Why I became an MSP?
When I started my company, I did what any new service company would do. I came up with hourly rates charge and began to solicit business. Since my company was new, and there was plenty of already established competition I kept my rates low to attract new clients. This is good theory if people have heard your name before, they may see the value in using your service. Unfortunately, if you are unknown to potential clients then people tend to think that lower price means lower quality of service.
So lower prices mean you get clients by “word of mouth”, or clients that expect allot for very little. As a consultant I could provide some services reselling through vendors, but it was difficult to determine the true cost of providing ongoing support for those products. Typically, I would simply refer the client to a vendor and act as a middle man during the purchasing phase. I think to some extent I was riding the fence and had a fear of the overhead associated to making some changes. I personally did not like the service level I was able to provide to my clients. I felt as though I was somehow shorting them with the quality and cost of service they should be receiving.
Ultimately what pushed me over the edge was a revelation that I had when getting ready to bill a client after troubleshooting a complicated issue on a workstation. I found a new virus and there was no protection or removal tools for this variant. I spent a considerable amount of time on the issue. I ended up having to recommend “reload or replace” on the system to the client. There was a stopping point I had to adhere too, because the cost of resolution to the virus would have been more than the cost of replacement of the system. As I was entering the amount of time into the invoice I stared at the final number and had to ask myself “Is this good service?”.
Without question I am in business to make money, but I had to put myself in the perspective of the client I was sending the invoice too. Would they see my bill as a good investment, or was I becoming part of the issue when it comes to getting viruses? Was I truly part of the solution in resolving this issue? I contemplated rather this single bill would define my company as a business, and the answer was a resounding "Yes".
I decided to change my service model and during that process I changed the products that I would offer my clients. I investigated what I needed to do to be an managed service provider (MSP) and how to structure the costs associated to this change. I would push away from my hourly rate mentality, and encourage that my clients sign a contract that would be based on a fair flat rate for yearly service. The products I would provide would be top of the line, and allow for security, education, prevention, detection, and automation. I wanted to be proud of what I was providing to my clients, and make them feel good about the quality of service they were receiving.
In some cases, I would say maybe I moved a little too late. Unfortunately, I lost one very large client after the mention of the word "contract". Naturally I would say I became confused because I believed that I was doing the right thing. I would be able to provide them better service, better products, and a more stable secure environment, yet they still jumped ship. I later realized that you can not expect everyone to be ready for change just because you are. Maybe they will come back one day, but until then I’ll keep focusing on how to make my business better.
If you have questions if rather a MSP will suite your organization then please read this blog "Why use a MSP?".