As a business owner, you are busy. Some weeks it feels like you are running from one fire to the next. Despite all your plans, your hopes, your dreams for what a week might look like – the reality is often very different. I have been there. In the ten years I spent as the CEO of my MSP, I had great weeks and very bad ones. The stress of running a small business often doesn’t leave much time during the day for dealing with what you know is most important. Weeks have a tendency of turning into months. The goals in your head (and hopefully written down somewhere) aren’t always achieved. At Nerdio, I have had the opportunity to talk to dozens of MSPs every week. In those conversations, I get to hear what is working and just as importantly, what isn’t working. Today, we will focus on five of the things we hear MSPs are focusing on.
1. Focus On Value
Think for a moment about how much you charge for your “all-in” managed services. Do potential clients ever push back? Have you ever finished a proposal – looked at the price and wondered if your services are worth it? Maybe you even lowered the price before ever actually talking to the client. I hear from MSPs every week that fall into the trap of undervaluing their services.
One of the single most impactful changes you can make is to start charging what you are worth. Increasing your overall rates can feel like a daunting task. There are many ways to approach this. In many cases you will need to reset expectations with your existing clients. One opportunity to do this is to roll out a new type of service such as Windows Virtual Desktop. For instance, I recently spoke to an MSP that was previously charging way too little for all-inclusive support. He knew it was too low, and over the last year had increased his rates by 10%. One client felt like the 10% increase was too much but signed on begrudgingly.
Fast forward 6 months and it is time for the same client to invest in new hardware for their on-premises environment. The MSP decided to propose a move to Azure with WVD. He had very little hope that the deal would close, but we talked through the value proposition of cloud, the advantages he would be able to give the client, and take for himself. He delivered the message and the final proposal. The client chose, without hesitating, to move to the cloud. He was making 30% on the Azure and WVD Services, plus increased his total MSP rate by 250%. He now has his managed service price set correctly and the client was happy to pay it because he focused on the value of the overall solution and the service he would be providing.
2. Identify Your Targets
It can be easy to chase every lead that comes in the door, but some clients won’t appreciate the value you bring. Know what you are and know what you are not. Some clients won’t be on board with your approach or how you do business. That is okay. You won’t be happy with them and they won’t be happy with you. I encourage you to do the following exercise: Create a list with your current clients on it; include their industry, number of users, the total you charge them each month, and the type of agreements you have. Do the math to know what your average per-user price is for each client, then add one more column to grade them with an A, B, or C.
A Clients = those that value how you do business; you want 100 more just like them.
B Clients = those that with a little coaching or a tweak to their agreement/expectations they would be a good fit.
C Clients = those you should respectfully see out the door. They require more work for less money. They question everything you do. There are several ways to approach this which I won’t get into here, but if at all possible, you need these clients to decide to leave on their own. They may not be a good fit, but they own a business, and likely have friends that would be a good fit.
Now that you have performed this exercise, take a look at your A list. What do these clients do? Are there similarities between them? Why are they a good fit? With the answer to those questions, you now know who your ideal client is. Build your MSP to cater to those types of clients. Market to them. Learn their industry. If specific technical solutions are important to them or help them grow their business – learn them. Your profitability will increase and your exposure in your region will grow.
We see many MSPs running through this exercise as they build out their cloud practice. Knowing the types of clients you already work well with helps to simplify your cloud offering and focus your energy so you can quickly speak fluently to the right client for you.
3. Client Engagement
Talk to your clients. I know this sounds silly at first, but it can’t be said enough. Create a regular cadence of meetings with each client. Some people call them Quarterly Business Reviews, but once a quarter isn’t always the right fit. Some will need monthly meetings while others need to meet once every 6 months. When you go and speak with them, have an agenda, and keep to the same agenda every single time. Follow the same outline for every single client, as this helps you deliver the right information more effectively and it helps the client understand how to digest it. Don’t take information to them that they are paying you to care about. Instead, stay big picture. For instance, it isn’t helpful for them to see a list of every patch you applied; it is helpful for them to know you applied patches to 100% of their environment. Be sure to talk about the future, such as what investments they will need to make in the future. Ask about their business goals, what changes they anticipate, and what keeps them up at night. Be sure they know what new solutions you are adding to your offering and what investments you are making in your own business. Don’t be afraid to tell them what keeps you up at night, too.
Unfortunately, I speak to too many MSPs that aren’t doing this. As a result, they end up scrambling to come up with technical solutions for problems they didn’t know their clients were having. I recently spoke to an MSP that had a client about to leave them. The client found a new provider that offered cloud solutions. Since the MSP wasn’t meeting with the client regularly, the client just assumed they had to go somewhere else to get their problem solved. Thankfully, in this case, the client decided to call just to make sure before signing on with the new MSP.
Engaging with your clients regularly gives you visibility into their business and their goals and provides a chance to unlock all kinds of potential growth. Opportunities with the client you didn’t know existed will arise, and issues they are having can often be solved by implementing new technology. In addition, regular conversations build a stronger relationship between you and another business owner. When you ask for them to introduce you to someone else that can use your services, they will feel much more comfortable doing so.
4. Thought Leadership
So, you have a clear understanding of your value, you know who you want to talk to, you know how you are going to deliver your service, and you are using regular meetings to provide you with a feedback loop and give you the opportunity to engage with your clients. It is time to take all of that and find opportunities to speak to more of the right kinds of clients. Wherever the types of clients on your “A” list like to hang out, you should hang out too. Ask for the chance to speak, join groups, go to happy hours, go to industry breakfasts and other networking opportunities, and sponsor their events and go take part. Don’t give up. In my experience, it can take 18 to 24 months to become part of a community and not be seen as just the new kid on the block. Share what you know, the experiences you have had, and how technology helped your current clients overcome issues, increase profitability, and solve new problems. People are especially interested in hearing about cloud solutions and security today – take advantage of whatever the latest buzz is and go find places to speak about it.
5. Plan, Set Goals, and Communicate
As we near the end of the list, let’s talk about growth. You want to increase your MSP Practice by 50%. What does that look like for you? Everything we have talked about helps support this kind of growth, but if you aren’t planning for it, setting goals, and communicating it to your team, you won’t get there. 50% growth doesn’t happen by accident. First, of course, you must decide what it is exactly you want to grow by 50%. Your Revenue? Number of users you support? Your profit?
Once you have determined exactly how you want to measure the growth, create a plan to hit that goal by a certain date. Now, work backwards so that you know exactly what you have to do every month, even every week, to reach the goal. Is it reasonable? What investments will you need to make? What changes in your processes need to occur? Create a clear and transparent way to measure and track your progress.
Now, tell everyone about it; tell your entire team where you are going and how you are going to get there. Tell them when you are on target and even when you have missed the target. Ask for feedback. Celebrate when you get there!
Today, we have discussed a handful of important areas to focus on to grow your business by 50%. Change won’t happen overnight. To grow your business, like all growth, takes many small steps. If growing your cloud practice is one of the ways you intend to grow your business, Nerdio would be glad to help you on your journey.
Schedule a demo call with us now and we’ll walk you through just how easy it can be.