Something a lot of IT providers struggle with is deciding exactly what to provide. Should you offer a la carte or custom IT services for each customer? Or should you use a one-size-fits-most approach across as many customers as you can?
For some context, think about the experience of using a Mac vs. a PC. A custom approach is like using a PC. Customers have endless options for hardware and software and can modify everything to exact specifications. A one-size-fits-most method is similar to the way Apple approaches its business. Customers have fewer choices, but options are optimized for the majority of their needs.
The best way to take advantage of the latter model is to offer clients two or three service tiers to make it easy for clients to choose and easy for you to implement. While this approach sounds like a no-brainer, it’s not without a few drawbacks. Here’s a quick list of pros and cons to consider.
- Can be easier to sell. Having just a few options makes it so clients can easily understand what they get and what it costs—if it’s easy to explain, it’s much easier to sell.
- Simplified management. Instead of customizing solutions, imagine having three potential setups that you implement for every client. This lets you save money thanks to more efficient processes and gives you better knowledge of the products.
- More perks from vendors. Many vendors offer reseller incentives. To unlock the most benefits, you have to sell more of their products. If you focus on selling one solution in a given category instead of several, you can sell more and gain more perks.
- Less customization for clients. A tiered model is rigid by design and because of that, you won’t be able to offer as much customization for clients as an a la carte model.
- Customers may get services they don’t think they need. Your job is to provide your customers value. You must be ready to espouse the value of all the services in each tier so that clients are happy to get the services they pay for—they shouldn’t feel like they’re paying for something they don’t need.
- Fewer chances to be challenged as an IT provider. Fully custom solutions can be tough to implement, but they’re also rewarding. If you’re always providing the same few things, it may be difficult to grow and learn from new challenges.
- Missing out on profitable opportunities from custom development. If you opt not to customize solutions for clients, you might miss out on big revenue opportunities.
A tiered model is great for the majority of your customers, but that’s not to say you can’t offer custom options as well. If you do, make sure the premiums you get are well worth the effort. Act as a consultant who will understand goals and challenges, propose solutions, and implement them. This way, you’ll be rewarded when you do provide something custom, but you can also benefit from the predictability and easier management that tiered options grant you.