Friday, June 21, 2019

Report: Newsletter Feedback

I asked for feedback on my weekly newsletter. Thank you to those who responded.

It can be difficult to be a "content creator" in the modern world. At some level, you have to infer whether people enjoy something based on whether they're clicking, liking, following, buying, and so forth. But once in a while, you can ASK.

. . . and I got some good feedback in the comments.

First, an overview of the results. Click on the graphic to enlarge.


The first set of questions is: Do you read this section? Here are the responses for "Every Time" and "Often" combined:

- Intro/Notes from Karl = 98%

- Recent Blog Posts/Links = 71%

- Announcement Mini Classes = 62%

- Announce 5-week Classes = 60%

- SBT Community News = 63%

- Major Events for Karl = 69%

- Picture of the Week = 52%

- Events Calendar = 39%

So . . . a solid majority of respondents read at lease some of every section on a regular basis - except the calendar. Perhaps, I thought, I should drop the calendar.

Next up, I asked whether you think we should KEEP each section.



Here are the responses for "Absolutely Yes" and "Yes" combined:

- Intro/Notes from Karl = 96%

- Recent Blog Posts/Links = 88%

- Announcement Mini Classes = 80%

- Announce 5-week Classes = 78%

- SBT Community News = 89%

- Major Events for Karl = 81%

- Picture of the Week = 54%

- Events Calendar = 71%

Well, I guess we keep the calendar after all.

-- -- --

I Know It's Long . . . But I think it's a quick read. I hope no one actually prints it out because, with the calendar, it takes a decent size tree to print out the whole thing. BUT most people are probably only glancing at the calendar to see if there are items nearby or coming to their town. And it doesn't change that much.

One person suggested posting the Calendar on a web site and linking to it in the newsletter, but here's part of my secret sauce: I want this newsletter to have unique information you can't get anywhere else. That's why I write articles that never appear on my blogs or podcasts (99.9% of the time).

Several people commented that they are often busy on Monday morning, but they keep the newsletter around until they can get to it. I appreciate that!

Many people commented that they love the content and appreciate getting it on a regular basis. Thank you.

One person suggested combining my appearances with the general calendar. We'll have to see about that. I just created this section this year, so I was surprised to see that 81% said to keep it.

I am grateful that there were several comments like this:

"Thanks for consistently putting out a great, informative newsletter."

A few other interesting stats:

There are just under 10,000 people on this mailing list.

67% open this email on a desktop; 33% from a phone. I'll bet it seems longer on a phone. :-)

About 26% of those folks open the email every week. Of course, it's not always the same exact people every week.

And about 7% of those who open the email actually click to follow a link somewhere.

I know you get a boatload of email every week. I will continue to work hard to earn your readership.

Please feel free to send me any comments, questions, or feedback. Thank you.

- Karlp

:-)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

SolarWinds Announces the Availability of SolarWinds Service Desk

Received this press release from our friends over at SolarWinds:

-- -- --



AUSTIN, Texas, June 18, 2019 — SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI), a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, today announced the release of SolarWinds® Service Desk, an IT service management (ITSM) offering that will empower IT professionals with a robust and easy-to-use service desk solution.

SolarWinds is expanding its capabilities in the space during a time of extreme importance for IT leaders. The ITSM market is forecasted to reach over $8.5 billion by 2023, according to IDC1. Through the acquisition of market-leading ITSM solution Samanage earlier this year, SolarWinds now adds a comprehensive, ITIL-compliant, cloud-based solution for companies of all sizes, helping them increase employee productivity and drive better business outcomes.

From ongoing IT help desk requests, to costly outages that affect employee productivity, to overspending on hardware and software, businesses are tasked with gaining better control of their IT infrastructure and service costs. SolarWinds, through Web Help Desk® and now SolarWinds Service Desk, helps IT pros solve employee service challenges the way that works best for them and their business needs—whether through simple, on-premises ticketing software, or an ITIL-ready, SaaS-based service desk solution. The company is working to help ensure smart, powerful, and affordable ITSM solutions are accessible to companies of all sizes and levels of IT maturity.

