Our friend Gary Pica once said that building a successful managed service offering, is like baking the perfect chocolate cake. You don’t go into a bakery looking for ingredients, you go into a bakery looking for the final finished product — the cake itself. You rely on someone else’s expertise to deliver a mouth-watering chocolate cake experience. Truth be told, offering managed services to SMBs isn’t any different.
Any small business can go to BestBuy and buy an anti-virus or a firewall off the shelf. However, what they aren’t getting is the experienced technician behind the product to optimize the solution for their unique environment. When a potential customer comes to you, they are looking for the complete package — your knowledgeable staff, solutions that work in their environment, and the product itself. They want the whole package — your chocolate cake — delivered on a silver platter.
Creating a suite of service offerings
Just like there is more than one way to decorate a cake, there is more than one way to present your offering to clients. We examined a few of the most common options and looked at the advantages and disadvantages to help you decide which method may be best for your IT service business.
A la carte
A la carte is an option where you provide a list of solutions, and SMB customers pick single or multiple services to build a custom package. The advantage of a la carte is building a trusting professional relationship with potentially hesitant SMBs. They might be hesitant to add multiple solutions all at once and would rather add one service at a time. This relationship can lead to adding more services to the SMB’s contract further down the road.
The main disadvantage associated with a la carte, is confusion. The more services and solutions offered this way, the harder it will be for sales to deliver accurate pricing, technicians to know which solutions and servicers they are responsible for, and billing to ensure that the invoices are correct. Additionally, a la carte offerings can lead to gaps in coverage because SMBs don’t necessarily know what services they truly need.
In this approach, two or more services are packaged together to create a service offering. Bundling allows your technicians, sales representative, and customers to have clear guidelines for what’s included and what isn’t. Another advantage is simplified billing. Every customer will fall into one of a few buckets, which can help streamline your invoices. Moreover, you can create a baseline service bundle to ensure that all your customers are covered with the basics such as, spam-filtering, email security, firewalls, and more.
The disadvantages of bundling solutions include the risk of customers feeling they have fewer choices than they do in an a la carte structure, and they might already work with another provider for one of the solutions in a bundle, such as firewalls or email security, which can make for more difficult sales processes.
Don’t rush the process
Just like with baking a cake, there is a process to follow to ensure that everything comes out perfectly. Take the time to develop the right mix of services and solutions for your customers. Identify areas where your team excels and where you might be able to add additional value for your clients. Anyone can bake a cake from a box, but with your own unique recipe, you can stand out from the crowd and deliver an experience that keeps your customers coming back for more.
To learn more about how to launch your managed service business or how to choose the right services for your offering, check out our Ready, Set, Managed program.
Photo: Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock.