Friday, November 16, 2018

New Best Practice: 3-Week Mini Classes Take Off

Once again, we've stumbled onto an unfilled need in the IT community!

When I kicked off the Small Biz Thoughts Community, one of the things we promised was a series of 3-week "Mini Classes" on various topics. The goal is that each class will have these features:

  • 100% immediately usable content
  • Focused on your business success
  • with a Community component (opportunity to interact with other members)
  • 30-60 minutes per class
  • Including show-and-tell of the technology we're discussing
November 2018
So far, classes have included:

Client Roadmap Process Deep Dive (current class)

Local Advertising for ITpreneurs

Maximizing LinkedIn

and I've just scheduled the all new class for December:

Tuning Up Your YouTube Channel

All classes are 100% FREE to Small Biz Thoughts Community members. Just go to the Classes section at smallbizthoughts.org.

December 2018
- - - -

At first, we thought we would just give these classes away as extra value to Community members. But then I started getting requests from non-members to attend.

So I offered the most recent class to the public at $99 - a great price. We got a LOT of signups! So we've decided to open all these classes to the public.

. . . with a catch.

Ideally, you'll sign up for every class. They'll be hugely valuable. And you'll sign up again and again. Over time, you'll get used to paying us $99 every month for a great class.

At some point, you're going to realize that the cost of the Small Biz Thoughts Community is only $99. You get all those awesome mini-classes AND about $4,000 worth of additional downloads. Plus forums, discussions, and an almost-overwhelming amount of information.

I love capitalism. And I believe you can spend your money any way you want. But I think the wise way to go is to join the Small Biz Thoughts Community and ramp up your success to the next level.

Feedback welcome, as always.

:-)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Podcast: Break-Fix vs. Managed Services

I just posted a new SMB Community Podcast with Dave Sobel, Senior Director of MSP Evangelism at SolarWinds MSP. It's the second in a six-part series entitled Remote Control Deep Dive: Build and Grow Your Business.

For six weeks, we'll be talking about how to get the most out of your remote control tools - and make more money.

The latest post is all about how to make more money, whether you focus on Break/Fix or Managed Service. It's over on the SMB Community Podcast site.


Episode 1 is What to Look for in a Remote Support Tool.


Available as either a video or audio download.

Podcasts in this series include:

  • What to Look for In a Remote Support Tool
  • Making Money – Break Fix vs. Managed Services (this one)
  • Implementing Your Cloud Services Bundle
  • Remote Control – A New Hope for Security
  • Manage the Customer Experience/Manage the Customer Relationship
  • Remote Control as the Ultimate Sales Tool


Tune in next Thursday for episode three!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Reminder: All new class - Cloud Services in a Month - Starts November 20th

Cloud Services in a Month - Applying the Book

- Five Tuesdays: November 20 - December 18, 2018 -- Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Based on the forthcoming new book Cloud Services in a Month, this course will give you the information, forms, processes, and motivation to move full force into providing Cloud Services. Much of the focus is on designing and developing a package of services you can sell to every single client. As I like to describe it: The core technologies that every client needs.

Tuition for this course includes the ebook version of the book upon release: Cloud Services in a Month! That includes all the downloads from the book as well.

You will learn . . .
  • Everyone's a Cloud Service Provider
  • Tip Toe Into the Clouds?
  • The Latest Tools and Options 
  • Cloud Computing in the Small Business Space
  • Right Sizing Your Offering
  • What is the Cloud?
  • Assessing Client Networks
  • Money-Making Homework - Network Assessments
  • Create a Cloud Service Offering Sneak Peek: The Cloud Service Five-Pack
  • The Absolute Basics
  • Plan Changes and Updates
  • Transactions, Customers, and Clients
  • Price Strategies
  • Managed Services and Cloud Services
  • Building a Bundle that Works
  • Break/Fix and Hybrid Models
  • Create A Three-Tiered Pricing Structure
  • Migrating to the Cloud One Service at a Time
  • Managed Service Tools and the Cloud
  • Storage Migration
  • Email Migration
  • Microsoft Office
  • Money-Making Homework - Migration Plans
  • Backups, DR, and Continuity Basic Backups
  • BDRs
  • Business Continuity
  • Running Your New CSP Business - The Right Tools for the Job
  • Your Standard Offerings (Your Catalog of Services)
  • Staff Requirements for Cloud Services
  • Client Onboarding 

... And More!

PLUS lots more. This class is filled with great advice and tips on running your I.T. company and moving into the world of recurring revenue with cloud services.

Delivered by Karl W. Palachuk, blogger and author of the very popular "SOP Friday" posts at http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com.

Includes five weeks of webinars with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

Only $259


- - - - -

A Few Details . . .