“IT service desks are a core solution every employee must interact with to get their jobs done each and every day,” said Doron Gordon, senior vice president, ITSM, SolarWinds. “As businesses make new strides in their digital transformation journeys, it’s essential their ITSM solution can evolve with them and continue serving the needs of both the employees and the IT staff. For the first time, SolarWinds can offer a range of ITSM offerings, and put employee service offerings within the hands of IT pros from small businesses to large enterprises through SolarWinds Service Desk.”

SolarWinds Service Desk can remove the manual burden of managing incoming tickets and tracking technology assets, freeing up budget and empowering IT professionals to focus on critical growth projects and transformation. SolarWinds Service Desk is based on ITSM best practices to create a platform as usable as it is cutting-edge by incorporating automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to help streamline IT support services and empower employee self-service. The product has won countless industry awards and is recognized as one of the most-reviewed and highest-rated ITSM solutions across a variety of peer review websites, like Gartner® Peer Insights™ and G2 Crowd®.

Fully integrated with SolarWinds Service Desk is the newest addition to the service management portfolio, SolarWinds Discovery, providing organizations with an accurate and cost-effective way to discover, map, and manage technology assets. The product will enable organizations to consolidate asset information from multiple repositories, improve service delivery by providing real-time intelligence on assets, and enhance flexibility for collecting and managing data.

“Businesses are significantly overspending on hardware and software due to asset management solutions with poor transparency. This creates bottleneck issues that can result in unplanned downtime, which costs organizations even more in the long-run,” added Gordon. “SolarWinds Discovery offers technology leaders and decision-makers a new level of visibility into not only their IT assets, but their entire technology landscape.”

As part of the launch of SolarWinds Service Desk, the company has also reduced pricing across the various product tiers to make it even more affordable.

For more information about SolarWinds Service Desk, please visit the SolarWinds website.


About SolarWinds

SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI) is a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT infrastructure management software. Our products give organizations worldwide, regardless of type, size or IT infrastructure complexity, the power to monitor and manage the performance of their IT environments, whether on-premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid models. We continuously engage with all types of technology professionals—IT operations professionals, DevOps professionals, and managed service providers (MSPs)—to understand the challenges they face maintaining high-performing and highly available IT infrastructures. The insights we gain from engaging with them, in places like our THWACK online community, allow us to build products that solve well-understood IT management challenges in ways that technology professionals want them solved. This focus on the user and commitment to excellence in end-to-end hybrid IT performance management has established SolarWinds as a worldwide leader in network management software and MSP solutions. Learn more today at www.solarwinds.com.

-- -- --


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Speakers for Sherweb Accelerate 2019 - Join Us!

Received this announcement from our friends over at Sherweb . . .


Meet Our Speakers for Accelerate 2019!

Our Accelerate Cloud Summit will feature interactive workshops and training sessions led by renowned leaders in the marketing, sales and tech industry. This is your chance to learn about proven sales and marketing strategies, including tools and assets, plus exciting opportunities that will transform your cloud business.

See All Speakers

Here’s a preview of our exceptional speakers:

Building Awesome Cloud Service Bundles to Generate Maximum Profits
Karl Palachuk – Business Coach in the SMB IT Network
In this session, you’ll learn key strategies and steps to building a profitable cloud service bundle, including pricing and tiered offerings.
Learn more

Matthew Cassar – Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SherWeb
Matthew will kick off Accelerate 2019 and discuss SherWeb’s cloud strategy roadmap to 2020, plus new opportunities in the pipeline.
Learn more

Using LinkedIn to Drive Leads to Your MSP
Chris Wiser – Founder & CEO of The Wiser Agency
Experience a detailed walkthrough of how to leverage LinkedIn for leads. You’ll leave the session with a complete marketing campaign, including plans, processes and deliverables to crush lead generation.
Learn more

Register now and save $200 - Early Bird ends June 30th

- - - - -

As you can see, I'm speaking. Would love to see you there. And this great event is only $299 right now. Please join us.

:-)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Newsletter Feedback, Please


- - - - -
NOTE: The results of this feedback are posted here: http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2019/06/report-newsletter-feedback.html

Thanks. kp
- - - - -

Many of you read my weekly newsletter. Thank You!!!

But I'm always looking for feedback. And right now I am really looking for feedback.

Will you please fill out this super-simple form? It boils down to two questions:

1) Do you read [this] section?

2) Should we keep it?

I appreciate your feedback!





I'm obviously looking at making some changes here.

PS: If you want to receive my newsletter, sign up here.


:-)

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

How to Get New Clients - Especially if You're Starting Out or Starting Over

How to Get New Clients - Especially if You're Starting Out or Starting Over

A new mini-class by Amy Babinchak and Karl W. Palachuk

Over in the Small Biz Thoughts Community, we have a new class coming up next week. It was inspired by a conversation Amy and I had about how we like to attract new clients.

Some folks on Facebook were discussing the challenges of getting new clients. Amy and I agreed on two primary techniques - and we have different approaches to some others.

So we decided to share our experience. Join us!

One of the great truths in marketing is that 50% of it doesn’t work. But you don’t know which 50%! But there are some tried and true techniques that do work. You just have to commit to them and execute.

Both of us have been in the business for many years. In the class we talk about our experiences and give details of how we executed several marketing strategies.

This mini class happens three Wednesdays in June:

Wed. June 12th – 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern
Wed. June 19th – 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern
Wed. June 26th – 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

All calls are recorded, so you can catch up if you miss a class.

Classes are generally 30-60 minutes each, plus questions.


This class is FREE for Small Biz Thoughts Community members. 
Only $99 for non-members.



:-)

Monday, June 03, 2019

HOW You Use Your Automated Systems Makes All the Difference

I am currently in the middle of a customer service disaster - as the customer.

I have a minor plumbing problem that has been dragging on for three months. So far, I've had three visits from technicians and two missed appointments. Actually, all three visits were missed appointments as well (they missed the 10AM to 3PM window and only showed up after I called them).

And literally zero work has been done.

A huge piece of this is related to the home warranty policies and their preferred vendor. But 98% of my frustration is from the plumbing company and how they use their service board.

Having managed service boards with a staff as small as two and as large as thirty, I think I have a good idea of what's going on in the background. And, of course, there are a few lessons for IT consultants.

First: They rely entirely on their automated service board. I get text messages and need to respond with text messages to make appointments.

This is the practice I hear the most push-back about from IT Pros. They say clients won't use the system, or don't trust the system, or don't like the system. Believe me, this is ALL about how you implement the system.

We've all used automated systems that were good. For example, last year I had a great experience with my electrical utility. I called the number and an automated attendant asked me a few questions, and then told me that a technician needed to be dispatched. I was given a small window (one hour) and the tech was there on time. If all service was this good, the world would be a better place.

Unless you have millions to invest in a super high-quality automated system, however, it is best to keep human beings involved. I love putting automated systems in place, but I never removed the people. To the extent that the technology makes a client feel loved and taken care of, use it. But also make sure that there's enough human interaction that the client feels like they know you and your team - and trust you.

Clients need to feel taken care of. That messy human emotional stuff is hard to replace with robots (today).

When you automate customer service, you have to increase the human interaction until clients feel comfortable that they are being taken care of. Clients don't actually resist putting in a ticket: They resist being handed off to an automated system that gives them no reassurance that they're being taken care of.

We always encouraged clients to enter a ticket in our system. But if they called us instead, we simply said, "Have you entered a ticket, or would you like me to do that?" Entering a ticket is NOT a variable. There has to be a ticket before work can begin.

Note, also, that I highly recommend that the phone be answered by an administrative assistant, office manager, or anyone else who cannot fix problems. Entering the ticket is separated from actual work on the problem. But, at the same time, the client is reassured and feels "heard."

Bottom Line: Be careful how you implement your automated systems. They should increase service, not alienate clients.

