Business advice from industry experts.
Jim Satterwhite, President and COO of Venture Pointe
Jim Satterwhite, President and COO of Venture Pointe, based in Jacksonville, Fla., shares three suggestions he'd apply if he were launching an MSP from scratch today.
1. Be disciplined in adhering to your strategic focus – A lot of new MSPs - and we found ourselves in the same problem initially - you're going to open your door, you want business, and you're willing to take anybody's business. But that doesn't necessarily bode well with your focus. So, just understand your focus around your vertical, develop the type of client you want and stay within that parameter. As an early-start MSP, you kind of let your clients drive you sometimes out of that vertical. For example, our kind of moniker is that we want to be their single point of contact for all their technology needs. Unfortunately, sometimes that makes you lose focus. You sell them and maintain their printers, then you quickly find your clients asking you if can you sell them ink as well. That just distracts you from your focus. Establish your focus and stay in it.
2. Strive for deeper relationships with clients – Take the time to sit down with your clients. It really speaks to that service level that you're wanting to obtain; that partnership that you need. If people think that you're there to sell them something all the time, they're not going to be a partner. They're not going to give you referrals. They're not going to call you just to ask your opinion; to give you that resell opportunity. Establish a regular conversation with your clients. Develop very concise reporting as to what they want to see, not what you think they want to see. That will provide you the opportunity to better understand their needs.
3. Establish a technology plan for your clients – If I was going to start a new (MSP) now, I would do that earlier than when we did. We kind of got our clients going, then we circled back to them later. And we found a lot of surprises. Early on in your relationship, when you set your business up with your client, understand what they want to do next year, in 18 months. Then you can better adapt to help them. Good example of that is, we got a client. They had three operational shops around the state of Florida. We didn't ask the question early enough, quite frankly, and about a year into it, they ballooned to nine shops within the state. We had to play catch up. If I had to start over again, I would spend more time to understand the future direction of the client so that you can adequately prepare yourself, through making sure you have the right bandwidth and that you have the right level of staff; appropriate type of staff to support that type of growth of your client.
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