Episode 190 - Can an MSP do a 4 day working week?

Episode 190: Can an MSP do a 4 day working week?

Paul Green

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 190: Can an MSP do a 4 day working week?
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Episode 190

Welcome to the MSP Marketing Podcast with me, Paul Green. This is THE show if you want to grow your MSP. This week’s show includes:
  • 00:00 The ONE nugget of advice new MSPs need
  • 07:09 The benefits of operating your MSP on a four-day working week
  • 15:49 Marketing cyber security without leaning on fear, uncertainty and doubt

Featured guest:

Dana Mantilia

Thank you to Dana Mantilia, CEO of Cyber Dana, for joining me to talk about cyber security marketing, and how you can do that without resorting to FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

Dana is an international cybersecurity speaker and social media professional. She has over 4 million LinkedIn content views and over 1 million YouTube video views.

She now takes that knowledge and assists MSPs and MSPs with creating  personalized social media content and marketing strategies to “Future Proof” their businesses. Dana’s YouTube channel  she  interviews cyber professionals and discusses cybersecurity best practices and specific elements of CMMC ( the DoDs new cybersecurity requirement).

Connect with Dana on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dana-mantilia/

Extra show notes:

Transcription:

Voiceover:

Fresh every Tuesday.

For MSPs around the world.

Around the world.

This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Podcast.

Paul Green:

Hi. Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.

Dana Mantilia:

Hey, my name is Dana Mantilia and I work with MSPs to help them take technical messaging and translate it into messages that your non-technical audience and hopefully future prospects will be able to understand and put to good use.

Paul Green:

And on top of that interview with Dana, we are also going to be asking the question, can your MSP truly operate on a four-day working week?

Voiceover:

Paul Green’s.

MSP Marketing-

Podcast.

Paul Green:

Let’s say you were at some kind of social occasion and a friend comes along and it’s someone who also works in IT, but he’s a wage slave. And he comes up to you and he says, “Do you know what I’ve been thinking, I’m kind of done with the corporate life. I don’t want to do that anymore. I was thinking of starting my own MSP. What’s the most important piece of advice that you could give me?” Now, your initial knee-jerk reaction might be, “Don’t.” But actually, this is a question that I posed to a whole bunch of MSPs recently in my MSP marketing Facebook group. And they’ve given some really, really good answers that I would like to read out to you today and I’ll be interested to hear what your answer is as well. So if a friend was starting an MSP today, what would be the most important piece of advice that you would give to them?

Lucas says, “Be prepared for long days until it’s established.” I think that can go for absolutely any business, isn’t it? In fact, Aaron then replied and saying, “Be prepared for long days. Well, after it’s established.” Matthew says, this is a good one and this got a ton of engagement and comments on this. Matthew said, “Don’t give out your cell number, your mobile number, and don’t undervalue your time, charge your worth.” In fact, charging. There are lots and lots of comments on charging what you are worth, but that’s an interesting one, isn’t it? Not giving out your cell number. I am completely a fan of that. I don’t believe that you should let your clients have your cell number, your mobile number, because that’s fine in the first couple of years when it is you, the business is you. But as you start to scale that business and bring on board other texts, the problem you’ve got is those early clients, it’s far too easy for them to just pick up the phone and call you or text you or WhatsApp you because they know that you are going to respond to them.

And the issue is, if you are paying other technicians to do that help desk work, you don’t want to be handling it yourself. In fact, I know of some MSPs who despite having four, five, six technical people, they are still handling all the relationships themselves with most of their early clients because they’re just not brave enough to say to them, stop calling me or change changing their phone number and saying to them, you need to call the help desk now because this business isn’t just me. Christian agrees saying, “Yes, the mobile is the worst you can do.” Andy here says, and this is a few weeks ago, he commented saying, “I’m in Thailand for a month at the moment on a vacation. My phone has rung a few times, but I don’t answer it. There’ll be a few grumpy people and I return to the office, but I’ll send all of our clients our PDF on how to get support. Again, my mobile number is not an option for support.” That is exactly how it should be in my opinion.

