Many of you have heard me rant against the concept of "All You Can Eat." Of course there's no such thing as all you can eat. Why does a restaurant have rules for AYCE? Because it's a policy designed to be abused.
I get about one email per month from someone who has screwed themselves by offering an AYCE managed service offering. One of the hardest lessons learned is about to be repeated. Microsoft is setting the stage (Don't get me wrong. I don't blame Microsoft for the policies of MSPs who fall into this trap.)
Introducing Windows 11 - To be delivered free of charge!
Sounds great. Now picture this. I have 20 desktop computers and 35 laptops. All are on Windows 10 and they vary from one year old to five years old. All will (as far as we know) be eligible for free upgrades to Windows 11. Yay.
But Windows 11 will not be installable on old, insecure hardware. Are my machines equipped with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips? I don't know. You (my MSP) probably don't know. So, job one is:
Run the update tool that will someday be posted here:
. . . on all 55 machines for FREE. Meaning, you won't charge me to do this because I have an all I can eat contract. Thank you.
Can these chips be installed with a motherboard plug-in of some kind? Go find out. And don't charge me. Then, if the work needs to be done, do it. I'll pay for the chips. You provide labor for free because I have an all I can eat contract. Thank you.
Finally, we're ready to upgrade the machines we can. Let's say it's 25 machines ready to upgrade. You'll patiently sit through that upgrade to make sure it's smooth. Time twenty-five machines. Plus any driver updates and troubleshooting. I'll pay ZERO for that labor because I have an all I can eat contract. Thank you.
But, Karl, All You Can Eat Doesn't Mean All You Can Eat!
Oh? What does it mean?
And you'll forgive me if I dig out your marketing material, read through your web site, and review my contract. Seems to me that All I Can Eat is very self-explanatory.
Okay. You're tired of hearing this. Great. Then stop using that term. It's misleading to clients and other managed service providers. It's a lie.
To have a viable business model, you need to draw very clear lines around what's included and what's extra. That way, you and your clients can be on the same page about what they're paying for. And, as a bonus, you can be profitable. I'm a huge fan of that.
Recently I posted a video on What is an MSP and What is Not an MSP:
If your business is service-focused and client-focused, then you probably put a very big emphasis on keeping the client's systems UP and working, as well as efficient. You help them get the absolute greatest value from their investment in technology. That's a maintenance-first approach.
And, therefore, your offering has to be around maintenance and maximizing the value of each client's investment. Adds, moves, changes, are extra.
[Side note: The only real reason to offer a false "All You Can Eat" offering is to attract clients who do not see value in your services and would rather not pay you for everything they get. I don't think you want to attract those people as clients.]