  • Each course will be five one-hour webinars
  • There will be handouts and "homework" assignments
  • If you wish to receive feedback on your assignments, there will be instructor office hours
  • Class webinars will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
  • All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Managed Services Operations Manual - vol 3 Now Available in the SBT Community

What a great week in the Small Biz Thoughts Community!

We're continuing to add content all the time. This update News Broadcast goes into some detail, but here's the quick list for the last week.

- Added the audio program Service Agreements Improve Managed Service

- Added volume 3 of Managed Services Operations Manual – on managing the service department

- Signed up 15 people for the new 3-part class on getting the most out of the Technology Roadmap Process

Watch the video:


There are now three out of four books from the 4-part SOP series available as audio downloads in the SBT Community. So if you've signed up at a member, go download them now at NO additional charge.

If you're not a member, sign up and download them. ;-)

Also: It looks like the new Mini Class is very popular. We have ten members signed up (no additional charge) and a handful of folks have paid the $99. I've emailed out the information needed to access the Zoom meeting Wednesday. If you're signed up and don't have the info you need, contact us.

Members access the class here.

Non-Members buy the class here.

Here's what we're doing in the class:

First - Handouts. I've posted a brand new 14-page Technology Roadmap Questionnaire. It's a much better deep dive into the client's business than the older questionnaire. I've also posted a four-page white paper on how to get the most out of the Client Roadmap Process.

Second, here's what we're doing in each of the three classes:

Week One is an overview of the process and a deep dive into the questionnaire itself. Why do we ask these questions, where do they fit, and why do it in this order. We'll also talk about why you shouldn't worry about finishing all questions. You probably won't, and that's great. I'll explain in class.

Week Two, we'll talk about the using the Roadmap Questionnaire to close new clients. It's a very smooth transition from the 68-Point Checklist and a network assessment to a discussion about the client's business more broadly. We'll also touch on the first Roadmap meeting after you sign the client.

Week Three covers the ongoing, never-ending conversation you'll have with your clients about their technology. You'll see how we use this to get the client to engage in the overall health of their network, to make good decisions, and completely sidestep the sales process going forward.

Get sticky. Make clients love you. Improve their technology. And eliminate ongoing "sales" while selling lots of great stuff.

It's not quite magic. But it's pretty close.

:-)

Thursday, November 08, 2018

New Podcast: What to Look for in a Remote Support Tool - with Dave Sobel

I just posted a new SMB Community Podcast with Dave Sobel, Senior Director of MSP Evangelism at SolarWinds MSP. It's the first in a six-part series entitled Remote Control Deep Dive: Build and Grow Your Business.

For the next six weeks, we'll be talking about how to get the most out of your remote control tools - and make more money.

Here, Dave talks about the core features of the SolarWinds MSP's Take Control tool.

Available as either a video or audio download.

Check it out today!

Future topics in this podcast series include:

- Making Money - Break Fix vs. Managed Services
- Implementing Your Cloud Services Bundle
- Remote Control – A New Hope for Security
- Manage the Customer Experience/Manage the Customer Relationship
- Remote Control as the Ultimate Sales Tool

Tune in next Thursday for episode two!

:-)

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The ASCII Group Announces 2019 Dates and Cities for IT Success Summits

Thanks to Alysia over at ASCII for sending this press release.

I highly encourage you to add these events to your calendar and plan to attend an ASCII event in 2019. Always a great event.



Bethesda, Maryland – November 7, 2018 -- The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, VARs and Solution Providers, is pleased to announce the upcoming dates and cities for its 2019 IT Success Summit Series.

Started in 1999, the Success Summits bring together nearly 1,500 IT solution providers, dozens of technology vendors, and key industry leaders in a two-day format that incorporates extensive peer networking, education and training. With events in nine markets across North America, the series will focus on areas that will help MSPs advance and move their businesses forward, through the power of community and its offerings.

 “As ASCII enters its 35th year in 2019, we reflect back on our original mission which still rings true today – bringing together IT business owners and helping them to grow by leveraging the power of our group. The discussions that take place, the connections that are formed, these are the true pillars as to why the ASCII community has been a mainstay within the channel,” said Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group.

“This past year, we saw record-breaking participation - over 75 channel-focused vendors participated in at least one of our regional Success Summits! This is a testament to the overall health of the IT channel and reaffirms the value of MSPs in today’s economy. Vendors are seeing real results by partnering with ASCII members and other IT providers to enable end-user success,” said Shannon Mayer, VP Channel Development, The ASCII Group.

With an emphasis on peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, the Summits are designed for qualified IT professionals and MSPs.

2019 Summit Cities:
Orange County, CA February 20 – 21
Dallas, TX March 27 – 28
Washington, D.C. April 24 – 25
Charlotte, NC May 15 – 16
Chicago, IL June 26 – 27
Denver, CO July 24 – 25
Toronto, Canada August 21 – 22
Newark, NJ September 25 – 26
Boston, MA October 24 – 25

Keynote speakers will be announced at a later date. For more information on ASCII’s IT Success Summits, please visit www.asciievents.com. Follow ASCII on Twitter @asciigroup and #ASCIISUCCESS.

