Collaborating With Other MSPs to Expand Your Service OfferingsCollaborating With Other MSPs to Expand Your Service Offerings
At a time when many SMBs are looking to expand upon their telco services with additional managed services, think about ways to stay competitive and ahead of the technology curve.
September 22, 2014
By Raymond Vrabel
In my July blog post, I discussed five steps to take before adding MDM to your services portfolio. This month, I focus on various avenues MSPs can explore regarding collaboration and partnerships. For example, if you don’t have an MDM or other currently sought-after technology in place, you shouldn’t take yourself out of the running in providing these services to a client that’s asking.
At a time when many SMBs are looking to expand upon their telco services with additional managed services, think about ways to stay competitive and ahead of the technology curve. When it comes to providing the total managed services package:
1. Finding Appropriate In-House Talent: If you don’t have the expertise on a specific technology that an SMB is requesting, it doesn’t mean you can’t acquire it in some way. I believe in surrounding yourself with people who are smart and passionate, and those with whom you can learn. Why not expand your reach by hiring techs with the expertise your organization doesn’t currently have? I’ve heard stories from MSPs who had to pass up a certain client or weren’t able to provide an additional service because they didn’t have the experience. By hiring full-time staff (or part-time consultants) that have the expertise you need, you gain muscle and ground with your current clients — and can potentially acquire new ones that might not have been on your radar.
If you are apprehensive about hiring someone new, contract them on a trial basis so you can assess their skills and expertise. Remember to think about competition. If you don’t have the expertise to continually service your current and possibly future clients as their needs change, then they will eventually look to another provider who can help them. You have the ability to take over all things IT, and reinforce your value.
2. Partnering with Local MSPs/IT Providers: I have seen how partnerships can be effective when MSPs and ISVs collaborate on a hardware/software project. However, this is also the case when two like-minded MSPs work together. There are MSPs that I have spoken with who have sought out other MSPs to assist with a project that they might not have been able to pursue otherwise.
While this can often be a positive solution, practice due diligence to ensure a proper partnership exists. Word-of-mouth recommendations can be a positive step when it comes to seeking out the right partner, but make sure you both have a mutual level of trust and understanding. Do your research. Log on to the many online industry forums and look to social media for recommendations of “good fit” MSPs. If you are a member of a peer group and/or industry association, reach out to current members for advice. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few contenders, gather testimonials from the MSP’s current clients, and perhaps other fellow MSPs or ISVs that have previously collaborated with them.
Industry events are other good places to network and evaluate potential partnerships. Make sure you put together a plan for these events.
3. Mergers and Acquisitions: While this might be something that would take additional thought, time and resources, I have spoken with several partners who have experienced great successes as a result of merging their MSP with another (or by way of acquisition). One that comes to mind is a traditional telco that merged about 18 months ago with a local MSP. In speaking with both of these executives, they asserted that each now has resources, branding and expertise that they didn’t have prior. The telco, which has been in business for more than 30 years, offers a strong brand that is well-known in their particular region and space; the MSP offers additional services and clients, thus creating a solid melding of expertise, resources and technologies.
While this is one example of how an M&A deal produced favorable results, put the time and research into figuring out if this is the best option for you. Even if the potential company you are speaking to is turning a high profit and has increased its revenue in the last few years, there are still other questions, such as:
How well is the company run? What are its operations guidelines?
Are most of their customers satisfied and, more importantly, what is their customer retention rate?
How tenured are their employees? Are their employees generally happy with their jobs and the company culture?
How well do your systems currently integrate with theirs and vice versa?
What does their current workflow look like? Do changes need to be made?
Staying competitive and ensuring that someone doesn’t swoop in to poach your client base is one of your important considerations. Whether that means hiring staff and consultants with additional expertise, partnering/collaborating with other local MSPs/service providers, or going the M&A route, do your homework to determine what’s best for you, your employees and your customers, and how your decision will affect the future of your business.
Raymond Vrabel is Continuum‘s director of technical account management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum’s Technical Account Management team which supports more than 3,400 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions.
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