So more advice here. Here’s another one from Jason. Jason says, “If you were to start an MSP tomorrow, automate and outsource as much of the mundane admin stuff as possible.” Great advice that John says, “Set out contract terms and then stick to them. Don’t do little favors now and again as those will come and bite you down the line.” Steve Brand says, “Sign up to the MSP Marketing Edge.” Thank you, Steve, I appreciate that. Joe Watkins has a great piece of advice here. He says, “Don’t think of yourself as an MSP. Think of yourself as a marketing company that sells IT services.” That is such great advice. It really is. So basically, don’t think like a tech, think like a marketer who just happens to sell managed services.

Of course, lots of tech really struggle with that kind of approach. Lots of MSP owners struggle with that, but that is exactly the right approach. Darren says, “Focus on the customer, which is absolutely great.” Oh, and Darren also says, “Enjoys listening to the podcast. This is Darren Clark.” So thank you Darren. Thank you for listening to this. Aaron, go from Darren to Aaron. Aaron says, “I don’t need competition and you suck, anyway.” That’s a funny one. Jason says, “Managed only to open the don’t…” What he say? “Managed…” Oh yeah, do managed services only. Don’t ever do break/fix. I agree. If you are starting in 2023, don’t even open the door on break/fix only. Nick says, “Be ready to be time poor and financially poor for a couple of years at least.” I agree. It’s good advice to any business owner. Jeff says, “Make sure you spend time setting up great reporting. Know your numbers and know what makes you successful.”

Another Jeff, Jeff Waits. Different Jeff says, “Focus on what you’re good at. Don’t let customers talk you into one-offs.” James Stratton says, “Focus on your team. Hire the best you can. Train, develop, create a positive culture.” Aaron says, “Expect to make less as an owner for the first five years. You need to reinvest over and over to build a business at a brand. I made 50,000 Canadian dollars for the first five or six years.” Douglass says, “Focus on marketing, sales, systems and processes completely.” Francois says… Oh, this is a good one. “Reverse engineer the process, build the systems and processes first because it’s more difficult to change it later.” In fact, Francois has more good suggestions. Go after recurring monthly, monthly recurring revenue turnover from the word go partner with people that share your vision, which is great.

And he also says, “Make sure you listen to this podcast.” So thank you very much. Sheldon Livingston says, “Don’t try and do it all yourself.” Ernest Murray always has good advice. He says he’s got three pieces of, in fact, he’s got tons of advice. I’ll give you his first three. Number one, price for where you’ll be, not where you are at. That’s so true, isn’t it? You need, and you have to be brave to do that, especially when you’re first starting out because you look at something and you think, “Oh, that would be expensive if I bought it.” But of course, you are not buying it. You’re selling it to business owners who’ve been in the game a lot longer than you have. Ernest. Second piece of advice is for years one and two, marketing and sales are critical. Stack is more fun but also unimportant in the early days.

And his third piece of advice is be selfish. Include things in your stack that make you more efficient. This is a byproduct of making the clients have less issues and thus be happier. There’s even more comments that I could put in there that was an amazing thread in our MSP marketing Facebook group. So here’s the question for you. If you were advising someone are starting their first MSP, what would your most important piece of advice be? I would love to hear it. You can email me, hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com.

Voiceover:

Here’s this week’s-

Clever idea.

Paul Green:

Can an MSP operate on a for day working week because there’s certainly a movement right now, isn’t there? You’re seeing lots of experiments across the globe and certainly where we are here in the UK, lots of companies are moving to official four-day working weeks. Lots of others are doing more general flexible working in our business. We don’t have a very specific four-day working week model, but everyone on my team has complete 100% flexibility. If they want to do their work at two in the morning, that’s their choice to do that. If they want to do their work in four days and not work a fifth, that’s generally their choice to do it. It’s like, almost like we don’t ask, everyone can just do what is right for them because they’re adults. But I appreciate our business model allows that. And the big question for this with an MSP is if you are offering five-day support, how would you operate a four-day working week?

