Three Tools for Your SMB Portfolio
While a carpenter may have a workshop filled with thousands of tools, many designed for very specific uses, he could likely accomplish a majority of his work using just a few basic implements. Consider the number of projects that can be completed with just a hammer, screwdriver and saw? The final project may be a little rough without utilizing specialized equipment (such as a router), but a number of beneficial things can be constructed with just these few items.
The same principle applies to solution providers. While the cornerstone of an IT services business continues to be its personnel (and their consultative skills), the addition of a few common tools makes the possibilities virtually limitless. Consider how many of your SMB clients’ needs could be fulfilled with just these three services:
- Remote monitoring
- Backup and disaster recovery (BDR)
- Email management
While this almost makes a solution provider’s job sound simple, we know that supporting your business customers isn’t quite so easy. The reality is that each of your clients’ service needs can differ significantly, with some requiring a rather complex set of solutions to ensure their success. That’s where IT consultants earn their money, designing the specific hardware and software systems that help them thrive. By adding your “special sauce” to these services, including vertical market-specific applications and reporting options that address their particular business needs, it increases your value exponentially.
For example, remote monitoring services are not a one-size-fits-all offering. You can configure each client site in a different manner, setting alerts depending on what each considers their critical systems. Call center clients rely heavily on their phone systems and benefit from a high-level of monitoring and management, but a retail store may want their POS (Point of Sale) systems to receive priority attention. On the surface, remote monitoring and network services may appear to be basic offerings, but they can be tailored to address a number of different needs for a variety of business clients. That’s what makes this tool a vital part of every solution provider’s portfolio, from both a viability and profitability perspective.
Email management services are also a critical part of any SMB portfolio. Many businesses are more reliant on their electronic communications today than phone and “snail mail,” so the role of keeping these systems online and their information secure is an extremely important one. That makes solution providers with email management skills a valuable commodity among SMB organizations, and can lead to other support and solution opportunities along the way.
By assembling basic email service and implementation templates for particular markets (such as legal firms), you can tailor them on an “as needed” basis to meet the specific needs of each client. Chances are, you won’t need to make major alterations often and, if you do, charging customers for the time and cost of these modifications is suitable.
Don’t Forget Protection
Backup and disaster recovery services are the insurance policy for your clients, since these systems are critical from both a compliance and business continuity perspective. An effective solution allows your customers to quickly resume their operations after a catastrophe, so they are able to serve their own clientele and get back to making money. A number of federal and state laws also require many companies to have a data protection and retrieval plan in place to ensure timely access to financial and other important information. BDR is the framework that protects the information infrastructure for these companies — think of it as the virtual cloning of a business’ systems. Just like remote management and email services, it’s a critical and valued support need for any organization and can be your foot in the door for additional opportunities.
Every VAR needs access to these tools to provide the basic support every business needs and to help them meet a variety of legal and industry compliance requirements as well. That’s not to say you have to offer each service as an IT consultant, but through trusted partnerships you should be able to facilitate them for your clients. If you don’t have close relationships with companies that can fill in gaps to this basic portfolio, the risk of losing your customers is high. Without these services in your “toolbox,” it leaves an opportunity for other solution providers to get their foot in the door and then attempt to displace your company. Whether they are successful of not depends on a number of factors, but why leave that to chance?
Ted Roller is VP of channel development Intronis, the cloud backup specialist. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship program.