Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Perfect Project Management? Class Starts April 4th

Highly Successful Project Management

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

This course will cover the most important aspects of project management for small business. It is intended for computer consultants, VARs, and managed service providers. Whether you sell projects on a Time-and-Materials basis or flat fee, it is critical to manage them successfully. 

Successful projects are more than simply profitable. Successful projects make you look good. They make the client more productive and potentially more profitable. They help you build a positive relationship.

This course is intended for consultants who are new to project management as well as those who have been running projects for years and would like to take a serious step up to a the next level of professionalism and profitability.

This is an intensive webinar course over a five week period. All assignments are voluntary, of course. But if you want feedback on assignments, please complete assignments during this course and email them to the instructor.

Topics to be presented include:
  • Different kinds of project management; What’s best for this job?
  • Tools to Use for managing your projects
  • Documentation at all stages
    • Pre-Discovery Process
    • The Discovery Process
    • Documentation and Communication
    • After the Project
  • Checklists of all kinds
  • Project Planning, Quoting, and Selling
  • Why Projects Go Wrong
  • The Scope is Everything
  • Closed Loop Project Management
  • How an Ant Eats an Elephant
  • Managing Projects in Your PSA
  • Microsoft Project
  • Client Training
  • The Evaluation Process
  • Managing Time / Managing Employees
  • Outsourcing Options
  • Creating Repeatable, Successful Projects
  • Building an Action Plan that works

Overview of the Course
Week One:     Introduction / Setting the Stage
Week Two:     Project Planning, Quoting, Selling
Week Three:   Closed Loop Execution
Week Four:     Repeatable Success
Week Five:      Implementing Your PM Process

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.

Register Now

What is the Cloud 5 Pack?

For more than ten years, I've made most of my money on the Managed Services side of my business with a product called the

Cloud 5 Pack

If you've attended my 2017 SMB Roadshow or attended my 5-week online course with ChannelPro, then you have heard the details of the Cloud 5 Pack.

I've also mentioned the Cloud 5 Pack and the formula I've used to leverage it into millions of dollars worth of sales. For example, this video review of the HP Microserver mentions the Cloud 5 Pack.

Again and again, folks talk about the Cloud 5 Pack . . . and get it wrong. So let me explain what it is.

First: The Cloud 5 Pack is not something I sell to consultants. It's a formula I use for creating a bundle of hugely profitable cloud services. So you can't buy the Cloud 5 Pack from me. But sometimes I offer training on how to create YOUR Cloud 5 Pack using my formula.

Second: This is not rocket science. If there's any "secret" sauce here, it boils down to
1. Create a bundle. Never break up the bundle. Sell other stuff in addition to the bundle (manage services, other cloud services, HIPAA compliance, telephones, signage, etc.)
2. Always sell managed services on top of the cloud services. I prefer to sell them for the same price. e.g., $299 for the Cloud 5 Pack and $299 for the managed services component.

Third: The five-pack refers to five user licenses. So, the bundle is a collection of vital services, sold for "Up to five users." You have seven employees? You buy two 5 Packs. Someone reading this says it will never work because clients don't want to pay for unused licenses. Bullshit. They do it every day. But Symantec (or some other large company) gets the money for the unused licenses instead of you.

Fourth: The goal is to bundle "The core technology that every company needs." This Cloud 5 Pack is not the only thing you sell. But it is the thing you can sell to every single client you have. For example, my bundle includes
- Storage and backup
- Hosted Exchange mailboxes
- Office licenses
- Anti-Virus
- Spam Filtering
- Remote monitoring and patch management
- Web site
- Technology Roadmap (quarterly business review)
- Quarterly onsite training

It's extremely important that you move away from single-user licenses. They keep you from making real money. And they keep you competing on price. The bundle is a unique offering. Yours will be different from mine. And sold in a 5-pack (or 10- or 20-pack), you can offer an awesome package at a very reasonable price.

I make just over 100% on the cloud services bundle. Then I add managed services for those five users. And the managed services is almost 100% profit. So the overall package has massive value for the end user client and huge profit for me.

I've been delivering this basic bundle (with a few changes) since 2008. I've literally sold millions of dollars worth of this very simple collection of cloud services. In fact, it gets more profitable every year. Just the storage component alone has gone down in price in the last year by about $17 per 5-pack. That doesn't sound like much, but remember the total price is only $299. So without raising rates, my profit jumped more than 5% on one component.

Virtually every question I get about selling this offering is based on fear. IT professionals come up with all kinds of reasons why a client would not buy it. But most of those questions exist only in the heads of the IT Pros. Clients never ask me about unused licenses. Clients never ask me about what happens to their old AV or their old Microsoft account. They don't care about that stuff.

ALL of the client questions are based on security and reliability. And every day there's a new story about how SMB is under attack by cyber criminals. And every year there's a new disaster that demonstrates that the cloud is the place to be.

I hope this gives you a good idea of what I'm selling. It is a bundle that allows me to promise the client essentially 100% uptime, a great price, and all the core technology they need to run their company.

Last year I did six-hour trainings on this, so I obviously can't spell out all the details in one blog post. But I hope you can reverse-engineer from here.

More than ever, I firmly believe that servers are already a thing of the past. You need to be selling only serverless architecture to your clients.

Take a stab at it. Create YOUR Cloud Five Pack. I'll bet the first client you talk to about it will ask to sign up right away.