So I’ve been looking up some of the pros and cons, the benefits and the downsides of operating a four-day working week, and it’s certainly something that’s worth you looking at and trying to apply to your business because there are a ton of benefits. The first benefit is that there can be reduced costs if it means that the office is closed for a day. Now again, because of the MSP model, you would argue that there’s going to have to be someone in the office on that fifth day. So maybe you won’t benefit from those reduced costs, but the big benefit for you, which actually will help your employee retention is that your team will be happier. A lot of the studies, most of the studies have shown that if people work the hours, they need to work in a week across four days, they are generally more happy because they benefit from those three-day weekends on a permanent basis.

They have more time, they have a better work life balance, and that means they have better relationships with their other half and with their kids and their dog, and that makes people happy. You get very few people complaining that they’ve got three days off. It’s also according to a lot of research, it’s much better for their health. People are better with their mental health and their physical health when they are not working all of the time. And that kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? You think about it. You can have a little bit of an extra lying, a bit more sleep, do a bit more of the things that you enjoy. If you like pressing buttons on an Xbox and killing aliens or whatever you, I don’t game, but you know what I mean. If that’s your thing, and it means that every week you can have a good old overnight, 12-hour gaming session without it affecting your work, and if that makes you happy, great.

If it means that you can go for a day’s hiking or kayaking or whatever it is that you do without affecting your family time at the weekend, great. This can only be a benefit for people. What’s really interesting as well is that despite all of this talk of work-life balance and giving people time back to enjoy their lives and then as if we were Victorian business owners, we’d be sitting here with a whip beating our staff saying get back to work. Actually, what the research has shown is that discontented staff, unhappy staff are less productive. It’s kind of obvious when you think about it like that, but they’re less productive in their own work and they are more likely to distract their colleagues. Unhappy people live out their unhappiness at work. So the more happy we can help people to be, and we are not responsible for our team’s happiness, but we can set the environment and we can set the rules to encourage happiness to make it easier for them to be happier.

Some research I’m reading here about a firm in New Zealand called Perpetual Guardian and they trialed a four-day week and what they found was that 78% of their staff could more effectively balance their home and work life compared to 54% prior to the experiment, but they were more productive, they got more work done in less time. I like the sound of that, as I say with the caveat, which is to a certain extent, the MSP business model requires you to be there for a certain number of support hours. We are going to come to that. I’ve got a suggestion, an area, it’s kind of an obvious suggestion, but for you to look at down the line with that in just a few minutes. The other advantage of course of a four-day working week is, as I said at the beginning, it’s retention and its recruitment to be able to say to your team, “Well, look, we work hard here but we don’t work long.”

So we work 35, 40 hours, whatever it is you work, but we do it in four days. Everyone does a four-day working week. So we encourage you to just focus and be highly productive and we are going to do everything we can to get everything out of your way because we do not want to see you on the three days that you are off. And I think that will make your recruitment. In fact, well, put it like this, if it was between you and another MSP and a whole bunch of factors are the same, including salary, you are willing to pay them the same as this other company, but you are asking them to sit in an office or to work for four days a week, they’re asking them to work for five, which one would you choose? Obviously, you would choose the four-day working week.

And so I do think, and in fact if you’ve got a bunch of very experienced talented people right now, you will find your retention. You will keep those people longer by introducing this policy. Just be warned, this is literally like, is it Pandora’s box or the genie out the bottle? I can’t remember my analogy. Basically, once you’ve done four-hour week, even if you do it as a trial, I think it would be very hard to go back genies at the bottle. Once you’ve done that, how would you go? How would you say to your team, “Right, everyone, we’ve done a three-month trial of working four days a week, productivity’s up, you guys are happier, but we’re going to go back to five day a week.” That then this is one of the disadvantages that if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it right.

You’ve got to do it and you’ve got to stick with it and there is no going back from it. And that’s something that you need to be aware of. Obviously, some of the other disadvantages, you are asking people to do their 40 hours in four days, so that is going to mean longer working hours. Some people thrive on this, some people don’t. Me, I’ve always enjoyed quite long days at the beginning of the week and then having shorter days, and there was a period of time where I also didn’t work Fridays. Now I do, but I try and just do three, four hours of highly productive time on a Friday, and that to me is better than just doing hours for the sake of it. You also have to look at how does it affect holiday entitlement, some all sorts of issues and stress, and you can Google for advice on that, but the biggest problem is your business model.

