. It seems like a long time from Ed services, but we had already started using like hound dog, which was kind of the progenitor of SolarWinds, who had used that in our regular meetings. And it just didn't project at that point that there was enough infrastructure available to really run managed services. And we saw some other companies that were starting to do managed services, and we didn't see much value in what they were charging with the service they provided. I just wish I would have started earlier because, again, it would've made our growth even better. We would've had a much earlier start in the industry.