Aside from the challenge of getting used to small streams of monthly revenue in place of larger one-time paydays, providing SLAs (service level agreements) is a difficult adjustment for new VARs-turned-MSPs. The SLA is the contract that defines which IT assets and services are covered by the MSP as well as how quickly IT problems such as computer or network downtime are guaranteed to be resolved. It’s the latter part of the agreement that MSPs struggle with the most and with which some customers have the least amount of patience.
My IT is an MSP that takes its SLA guarantees very seriously. Patrick Leonard, co-owner and COO of My IT, has invested a lot of time over the past few years investigating missed SLA deadlines. With the help of his ConnectWise business automation tool and candid conversations with his sales, engineering, and management teams, he’s made some insightful discoveries that have enabled My IT to make important changes.
“The first was trying to sell break-fix and managed services simultaneously,” says Leonard. His company used to allow customers to purchase monthly prepaid blocks of IT support without a managed services contract. The problem was twofold. First, break-fix customers received the same level of service as My IT’s managed services customers, who were paying monthly. And secondly, it was impossible to predict when a break-fix customer would call requiring immediate assistance with an IT problem. “To accommodate these customers, we’d have to deploy one or two engineers, who would otherwise have been overseeing our managed services clients, and dispatch them to the break-fix customer’s facility for one to two days,” he says. “Consequently, our service levels for our managed services clients would slip, and it would take longer than expected to resolve their issues because we’d be short-staffed.”
After discovering the problem, My IT made the bold move that it was no longer going to take on any new break-fix clients. “The bottom line is that it’s too challenging to manage multiple types of SLAs; plus, it’s the highest-paying [i.e., managed services] customers who suffer the most when you try to offer break-fix and managed services,” says Leonard.
You can check out my complete interview with Patrick Leonard by reading “3 Common Culprits for Missed SLAs Solved,” which is also featured in the April issue of Business Solutions magazine.