You see for until the world is working on a four-day week model, which isn’t going to happen in the next few years. It may happen eventually, but not for now. So as long as you have clients working five days a week, they’re not going to accept that, “From next week we can’t give you support on Friday. Sorry about that.” It’s not going to rub, is it? So this is where if you are a larger MSP with more resources, you can just have different teams. You can have a Monday to Thursday team, and you can have a Tuesday to Friday team or however you organize that. That’s easy. But it’s not easy if there’s you and two technicians and you may not ever want just one of your technicians sitting in the office on their own on a Friday because everyone else is off, because that’s demoralizing.

That’s actually depressing. Even if that person then doesn’t have to come in and work on Mondays, it’s depressing to sit in the office on your own at either end of the week. So I appreciate this is not an easy thing for a smaller MSP to do. Maybe it’s worth if you really wanted to do it, thinking it through, talking to your team and maybe even just having a discussion with other MSPs, asking them what they could do. And you could always have discussions like that in something I mentioned earlier on in the podcast. It’s our Facebook group. It’s just for MSPs and it’s about MSP marketing, but really we talk about anything to help you grow your business. Just go onto Facebook, look up MSP marketing, look into groups, and if you are an MSP, I look forward to meeting you in that group.

Voiceover:

Paul’s-

Paul’s latent plug.

Latent plug.

Paul Green:

I’ll tell you somewhere else you can go for help and advice on growing your MSP and that’s our YouTube channel because we are always adding new content, advice, information and also fun kind of edutainment. I want to make it easy for you to enjoy yourself while you’re actually growing your business and making more money. Why not? You can check it all out at youtube.com/mspmarketing.

Voiceover:

The big-

Big-

Big interview.

Dana Mantilia:

Hello, my name is Dana Mantilia and I work with MSPs and MSSPs to help them with their social media marketing very specific to their specific needs. And I am here to help if anybody needs me.

Paul Green:

And in fact, you’re here to talk about cybersecurity marketing because the challenge for you tonight is to help everyone listening to this right now understand how to use cybersecurity in their marketing in a way that doesn’t rely upon FUD. FUD being an acronym, standing for fear, uncertainty and doubt. Because when you’re doing cybersecurity marketing, that’s the easy default marketing to drop down, to talk about something that ordinary people don’t understand and does scare them when they come across. But I believe that actually that’s the wrong kind of marketing you should be using around cybersecurity. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you have exactly the same feelings about that. Before we get started, tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up working with MSPs on their marketing.

Dana Mantilia:

Sure. Yeah. So I have been in the cybersecurity non-technical world with helping people with non-technical training. And because I am not a technical person, I don’t try to trick anybody that I am because I’m not. And then I started a YouTube channel where I interviewed some cybersecurity professionals. Some of them are very specific to CMMC, which is the US Department of Defense’s cybersecurity requirements. And some of them are just people that speak in general about cybersecurity. And the channel really started doing well. So folks started asking, “Oh, could they do a commercial or could they do some kind of sponsorship for the channel?” And so I came up with a couple of varieties and then one thing led to the next, I started helping individuals with some of their social media marketing. And then I came up with a program that’s very specific and just step by step. And it really is very helpful for somebody who may not be very comfortable with social media marketing.

Paul Green:

Which is most MSPs, let’s be honest. So we’ll talk more about your program towards the end of the interview and you’ll get a free plug for it, I promise. But when you are approaching cybersecurity, because obviously that challenge of MSPs explaining something difficult to an audience that doesn’t really believe it’s relevant to them, do you find that that’s the biggest issue?

Dana Mantilia:

No question. That is definitely the biggest issue because obviously MSPs, MSSP, they’re very smart people, but they understand things on a level that most non-technical people have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. So them even trying to break it down to what they think is really a basic level is still 10 levels ahead of what somebody normally under understands or doesn’t understand. So what I try to do is help them really break it down and then break it down and break it down again so that it’s really someone who is a 10-year-old or a non-technical person is going to completely understand what they’re saying because when they’re speaking techie they’re not getting any ground with somebody who they’re talking to. So it’s not benefiting them in any way, and they have a lot of really great stuff that they are trying to help people with. But if you’re trying to help somebody but they don’t understand what you’re saying, we’re really not getting anywhere.

