In my eBook Mistakes MSP’s Make I describe the mistake many Managed Service Provider (MSP) businesses make in saying “Yes” to every type of opportunity that comes their way – effectively being a “Jack of all Trades and a Master of none”. Your IT business will be more effective and your clients receive a better service if you focus on your core competency and forge strategic alliances with companies to provide complimentary services to your clients.
With that said, there *are* a number of core services I believe every MSP should embrace – and one of them is the provision of Broadband Internet.
Using Business Grade Broadband
Every Small Business client now requires Broadband Internet – it’s no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have”.
When you start working with a new SMB client, they will typically already have an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in place – but often this connectivity, typically either ADSL or Cable, is not Business Grade but a consumer offering. Or, to put it in simple terms, the cheapest Broadband the SMB could find.
Most SMB’s treat Broadband the same as any other Utility – Gas, Electric or Water – that all Broadband is the same. But there is a big issue with the “Cheap and Cheerful” approach to using consumer services.
Support for consumer services is typically well below that for Business Grade Broadband. If a clients consumer grade Broadband goes off-line – leaving the whole office without connectivity to the Internet – don’t expect the ISP to rush to fix it. That is, indeed, if you can reach anybody at the overworked call centre at your ISP to log a complaint. The adage for consumer Broadband is often “Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” and so everything is great if there are no problems – but at the first sign of an issue you’re often left in the lurch.
As your clients MSP, guess who they are then going to turn to in a panic? That’s right – the responsibility for the failed Broadband will fall on your shoulders. “Can’t you do something?” the client will ask. “Why is this happening?” your client will exclaim! At this stage it’s too late to offer the old adage “You get what you pay for” or even – “We don’t manage your Broadband” – but the fact of the matter is, even if you can’t do anything to help your client by chivvying the consumer ISP along – your client will expect you to help.
For this reason, building a relationship with an ISP and reselling Broadband yourself is an essential service that your MSP needs to offer.
By replacing your clients existing ISP with your own preferred supplier, you’re ensuring greater uptime and reduced issues. When issues do occur, you’ve got the support of a business grade ISP to help you resolve issues quickly and effectively. In practice this means that instead of being frustratingly forced through a “script” by an ISP’s call centre (“Have you rebooted the Router?”, “Is it plugged in?”) you deal with an ISP who knows you know what you are talking about and gets to the heart of the matter quickly.
This increased uptime and better support means reduced costs for you in supporting your client.
White Labelling vs. Commission Only Resale
As well as saving money on support, you can also make money on reselling the Broadband services.
Most Business Grade ISP’s offer a partner programme that allows you to resell their Broadband in one of two ways.
Firstly, if a client wishes to buy Broadband from you but you want the ISP to deal with the billing – that’s fine. The ISP will handle all the billing and pay you a regular commission payment on the sales.
But if you want to own the client relationship, then you can resell the ISP’s Broadband service by charging your client directly. This is known as “White Labelling”. In many ways this is preferable as you are making your services more “sticky” with a client who now sees you as the IT Support company and the Broadband provider. The ISP bills you for services, you add a mark-up and bill the client.
What the ISP says
I recently had an opportunity to chat to Simon Jones, the Managing Director of UK ISP Talk Internet. I asked Simon why their partners prefer to work with Talk Internet instead of leaving their clients to organise their own Broadband Internet. Take 90 seconds to listen to my chat with Simon.
Whether your MSP White-Label resells Broadband Internet or whether you simply introduce your client to your ISP to deal with them directly, your business is better off ensuring your client works with a Business Grade ISP who can provide them with reliable, consistent service as opposed to a consumer ISP who are cheap but will cause you and your clients headaches.
From your perspective, you are reducing your cost of supporting the client as well as increasing your revenue.
From your clients perspective, they are benefitting from a better quality of service and a reduction in costly downtime to their business.
Is your MSP currently offering Broadband services to your clients?