Prepare yourself, because we’re gonna use the r-word. Whatever way you look at it, a recession — defined as a change in direction in economic activity — is likely to be around the corner, if not already here. As a result, you need to make sure that your business can weather the storm.

Here are 5 ways that you can tighten your strategy to stay profitable and enhance your IT business, even during less-than-ideal times.

Consider your pricing model

There are so many ways to charge clients as an MSP, but not all of them will provide transparency or stability during a recession. For example, if you opt for an hourly rate or a break/fix approach to IT services, then your customers may just stop using your business when times get rough.

If you have clients on ad-hoc contracts, now is the time to approach them about moving to something more sustainable such as a contract for monthly RMM services, or unlimited monitoring and support for a set number of devices or users. Show them a breakdown of the costs they’ve incurred over the past 12 months and suggest a package that falls somewhere around the average. Explain that they can add transparency to the monthly cost and that they will never have to sacrifice IT support when they need it — critical for limiting their own business risk.

You can learn more about setting pricing models and the different ways of charging clients here.

Make sure you’re utilizing data

Collecting and monitoring your performance can help you to spot problems ahead of time, and track changes in your business with a better approach than gut feeling. As we’ve shared in 7 metrics to track to ensure MSP profitability, there are specific metrics that are great choices to stay on top of, including three of our faves:

CER: This stands for Client Effective Rate, and is worked out by dividing the amount you charge your client each month by the number of hours you’ve dedicated to this account. You’ll need to make sure you’re tracking all your work hours in granular detail.

MRR: Monthly recurring revenue will be a great indicator of what direction your business performance is going in. Take your monthly revenue for a single client, and multiply it by the number of customers that you work with. If March is significantly worse than December was, time to look a little closer.

CSAT: How often do you stop to think about how satisfied your customers are? CSAT scores can be taken from customer satisfaction surveys after ticket closures or periodically, or through smile sheets from your academy, as just two examples. If CSATs aren’t tracking upwards, look to attract deeper feedback and improve usual suspects like wait times.

Define your ideal client

Your friend comes to you with a business challenge. They have a client who is calling them day and night, always in emergency mode, always with a problem that could have been solved if they had just followed your friend’s advice to begin with. They are a huge corporation, which seemed like an exciting logo at first, but in reality, they are taking up so much of your friend’s time, they can’t really serve their other clients effectively. Finally, the industry the client is in is outside of your friend’s comfort zone, and it’s costing them a lot in training and research to meet their specific needs.

Would you say, “All business is good business”? Would you say “Never turn down work”? Or would you tell them to cut and run, as this client is clearly not good for them? Hopefully the latter!

Now, look at your own client roster. It’s so important to work out what your “ideal client” looks like, and then build a client list of exactly those businesses, and nothing else. When an economic downturn occurs, and every minute matters – you want a list of ideal clients who you love working with, not time drains who don’t suit your working style.

Remember, there’s an IT service out there that is perfect for these clients — it’s just not you! By cutting ties, you can help them find what they need, as well as grow your own business more purposefully.

We outline a step-by-step approach to defining and finding an ideal client in this blog.

Improve your onboarding process

Everyone knows that those first few weeks working with a new client is the shakiest period of your relationship. Whether you offer a trial period or not, you’re making first impressions that will last, and these must be positive.

At Atera, we’ve created a guide of 8 best practices for onboarding clients successfully, to make clients delighted they chose your service, and also to make sure that you can automate and streamline onboarding tasks so they don’t take up too much of your own time.

One great example is performing a Network Discovery assessment. This is an automated scan of a whole network, including workgroups, and identifies everything under the business’ roof, including shadow IT and forgotten devices that may have been lost or were not decommissioned successfully.

This approach quickly and seamlessly gives you a list of everything you’ll be responsible for, allowing you to have essential onboarding conversations about pricing, minimum standards, technical requirements, and more.

 

Speed up the time from prospect to client

If there’s one thing that the last few years have proven to all business owners, it’s that things can change overnight! Many MSPs have a lengthy sales process where they don’t want to scare off the client by being too pushy, and they need to spend time getting the lead information, setting up sales calls, and going back and forth with expectations. MSP software streamlines this process, making it more efficient and less time-consuming.

If you can streamline and reduce this period of time, then you’re getting clients signed and onboarded quicker to improve your own business strategy, and deliver value to the customer faster, too.

Make sure you have a process in place for prospecting, including a sales pack that holds testimonials and case studies, references that can be targeted to specific industries or customer groups, and clearly laid out expected standards and rates. There’s no point wasting time on sales and prospecting for clients who don’t want to agree to your security processes, or who can’t afford your monthly fee.

Want to know more? Read this great article on setting expectations and moving along the prospecting journey deliberately and communicatively.

Did we mention that Atera is recession-proof, as our prices stay the same each month, no matter how many devices you onboard? Start for free for 30 days.

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