About The ASCII Group, Inc:

The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more.  ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.

Monday, November 05, 2018

The 8th Minute

Over on my YouTube Channel - www.youtube.com/smallbizthoughts - Stefan asked about putting time entries into tickets.

In particular, how do you keep up with super-quick notes without charging fifteen minutes (or some other number) every time a technician opens a ticket?

Here's the basic problem:

1) Some tasks are super-fast. You just need to reply to a quick email. You want that reply attached to the ticket. But it's literally one minute. So you don't want the employee's time card to be padded 14 minutes, or whatever you minimum is. And you don't want to bill the client for 15 minutes (or whatever your minimum is) every time you have a quick email.

2) Some ticketing systems want to track all your time in one minute increments. This is stupid and leads to more time spent adjusting time than actually tracking it.

3) You should have a minimum time increment you use. I use 15 minutes. I know companies that use 30 minutes and six minutes. You need to find a balance between fair and useful. And that fair is both fair to the clients and the employees.

4) Personally, I love using the ticketing system to track employee time. That way I can verify that there are no gaps and no overlaps. And I can pay off the time in the system.

Here's what we do.

First, I do want techs to put in a time entry for even the smallest important activity. But most of the time, it's a zero time entry. There's a different process in Connectwise, Autotask, and Solarwinds. But the end result is that you have a note that does not affect time on the job or the employee's time card.

Second, we bill in fifteen minute increments. So a technician might have time entries like this:

Minute 1 - 8:00 - 8:00 (one minute) - Client A - Responded to email from John - attached.

Minute 2 - 8:00 - 8:00 (four minutes) - Client B - Verified that troublesome machines are up and can access server.
Minute 3
Minute 4
Minute 5

Minute 6 - 8:00 - 8:15 (four minutes) - Client C - Talked to Lisa on the phone. Agreed on which printers to set up Thursday. Added notes below.
 - Note: This client will be billed 15 mins.
Minute 7
Minute 8
Minute 9

Minute 10 - 8:15 - 8:15 (one minute) - Client D - Forwarded email about licenses. - Attached.

Minute 11 - 8:15 - 8:15 (one minute) - Client E - Replied to Felicia with specs on SonicWall. - Email Attached.

Minute 12 - 8:15 - 8:15 (three minutes) - Client F - Per request from Michael, rebooted Workstation 201807.
Minute 13
Minute 14

Minute 15 - 8:15 - 8:15 (five minutes) - Internal admin - Cleaned up remaining email. Zero inbox
Minute 16
Minute 17
Minute 18
Minute 19

Minute 20 - 8:15 - 8:30 (five minutes) - Internal admin - Checked voicemail. Entered tickets as needed. VM Box Empty.
Minute 21
Minute 22
Minute 23
 - Note: This client will be billed 15 mins.
Minute 24

Minute 25 -  8:30 - 9:30 (one hour) - Client G - Finished laptop setup. Documented work. Ready for delivery. On client equipment shelf with printed ticket.
 - Note: This client will be billed 1 hour.

Here's what's going on.You enter actions that need to be reported, but you don't ding them 15 mins each. But the task that rolls over the 8th minute is charged for that 15 minute block.

Note that this is pretty random. Every client will have zero-time entries, but will have the benefit of the notes. Every once in a while, each client will experience a 15 minute billable (or charged to managed service) time entry. These are randomized among clients and no one ever complains.

Basically, whichever job you're working on on the 8th minute, the 23rd minute, the 38th minute, and the 53rd minute is the one who gets the bill for that hour. In this way, the tech gets four 15-minute time entries and is paid for the full hour.

If this sound difficult, it's not. Just look at your watch. If it's 00-07 minutes, you round down and enter 8:00 (the hour) in your time. If that's true for both the beginning and end of the task, then the time entry is zero. If you watch reads 08-15 minutes, you round up. That's why it's all about the 8th minute. Again, if both the beginning and end of a task are rounded to 15, then you have a zero time entry.

- - - - -

I know this looks more complicated than it is. Believe me, after training dozens of technicians on this, it's real easy. Here's all technicians need to know:

1) Write down beginning time. Round up or down to the nearest quarter hour.

2) Write down ending time. Round up or down to the nearest quarter hour.

3) Total time = ending - beginning. It might be zero or it might be some increment of 15 minutes.

In the end, you will track all employee time in 15 minute increments and all client-facing time in either zero-time entries or 15 minute blocks.

Note: You can still have a thirty minute or sixty minute minimum bill to the client, if that's appropriate. But don't confuse that with accurate time keeping for technicians.

Questions welcome.

