We often get asked, “How can I convince my clients to move to a more structured retainer model, instead of only calling me when they need something?”
It’s a great question, and one that many businesses struggle with. You often find new clients when they need ad-hoc help in a crisis, but a retainer model provides more stability and security for you as a company, helping you plan ahead and grow as a business. Those are the benefits for you, but if you want to convince your clients, you’re going to need to focus on what they are getting out of the deal.
Describe Your Model Accurately – The Move from Reactive to Proactive
The first point you need to consider, is that your head might not be in the game. If you’re used to running around putting out fires, you’re working in a reactive way to the problems that your clients are facing. In fact, managed services allow you to transform your business into a proactive one.
The benefits of making the shift are huge. Staying on top of maintenance, monitoring and support in advance means that crisis mode should come around a whole lot less often. This is a benefit for you of course, because it allows you to plan ahead and scale your workload, but it’s mainly a benefit for the customer. Your customers have their own users who want consistent service and strong support, and if the business can run more smoothly – that’s a huge plus. Broach the idea of a retainer as a move away from crisis mode, ‘the reactive model’, to a ‘proactive model’ where they have no breaks in service or nasty surprises. This is a fantastic way to encourage them to get on board.
Across the whole IT industry, and with any IT professionals, a break/fix solution is a simple first step to forge connections, get your foot in the door, and start making your expertise understood. But don’t let the first step be where you stay. With the right amount of nurturing, you can convert this client from break/fix to a monthly retainer.
You Know How Good You Are, Now It’s Just a Matter Of Communicating Your Experience And Excellence
Many people get into the MSP game because they are the ‘fix it’ types. The carpenters and handymen of the IT world, they have never stopped to think about customer service. This is the whole idea of break/fix. But being a managed service provider today is all about customer service. To get your customers to switch to a retainer model, they need to believe that you can be trusted, not just to solve a problem when it happens, but to keep things running smoothly all the time, to be an arm of their business, the IT department down the hall, even if you’re miles away in the geographic sense.
Marketing yourself as a business can feel uncomfortable if you’ve never done it before, but if you believe in what you’re offering, it shouldn’t feel false. Pro tip: Try to mention services that other clients have you on retainer for, and how this customer could benefit from the same. This could be anything from remote monitoring or access, to integrating their existing core systems to streamline business process. This is a simple, “start tomorrow” task. Make a list of the clients you feel would be easiest to communicate and the ones you have a great working relationship to schedule a weekly / monthly call.
Show the Cost Savings in an Unarguable Way
It’s not enough to tell your customers that they are going to save money, most people don’t believe that you’re pushing for a solution that won’t end up costing them more in the long run. This is where it can be helpful to do a little show and tell. Alongside your next invoice, why not outline how much the business would have spent if they were on a managed service contract, and let them see the difference for themselves?
You can also explain the benefits for you, of being able to rely on predictable income each month, which outweighs getting more cash overall, but in fits and starts. This is a great selling point for your customer, too, who also doesn’t want unexpected costs taking over their budget without warning.
If your customers still aren’t convinced, you could offer them a trial period where they can compare the experience of managed services to their existing break/fix model. During that time, you can communicate your expertise, give them the tools to delight their own customers, and show them the cost savings on their invoice each month.
One of the goals of Atera, as a complete RMM software for IT professionals, is to allow MSPs to make these changes in their own time for each customer, moving from break/fix to retainer without taking on huge costs or high risk. While other software providers penalize you for your success, at Atera, you pay by technician rather than by device, letting you benefit from your growth, and offer competitive advantages such as trial periods without losing out against your own bottom line.
With these tricks and tips up your sleeve, you can build real relationships with your customers, enabling both your own growth, and the boost they need to serve their own clients better in turn. Far better than being the fix it guy at the end of the phone, right?
After reading all this, we believe you should start as soon as possible! Set up a plan today and progress with this project to grow as a business. We kindly remind you that Atera provides a 30 day trail free of charge (without putting down a credit card) to test the water and provide you with an all-in-one RMM platform for your MSP business.