Q: A couple years ago we only provided break-fix options for customers, but now we offer full managed technology services. Growth was rapid at first, but it seems to have hit a plateau. While I’m thankful for how far we’ve come, I believe there’s still room for us to grow and better serve our customers. As the year comes to a close, how can I evolve our strategy to achieve more growth in the coming year?
Congratulations on transitioning your business into a managed service provider. Making this crucial step can be difficult, but it will enable you to grow your MSP business tremendously. However, your business expansion aspirations do not need to stop there. You should always look for ways to add more value to your existing customers and invest in ways to recruit new clients. These two areas are something that, Brian Babineau, the General Manager of Intronis MSP Solutions, constantly talks about with his team and encourages constant improvement on.
By the sound of your questions, you’re thankful for the progress you’ve made but want to do more. We posed the same scenario to Brian as part of this edition of Ask an MSP Expert.
Thankful for unity
Brian, it’s been an exciting year for Intronis shifting from being an independent company to a group within Barracuda. As the individual who initially led the integration and then took over as GM, what are you most thankful for?
I am most thankful for our MSP team that works tirelessly to deliver the best experience for our customers, and for our current group of MSP partners and our new MSP partners in different markets all over the world. They continually highlight their confidence in our products by voting with their wallets while giving us honest feedback that enables us to improve and move forward every day.
If I revisit our team for a moment, I’m extremely thankful for our ability to focus. At the beginning of an acquisition and integration, it is very easy for a team to get caught up in many transitions, and in the end you can lose your initial path, which for us is still delivering a Total Advantage to our MSPs. We do this by continually developing the best information security and data protection products using a purpose-built MSP platform and by creating unique enablement materials and services so partners can quickly be successful with our offerings.
How do you feel our focus is paying off for our partners?
We started out with one product before becoming a part of Barracuda, and since then our portfolio has expanded tremendously. Today, there are infinite ransomware and information security-related risks. When you think about these risks, I like to compare it to a common homeowner’s situation. When you own or rent a residence, you always have a risk of break-ins and theft. There are two options you have to mitigate this risk (1) prevention systems such as an alarm system or stronger door locks and (2) reactive measures such as insurance to mitigate the financial impact if something bad does happen.
Our portfolio enables our MSP partners to offer both prevention (information security) and loss mitigation (backup) to their customers. Having a single supplier of security and data protection in the day of ransomware and cyber threats greatly simplifies the life of an MSP. In turn, this simplicity should encourage more MSPs to have a complete offering to safeguard their clients.
MSP value and growth go hand-in-hand
Our reader’s question was about growth. How do you think our partners can continuously expand their businesses?
My initial suggestion is to measure more than the top line. We look at our partner satisfaction and partner retention. If you, as an MSP, spend some time on making your existing customers happy, you earn the right to sell more services. Establishing a goal on how many multi-service customers you have ending a year can give you an indication of your customer satisfaction — happy customers tend to buy more. Similarly, you should set an objective of recruiting new clients on a monthly/quarterly/biannual basis.
Ideally, you can expand your customer base while keeping satisfaction and retention high. Sometimes striking that balance can be difficult, but adding a few new customers while maintaining existing customer relationships is essential to healthy growth.
Another opportunity for growth is to be a bit more inward-looking. My belief is that most MSPs miss a chance to invest more in employee training. Either they don’t have the resources or they don’t have the time to do so. It is important to make the time. We understand that time spent at training means time away from customers or other revenue-generating activities. This is why we introduced our Managed Backup program. This service takes day-to-day backup management off your plate, allowing you to focus on other activities such as training that will help grow your business.
One reason for tying training to growth is the pace of technology change. Keeping your team up to date with what’s happening in the marketplace is critical for your success. And, if you capitalize on some of these trends with in-house expertise, you may find more paths for growth. Sometimes conventional products with new capabilities create new market opportunities. For example, our next-generation firewall provides excellent network security, and it can also help you optimize bandwidth by prioritizing network traffic for critical applications.
Do you have any final thoughts at a time when we’re all giving thanks?
I reinforce constant improvement with our team every day and stress the idea that we need to leverage our own business momentum to always be better. This can be easily translated to our MSP partners. There are plenty of technology and market trends that create opportunities for MSPs to add value. Measuring partner satisfaction, multi-service offerings, and new client acquisition coupled with internal training investments will allow MSPs, such as the one who wrote us this week, to take their business to the next level and be even more thankful for their accomplishments this time next year.