Episode 90: Grow revenue per seat and reduce overheads

Episode 90: Grow revenue per seat and reduce overheads

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Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 90: Grow revenue per seat and reduce overheads
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In this week’s episode

  • Doesn’t it feel like there are a million things to focus on AT THE SAME TIME to grow a successful MSP? In terms of growth, there are really just three things to focus on. This week Paul looks at the right way to think about your business’s growth
  • Also, how would your MSP cope if you suddenly disappeared… literally, right now? From kidnapping (!) to illness, there are several events that could take you away from the business unexpectedly. Paul explains what you can prepare so the business continues to thrive whether you’re there or not
  • Plus on the show this week, we’ve got an another awesome prize – a physical time-tracker that really could change your life. And Paul’s featured guest could inspire you to create a new revenue stream

Featured guest

Featured guest John Clark

Thank you to John Clark from Solutions Shared for joining Paul to talk about how he created a new revenue stream based around customising Microsoft Dynamics.

John Clark is the founder and a director of Solutions Shared Ltd. With a background in software engineering, consultancy, IT infrastructure and Microsoft SharePoint, John started his CRM consulting career in 2008. Over the years, he has transitioned Solutions Shared from being an IT support company that did some CRM consultancy, to being 100% focused on the implementation of CRM for small and medium sized businesses.

Connect with John on LinkedIn.

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh every Tuesday, for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
Hi there. Welcome to episode 90 of the podcast. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.

John Clark:
There are an awful lot of clients out there who may have legacy systems. We’re actually currently migrating someone from Lotus Notes.

Paul Green:
We’re also going to be looking at the never ending number one goal of your business. It’s about improving the revenue that’s brought in from your clients and reducing your overheads.

Paul Green:
Oh, and we’ve got a great competition this week as well. A chance for you to win a Timeular Tracker and a Pro lifetime membership. It’s a device that’s completely changed my life over the last couple of years and I think he could do exactly the same for you. More details on that later on in the show.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
Now here’s a slightly terrifying question that I could ask you? What would happen if tomorrow I turned up at your house first thing in the morning and I kidnapped you? I literally bundled you in the boot of my car, that’s the trunk of the car, I bundled you in there. I take you off to a location. Now don’t worry. I’m not going to kill you or anything. I’m just going to keep you very safely. In fact, I’m going to give you a kind of a luxury holiday. I’m not half bad cook. I’m going to cook some good food for you, give you Netflix, and no computer, and you can just enjoy yourself for a couple of weeks. Actually, if you just look out your window now you see the bush, that’s just moving slightly. That’s me. I’m there in the bush waiting to kidnap you. No, I’m not really. That would be terrifying, but it’s actually a sensible question to ask what would happen if tomorrow you completely vanished for two, three weeks or more?

Paul Green:
And by completely vanished, I mean, not like a vacation, not like a holiday where you’ve had some time to work up to it and you’ve been able to brief your team on things and get things finished and clear down your work. Literally tomorrow, just like that, you vanish. What would happen to the business? Now, this is actually a real question. I ask my clients this often. In fact, we call it the three month test. What would happen if you had to drop out of your business, just like that, for three months? And the reason I do three months test is a couple of days a week, most businesses can get along just fine. You start to get out to two to three weeks, some key members of the staff will step up and look after things. But it’s over the long period, over a quarter of a year, over three months, what will happen to the business?

Paul Green:
And of course, we’re not really talking about you being kidnapped. That’s not a real concern at all. We’re talking about injury, illness. We’re talking about you just suddenly not being there for the business. It’s happened to me a couple of times in my business career. When my daughter was born in 2010, she was quite premature. She was born 15 weeks early, and we had no notification of that. We had no advance notice. She literally turned up with an hour’s notice on a Sunday afternoon. And just like that, I was ripped out of my business for the best part of two to three months. That wasn’t planned and actually it became the making of me in the way, because the business kind of did better without me than it did when I was there. And it set me off down a certain route, which was making sure the business was robust and would survive without me. But you’ve got to ask this for your MSP. If you vanished tomorrow, what would happen?

Paul Green:
Now, if you’re a one man band, even as a one man band, there are things that yoqu can do, there are protections you can put in place to protect the business and protect your clients if something happens to you. You could do an arrangement with another one man band that you each step up if something happens to one of you. If you’re a bigger business and you’ve got a few staff then you’ve got to make sure there’s someone who can take over, someone, one member of your team, who can step up and be the leader. There has to be a leader in every business. And if that’s not you, who’s going to step up? Who’s going to take on the things that matter, making sure your clients are well looked after and making sure that the business continues to operate?

