Brandon Bowers, president of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based ZenTek Data Systems, shares three suggestions he’d apply if he were launching an MSP from scratch today.
1. Centralize your solution stack – The more systems and programs, application and hardware vendors that you have to deal with on a daily basis, tech support numbers you have to call, SOPs, internal documentation, ensuring everyone's supportability, and training you need to provide to get employees up to speed – all this becomes incredibly difficult the larger you get and the more customers you have.
You need to streamline as much as possible and be able to support as many clients with the least amount of effort and employees.
When you lose an employee and need to hire somebody, the least amount of training and processes to get them up to speed, the better.
Centralizing your solution stack makes that so much simpler.
It's not that we select something and then we never look at it again.
I'm a tech guy at heart.
I always love playing with different types of technology, hardware vendors, looking at new software.
I set aside some time to only look at so many vendors per quarter.
If we evaluated our RMM this year, then more than likely we're not going to look at many RMM vendors again this year.
Maybe next year we will reevaluate this.
Same with other solutions within our stack of products.
2. Settle on a PSA for your business – It's critical.
We started this business, I looked at the big three - Tigerpaw, Autotask and Connectwise – and ultimately we selected ConnectWise.
Not that it's the best but it works for us, and every other MSP you talk to is going to say they're ok with the solution they're using,
But there's probably a lot to be desired.
Ultimately, it tracks all of your time, ticketing.
We run our marketing through it.
We track client lists, invoicing, accounts receivable.
Everything goes through our ticketing system: sales time, marketing time, tracking, billing, payroll.
There's not really a way to see the savings right away, but only after you've used the product for some time.
When I started the business, I felt like I didn't want to spend money for the training – and the software licensing to get it set up, and now I have this monthly recurring fee that's going to go on, but I followed advice of someone who ran an MSP.
Without a doubt, we can't run our business as smoothly as we do today without having a PSA in place.
3. Look to the future – Keep an eye on what's happening in the news and make sure you focus your business on what's in the eye of the people.
Security being such a big aspect today, if I were to start over today, I'd focus a tremendous amount of efforts in the security space: security auditing, security assessments, compliance requirements – whether it comes to HIPAA or PCI.
I think there's a huge untapped space on the small business side of things when it comes to security.
It's being pushed so much into their field of vision right now that they're really starting to want to pay more for some of those services, when I feel like they weren't in the past.
This isn't only about the security though.
Don't be afraid to work on newer technologies.
Don't be afraid to go to the cloud or run a security practice.
Just because when you get into some of those more specialized services, there's a lot less competition in that space.
When you offer those sets of services, the clients become more "sticky," because it's harder to find another provider providing those same services.
And if you're hosting any services for them, it's much harder for them to leave as well.
Editor’s note: Comments are edited to improve readability.
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