Second: Technicians did not document their work, report back to their supervisor, or move the job closer to resolution. In the case of the plumbing problem, the first tech who actually showed up never entered anything into the system. So all I heard was silence until I called again and found out that there was nothing in the system.

That led to sending out a second technician to do what the first one was supposed to do. The second technician was not qualified to turn off the water to the house, so he couldn't do anything without supervision. So that was a total waste.

Another call (and a third co-payment) resulted in a technician who did what the first technician should have done. So now we're on the path to getting an estimate on the real work that needs to be done.

No progress has been made yet, but it took three visits to determine what progress might look like.

Do your clients experience this? It's caused by two common problems. One is that a technician does not enter notes into the ticket, or closes the ticket without enough information. So the service manager doesn't know how to proceed. The other is that a technician is assigned who cannot actually complete the job. This guarantees rework - and a dissatisfied customer.

The worst part for me, since I understand how a service board works, is the feeling that we are starting over every time a technician leaves without doing any work. In one case, a tech showed up at 4:30 PM. I knew he wasn't going to start doing any real work. And when he left, I knew the next technician would have no idea what might have been done, so he would start over completely.

Bottom Line: Think about how you feel with both good and bad customer service. And think about how it might relate to your own business. When you feel frustrated, ask yourself whether your company behaves in a similar way with your clients. When you feel taken care of, also ask yourself whether your company behaves in a similar way with your clients.

Your clients know what it feels like for problems to drag on and never get resolved. With luck, that's due to some other company.

When you make changes, especially around automation, you need to make sure you don't tap into the fear that they're doing down that road to poor service. Once they see that service is improved by automation, they will feel comfortable embracing it. Just be aware that that might take some time.

:-)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

You Can Also Make Money Fighting Against the Future

I'm a HUGE advocate of pushing as fast as possible into a new future. In fact, I'm a huge believer that you can help create the future as it unfolds - and make a lot of money doing so.

See, for example, the new Killing IT Podcast I've launched with Dave Sobel and Ryan Morris. https://killingit.smallbizthoughts.com.

But we also have to realize that opportunity is everywhere in a world of change. That includes the world of pushing back against future.

Being contrary is always a legitimate option. And when opportunity is everywhere, it can be a profitable option as well. Here's the recipe we see repeated time and again during periods of great change:

First, The future becomes clearer and clearer. Eventually it becomes an inevitable truth.

Second, Those with a stake in the present (which is to say, the past) have to make a choice. There are three options.

Option One: Play your end game. That is, double-down on the past while planning to get out of the business altogether. Thus, you capture large sums of money as everyone else transitions to the new future.

Option Two: Resist the future. Innovate against it (often a good strategy). Argue against it (never a good strategy). Make your products and services so appealing that people forget about the future inevitability because you make the present so enticing.

Option Three: Embrace the future. Learn it. Use it. Sell it.

In this post, I'm mostly interested in option two: Make money resisting the future. Here's what's going on in a few industries today.


Transportation

The future is autonomous, mostly-electric vehicles that are not privately owned. This is the inevitable future. Car manufacturers are resisting this by creating more and more super-cool features that entice people into buying one last car.

The average American keeps a car for about six years. Believe me, autonomous vehicles will be everywhere by 2025! So manufacturers are working hard to get you to buy two cars during that period by adding all kinds of cool features.

At the same time, Ford is moving out of the sedan marketing and heavily into trucks and delivery vehicles. With one exception: They're going to keep the Mustang around as long as they can. Their hope is to sell a lot of cars with the pitch that you need to experience a "real" car before they're gone forever.

In the meantime, all the car makers are adding features that basically wean us off of driving. Telsa has it's almost-autonomous mode. Everyone else has cars that keep you in your lane, help you park, brake automatically. Feature, feature, feature - all leading you into a world where you won't be the driver any more.


Delivery Services

As Amazon and other online services push faster and faster delivery, the delivery industry is exploding. Of course Amazon wants to own this market. How will FedEx, UPS, and the Postal Service fight the future? By overwhelming it with fast, affordable options.