Paul Green:
Because the last thing you want is to come back from an enforced two or three weeks or months off and find that the business has kind of self-destroyed itself, it’s kind of imploded on itself, that all the work you’ve put in over the years has actually fallen apart very quickly. It’s interesting in our MSP Marketing Facebook group, which you’re welcome to join. It’s a Facebook group with more than 1300 MSPs in there. We talk about all sorts of things. It’s not just marketing stuff. We talk about business growth stuff as well. And back in June, one of our members there, Anthony Cataldo asked a question. He said, “I, like I’m sure many here, run an MSP where I’m the sole director. As we grow, everything still sits on my shoulders for major decisions, paying bills, staff, et cetera. I have good friends who run other MSPs where we’ve loosely spoken about stepping in for each other if ever disaster struck.” And then a short conversation went on, some great suggestions there. Justin Esgar, who’s been on this podcast, in fact, he says, “Make sure someone that you trust knows where the details are. One password does a master key document that you should have entrusted with them. Also document everything and make one called ICE, in case of emergency.”

Paul Green:
Dave King says, “I have something in place for personal stuff. I set up a one password, family account, invited them all and then shared certain passwords. But also in the central area make a list of important things they need to know if someone happened to me.” Lee Wood says, “I have a team. So one of the key things for any business to survive is access to your cash. Without that it doesn’t matter who runs the day-to-day tech operations. We have a second signatory on the bank accounts who can access the company money in the event of any problem.”

Paul Green:
It’s a real thing you need to think about this. What would happen if something happened to you? Hey, if you want to discuss this, why not go and join that MSP Marketing group? Just fire up your Facebook app, tap in MSP Marketing at the top, go onto groups, and you’ll see my little picture. Come and join us there. If you’re an MSP, we’ll happily let you join that group where you can discuss marketing and business growth issues.

Voiceover:
Here’s this week’s clever idea.

Paul Green:
I have these peer groups that I do. Every other Tuesday, I jump on short Zoom calls with a small number of MSPs and we talk about business growth and marketing. And it’s great for them because obviously they’ve got a bunch of other MSPs that they can bounce ideas off. We can solve problems together. And it’s great for me as well, because it gives me loads of content ideas for this podcast and for my blog and other stuff as well.

Paul Green:
And we were talking last week, I think it was a couple of weeks ago, about what’s the sort of the ongoing, never ending goal, because when you start your business, the goal is survival and establishing a business that makes it past that I guess that three to five year mark, where they say that most businesses fail. And then once you’ve done that, I think the next goal then is making sure that your business thrives without you having to be there. Because that’s really a proper business. If the business needs you to be there, well, look at what we were just talking about of what happens if something happens to you? If you need to be there in order for the business to thrive, that’s not really a business at all. It’s just a well-paid job.

Paul Green:
So that’s the kind of the next goal. And that’s where many of the MSPs I’m working with, they’re at that stage, that stage of making sure that they can take two to three week holidays and they’ve got enough well trained staff, well systemised business, and everyone’s very motivated and coached well, and when they’re not there, things continue anyway. And in fact, things are almost slightly better when the owner isn’t there. So that’s the kind of the next goal.

Paul Green:
But then you come on to once you’ve got that and you’ve got a business that is doing really well without you, you’ve then got that thing of what’s next? What’s the ongoing goal? And I think from that point, really, there are only really three things that you should be working on, right up to the point that you sell that business. And those three things are number one, getting new clients. Number two is growing per seat revenue. And number three is reducing overheads. Because the long-term goal for the business is, from your point of view, I guess it’s to give you enough resources, that’s time and cash, to do the things that you want to do with your life. The purpose of the business is to be there for you. The purpose of the business is not for you to be there for it. I know that’s how it is in the early days, but long-term, if you want to be a business owner for 20, 30, 40 years or more, you can’t have a business that’s utterly reliant on you every day. You’ve got to have a business that gives you the lifestyle that you want.

Paul Green:
And that means plenty of time to do the things you want to do and plenty of cash to do those things as well. You need those two things in abundance. And actually the business that allows you to go and do those things on a daily, weekly, monthly basis is a well run business. It’s a business where there are no crises, where the staff and clients aren’t complaining all the time because it’s been set up well, and it’s very well systemised. But that’s your goal, three things, constantly adding new clients, constantly growing per seat revenue and constantly reducing and removing overheads. So you’re not just growing your turnover year on year, but you’re growing your net profit year on year as well. The net profit is yours. It’s what you and, if you’ve got any business partners, it’s what you share. Or it’s what you choose to reinvest, or you use it to pay the staff more, or to invest in better tools for the clients.

Paul Green:
We should never ever be scared of making more net profit. Net profit is awesome. I suspect you don’t have a problem with making more net profit at all, but that’s got to be the long-term goal. Let’s make the business more efficient. Let’s standardise more. Let’s do strategic reviews with every client so we can add more seat revenue and protect the clients better and generally just be better as a business, and serve our clients better. All of these things go very well together.

