As we approach the end of 2020 and make plans for the first quarter of 2021, there appears to be no end in sight for the ongoing economic and political uncertainty that has plagued businesses since March. The cold weather on the way may further exacerbate the COVID-19 pandemic, with cases rising in some regions where the worst seemed to be over. Your MSP clients may continue to struggle both with falling revenues and the challenges of remote work.
It brings to mind that dire warning from Game of Thrones: “Winter is coming.“ How can you keep your own business in the black while continuing to protect your customers? Here are five things MSPs should do now to keep their businesses healthy heading into the new year.
- Shore up remote work capabilities for your own business and your clients. In March, many companies learned a hard lesson about just how unprepared they were for long-term disruptions and remote work scenarios. Even after eight months, there are still challenges to remote connectivity and security, and some of your clients might still be treating this like a temporary situation. Revisit computing best practices with your clients, encourage the use of secure technology infrastructure, and invest in tools you can use to help your clients better manage the transition between office-based and remote work. Internally, make sure you have deployed these same solutions to keep your data and applications secure and your team productive.
- Implement processes and incentives to encourage increasing wallet share with your existing client base. With so much uncertainty, winning new business in many sectors is more challenging than ever. Ensure your team focuses on maintaining customer relationships and finding ways to provide more services to clients. The clients who have stuck with you are still going to need a lot of help; make sure you are offering the right mix of services to secure their infrastructure and reduce costs. Consider adding different services to the mix (e.g., managed print, hosted VOIP, compliance-as-a-service) to expand potential touchpoints with customers.
- Encourage employees to update their certifications and improve their skills. Many people have a bit more time on their hands, with so many activities closed down or extremely limited. To stay competitive, your team should be sharpening their skills via online training and obtaining industry certifications (e.g., ISO27001, SOC 2), which can help show clients that you possess the domain-level expertise they need.
- Focus on cybersecurity. The global market for cybersecurity services and solutions continues to expand rapidly, and new, sophisticated threats are emerging weekly. The turmoil caused by remote work has only made the need for robust security more acute. There is still a high demand for data security expertise, cybersecurity training, and innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to help automate security processes. Security offerings can help strengthen client relationships while providing an ongoing revenue source with a high value-add for the client.
- Maintain strong communication with your team and with your customers. If you are still primarily working remotely, the way you interact with clients and co-workers has likely changed significantly over the past eight months. Your customers may be stressed out by business challenges, working in close quarters with their spouses or children, and dealing with online school issues. Your team is likely under strain as well. Make sure you are reaching out to clients over the phone to see how things are going for them and reinforce the human connection that has been lost with on-site visits being limited. Try to get an idea of how they are planning for the coming new year, and look for ways to help them achieve their goals. Internally, find ways to keep your staff engaged and connected through similar daily or weekly check-ins.
While the outlook heading into 2021 is still challenging, MSPs can create new business opportunities while also helping clients weather the storm.