Paul Green:

Yeah, exactly. And in fact, let’s have some fun with this because you, I’m going to put you on the spot here just to give you a 10-second warning.

Dana Mantilia:

Okay.

Paul Green:

So you are not a technical person. I’m not a technical person, but we both understand marketing MSPs and marketing cybersecurity services. Let’s take something, let’s take a ransomware attack. You explain it to me. I’m a 10-year-old because most MSPs listening here would be able to describe a ransomware attack and explain it perhaps at a high technical level. Now, you and I, we both, in our day jobs, we have to, as you say, try and break it down so the ordinary people understand it. Let’s do a before and after. So give me before example of how an MSP that you work with would describe a ransomware attack, and then give me the after version of a better way to describe it.

Dana Mantilia:

Well, I don’t even know if I would be able to use all their technical mumbo jumbo that they would say, but basically, they would say something along the lines that nobody has access to their endpoints and the network is down and all this stuff. And people wouldn’t really understand what, so what does that mean? Nobody can do what, what can they not do? So that would be one thing that they would say. And what I say to them is I say, “You need to prepare everybody for ransomware attacks, just like we would prepare people for a fire drill.” Because it’s the same kind of thing is that if you’re preparing somebody for a fire drill, when we were kids, everybody knew what to do, but nobody really knows what to do if there’s a ransomware attack and because there’s not a lot of discussion around it.

So I would explain to them, a ransomware attack is going to be like this to a business owner. I would say it’s going to be the Wild West when all of your employees are doing whatever they think they should be doing because their computer’s not working. Some are going to be unplugging it, plugging it back in. Some are going to be trying to call their coworker. Some are going to be on social media, “Hey, we’re at work and we’re getting hacked right now.” And it’s going to be a complete hot mess. And when you say that to a business owner, they’re like, “Ooh, I don’t want that to happen. I don’t even know what you’re talking about, I don’t want that to happen.”

So I just say that if you talk to somebody about something that they can relate because they can relate to, “Oh, I know which employee would be on social media.” “Oh, I know which employee would be trying to unplug and plug the machine, and all that kind of thing.” So even if you don’t really understand exactly what you’re talking about when you say things like that to another non-tech person, they understand what you mean.

Paul Green:

Yeah. I just love that it’s such a good way of doing it. And as you say, bringing it down to a level that anyone can understand when they’re talking about, “Hey, I know at the level of I know which of my staff is going to do this.” Do you find that the amount of cybersecurity news and information and change coming out is just so overwhelming that MSPs are, and MSPs themselves are struggling to keep up with it, let alone actually translate it for their audiences?

Dana Mantilia:

Well, one of the things that I have definitely found with speaking to MSPs, especially ones that are very IT focused and which I think it’s a natural progression to be growing into cybersecurity, as do your clients. I always say to them, your client thinks if you’re dealing with taking care of their computer, that you’re taking care of their cybersecurity too, even though we know that that is two completely different animals. But they don’t really believe themselves sometimes that they are cybersecurity professionals. I’ve seen a lot of them that they don’t want to give themselves credit, and I’m thinking, you should absolutely be giving yourself credit this stuff you really, really do. But they don’t really, they don’t. So they get overwhelmed by the information and the non-technical people. I think the problem is that even though the tsunami of information is coming upon them, they’re all saying the same thing.

This isn’t going to happen to me. I don’t need to worry about this. This doesn’t happen to me. I’m too small. I don’t really have valuable information. And it’s one justification after the next. And I think that’s the problem right now. However, I do think over the next three to five years, the need for cybersecurity is going to explode because the problem’s not going to go away. And people are going to have to wake up to this and realize, “Yeah, I am vulnerable, and my customers would care if their data was exposed all over the place.” So yes, I do think it’s overwhelming for them, and I do think it’s overwhelming for the people, but they’re not paying attention to it right now.

