We are in the midst of troubled times for most, if not all, of your clients. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak and the various levels of quarantines, most organizations are either closed or are seeing a significant drop in revenue and cash flow, and those issues may linger for weeks, months, or longer. Even clients that appear to be thriving during the pandemic, such as grocery stores and delivery companies, could be experiencing a variety of issues relating to staffing, worker and customer safety, and personal health. The hard reality is that bad things are happening, and we may not see a resolution to this situation for quite some time.
One of the joys of owning a business is the financial freedom it provides, or so the story goes. As most entrepreneurs know, without great customers, proven ways to manage accounts receivable, and procedures to collect in place (and enforced), economic independence is never assured.
The reality is that there are never any guarantees in business. You can have the best-laid plans and a robust financial model and still run into problems that the most insightful entrepreneur would never anticipate. Running an MSP business presents many challenges, including fluctuating workloads and staffing issues, and managing multiple vendor relationships, all while struggling to achieve operational efficiency.
Work less while earning more; that’s the goal for any business owners. Wouldn’t it be great if your clients were willing to pay handsomely for your services and sign multi-year contracts to solidify the relationship? Even better, imagine if you could pile on more customers with no concern about the ability to support infinite growth. That may seem like a dream, but many MSPs are turning that fantasy into reality with a robust portfolio of high value, low cost, scalable services, and products.
With the right offerings and partnerships, MSPs can readily increase their recurring revenue streams without stretching their resources.
No one can accurately predict changes in the stock market, bank stability, and key financial indicators. Local economic factors are even less predictable, and those can affect MSPs significantly if their clients go bankrupt or experience cash flow issues. Without a strong business strategy in place, a sudden downturn can turn into a complete disaster. Learn more about how your business can survive an economic downturn.
Technology is the fuel for an MSP business. IT not only allows providers to satisfy a variety of their SMB clients’ strategic and tactical needs, from basic computing to the most advanced solutions of the day, but it automates their own operations, as well.
To be successful in a rapidly changing industry, MSPs have to break from that norm and invest more in the systems that can boost productivity and profitability in their businesses. The best way to ensure your IT services firm can support its clients for generations to come is by strengthening its long-term financial capabilities. Automation tools that boost cash flow should be a big part of that strategy.
The threat of data compromises and ransomware attacks has become a top concern for the SMB community over the past two years, and a majority of those companies are looking to outsiders for help. Virtually every recent research study involving small to midsize companies validates that increasing angst, as well as the struggle to find adequate protection for their infrastructure, information systems, employees, and customers. In the latest Vanson Bourne report (commissioned by Continuum Managed Services), 89% of SMB leaders identified cybersecurity as one of their top priorities, with more than three-quarters (79%) of those organizations planning to invest more resources toward it in the next twelve months.
Security is now (or should be) top of mind for every business owner.
The New Year is on its way. As we enter late December and the slower season that brings MSPs a little reprieve from their long, stressful schedules, everyone gets a chance to catch up on past-due projects and finalize renewals. The changeover to 2020 feels a little different than past years.
In addition to its symbolic reference to “perfect vision,” providers are facing a number of new challenges and opportunities that must be addressed in the not too distant future. Why not kick that off that planning process today?
There are no guarantees, and even the best-laid plans can end in failure if one or two critical pieces of your plan don’t fall into place.
Many of the brightest and highly skilled IT services professionals have seen their firms crash and burn despite having a strong business plan in place. Some encounter unforeseen circumstances such as the passing or sudden departure of key employees or business partners or run into issues they simply didn’t envision.
Simplicity is everything for business owners. Whenever you design a process or tool with ease of use as a top priority, the chances that people will actually use it increase exponentially. Apple, Microsoft, General Motors and many other companies spend millions of dollars every year ensuring that each of their products is intuitive to consumers.
Ease sells. No one likes to take unnecessary steps or continually repeat mindless operations, even for the sake of security, and businesses will typically pay more for something that lets their employees take shortcuts. MSPs often refer to that as a “simplicity or automation premium” for their clients agree too. Usually, if it can deliver increased productivity, efficiency, employee morale, or customer satisfaction (or a combination of those benefits), clients will agree to pay for that added convenience.
If a network monitoring solution failed to notify you of an issue at a client site for ten or fifteen minutes, leading to systems interruptions and real downtime, would it be of any value to your MSP? Unless it provided some other valuable benefit, and you had a backup system in place to overcome that major deficiency, probably not. The potential damage to a customer’s business and your reputation from using that solution could be substantial.
That’s why automation and managed services-oriented integrations are so crucial. When properly implemented and maintained, these connections and technological innovations can create a direct route for sharing critical information between applications and platforms. Here are ten examples that can help IT services businesses grow their client base and improve operations and support.
There’s no magic bullet that ensures your managed services business will remain profitable. Far too many MSPs work much harder than required to support their clients, pay employees, and keep the lights on; all without generating an income that reflects all their sacrifices. If that doesn’t describe your situation, chances are you know other providers in this no-profit for work situation. However, with the right investments, attention to process improvement, and the right mix of services, your MSP can take on more business and drive higher profitability.
Considering adding an automated recurring billing system to your process? It’s the missing ingredient in many IT services businesses but can bring a lot of value by saving time and reducing errors. The tool is a must for MSPs, and even at a cursory glance, you’ll come across a variety of solutions that offer tasks, from generating invoices, accepting credit cards and ACH payments, as well as other essential tasks.
There are hundreds of online billing portals MSPs can use that claim to have recurring billing. However, if you look closely at the available options, one vital piece is missing: the automation, rendering the software’s purpose ineffective.
The future looks promising for MSPs. Because of innovations like accounts receivable automation that increase cash flow, robust solutions that provide competitive advantages, as well as increased demand for services, Opportunities are plentiful for IT services firms. The caveat for success is your business must have solid business development strategies in place and efficient sales and technology professionals on staff to capitalize on the managed service provider industry’s growth.
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Getting your clients to pay their managed services invoices on time sounds great, but that scenario is nearly impossible unless your company implements best practices to ensure it happens.
One of the most challenging parts of running a business is having the “money conversation” with clients. Whether employees spend their days on IT or the office side of operations (including sales and marketing), not many people enjoy making collection calls or following up on past due invoices.
Industry experts frequently emphasize the importance of staying in your lanes. In other words, they don’t believe organizations should deviate too far from their business models and core competencies since leaders can lose focus on the big picture.
IT services professionals work hard. Like many small business owners, you probably don’t clock out at 5:00 PM sharp Monday through Friday and relax all weekend. If you do, kudos for establishing a lifestyle-oriented business many MSPs aspire to and typically spend years developing through automation and a continual focus on process efficiency.