Day 1 of RSPA’s Inspire kicked off today at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort. While some might think an event like Inspire is an excuse to sneak in a vacation on the business dime, they’d be very wrong. Sure, the venue is gorgeous, but it only serves as a backdrop for the networking, education, and relationship building that takes place. In short, for the VARs, vendors, distributors, and yes, the sole media representative (me), Inspire is priceless. You can’t get this level of the aforementioned networking, education, and relationship-building with any other event. Over the course of the week, all attendees will learn a lot, laugh a lot, build memories, share life and business lessons, and establish or strengthen lasting relationships, if not friendships. Again, nowhere else.
The day began with a morning of education. A three-day course is planned, led by the trio of highly educated and respected professors responsible for writing the best-selling business book, Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners. Michael Mazzeo and Paul Oyer took the stage separately to share stories from the road, pulling out lesson after lesson and drawing comparisons to the businesses of those in the audience.
The PhD duo spent a fair amount of time talking about the subtle nuances of the formulas commonly used to calculate profit and costs. The lessons here including an urging of the attendees to find ways to add value that the customer finds valuable, thus increasing the customers’ willingness to pay higher prices (or at least, not getting priced to the bottom). Additionally, there was talk about replacing variable costs, where possible, with fixed costs to increase profitability.
As I listened to the speakers share their examples and compare them to the POS IT VARs in the audience, I couldn’t help but notice something pretty astonishing. The speakers were echoing what I’ve heard from many VARs about how challenging it is for them to scale, increase profits, reduce expenses, and more. Many scratch their heads trying to figure out a solution when there’s one already right in their face.
For more than a decade, Business Solutions has written about the managed services model. In the past few years, we’ve dedicated a fair amount of space to educate those who haven’t made the switch to managed services about the model. We also host regional events on the topic. We’ve applauded when vendors and organizations like the RSPA joined us by providing education on the benefits of this model. Yet, with so much education available, there are VARs who are way behind in this transition and some who are completely unaware such a solution exists. These same VARs are struggling with the issues mentioned earlier.
They don’t know how to scale their business when there are managed services vendors like Continuum who offer free NOC (network operations center) services with their RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool. Not only will that free NOC service handle support calls for VARs, the RMM service would allow VARs to offer a better, proactive service to customers while enjoying the benefits of automation. Some of the basic principles of managed services include leveraging standardization, processes, and automation tools to run as efficiently as possible. In short, VARs can do more with fewer employees, shifting from a variable cost to a fixed cost.
If you’re a POS IT VAR wondering how you can compete with the new cloud POS providers flooding the market, or how you can smooth the peaks and valleys of revenue on the break-fix model, or how you can scale, increase profits, and reduce expenses, the solution is readily available. Read the hundreds, if not thousands of articles we’re written on the topic. Talk to your vendors about their programs to shift to subscription-based solutions. Talk with your distributor — they all have bundles/services that help you get started. Attend events like Inspire.
Eventually, with all the change occurring in the industry, it’s going to be too late for you to make the shift to managed services. Take action today, and I’ll fill you in on day 2 education tomorrow.