A business that refuses to take any risks is a business destined to grow stale. Value-added resellers (VARs) that continue to focus on hardware sales and break/fix models alone may stagnate unless they decide to take some risks.
One of the biggest risks you can take is to change your business model, but it may also bring your greatest reward. That’s what many VARs have experienced in recent years as they’ve adopted the managed services model. Becoming a managed service provider (MSP) may be a scary proposition, but if you take the right steps to avert unnecessary risks, you’ll reap the benefits of a steadier cash flow, increased profitability, and improved customer retention.
Your chances of success increase if you approach the transition in a well-planned, methodical way, taking the time to look into how others have achieved the same objectives. With that in mind, here are four steps to minimize risk in transitioning to a managed services business model:
1. Learn from Peers
Learn how other VARs have successfully adopted the MSP model by reading case studies, talking to industry peers and joining groups or industry associations such as CompTIA’s Managed Services Community, ASCii, and the MSPAlliance. Doing so will teach you best practices and cautionary tales, and you will gain access to resources that will guide you through the transition. You’ll get tips on how to set your goals, train employees and recruit new talent, identify the right service platforms, and market your services to customers.
2. Leverage Vendor Support
One of the lessons managed services vendors learned early on is that their channel partners can’t just flip a switch and start selling managed services. They need education, guidance, and business support. That’s why vendors such as Solar Winds N-able, Datto, and Connectwise provide plenty of resources to bring you up to speed. Take advantage of vendors’ online knowledge bases as well as resources such as sales and marketing support, business development, and pre-sales support.
3. Transition Gradually
Becoming an MSP works best as a gradual process. Take it one step at a time, adding a service, getting comfortable with it, and then moving on to the next one. Vendors can be helpful here too. You can tap a vendor’s Network Operations Center (NOC), for instance, to provide 24/7 coverage, supplement your staff, or deliver expertise you lack. You also can take advantage of offerings such as APC by Schneider Electric’s Professional Services to augment your expertise and address customer needs.
4. Consult With Customers
No transition to managed services is likely to have much success unless you talk to customers about their needs, requirements, and pain points. You’ll want to tailor your services to customer priorities, or else you could end up with services nobody wants. Managed services are all about putting customers first, anticipating their needs, and preventing downtime. It’s best to get into that mindset during the transition so you’ll have the right approach as you move forward.
Einstein said: “A ship is always safe at shore, but that’s not what it is built for.” You can keep running your business in a completely risk-averse way, or you can take a bold step to unmoor it from its current business model to seek new rewards. In adopting managed services, that’s what you’ll be doing. But no ship should leave port without an anchor, so be sure to take the proper steps to minimize unnecessary risk.
To learn more about APC’s managed services program, click here.