Fools Rush In
IT services marketing can benefit from a swift decision which refrains from incorporating deep thought, but it isn’t likely. You may have seen Fools Rush In years ago. It’s a love story starring Matthew Perry. He manages to get the girl in the end, but that’s not always the case and definitely the reason for the film’s title, which is a take on an old song from the 40’s called “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread).” The moral of the maxim is that where wiser beings avoid destruction, fools jump right in and are punished.
One IT area where many jump into their detriment is fixed-fee service solutions. IT providers, VARs, and many other tech companies who require managed service support have long held this up to be the gold standard of IT provision, but there are areas of opinion which bring a considerable case against such thinking. The necessity of warranty for end-users is considerable. Such warranties should provide on-site support as well as remote support. Issues will arise in these areas— just be sure the provisions you make available have clearly defined contractual specifications. Anything beyond the contract shouldn’t predicate support that is free.
Those Rainy Days
If you’re selling your services on a fixed-fee arrangement, even within the bounds of contractual agreement, you’re going to have to funnel resources for the “rainy days”— and they will definitely come from at least one client among your repertoire at regular intervals. You would be wise to put assets away for monthly “surprises.” You should be prepared for some unexpected big-time network outage regularly in a yearly cycle. If you’re offering the fixed-rate solution and don’t have assets requisitioned for this eventuality, you’re going to get caught with your pants down, and there’s a very real likelihood that a client will be lost— or maybe even several.
Imagine having to specify the full energies of your MSP on one client, and the “lightning” decides to strike another the same day. Your IT services marketing strategies would do well to not emphasize fixed-rate services unless you’re sure your MSP can handle such unexpected emergencies. Oftentimes, getting to the fixed-rate level requires you to build your brand a little first in order that you have assets requisite to absorb the eventual losses such client convenience ultimately requires.
Under-Promise and Over-Deliver
It’s a lot worse to over-promise and under-deliver than it is to under-promise and over-deliver. The former will give you a bad name, and the latter will likely prompt the client to organically recommend your services to new customers. The key here can be summed up in the phrase “err on the side of caution.” Marketing should do the same thing.
Especially starting out, obstacles that get ahead of productivity reduce profitability. The same relationship between obstacles and profit exist as an MSP expands, but said problems are much more affecting in the earlier days of operation. When jobs exceed the budgeting behind flat-rate services, the service provider loses out. Sometimes the hourly pricing solution is better.
A Hybrid Solution?
But, as hybrid cloud solutions make services amenable to multiple diverse clients, the same kind of thinking can inform your operations. It’s possible for you to put limitations on flat-fee services which protect you from expensive jobs. Start out with an arrangement that isn’t of the flat-fee variety and tabulate the statistically regular jobs you end up doing. Average them out over a year. If you’ve been in operation for a little while already, this can be done in an afternoon of records parsing. Once you’ve got some numbers, you can set your flat fee at a rate slightly above your average, and then have a caveat built into your customer agreement that if the extent of required services passes a certain point, you’ll have to start charging by the hour.
Generally, such hybrid arrangements can be hit or miss, so you’ll ultimately have to determine what makes the most sense for your MSP. But tips to consider as you design your IT services marketing strategy include:
• Marketing conservatively
• Under-selling and over-delivering
• Defining service parameters beforehand
Carefully plan operations proactively and you won’t have to absorb untoward losses.
Our MSP Business Contributor
Jennifer Holmes is President of MIS Solutions and a Georgia native who, after graduating from Georgia Tech, became an accomplished research virologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In 2000, Jennifer hung up her lab coat to join husband Lliam at MIS Solutions as President.
In the past 16 years, she has led the MIS Solutions team to become the leaders in Metro Atlanta IT Support. MIS Solutions, Inc. is on a mission to provide managed IT services to Atlanta businesses to help them grow and support their businesses. MIS Solutions provides a wide range of IT services to Atlanta-based businesses and, combined with Jennifer’s passion for sharing effective business strategies with her clients, they are able to deliver the best business IT Support for each client’s unique environment in Atlanta.
In 2013, Jennifer’s leadership and marketing skills won her the title of Spokesperson for the nationally acclaimed Technology Marketing Toolkit, an industry group of over 550 top U.S. She is a graduate of the Leadership Gwinnett program and has acted on the boards of the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Atlanta chapter, Gwinnett Great Days of Service, the Buford/North Gwinnett Rotary Club and the Gwinnett Chamber’s Technology Board.