Magazine Article | August 17, 2012

Stop Underselling Your Managed Services

By Jay McCall, Business Solutions Magazine

By taking the time to assess a prospect’s network, this MSP was able to unseat a competitor with a storage and antispam solution that was 25% more expensive than its competitor’s offering.

Lee Morgan, president of ServiCorps Systems, rejects the theory that managed services is becoming a commodity, just like hardware did years ago. “Too many VARs and MSPs (managed services providers) want to hide behind their phone trees — opting to send customers to voice mail or forcing customers to communicate via ticketing systems rather than fielding calls themselves,” he says. “We pride ourselves on being accessible to our customers and allowing them to communicate with us in the way they prefer, not the way we dictate.”

One example that illustrates ServiCorps’ customer engagement is a project win with nonprofit Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. Previously, there were three Habitat chapters in Los Angeles. In an effort to reduce redundancy efforts among the three chapters, the organization decided to merge the three into one chapter. During this transition, it highlighted how unhappy the organization was with its previous solutions provider. “They were working with an MSP that allotted the organization a fixed number of IT labor hours per month on a service contract,” says Morgan. “If Habitat went over the allotted time, the MSP billed them for additional hours.” In many cases, the extra charges were incurred as a result of the nonprofit’s network not working properly, which Morgan believes was a reflection of the previous MSP not setting it up properly in the first place.

Through a referral from an employee who used to work with one of ServiCorps’ customers and went to work for Habitat for Humanity, Morgan’s company was brought in to provide a second opinion of the nonprofit’s IT situation. A lot of MSPs in this situation would find out how much the prospect was paying its current provider, subtract 10% to 15% of the cost with the promise of doing a better job, and hope to win the business. ServiCorps took a different approach.

There’s No Substitute For A Network Assessment

The first thing Morgan and his team did was to identify the key stakeholders in the organization and meet with them to get a better understanding of their business. “They actually have a very complex business,” says Morgan. “Nearly two-thirds of the employees are construction workers or project managers who spend most of their time working remotely. Plus, because the organization works with the government, it has to comply with various government mandates — including strict guidelines for how it backs up its data.”

Over a two-month period, the ServiCorps team evaluated Habitat’s network infrastructure in light of its business needs. After its assessment, the MSP proposed replacing Habitat’s disparate storage system with a HeroWare BDR (backup and disaster recovery) solution (running on a local HP server and backed up to two remote data centers). “What they were using previously required someone to take a physical copy of their data off-site — it wasn’t automated, and it offered very little business continuity. With the HeroWare BDR, if a local server goes down, the client can be up and running in less than an hour.” Additionally, ServiCorps recommended replacing the nonprofit’s antivirus and antispam software with Reflexion’s email security, antispam, and cloud-archiving solution. “Not only does this solution do a better job keeping spam off their network, it also features encrypted email communications, which is essential when exchanging data with a government agency,” says Morgan. “Plus, if the client’s email server goes down, Reflexion automatically stores emails in a queue for up to 60 days, and the client can sign in to a secure Web portal to check and respond to emails while its Exchange server is being repaired.”

The MSP bundled the storage and email solution around a flat-fee, three-year managed services contract. According to Morgan, ServiceCorp’s offering was 25% more expensive than what it was paying with its other service provider. But, because Morgan and his team took the time to understand the customer’s needs and they presented a solution that met the customer’s security and industry requirements, they ended up unseating the previous MSP and earning Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles’ business.

Since landing the deal a little over a year ago, the Habitat chapter has grown from 50 to 90 employees,which has increased ServiCorps’ monthly revenue from $6,000 to $8,000. Additionally, the customer has been so happy with its new MSP’s performance, that it’s inviting ServiCorps to speak at its annual regional meeting, which will include COOs from various chapters in the southwestern U.S., potentially expanding the MSP’s reach into additional Habitat for Humanity chapters.