:-)

Friday, November 02, 2018

New Mini Class – Client Roadmap Deep Dive

Includes a download of the all new, revised Technology Roadmap Questionnaire. This is the fundamental tool we’ve used to managed ongoing client relationships for almost twenty-five years. Totally revised for 2019 by Karl W. Palachuk.
This mini-class is three one-hour weekly sessions. We cover the questionnaire in detail. But more importantly, we cover how you use the roadmap process to get clients to agree to the meeting, what happens in the meeting, and why it is central to your ongoing success.
Live classes are 9AM Pacific
  • November 14th
  • November 21st
  • November 28th, 2018
This class is FREE to members of the Small Biz Thought Community. 
Non-members pay only $99 – still a good deal! 
Community members should look in the “Classes” section for a code that will get you in for FREE.
Non-Members can buy at SMB Books: Visit SMB Books 
🙂

New Podcast Series: Remote Control Deep Dive

Mark Your Calendars . . . Subscribe to the Podcast . . .

I am happy to announce a new six-part deep dive podcast series over at SMB Community Podcast (www.smbcommunitypodcast.com).

Remote Control Deep Dive: Build and Grow Your Business


Here's what we're up to. I have a very special guest scheduled. We're going to look into using remote control tools to help you grow your business - Managed Services or Break/Fix. Our topics are:

1. What to Look For in a Remote Support Tool
2. Making Money - Break Fix vs. Managed Services
3. Implementing Your Cloud Services Bundle
4. Remote Control – A New Hope for Security
5. Manage the Customer Experience/Manage the Customer Relationship
6. Remote Control as the Ultimate Sales Tool

The podcast series will start Thursday, November 8th. We're going to skip Thanksgiving (Nov. 22nd) so you can focus on your turkey. So the overall schedule looks like this:

Nov. 8th - What to Look For in a Remote Support Tool
Nov. 15th - Making Money - Break Fix vs. Managed Services
Nov. 29th - Implementing Your Cloud Services Bundle
Dec. 6th - Remote Control – A New Hope for Security
Dec. 13th - Manage the Customer Experience/Manage the Customer Relationship
Dec. 20th - Remote Control as the Ultimate Sales Tool

This will be brief podcasts, but focused entirely on some best practices and tips for making money and getting the most out of your remote control tool.

There is no registration. Just hop over to www.smbcommunitypodcast.com to check it out.

But if you want to make sure you don't miss any announcements, please subscribe to my newsletter now.

- - - - -

Tell your friends and neighbors. But mostly, please share this on your social media and any IT forums you participate in. Thank you!

:-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

NEW 5-Week Class: Cloud Services in a Month - Starts November 20th

Cloud Services in a Month - Applying the Book

- Five Tuesdays: November 20 - December 18, 2018 -- Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Based on the forthcoming new book Cloud Services in a Month, this course will give you the information, forms, processes, and motivation to move full force into providing Cloud Services. Much of the focus is on designing and developing a package of services you can sell to every single client. As Karl describes it: The core technologies that every client needs.

Tuition for this course includes the ebook version of the book upon release: Cloud Services in a Month! That includes all the downloads from the book as well.

You will learn . . .
  • Everyone's a Cloud Service Provider
  • Tip Toe Into the Clouds?
  • The Latest Tools and Options 
  • Cloud Computing in the Small Business Space
  • Right Sizing Your Offering
  • What is the Cloud?
  • Assessing Client Networks
  • Money-Making Homework - Network Assessments
  • Create a Cloud Service Offering Sneak Peek: The Cloud Service Five-Pack
  • The Absolute Basics
  • Plan Changes and Updates
  • Transactions, Customers, and Clients
  • Price Strategies
  • Managed Services and Cloud Services
  • Building a Bundle that Works
  • Break/Fix and Hybrid Models
  • Create A Three-Tiered Pricing Structure
  • Migrating to the Cloud One Service at a Time
  • Managed Service Tools and the Cloud
  • Storage Migration
  • Email Migration
  • Microsoft Office
  • Money-Making Homework - Migration Plans
  • Backups, DR, and Continuity Basic Backups
  • BDRs
  • Business Continuity
  • Running Your New CSP Business - The Right Tools for the Job
  • Your Standard Offerings (Your Catalog of Services)
  • Staff Requirements for Cloud Services
  • Client Onboarding 

... And More!

PLUS lots more. This class is filled with great advice and tips on running your I.T. company and moving into the world of recurring revenue with cloud services.

Delivered by Karl W. Palachuk, blogger and author of the very popular "SOP Friday" posts at http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com.

Includes five weeks of webinars with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

Only $259


- - - - -

A Few Details . . .

  • Each course will be five one-hour webinars
  • There will be handouts and "homework" assignments
  • If you wish to receive feedback on your assignments, there will be instructor office hours
  • Class webinars will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
  • All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time