Guest Column | August 28, 2013

Is The "Break/Fix" Model Still Viable?

By Justin Crotty, senior VP and GM, NetEnrich, Inc.

Technology breaks. It’s a reality we all face, but how a solutions provider chooses to manage the breaks is what separates the good from the great.

The truth is, VARs and MSPs are always “fixing” stuff, even in a 100 percent-proactive managed service model. The difference is, in managed services, the fix is part of a larger IT service engagement and usually goes unseen until reporting day. Whereas, when it comes to the traditional “break/fix” model, the solutions provider is the “IT-for-hire” shop that is brought in to do the job and get paid (once). 

While both models will get it done, a proactive service model is what keeps the money coming in, generates more business value, and allows the technology to run at optimal performance levels. So, is “break/fix” still a viable approach?  Sure. But it’s not sustainable and doesn’t do your business any favors.

Here’s why: “break/fix” is an old term that puts you, as a VAR or MSP, in a reactive service mode. Second, it’s not an ongoing moneymaker. While there is margin, it’s not recurring revenue and won’t provide you with a pipeline of profits to build from. Third, businesses want fixed costs, not unexpected expenses. By selling IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) you’re taking the uncertainty of IT off the table, and delivering a more predictable cost structure that offers demonstrable value. 

Even if you’re not ready to make the move to managed services, there are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to break/fix:

  • It is not a sustainable, go-to-market strategy or approach to sales. Break/fix is a way to further augment your services offerings and find an “in” with new accounts.
  • When selling break/fix services, you must clearly set customer expectations. State up front how much time technicians will spend on-site, and what level of engagement can be expected over the course of the agreement.
  • Work to fold your break/fix efforts into a managed services contract. This way, you can allocate resources in advance, which will help to ensure profitability over the long term.

The bottom line — it’s okay to provide “break/fix” as part of your services offerings, but remember to always be proactive in developing the managed services-based revenue streams that are both sustainable and will support long-term growth of your business.

Justin Crotty serves as senior VP and GM for NetEnrich Inc. He’s responsible for driving growth and scale for the company, its partners, and customers. Widely recognized as an IT channel champion, Crotty has held management positions in IT sales and marketing, and began his career as an IT network engineer with IBM.