From The Editor | September 23, 2013

GFI MAX Customer Conference 2013: Editors Notebook Day 1

By Mike Monocello, editor-in-chief, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @monocello

BSM-Collaboration

Day 1 of GFI MAX’s Customer Conference is under way here at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. A quick look at the itinerary for today brought one word to mind: wow. GFI has today loaded with educational information from start (9:00am) to finish (5:45pm, which is when the pool party begins).

While we’re only midway through the sessions, I stepped away to share just some of the notes I’ve taken from the event.

  • There are 300 attendees at this year’s conference, many of whom are first-time attendees.
  • Twitter hash tag, if you’d like to follow the pulse of the event is #MAXCC
  • This event isn’t about pitching more GFI products to attendees, it’s about educating and empowering them to grow their businesses. Don’t you hate conferences that are all about pitching products?
  • GFI has a ton of educational content freely available to those interested in learning more not about their products, but general best practices. Check out www.MSPbusinessmanagement.com, their Youtube channel, and/or their MAX IQ blog.
  • GFI has been fostering an online user community focused on the creation and sharing of scripts. If you’re a new MSP looking for a fast track, or an existing MSP interested in refining your offerings, check out FixITScripts.com.
  • Great video that highlights some GFI MAX features. It might be basic, but it shows how everything comes together with managed services.
  • Keynote Larry Walsh shared some interesting stats, tips, etc.:
    • 70% of the channel offers some form of service
    • 60% margins from services — the largest profit generator for IT solutions providers
    • Success in services is through retention of customers and a continuous focus on new sales (net new or upselling existing customers new services)
    • Focus more on sales, less on technology. Leading with a technology message is from the break/fix era
    • If a customer doesn’t want to pay your prices, they don’t deserve you. Stand firm!
    • If you stop growing, it means you stopped selling
    • 40% of the channel doesn’t have a business plan and measurable goals
    • Failure is becoming fixated on what you did yesterday (i.e. don’t hold on to the old days of how you did business)
  • GFI asked MSPs three questions and then allowed each table to have a discussion for about 10 minutes. Following are the shared responses from the audience after the time had elapsed:
    • What are the main challenges facing your business today?
      • Finding and retaining good people
      • Coming up with the right pricing model
      • Effectively marketing to decision makers
      • Moving customers away from break-fix
      • Finding the bandwidth to plan and execute marketing
      • Acquiring new clients
    • What challenges will you face in 2014?
      • Increased competition from vendors and VARs-turned-MSPs
      • Training employees on automation tools
      • Balancing cloud vs. on-premise solutions
      • No on-premise Microsoft SBS solutions going forward
      • HIPAA compliance regulation means MSPs need to be compliant as well
      • Educating customers on the benefits of the model
      • Finding vendors who will be around for the long-term
    • What changes will you make in your company in 2014?
      • More sales focus
      • More focus on offering services
      • Get new customers by leading with antivirus because it’s something everyone needs and understands. Use AV as a gateway to services
      • To do more with less, automate!
  • In a mobility breakout, it was shared that 75% of polled MSPs are not currently monetizing their mobile device work (which is typically setting up devices, testing apps, etc. Basic stuff).
  • Another study showed that $4 to $6 per device is a realistic charge for managing mobile devices.

That my quick recap of the day so far. Stay tuned for more info from the GFI MAX Customer Conference 2013 in Las Vegas. For real-time highlights, follow me on twitter (@Monocello).

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