Paul Green:
So whichever stage of business growth you’re at right now, do you know what I’d love to have a chat with you about this. I mentioned that MSP Marketing Facebook group. Go and join that, if you’re not a member, go and join that. And just let us know. Pop a post in there. Tell us what stage of business growth you’re at. I’m in there every day. And I’d love to have a chat with you about currently where you’re at with your MSP and what you’re aiming for in the next few years.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
Once a month here on the MSP Marketing podcast, we find a cracking prize to give away, and you are going to love what we’ve got to give away this month.

James Lett:
Hey, this is producer James. This is the third prize we’ve given away and it is life-changing.

So as Paul mentioned at the top of the show, he’s a big fan of Timeular and their ground breaking 8-sided physical time tracker. With every simple flip of this special dice, you’ll start to discover what you’re really doing every day, to help free up time to work on the business and ultimately transform your MSP and life. This is especially great for those working in teams, but doing so remotely, helping to keep you on track and motivated.

As a thank you for listening, right now you can win one of these special dice, plus a lifetime pro subscription to the incredible analytic software it syncs with.

So this is what you need to do…. just go to this special page – paulgreensmspmarketing.com/win pop in your details and click enter. A winner will be drawn at random at some point after we close at midnight UK time this Sunday August 8th. So good luck. Enter right now at paulgreensmspmarketing.com/win

Voiceover:
The big interview.

John Clark:
Hi, I’m John Clark from Solutions Shared. We work with small, medium, sized businesses. We’re experts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and PowerApps, and we help them create a system that they can grow the business with.

Paul Green:
And when I was introduced to you, John, I could see that there’s a potential extra revenue stream for many MSPs here. And in fact, I know that you yourself, you used to be an MSP. You used to own an MSP. Tell us your journey of how you went from primarily being tech support to this very specialist area that you’re in right now.

John Clark:
When I started my business, it must be about 14 years ago, I was a one man MSP, and I did a lot of business networking, ended up with a pile of business cards. Someone said, “You need a CRM for those.” Looked in the good old Microsoft Action Pack and found Dynamics CRM. Installed it, thought, “This is quite good.” And then basically gradually over the years, we picked up some clients, and we eventually transitioned to where basically our entire business is based around what was called Dynamic CRM. These days Dynamics 365, and more recently, Microsoft PowerApps.

Paul Green:
So clearly there’s a good marketplace for this, John, and as you say, that CRM has transitioned a lot, hasn’t it? It’s developed a lot over the years. Now, you’re based in the UK and I know you get referrals from MSPs who are looking for some help, changing Dynamics or doing the, was it PowerApps that you called it?

John Clark:
That’s correct. Yes.

Paul Green:
Yes. You can tell I’m not a tech. You really can. So we’ll talk about your business and what you do at the end, but you and I both believe that this kind of work, the work that you do, MSPs could actually add this on as an extra revenue stream. Give us an example of what kind of customisation and what kind of supports do the typical end companies ask you for?

John Clark:
I guess it’s around two things. One is taking the base product from Microsoft and tailoring it to meet their specific business needs. Now in a very simple end that might just be adding some fields, changing some forms. With the larger clients that’s all about automation, automation within the system, sending notifications. Further down the line as it gets more complex, it will be about putting in place integrations with maybe other internal systems or third party systems and adding on things like document generation. Why should you make documents by hand when you can just suck the data out of the CRM?

Paul Green:
Do your projects tend to creep, as in they come to you for one thing and then as you tell them all these other things that you can do, that the project and the brief gets bigger and bigger and bigger?

John Clark:
We try and scope a sensible sized project at the start, but they will often come back over the years to basically extend what their base solution does. Sometimes they’ll add on extra bits within the Microsoft portfolio, or it might be they want an integration to third party system. And to be honest, as they grow, their business changes, the systems should really evolve with their business.

Paul Green:
Which of course generates a whole series of potential repeat purchases. So how big is the opportunity for the average MSP? If they’ve got, let’s say, I don’t know, 30, 40 clients, perhaps 1000, couple of thousand, end users that they’re looking after. Is there a specific kind of company that you would look at and think, “Oh yes, this is a company that would benefit from this kind of solution.” What does the ideal client profile look like?

John Clark:
To be honest, almost any client, though I do find that if you’re looking at using the straight Dynamics 365 CRM, the per user price tag might put some smaller clients off. So generally we often tend to work with companies that have got 10 or 15 plus staff. More recently since Microsoft have introduced the PowerApps licensing, which is like less than nine times the price of Dynamic CRM, we find that what you can build the same solution, it’s the same product, but some users will be licensed with the CRM licenses, while others can be used with PowerApps, and when you consider the PowerApps license is seven pound 50 a month, I mean, you spend more on coffee.