On one hand, online shopping is expected to double in the next six years. So there's plenty of work to go around for delivery services. On the other hand, there are more companies working on autonomous delivery services than there are current players in market.

The "feature" here is delivery itself. More deliveries, more days per week, and more times per day. Robots and drones will have their day. In the meantime, we'll see at least five years of old-school services offering more and more options for almost-instant delivery.

Where they can make money from Amazon and other online retailers, they will. Where they make money fighting against them, they will.

Amazon has no problem buying up anyone they want to absorb into their collective. The fact that they haven't bought FedEx or UPS probably means that they think they can build something bigger, better, faster without any of the legacy technology or logistics. Fighting that monster will keep the major old school players in the game.


Servers and the Cloud

So what about your business? Are you still installing Exchange servers in offices? How much longer will you be able to do that? And even if you're installing servers in the cloud, how much longer will that last?

Cloud services - serverless architecture - is the inevitable future.

If you play your end game, you can make good money selling fewer and fewer servers for the next five years. So if you're about to retire or sell the company, that's a very legitimate strategy. Just remember that you've chosen to fight Microsoft both as a competitor (Azure) and as a supplier of server licenses. And here's a quick hint: Microsoft will win this one. The server will become a thing that is only available in the cloud.

Remember: This is a very legitimate business strategy. Just please have a strategy. Don't take this option simply because it means you get to do the same thing tomorrow that you did yesterday. If you go down this road, do it with intention.

If you choose to resist the future, you will need even more strategy. How will you entice people to keep servers onsite? Will you specialize in people who fear the future? (Again, totally a legit option.) Will you promise great security? Greater resilience in an emergency? Greater performance?

Just as BMW adds automatic breaking and lane-changing, you need to figure out what features you can use to get the most money out of onsite hardware sales. Someone's going to do this, and do it very well. Lots of money will be made. But you have to have that strategy.


You have to fight the future with features, not price!

There are two fundamental ways that companies fight the future. They either add features to keep people addicted to the old ways, or they reduce their prices in order to be cheaper than the future. Price cuts are never a winning strategy. You simply eat away at your own base while your potential client base shrinks.

The future always starts out expensive. What did you pay for you newest HUGE television? And how much more did you pay for the previous, not-quite-so-huge television?

Future technology always gets cheaper in leaps and bounds. Resisting it with price cuts is a short-term losing strategy. And then your business dies. There is no other long-term option when you use price to stave off the future.

Features are another thing altogether. Features actually cost money. And if there's some real appeal to a specific market that wants to fend off the future, then you can make more and more money going forward.

While it's true that you can buy a $3,000 horse saddle today, you will find it much easier to find a hundred options for $300 saddles. Yes, there are people making good money creating hand-crafted saddles. But there's not very many people making money in that market.

Interestingly enough, I think good technology consultants will be in more demand than ever. The cloud is big and confusing, and no one wants to juggle six or seven vendors. So your opportunities to make great money are better than ever. It just means you have to be a consultant rather than a technician.

But you need a plan.

You need to walk into your future with intention.

:-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Managed Services in a Month - 5-Week Course Starts May 28th

Managed Services in a Month - Applying the Book - Newly Revised

Instructor: Karl W. Palachuk

- Five Tuesdays - May 28 - June 25, 2019 -- Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

You're guaranteed to learn something that will make or save you the price of admission!

This course will cover the process outlined in the book - to build your managed service practice in a month. In this case, five weeks. :-)

Managed Services in a Month is the best-selling guide to turning your "computer consulting" business into a recurring revenue machine!

This course is designed to walk you through the process outlined in the book. AND your registration includes a free copy of the book in the format of your choice.

Updated Information on Tools, Cloud Services, Per-User Pricing, Creating Bundles, and MORE!

For more information on the book, see www.managedservicesinamonth.com.


It's not too late! YOU can get into Managed Services -- in a month.

