Guest Column | April 9, 2013

Growing Your IT Support Business By Becoming A Managed Service Provider

By Debbie Thomson, GFI

If you are reading this, chances are you’re the owner of a small to medium sized business (SMB) quickly reaching the limits of what you can do with your current break/fix model and you are keen to know where you can go from here. That or you’re more than happy with your break/fix business and are curious to know what exactly we think is wrong with it. Either way you’ve come to the right place.

To begin with I’d like to start by making it clear that there isn’t necessarily anything “wrong” with break/fix and to a certain extent the idea of waiting for something to be broken and then fixing it makes perfect sense. For the most part it is easy to sell; if something is broken it needs fixing, it’s that simple. However the problem with break/fix arises when you want to take your SMB, happily working away fixing problems as and when they occur, and make it grow. How exactly do you scale a service that you can’t predict?

The truth of the matter is there is only one way to scale a reactionary business model like this; hiring more staff. You need to do this to ensure you have enough hands on deck if your entire customer base suddenly needs “fixing” at the same time. This in turn leads to larger premises, more visits to site and essentially higher costs.
But what if none of your customers need fixing? Then what happens? You need to pay all the staff you have on hand.

This is where the MSP business model comes into play. As an MSP it’s your job to be pro-active; rather than waiting for something to break and rushing to the rescue, you simply keep an eye on things and tackle possible breakages before they arise. (For a retained monthly fee of course).

This model is far easier to predict; if you know that you have X number of clients paying $X a month for you to keep their IT services running at optimum, then you can begin to assess your business requirements. This will make your business much more sustainable and far easier to scale.

On the surface making the switch from break/fix to MSP is easy. You simply install your RemoteManagement software on to the devices to be monitored, set up checks and reports and you are ready to go. The most difficult thing about is going to come when you have to explain to your clients why they should start paying you monthly and up front instead of only paying when it is needed. The last thing you want is to lose all your existing customers. For this reason it is important to help them grasp the benefits of a service designed to actually protect their computer systems rather than just patching them up.

This is where GFI MAX can help. The GFI MAX Building Blocks Program aims to help you sell your new services to your customers in a way that is easy to understand. The program is available to all GFI MAX customers and comes complete with everything you could need to market your service; including sample sales materials, implementation guides and presentations.

With Building blocks you can introduce your new approach to your existing customers with a slow step-by-step transition, starting with a small affordable service and gradually building up to a full managed service approach. Once you have your existing customers on board you’ll be well on your way to taking your SMB and becoming a full scale MSP.

Want to learn more about this product? Check out GFI MAX and register for a free trial.