When I was just a teenager, my father walked me into the local Burger King in Niagara Falls and introduced me to a man who would change my life forever. His name was Dennis, and he wasn’t a multi-million-dollar entrepreneur or even the president of the small business. Dennis was the first manager I ever worked for. I learned a lot from Dennis when I was 14 years old, including many of the same core principles I still apply to running Ulistic, one of the top IT services marketing agencies in North America.
Dennis taught me that when processes are recorded properly, anyone can do the job, and this very important lesson has saved me thousands of dollars in lost productivity and countless hours of worry.
This lesson was re-enforced when I was 18 years old and joined the Canadian Armed Forces, where I learned that everything had a process and a standard operating procedure. Standard operating procedures or SOPs are what governs any effective military or business operation. Without SOPs, employees and even business owners can do whatever they want, which can lead to a negative experience for your clients.
Starbucks is a great example of the power of SOPs. Do you think customers stop buying their Grande Decaf Frappuccinos just because the barista is out sick? Of course not. Starbucks has created a culture of SOPs that governs the way they produce their products, and that creates a consistent experience for their customers. Using these SOPs, anyone can easily learn how to produce their products regardless of if they are in New York City, Los Angeles, or Australia.
Why SOPs are a must for MSPs
I recently sat down with MSP SOP expert Raj Goel and spoke with him about creating a culture of SOPs within his own New York City MSP, Brainlink International. Brainlink has experienced consistent, year-over-year growth in a very competitive NYC market. Raj credits this success to knowing exactly what Brainlink’s ideal client looks like — and to SOPs.
SOPs are not just for larger managed IT service companies. Businesses of any size can adopt the SOP mentality. For smaller managed service organizations, having SOPs from day one will help you avoid frustration and wasted time. In addition, when you’re ready to bring on new staff, “SOPs are absolutely critical to minimize human error, standardize the quality of service, and increase profitability,” says Raj.
Everyone knows that the worst part of dealing with IT companies is that many of them do not do anything the same way twice. We’ve all had clients who only trust their lead tech, and when the lead tech leaves the company, the business usually follows.
SOPs can prevent this. Imagine having all your techs at the same level as your lead tech. No matter which techs are onsite or servicing a client, the job is done the same way every time. This leads to increased client satisfaction, improved morale, and ultimately a nice uptick in your referrals.
“SOPs allow us to standardize Brainlink’s services,” Raj explains. “They enable me to rotate techs for a client, reduce the new tech training process, and significantly lower stress. I know work will follow standards.”
How SOP culture pays off
Human error is the No. 1 cause for screw-ups and client dissatisfaction. Raj points to the SOP culture at Brainlink as the reason why the majority of his clients adore, respect, and continue to use the services of his managed services company. “Clients trust in our processes,” he says.
Brainlink has achieved double revenue growth over the past four years, and Raj says his SOP culture is the main reason Brainlink succeeds. Their team is better trained, their processes are rock solid, and they continue to win large IT projects and more profitable clients. Raj believes that since their adoption of the SOP culture, they attract the right clients who appreciate and respect the value Brainlink can offer.
Brainlink is a living, breathing example of what can happen when you create a culture of standardization and accountability.
To learn more about creating an SOP culture in your managed services business, check out Brainlink’s website and watch their First Friday sessions on SOP culture for MSPs.