Paul Green:
Yes, you do. In a day, in fact. What are the kind of the signs to look out for then? So if you put your MSP head back on and you imagine, John, that you’re dealing with the end-users, you’re dealing with decision makers, you’re doing your strategic reviews, quarterly business reviews if you call them that, what are the things that you would look out for to steer the conversation towards, “Hey, here’s some stuff that we can do which might help you.”

John Clark:
A lot of it’s driven by complexity and complaints that are around lack of efficiency. So obviously as you add more staff in a business, or as you add more business processes, the complexity goes up. Obviously everyone starts trying to track everything in Excel. That’s okay for awhile. There are an awful lot of clients out there who may have legacy systems. I mean, we’re actually currently migrating someone from Lotus Notes.

Paul Green:
Wow.

John Clark:
Yeah.

Paul Green:
Even I know that’s old.

John Clark:
Yeah. And they run their entire business on it, at the moment. Soon to change. So yeah, it’s really driven around the business is starting to struggle. Thi ngs are getting lost. Departments are saying, “Well, have you done that?” Having to chase information around the building when in reality it could all be sat in one system.

Paul Green:
That makes perfect sense. So you’re just looking out for companies almost in distress. They’re growing at a scale and their systems are not keeping up and there’s a level of complexity that they need to tame. So for you, without going into too much technical detail, because this isn’t a technical podcast, but how easy do you think it would be for, again, your average MSP to pick up the skill set and to do the training that’s needed to do this kind of bespoke work on Dynamics?

John Clark:
It’s almost like a double-edged sword because obviously a lot of MSPs are very technical and they will look at this, “Oh, it’s just another technical thing that we can learn and then we can deliver.” In reality, the conversation with clients really has to come from a business perspective first. You’ve got to be able to talk to the client about their business, their business processes, even tell them when the things they might want to do just won’t work. And then you back that up with the technology. So there’s probably a little bit of investment in getting skilled up. It’s not just about going on a technical training course. It’s making sure you have the people that can have those conversations with the business.

Paul Green:
Yeah. That makes perfect sense. And in fact, you could look at all technology upgrades as it being about talking about the business, isn’t it? The technology, you need to know about to actually implement it and to deliver it, but when it comes to talking to end clients, yeah, absolutely, it’s the business case that’s so much more important. So John, tell us about your business because it obviously makes sense that if an MSP wanted to add this as a potential revenue stream but didn’t want to do the actual work themselves, or they wanted to outsource the most difficult bits, that I guess they could turn to a business such as yours or they could refer work to you, bearing in mind we have an international audience. Tell us what you do and how we can get in touch with you?

John Clark:
We, we effectively, we’ll have those initial discussions with the client and we’ll work out what product best suits their needs, whether that’s a pure Dynamics 365 CRM solution or a PowerApp. There are really two PowerApps, there’s canvas PowerApps, and model-driven PowerApps. The model-driven ones are really Dynamics CRM without the bits Microsoft buildt. So there’s always a balance that we have to work out with the client, whether they want to go with prebuilt functionality or we build it for them and there’s a license trade off. So we will have those discussions, work out how do we can use that technology, it’s like a box of Lego, to meet their needs and then go from there.

Paul Green:
So what’s your website address, John?

John Clark:
So our website is a solutionsshared.co.uk

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast. This week’s recommended book,

Nate Freedman:
Nate Freedman here from Tech Pro Marketing. And the book that I recommend is Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. With a lot of business books, for me, it’s about finding the book that is just in time, not just in case. And in my own journey with my business, the question of who is going to be doing the work is really front and centre with me.

Nate Freedman:
Once you kind of reach a certain point, I think we all know getting those key players into your business is going to be so important. Getting people who are going to do their job like it’s their job. So if that’s kind of the something that you think could have a huge impact in your business, this might be a book that is just in time for you to read and make a big impact.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Praveen Ramesh:
Hey everyone, this is Praveen Ramesh from SuperOps.ai. I’m super excited to be on Paul Green’s podcast next week. I’m going to be talking about how you can create 30 pieces of content from a single podcast episode.

Paul Green:
We’ve got a cracker lined up for you next week. We’re going to be talking about gated content versus non-gated content. You know when you put something on your website, like a book or a guide, and you ask people to fill in their email address in order to get it. Now, that’s a great way to build your email list. It’s actually quite difficult these days to get people to enter their email address, but it does work. The problem is only a small percentage of people will actually do that. So what content should you be gating on your website and what should be free for people to just download or to look at? I’ll give you the answer to that next week.

Paul Green:
We’re also going to be looking at risk reversals, also known as guarantees. What can you do to completely and utterly reduce the perceived risk of dealing with your MSP? Again, I’ve got an answer for you on that one, and we’ll talk about it in next week’s podcast. See you then.

Voiceover:
Made in the UK for MSPs around the world, Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

 

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