From making money to staying relevant and keeping customers happy, managed service providers have plenty to keep them up at night. We’re all worry warts at heart, but the key is tackling our fears head on and owning them. First things first: let’s call out those fears!
1. The Threat of Competition
Try as they may, but MSPs can’t help but worry about the competition. The explosive growth of trends like enterprise mobility, cloud computing, and big data has forced service providers to think twice about things they may not have given a second thought a year ago. In the mission to differentiate your company from the crowd, remember that adopting the right trends, competitive pricing, and fantastic support are just as important to standing out as delivering unique solutions that solve problems.
2. Keeping Pace with Technology
Technology moves faster than the average person can keep up with. As an MSP, it is your duty to follow the IT trends pushing the needle in your niche. However, this is easier said than done when you’re preoccupied with marketing, technical support, and running your business on a day to day basis. It’s hard work, but something that must be done to distance yourself from the competition and continually provide customers with the best possible managed services. Keep an ear to the ground by reading articles, analyzing market research, and following relevant discussions in social channels.
3. Properly Using Technology
You’re steadily adopting technology to move business forward and strive to use all these tools to their full potential. Of course, things don’t always run smoothly in the IT department, especially when the network is a disjointed mix of proprietary and open source applications. To ensure that IT flows as smoothly as the often cranky Tech Gods will allow, MSPs have to make securing great vendor support a priority. Sure, you’ve got to do your part in properly using the technology, but it never hurts to have a partner who’s willing to hold your hand while learning the ropes with their product.
4. Recruiting Top Talent
You might not always be hiring, but you should always be recruiting or at the very least, scouting the talent pool for potential additions. By staying on top of recruitment, you’ll be prepared to plug in pieces when positions open up opposed to scrambling at the last minute. At that point, you’re desperate and more susceptible to settling. Also, don’t limit your recruitment efforts to IT. Try to broaden the scope with a targeted focus on customer service, human resources, and other key areas of the business.
5. Retaining Top Talent
Retaining superstar employees is an ongoing concern for IT companies. They’re awesome at what they do, so naturally you want to keep them on your staff and away from the competition. While there are no guarantees, there are some things MSPs can do to make their company more attractive. Are employees properly trained? Do they have access to the tools needed to succeed at their job? Are you doing your best to accommodate them with scheduling? When it comes to retaining your best workers, flexibility and the ability to listen are your greatest attributes.
6. Canning Troubled Talent
Unfortunately, not all employees are at a superstar level. And the longer you keep them around, the more costly they become. I saw an infographic on The Undercover Recruiter stating that under-performing employees can cripple ROI by a stunning -298 percent. This number was calculated based on the cost of hiring them, paying them, and keeping them around.
Here’s a quick look at some criteria MSPs can use to determine when it’s time to part ways with less than stellar employees:
• Poor attendance: Even average to good performing employees can cost a company severely when their poor attendance hurts productivity and increases the workload for co-workers.
• Mishaps: No one’s perfect, but constant mistakes can cost you dearly in time, production, and money when those errors have to constantly be corrected.
• Negative influence: One bad apple can threaten to spoil the whole bunch when their negativity begins to impact team interaction, production, and morale.
• Poor business performance: From recruiting and retention to innovation and product quality, under-performing employees can hinder the performance of the entire company.
• Revenue loss: Finally, if performance evaluations indicate that certain employees can be attributed to substantial revenue losses, parting ways may be the only reasonable course of action.
7. Retaining Clients
Customer retention and customer relationship management go hand in hand. Every now and then, you get by on the strength of your services and providing solid support when called upon. Most of the time, though, you’re working to manage the customer relationship on a regular basis. Use all those open communication lines to maintain contact with clients. Consistently feed them valuable content in newsletters and social media posts that save them money and time, or help their business otherwise. You’ve got to be proactive if you want to keep those good paying clients around.
8. Disconnecting From Client Relationships
They say it’s cheaper and easier to keep existing clients than it is to obtain new ones. At the same time, some clients are more trouble than they’re worth. Picture the client who’s frequently late with their payments or constantly rude to your support staff and forever treading the line of violating usage policies and abusing network resources. In some cases, these relationships can be saved through nurturing, communication, and mutual understanding. In others, the differences are irreconcilables. MSPs have to approach each client relationship on a case by case basis to determine when and where to cut ties.
9. Managing Money and Cash-flow
If you thought handling personal finances was a chore, just imagine the torment that comes with managing the finances of an IT company. You’ve got critical investments to make in tools and solutions that keep the infrastructure pumping. Bills. Possibly acquisitions that position you to flourish and grow. All this without falling into the red. Financial institutions are still a bit weary of tech firms so traditional lending isn’t a reliable option. MSPs have to make the most of funding ventures all while spending wisely and prioritizing profitability – because every business needs money to survive.
Photo Credit: Andy Rennie via Flickr