Even if you decide not to become an MSP (managed service provider), this course will help you establish some great best practices when it comes to running your I.T. business.

Whether you're a new "Computer Consultant" or an experienced Managed Service Provider, you need to create successful processes that will propel your company forward. Nothing is more critical to making profit than having the right processes and procedures in place!

You will learn


  • Computer Consulting in the 21st Century
  • What’s Different About Technology Consulting Today?
  • Cloud Computing in the Small Business Space
  • The Managed Service Model
  • New Consulting Business vs. Existing Business
  • Managed Services in a Month
  • Integrating Cloud Services
  • Making A Plan
  • Starting Fresh with No Clients to Convert
  • Create A Three-Tiered Pricing Structure
  • Bundling Services
  • Per-User vs. Per-Device Pricing Models
  • Putting Your (New) Business Together
  • Weed Your Client Garden and Finish The Plan
  • Write a Service Agreement; Have It Reviewed
  • Overcoming Objections
  • Desktops and Managed Service
  • Executing the Plan
  • Client Sit-Downs
  • After The Sale
  • Key Points to Remember for Profit
  • Running Your New MSP Business
  • The Right Tools for the Job
  • Your Standard Offerings (Your Catalog of Services)
  • Building an Action Plan that works
  • and MORE!



Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

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



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

Questions? Email concierge@smallbizthoughts.com

:-)
Check Out the #1 Best-Selling book on Managed Services ever!

Managed Services in A Month
by Karl W. Palachuk

3nd Edition - Newly Revised and Updated with TEN new chapters


Paperback - Ebook - Audio Book

Unlike some books with old copyrights that sell for $60 or more, this book is 100% up to date and is only $29.95.

Now includes information on making cloud services part of your managed service offering!

Learn More!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Free Webinar - Design and Sell Recurring Revenue Programs that Work - June 4th

Design and Sell Recurring Revenue Programs that Work


Albert Einstein said that “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.” Recurring revenue is a lot like compound interest. Join me for this webinar - How to Design and Sell Recurring Revenue Programs that Work - for an exclusive, educational and entertaining look at the world of recurring revenue.

June 4 @ 11 a.m. PST

Sponsored by Virtiant
Register Now

I have been a consultant since 1995 and I can honestly say that recurring revenue changed my life and changed my business. More than one person has told me that recurring revenue saved their business when the economy turned south.

BUT you can't just sell a flat fee contract think you're going to make money. Like everything else, you need to do it right! There's magic in building bundles that sell. And there's magic in creating the right 3-tiered price list.

There are also some pitfalls you need to avoid. You can't sell a service based on one business model and then deliver a service based on another.

Join me for a webinar jam-packed with tips, tricks, and best practices!

June 4th
11 AM Pacific / 2 PM Eastern
Register Free


Learn More about Virtiant at Virtiant.com


:-)

Photo Credit: Photograph by Orren Jack Turner, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=925243



Friday, May 17, 2019

Cloud Services in a Month - on Amazon

Today I approved the final, final printing proof for Cloud Services in a Month.

That means, with luck, that you'll be able to order it on Amazon next week. You can order the paperback today at www.smbbooks.com.

Find out more about the book at www.cloudservicesinamonth.com.


Please be patient with Amazon. We have no direct connection with them. In other words, they don't buy books from us. Our books are distributed by Ingram Books, the largest book distributor in the world. Amazon orders through them.

With a new book, Amazon almost never keeps stock. But the book is POD - publish on demand. So it's never really out of stock. They just have to order one and have it drop shipped to you.

After a book has been up a while, this all works very smoothly. But with a new book, it can take a bit of time before they start ordering as they should.

- - - - -

Update: The paperback is available at Amazon here:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942115547

and the Kindle edition is available here:
https://www.amazon.com/Cloud-Services-Month-Successful-Business-ebook/dp/B07RRWYHFB/

The paperback is "back ordered" until Monday.

- - - - -

Anyway - Thank you all for all your support.

Please visit www.cloudservicesinamonth.com to learn more.

:-)