Top 10 questions for MSPs to ask themselves in an unstable economy

  • What can MSPs do to stay in business during a down economy?
  • What can MSPs do to help in these uncertain times?
  • Where can MSPs get help if needed?

These and many other questions are being asked daily by MSPs and the channel vendors who support them. Thanks to the leadership of Dan Tomaszewski (Everything MSP) and Lori Tisinai (ITOwners Compass), a growing group of MSPs and vendors collaborate and brainstorm possible solutions. [Note: Join these Facebook groups to participate in the daily call at noon ET and follow the conversation.] Topics range from self-care to sales to financial resources and technology solutions.

As Lisa Shorr from Secure Future Tech Solutions reminded us (especially since most of us haven’t flown in a while), “put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you attempt to take care of others.” So now is the time to take that deep breath, step back, and take a minute to focus on your own business to ensure you will be around to help others.

Now that you are ready to focus, let’s do our own assessment of business practices in light of a questionable economy. And if you are committed to taking a serious look, take out a pen and paper – or tablet and stylus – or open a blank note on your other monitor- because we have work to do.

10 Questions to ask of your own business:

1. Is your MSP busier right now or has business slowed?

    • If your answer is busier, is the new work sustainable or is this short term busy? Sustainable, then sign up for a new employee! Short term busy, then consider the following: 
      • Are there other MSPs who you could hire temporarily to fill the gap? This would help both you and them AND save a tremendous amount of money in onboarding a new employee. The website mspcovidhelp.com has a form to fill out for MSPs who are looking for work and for those looking for the help.
      • Are there processes your company is currently doing manually that maybe there is a technical solution to help you be more efficient? (more on types of solutions in a bit)
    • If your answer is slower, we also recommend going to mspcovidhelp.com to see if you can provide outsource solutions for other MSPs. But that is not the only answer.

2. Are there businesses in your area who are laying off members of their IT department that might need managed services?

This article posted on charlesit.com discusses the benefits of working with an MSP that might provide some talking points on selling your services into new businesses even at this time.

we are hiring sign

3. Who can afford services now?

There are most certainly industries that are in high demand right now. And there are very few businesses today that run without technology. Are there specific technologies that would help those businesses run more efficiently? More securely? Create a marketing campaign around those specific needs. We have all heard loud and clear that no one wants vendors capitalizing on this crisis, but if you have a technology that solves a problem for them, you are a solution not a pushy salesperson. Do you have a good referral who has connections with others in their field that could recommend your services?

4. Are you a break-fix shop that just helped local businesses work from home and now find yourself in a lull?

You have recently solved a problem for those businesses so the more important question is: Do they now see you as an advisor and are there additional solutions that you could present to help them? Could some of those solutions help you enter the Managed Services business?  (Backups, Social Engineering Training, Cyber Security Managed SOC)

5. Is it time to eliminate or consolidate subscriptions?

    • Before you jump straight to cutting all of your subscriptions, first see if you can tighten up licensing. Then take that deep breath and put pen to paper about the value of each, asking:
      • Communication: How many tools are you using to communicate both internally and externally? Is there overlap? Can you reduce a subscription in eliminating that overlap and simplify a process along the way?
      • Marketing: First, this is NOT the time to start or stop marketing so that is not the way to save money – it does make sense to evaluate your current marketing strategy to see what is working and kill off whatever is not working. How do you track all of your social media marketing and email campaign analytics? Are you paying for tools to do both of those things? Or are you not paying for any tools and spending a lot of time tracking them in each individual platform. There are tools (like HootSuite) that aggregate that for you. 
      • Reporting: Are you paying for a warranty look-up tool? And a QBR platform? And a risk assessment tool? And a Client Feedback tool?  And a Dashboard tool? Consider consolidating a handful of tools into just a few.
venn diagram showing overlap

6. Do you have overlap in tools that you never fully deployed?

Is there savings in completing some of the tools deployments you already started?  Or can/should you cancel some of those subscriptions? If that new tool will save you time that will keep you from hiring a new employee, then the answer is a resounding keep.

7. Are there outstanding projects that should be wrapped up now?

Now is the time to wrap up loose ends. When everyone heads back to work and revenues start flowing again, clients will need the help of MSPs to get back to work.  Wrap up your projects during the lull in your area so that you’re available to help your clients get back to work when they need you.

8. Hardware slow down - Is it time to rethink refresh projects but offer warranty services?

    • Clients are afraid to spend money right now? Consider leasing to allow them to keep cash in the bank and do refresh projects by adding a low monthly payment.
    • Are there savings to be had by retiring physical assets in place of cloud services? (by retiring the physical server in favor of a cloud file sharing tool, you’re adding valuable MRR in exchange for a one time billable project).

9. Is there a vendor relationship you can leverage?

If you have the right vendor relationships, they can be a good introduction to new prospects, even in a down economy.  Reach out to your vendors and inquire about marketing dollars and referral programs. You’d be surprised how many of them have programs to help you succeed.  It’s time to nurture those vendor relationships!

hand shake

10. Last but not least, is your entire team fully utilized?

 If not, is there training or cross-training that could allow you to get more out of your existing team?  Overstaffed? Can that extra engineer help with account management enabling you to retain clients in this critical time?  Is there data in need of cleaning for better reporting? Get creative to find ways to keep your team productive – you’re going to need all of them when things turn around and your clients start hiring and prospects start biting again. 

But most critically when it comes to your team – communicate. Talk to them about what you are thinking and ask them for ideas. One MSP told us that a member of their staff suggested that they start cutting just a few hours early rather than waiting for a cash flow issue to cause a layoff or larger reduction of hours all at once. Your employees need to know you care and they will help you care for your clients and your company.

people with hands in showing teamwork

If you have other ideas, share them with the community because one thing we have all learned is that we are better together.

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