Paul Green:

Yeah, I think if MSPs, sometimes as burglar alarm companies and they’re sometimes walking into really nice streets with nice houses where people leave the doors unlocked and the windows unlocked and they leave their valuables on display and the MSPs can see all of these entry points for a burglar and they’re saying, “Hey, not only should you lock the door, but you should fit a burglar alarm as well.” And that’s easier when one of the houses in the street has been burglarized or burgled. And of course, it’s harder when no one’s been burgled.

I actually got very close to buying a security alarms company here in the UK last year, and we learned so much about that exact effect that if someone’s been burgled in a street, you hit that street, you go into that street and you can sell alarms to three out of five houses in that street because it’s now real, because Dave down the road actually got burgled. Whereas when no one that has been burgled it’s very, very hard. And do you think that’s going to change with business owners that it can never happen to me thing? Or do you think it will have to change because of the sheer amount of cybersecurity attacks that are happening?

Dana Mantilia:

Well, my gut is that there’s going to be two things. Compliance is definitely starting to crack down. We see over here, the government is really starting to crack down on certain things as well as when something does happen and your client says, “What were you doing beforehand to protect my stuff?” You can’t just say, “Whoa, we thought it was okay.” So the demand is going to be because there is going to be compliance requirements as well as there’s going to be your competitors are going to go out of business because as you know, these ransomware attacks are so expensive and insurance is starting to maybe not cover as much. The premiums are going up there. It’s almost going to be an unaffordable option just to say, “Well, we’re just going to get insurance for that.” So I do think it’s going to be that people are going to go out of business and compliance is going to be forced upon people to start paying attention to this.

Paul Green:

And actually, those two things, they’re kind of work in people’s favor because they’re much more likely to turn to their MSP and actually ask for help. So yeah, that’s not a bad thing. Thank you so much for your time on the podcast today. Just tell us a little bit what you actually do to help MSPs in terms of what’s your service and direct us towards your YouTube channel.

Dana Mantilia:

Sure. Yeah. So I think where I really help them is with breaking down the messaging into something that can be very helpful and some of the stuff that they don’t really think is much value. If you put that into some kind of an email campaign or just stay in front of your clients, but it has a LinkedIn post or something, it’s just helpful content. And you have to remember, everybody has a family. Everybody maybe has a business or people are people, they have older parents, they have kids, they have people that are affected by cyber criminals. So the more we can start talking about this stuff, the better off we are all going to be.

So anything that you’re offering your clients is going to be helpful in one way or another. Maybe not as a business, but maybe as, “Oh, that’s right. I got to tell my mom not to do that. I got to tell my kid not to be doing that on their phone.” That kind of a thing. And I think that really resonates with people when you just treat them as humans. So check out my website is cyber dana.com and my YouTube channel is if you just do Cyber Dana over on YouTube, you’ll find me over there.

Voiceover:

Paul Green’s-

MSP Marketing-

Podcast.

This week’s-

Recommended book.

Justin Esgar:

What’s up everybody? This is Justin Esgar from the Virtual Consulting Group, and my book recommendation for you is 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Look, we all understand what stress is like when we run our own business, but wouldn’t you like to just be 10% happier? Think meditation, give me an, om. Now, go read that book.

Voiceover:

Coming up.

Coming up next week.

Craig Andrews:

Hi, I’m Craig Andrews and we specialize in building rapid trust for high ticket items, especially MSPs. We’re going to be talking about how you can build trust with your prospects to close more business, but more importantly, not just more business, the business you want to work with while avoiding the businesses you don’t want to work with.

Paul Green:

So, hey, you know that platform that you are listening to or watching this podcast on right now, click on the subscribe button if it’s got one. So you’ll get notified every single Tuesday when a brand-new episode is released because on top of that interview with Craig next week we’re going to be talking about delayed gratification. This is where we put off enjoying ourselves and doing fun things because we’re so focused on building the business. But I’ve been listening to this new book, and it’s really opened my eyes about the risks of delayed gratification. I will explain all next week. Plus, we are starting a brand-new miniseries all about improving the sales in your MSP. Join me next Tuesday and have a very profitable week in your MSP.

Voiceover:

Made in the UK.

For MSPs around the world.

Paul Green’s-

MS-

MSP Marketing Podcast.