Blake Schwank, CEO of Colorado Computer Support (CCS), has been working with Ulistic for over seven years. Blake and his wife have grown their business from three people to 37. With hard work, and marketing support from Ulistic, he’s grown his MSP business year after year. He grew so rapidly that he recently had to move CCS to a new building (which they now own).
So, how did Blake get here? Here are some tips from Blake:
Stop stressing over problems. There will always be problems to solve. Don’t stop to try to figure out the details like what RMM to use. Keep going. If you make a bad choice, you’ll figure it out and find the right one.
Don’t over-analyze issues. If you do, you’ll get stuck. Keep moving. Get things done.
Use good PSA (Professional Services Automation). Blake used to rely on Basecamp for this. They now use Auto Task. It helped them manage their clients a lot better.
Get a business coach. Hire a professional to help you streamline your operations. You know how to do IT, but not how to run a business. This helped Blake focus on growing his business rather than working on accounting and handling IT tickets.
Price according to the work you’ll do, and the value to the client. For Blake, it’s somewhere between $100 and $150 a workstation. But, don’t always focus on the seat price. Determine how busy the client will keep you. Also consider how much a business values technology. If one second of downtime would cost them a million dollars, a higher price for quality IT services you provide won’t be an issue. Once it becomes a business discussion rather than an IT-management one, you can start charging different rates.
The RMMBlake likes. After trying just about everything Blake uses Auto-Task Endpoint Management.
What about all-inclusive offerings? It all depends. Sometimes Blake provides phone management if they need it, but always Datto Endpoint backup, antivirus, after-hours service, and whatever else he thinks the client needs.
If businesses aren’t willing to take CCS’ recommendations, he won’t take them on or keep them on. His SMB clients must use what he suggests, or he’ll let them go. He wants success, not failure.
Always be sure to document what you do. It doesn’t matter what you use, just do it. Blake is a big believer in off-the-shelf products such as IT Glue, True Method, My IT Process. They use a lot of different tools to run their business. They don’t try to build them themselves.
Get out and network with other MSPs. As Stuart suggests, you have to get out of your office and go to conferences to see what others are doing, and learn the pain they’ve gone through to grow so you can avoid these pitfalls. It’s not just about IT, it’s about building your business.
Go to conferences for the verticals you serve. You must spend the money and go to trade shows to successfully market your MSP business. In addition to the conferences for the IT Partners you work with, or MSP conferences, go to industry conferences. Blake goes to 5 or 6 a year. The more you know about your clients’ industries, the better you can serve them. They go to national education and healthcare conferences. If you show up at a doctor’s office and talk about HIPAA and IT issues, their eye’s will glaze over. But if you talk about HIMSS and CMGA, they can relate to this. It provides the credibility you need to close business.
Serving multiple verticals. Blake broke up his staff into teams that focus on specific verticals. Regulations change all the time. You need experts in each of the industries you serve to mitigate risk.
Keep marketing and selling. Marketing was, and is, key for Blake. Without ongoing marketing, he wouldn’t enjoy the success he does now. Marketing is about building great fans out of your clients so you get great references. Always treat your referral clients well, and remember to say “Thank You!” To win new business, go out and sell your services, and make sure whoever does this has a professional, business appearance (no polo shirts, a nice shirt and jacket), and make sure they’re armed with knowledge about the prospect, and professional presentation materials. Presentation is everything. You must invest in great marketing materials to make the $3 to $4 thousand a month revenue from clients. (Plus, they’ve relied on Ulistic for marketing expertise for years, and still do!)
Play with the “Big Dogs.” Get on these lists.
Blake and CCS have a great “pedigree.”
35 on Channele2e
Top 100 Vertical MSPs
Will be ranking on the MSP 501
On the Inc. 5,000 for years
“Partner Deal of the Year” for Extreme Networks
With these honors, you’ll get free publicity and more credibility when competing. It will set you apart from all the others MSPs in your area.
What’s Next for Blake? He’s hiring a CIO from a local school district. This person has the experience they need. This will free up Blake’s time to grow the business further.
Final notes: Stay positive, don’t get discouraged. There’s always work to capture. It’s about adapting to changes. Who knows what five years from now holds for us. But as long as we can adapt, there will always be work out there.
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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