managed servicesRecently, Markets and Markets predicted that the managed services industry will be worth $242.45 billion by 2021—creating a tremendous opportunity for anyone in the channel. As the managed services market continues to grow, we’re starting to see more and more IT providers switch from traditional VAR or break-fix models to a recurring revenue mindset.

To effectively help providers make the change to a managed service model, we recently read Managed Services in a Month by Karl W. Palachuk. The book had an interesting perspective on how to dive into a managed service offering without letting your old model hold you back. Whether you’re a VAR looking to move into the managed services space or a newer MSP, these tips from the book can help ease your transition.

Make a commitment to yourself

Moving to the MSP model can be quite daunting, but having a clear vision and plan can help you achieve managed services success. While it’s easy to tailor your offering to please one client, it’s far simpler to find multiple clients who fit into your ideal service model—but the first step is making a commitment to yourself.

“You don’t have to pick up every nickel you find,” Karl says, and likewise, you don’t need to take every job that comes your way. In the book, Karl points out that the worst habit of IT providers moving to the managed service model is not letting go of the break-fix jobs that come their way. Often, providers convince themselves that they will only do small break-fix jobs until their managed services pick up, but Karl sees this as a mistake.

“Every hour you spend working with break-fix cheapskates is an hour that could be used to find a managed service client willing to spend at least $1,000 a month with you,” writes Karl. He explains that if you’re serious about moving into the managed service model, you need to focus on areas of the business that help you grow, rather than focusing on small projects that provide a short-term income. “Believe in the vision and the plan,” Karl says.

Approaching prospective managed service clients

Once you’ve committed to making the change, you need to reflect on which areas your managed service practice should focus on—security, backup, or solutions that adhere to compliance standards? Create, revise, and print out a three-tiered pricing structure that shows what’s covered and what’s not. According to the book, this will be your go-to guide moving forward, so be sure to include details.

Now that you have your pricing structures and your plan in place, how should you approach your customers about the change?

Start by looking at your business data. If you use programs like QuickBooks, you can easily filter to determine where you make most of your money. The area you should really focus on is labor and billable hours. How much does each customer currently spend on a yearly or monthly basis on break-fix services, and how can they save by taking a proactive approach by moving to a managed service contract? This information will be essential as you start to approach customers about managed service contracts.

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While you may want to approach your “best” customers first, Karl suggests starting with the ones who will be least likely move onto a managed service plan.  While this may seem counter-intuitive, this approach allows you to practice pitching your best service tier to clients—and it may even surprise you that some will say yes or move to your second-best tier.

Never pitch anything below your gold tier, Karl warns. In the event a customer says no—and some will—go to the next tier and highlight what’s different. Respect your clients wishes, and at the end, remind them that you’ll no longer be offering break-fix services but would happy to bring them on as a client in the near future, if they wish. Continue to schedule appointments and work your way through the client list. This way, if your largest client says no, you’ll have a list of clients you’re already supporting, Karl says.

Moving to a managed service model isn’t easy. But, following Karl’s advice can help you cut ties with SMBs who aren’t looking to make an IT investment and instead focus your energy on growing a profitable managed service practice.

Managed Services in a Month

                Build a Successful IT service Business in 30 days

                By Karl W. Palachuk

                206 pages. Great Little Book Publishing. $24.95.

Have suggestions for what we should read next? Tell us which book we should read next on our MSP bookshelf.

Photo Credit: toeytoey /Shutterstock

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.


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    Great info, thank you!


  2. Brent Fairbanks

    The hardest part for me has been to let go of the cheapskates so that I focus on the better opportunities. Great advice!


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    I like the suggestion about going after the customers least likely to switch to your MSP model. I’ve done this previously and had minor success where I had almost no hope.


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    Using data from your platform (Quickbooks, PSA, etc) allows you to estimate how much it would save you / your client by switching to Managed Services. Forecasting is very important.


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      Thanks, Chris. Great advice!


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    This is great, love the content, keep it up!


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    I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the head’s up.


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    He has an updated version of this book. I read this one and the newest one. In the new book he writes on if your just starting out. Like me 🙂


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      Thanks, Jeff. We’ll have to check that version out!


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    Great read, thank you!


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    Great article! Very helpful for me as I just started working at an MSP and we’re looking to grow.


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    I read a previous version quite a few years ago. I really enjoy Karl’s stuff.


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    It seems The way to go along with other offers is MSP


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    it’s an interesting approach


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    Can’t wait to pick this up!


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    Looking for a an audiobook of this. Is one available?


    1. Lauren Beliveau
      Lauren Beliveau January 2, 2019 at 11:00 am

      Hi Brandon,

      It looks like there is an audiobook available through Audible!


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    Great suggestions – helpful article!


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    Great article!


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    good strategy


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    Helpful information—


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    Carlo Sparacio March 23, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Helpful insights. Thanks!


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    Great info, thank you!


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    Looking forward to reading the book, Thanks


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    I believe we have a copy of this already in our IT ‘Library’, going to recommend to our staff


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    Jonathan Pauley October 15, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Great info thanks!


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