Switching from break/fix to managed services isn’t just a consideration for clients; IT companies also have to think about it.
Making the change wasn’t a simple process for MainStreet IT Solutions; it took careful planning and the loss of a good portion of our break/fix clientele.
The result, however, was more consistent recurring revenue, more time for business development, and higher service quality for clients.
Making The Change From Break/Fix To Managed Services
The MainStreet IT Solutions team began considering changing from break/fix to managed services around five years ago. It was clear that was where most of the industry was headed, so it called for serious consideration.
“It was in 2017 that we were introduced to this idea of managed services,” says Nick. “We started out on that journey to figure out what it would look like.”
The transition took around two years in total. With just five staff members, Nick and the team knew it would be a difficult process. We had developed trusting relationships with our clients and knew that not all of them would make the change with them.
“We have great clients—can we convince them to change from break/fix to contract?” says Nick. “Once we did, we found that the relationship worked really well.”
By 2019, MainStreet IT Solutions’ entire client base was fully contracted for managed services. Below, we explore why MainStreet IT Solutions made the change, how we went about it, and what the end result was.
The Difference Between Break/Fix and Managed Services
Not too long ago, all IT support followed a model called “hourly” support or “break/fix” support.
In either case, these services worked because you brought in your hardware or called a technician to visit you on site after something went wrong. Even in the best of cases, you still had to deal with the downtime while you waited for your broken IT to get fixed.
Furthermore, in a break/fix arrangement, the onus is on you to address problems with your IT. This can make it much more confrontational—when something breaks, you have to come to us and arrange to get it fixed. The more your technology breaks down, the more you have to pay us.
Managed IT services address and improve upon this facet of responsive IT support. Instead of waiting for something to go wrong and then stepping in to correct it, we can take on all the responsibilities of a traditional in-house IT department with managed IT services.
Managed IT services are a set of best practices, processes, and tools that, when combined with technical knowledge and proper facilitation, delivers an ideal IT-based result for businesses. Managed IT services take care of everything IT-related for your organization, proactively preventing problems instead of fixing them after the fact.
This means we work to prevent issues from happening in the first place—it’s a much more effective approach. Instead of you needing to come to us to get something fixed, we continuously maintain your technology, which makes for a much smoother arrangement.
“This conversation happened internally for a few months,” says Nick. “When we decided to go for it, the initial stages were all planning.”
The MainStreet IT Solutions team spent months planning out the process. We knew that it would primarily be a matter of communicating the value and service quality offered by managed services. The issue is that many clients would simply see this as a larger expense, especially if they had only relied on us for the occasional break/fix issue.
Regardless, we started by carefully drafting letters to clients. These letters explained why we were making the change, and what it would mean for the businesses we work with. In particular, we leaned on the idea that it would be a “win-win” for everyone involved. They would have fewer IT problems disrupting their operations, and MainStreet IT Solutions would have the time and resources needed to develop service quality and expand offerings.
“We wanted to engage with everyone and say why we were going in that direction,” says Nick.
Soon enough, we set a clear deadline: clients that wanted to continue to do business with us would require a contract in one form or another. We laid out the timeline for the transition and did everything to demonstrate how we would build trust and deliver value.
“If we’re not giving them the cheapest price on the market, then we’re asking them to trust us,” says Nick. “That trust takes time.”
We knew we would lose some of our break/fix clients. To do so as gracefully as possible, we also developed an exit strategy to ensure a smooth support transition to another IT company.
What Are The Results Of Making The Change To Managed Services?
“It created a lot of extra time in which we could be intentional with our team and clients,” says Nick.
Once the entire MainStreet IT Solutions client list was switched to managed services, our team began enjoying more engaged time to work with clients and on other business development projects. In this service model, it didn’t mean we weren’t making money if we weren’t hearing from a client. We were able to reinvest this extra into making our support process more effective and finding new clients.
Marketing and sales became a much more important arm of the business, given how many clients MainStreet IT Solutions lost in the service model change. We couldn’t rely on word of mouth any longer; if we wanted to build our client list, we had to be intentional about it.
“We lost thousands of dollars in break/fix revenue,” says Nick. “That took us a little bit to work through.”
Internally, we codified support tiers to optimize how we manage support. In the break/fix model, support was always a matter of whoever was available to help. In the managed services model, it became a matter of assessing the ticket and escalating it to the right person.
“Instead of putting out fires, we’re focusing on Key Performance Indicators,” says Nick.
The Potential Of Managed Services
Any business pivot is a complicated and difficult process. Even though this worked out for MainStreet IT Solutions, that doesn’t mean it was easy to manage.
For more details on how Nick and the MainStreet IT Solutions team navigated the process, check out the complete recording of this SuperPod: Road To 1 Million podcast episode.
Currently acting as a Director of Managed Services, which coordinates IT efforts to ensure uptime, scalability, performance, and security. I look to ensure that our customers are getting the very best from our team, available technology, and ensuring that we are building trust.
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