Managing an MSP during COVID-19 and Beyond – TubbTalk #74

TubbTalk - James Ratcliff - Managing an MSP during COVID-19 and Beyond

TubbTalk - James Ratcliff - Managing an MSP during COVID-19 and Beyond

Richard speaks to James Ratcliff, Managing Director of London-based Ratcliff IT, a Managed Service Provider who works with Small and Medium-sized businesses in the London area.

They discuss the impacts of Covid-19 on both an MSP business and their clients, the opportunities that have been uncovered within the crisis, and there is a big emphasis on positivity and the importance of human relationships. 

James also shares the tools and the resources he’s using within his MSP, to really help focus on the business in order to inform and help make those important decisions about the next steps and the future beyond. 

An Interview with James Ratcliff

Who is James Ratcliff 

James Ratcliff is the Managing Director of London-based Ratcliff IT, who have relationships at the core of their values with a passion for helping businesses run better, more safely and securely. The journey of Ratcliff IT has led to an understanding that it’s not so much about the main line of work they do, but the ability to be personable, to communicate well and to be trustworthy in order to build relationships. 

James says “Our version of success is having good relationships, providing for our family, providing for our staff and their families. And if we can do that to a reasonable degree, then I think we’re doing really well.”

The effects of Covid-19 on an MSP business and adaptability 

James explains that looking at the bigger picture is key right now and due to the uncertainty and the continuously changing landscape, putting together a “perfect plan” and executing it isn’t possible. Whether you have a diverse client base, or work in a vertical, all businesses are having to adapt. Instead, focussing on the business, knowing your numbers, understanding budgets and cash flows in the best, middle and worst case scenario is really important. This along with having a three year plan as advocated by Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) has helped Ratcliff IT make decisions and act once to clearly provide certainty for staff, clients and manage also stress levels. 

James also mentioned Service Leadership Index (SLI) has been hugely beneficial to Ratcliff IT in understanding and analysing their financials in order to make better decisions and predictions. Find out more about SLI in an TubbTalk interview with Paul Dippell of Service Leadership: “Why the Fastest-Growing MSPs are Using the Master MSP Model”.

The tools and resources

“Our philosophy has always been an investment in the tools is exactly that and to spend well on best in class tools.”

Investment in tools results in better productivity, better stress levels and performance and dependability out of your staff because they can do their best work. Even more so now with remote working, the tools put in place such as Connectwise Manage and Continuum RMM helps to know everything is coordinated and covered, resulting in less chaos. You can then focus your time on the challenges and adapting. 

'Investment in tools results in better productivity, better stress levels and performance and dependability out of your staff because they can do their best work.' @RatcliffIT Click to Tweet

The opportunities that have been uncovered through the crisis 

The opportunities are not about ruthlessly making money off the back of a crisis, but about the positives that rise to the top or looking for those positives. Spending more time with family, due to working from home is one of those. 

Business wise, James talks about flipping the more obvious sales opportunities on their heads. “There is an opportunity to engage, to drive a relationship, to be there for somebody and to deepen that relationship.”

That in turn brings loyalty and brings that client closer to you. It’s about the real partnership and being part of their team. 

“Being there as we call it an MSP, whether you call it an IT provider, being there for your clients in an era of need is a true statement of partnership.”

'Being there as we call it an MSP, whether you call it an IT provider, being there for your clients in an era of need is a true statement of partnership.' @RatcliffIT Click to Tweet

The future for MSPs post Covid-19

IT businesses have always been there when things have gone wrong and suddenly they’ve become more valued and appreciated to help their clients businesses stay afloat in these times. There is a chance it will go back to the way it was before. However James explains that “hopefully you’ve looked after them, you’ve been there, you’ve been talking to them and asking how they’re doing…That, when it comes to it, you’re on the phone with them as a partner.”

Over communicating during this key is key. It goes back to human relationships and being there for someone. Partnerships will be even more important going forward.

 

Connect with James

Connect with James on LinkedIn: James Ratcliff

Website: Ratcliff IT

Mentioned in this Episode

Richard and James mentioned the following during their conversation: 

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