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Five ways for MSPs to sharpen their business this year
Mon, 19th Feb 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Now that ANZ's holiday season is over, managed service providers (MSPs) will be considering areas in which they can improve. What did they do last year that made a big impact? What fell flat? What did they hope to achieve that they ultimately couldn't?

Decisions are most likely to include finding new clients and improving profits. But there are less obvious milestones that might lead to those larger goals?

Freshen up that look and feel

Presentation matters. When it comes to building a business, branding is an essential component.

A great visual look and feel helps a firm to stand out among competitors, demonstrate a level of professionalism, and create consistency for every customer touch-point—from website to service truck.

When is the last time you took a hard look at the visual aspects of your company? Consider the following and ask, are they consistent? Do they feel up-to-date compared to other companies? How might they be improved?

  • Website
  • Logo and colours
  • Marketing materials
  • Signage
  • Business cards
  • Service Vehicles
  • Uniforms

If you notice inconsistencies or just feel like company branding isn't up to par, it may be time to work with a professional to introduce updates.

Don't forget, while visuals are important, your brand is so much more than just a look and feel—it's your voice in the market. Think carefully about how visuals help tell the company story and express its distinct approach.

Reduce ticket time

Depending on their size and business model, a company might be inundated with requests and helpdesk tickets.

If clients are serviced quickly they feel satisfied and you start building the trust and loyalty that will keep them around for years.

If service times are slow and clients are losing productivity while they wait, they might start thinking about hiring a competitor. So how can you raise your service game?

  • Update helpdesk software - Are you using professional services automation (PSA) and remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools? How much of the ticketing process is automated? Is there a solution that might better accommodate your needs today and in the future? See what's out there and try something new.

  • Consider providing self-help options - By giving users an easy way to answer their own questions and fix basic problems, you can prevent tickets from ever landing in your lap. Does your website have an FAQ for clients? Are you sending regular tips that might help end users? Do you have videos that walk your customers through resolutions to simple problems? Think about how to educate them and they'll be empowered to handle the basics themselves.

  • Set clear expectations with service agreements - Clients should always know when to call you and when not to. They should also know how quickly you'll solve various problems and shouldn't be left wondering when you'll arrive to help get them back to work. Outline these details in service agreements and be clear with clients about what they can and can't expect. This will ensure that clients always know what to expect - and reduce tickets.

Finally address that whole ‘Marketing' thing

Marketing is often an afterthought for small businesses. It can seem like a burden that requires lots of upfront effort and money that may not result in new clients.

The fact is, though there's often some trial and error involved in marketing, there are some simple basics that work and don't require loads of time and effort.

Outside of the RMM and PSA software we mentioned, could you be using more efficient operating systems, email clients, or customer management systems?

Consider what you're using and think about what really needs to be updated. Investing in new hardware can help to improve employee morale and increase productivity, and it can also deliver a competitive edge. Plus, you're an IT firm, right? Why not show you're the best by using the best hardware?

Clean up the closet

Are there old keyboards and mice lying around? How dusty are those server closets? Are cables a knotted mess? Take time now to schedule a cleaning to get everything sparkly and organised, and if you're lacking a good process for keeping equipment tidy, now's a great time to put one in place.

Consider who should be responsible for cleaning what and when they should do it. You may also consider doing an equipment audit to make sure everything is accounted for.

Nothing feels better than having a neat, organised office, so be sure to schedule some time to make it happen.

Plan backup and DR testing

It should be standard practice to test backups, but there's a big difference between testing an individual backup and testing a detailed backup and disaster recovery plan. Start now and schedule quarterly comprehensive DR-plan tests.

Don't just focus on simple stuff like whether a backup can be restored, but consider whether a client can get up and running quickly if a storm, flood or other major disaster hits. And don't forget your own company.

Backups are awesome and so are DR plans, but you can't depend on either if there isn't a way to make sure they work. Test, test, and test again. After you're done, test once more.

Making new year's resolutions is great, but like DR testing, they only matter if you can follow through when it counts. If you don't write down your goals and make strides toward completing them every day until they're done, you might find the same resolutions on next year's list.

So start now and make it happen!

By StorageCraft APAC sales head Marina Brook