Questions welcome.

- - - - -

Update: I did a lengthy webinar and answered LOTS of question about this. Replay is here.
- kp


Check Out the All New Book:

Cloud Services in A Month
by Karl W. Palachuk

396 pages - plus lots of juicy downloads

Paperback - Ebook

A great resource for managed service providers or anyone who wants make money selling and bundling cloud services.

Featuring all the details you need to create and sell YOUR custom Cloud Five-Pack (TM)

Learn More!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ten New Video Podcasts

Have you been following the SMB Community Podcasts?

This year I've made a commitment to produce a lot more of these. So far, I've added ten new interviews during 2018. One more will be posted in a few days.

Check out what we have so far at www.SMBCommunityPodcast.com. The format is a time-saving 30 minutes. Generally, we don't show slides or let people do PowerPoint presentations. This is a real interview. I plant the seeds and the guest talks about what they want.

I post the interviews as both an MP4 (uploaded to my YouTube channel) and MP3 formats. So if you just want to listen and go jogging, you can take it with you.

Here are the podcasts so far this year. Give a listen and don't forget to subscribe to the RSS feed.

Interview: Herman Pool / Vertical Axion

Dave Sobel on Future Trends (and More)

Michael Siggins – What’s New at ChannelPro?

We Held a Community Meeting . . .

Joshua Liberman: Selling Security

Jennifer Fields and Elizabeth Vanover – Executive Marketing Collective – on IT Marketing Strategies

Justin Esgar – ACES Conference 2018

James Kernan on Sales Coaching – and More!

Rayanne Buchianico – Welcome to Tax Season!

Josh Peterson – Managed Services in a Month Peer Groups!

RSS Feed



Thursday, March 22, 2018

Managed Services and Cloud Service - Killer Combo

Gotta say: I love the stuff we're doing on this year's SMB Roadshow.

We've only got FIVE shows left this Spring. So if you haven't signed up yet, now is a great time.

First, I cover a massive - but extremely important - topic: The 25 Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Running a Service Business. These are literally the rules I created in my own company. They are phrases and beliefs that summarize how a successful business works.

And I'll bet there are some real surprises in there.

I have tried to keep this presentation under two hours and I can't do it. Too many questions - and great audience participation. Plus - there are several slides that will pay for the cost of the seminar if you just follow that one piece of advice.

Second, I am working with Jennifer Fields and Elizabeth Vanover from Executive Marketing Collective (www.executivemarketingcollective.com) to bring some great marketing information to the Roadshow.

Our overall theme is about moving to the future and living in the new world that's emerging so fast. If your marketing used to work and hasn't performed so well lately, you might want to look at some of the new tips and techniques available today.

Finally, I close with a presentation on merging Cloud Services and Managed Services to create the Killer Combo. Again, I am sold on the exponential nature of change in our world today. This topic has been super fun because huge changes are happening all the time. I update my slide deck after every show!

How do you adopt exponential change into your business today?

- - - - -

FAQs . . .

So, we get questions. Here are a few answers.

Q. Are there downloads?
A. Yes! Including slides, there are about 75 pages of downloads, including exercises and checklists.

Q. Is the seminar recorded?
A. Yes! We have audio recordings of the seminars - not video. In fact, some people like to listen to different cities. My material is a little different each time. And the Q&A is always different. So we'll post up several cities' recordings.

Q. If I signed up for one city, can I switch to another?
A. Yes! In fact, if you paid for one city, you can attend any other city at no additional charge. Not sure everyone needs that, but it's a "feature" we offer.

Q. If I sign up for a future city, can I access the downloads now?
A. Yes! When you sign up for any city, you'll receive information on accessing the attendee downloads page for the 2018 Roadshow. You will have access to all handouts, slides, and mp3 recordings.

Q. So do I have to show up?
A. No! You can treat this like a virtual seminar and I promise you'll still get your money's worth!

Q. I only see five more cities. Will you be adding cities?
A. That depends.

Let's be honest: It costs money to do this. I never sell from the front of the room. Or, for that matter, the back of the room. My goal is to give you value immediately.

But it needs to be worth my time. With airfare, hotel, meeting space, and (sometimes) a rental car, it can cost me $2,000 or more per city. So I need attendees.

I don't have any vendor sponsors and I don't endorse specific solutions in my presentations. But that independence means I also don't have vendor money.

So, on future shows: I will be adding shows in Boston and Long Beach in association with ChannelPro Network. And I will try to hold a year-ender seminar in Las Vegas because that worked pretty well.

As for other cities . . . I need to see how attendance shapes up. I've got airfare and hotels figured out for the next five cities. Then I'll take the Summer off and we'll see.

Bottom line for you: Sign Up NOW - that way, you won't miss this great show no matter what happens. Scheduled Cities:

- - - - -

On site registration is $259. Early registration is only $199. Register Today!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

WorldPay Releases 2018 Point of Sale Channel KPI Survey

I got a memo from my friend Jim Roddy over at WorldPay (Vantiv). They've released a three-part report on their annual 2018 Point of Sale Channel KPI Study. One more installment will be posted next week.

Here's what we have so far.

Part 1: Resellers report robust sales and profits in 2017, expect stronger 2018

Jim Roddy - WorldPay
A few interesting take-aways:

23% of respondents saw either flat or declining sales. This was a big improvement from the previous year’s study (37%).  experienced either flat or declining sales. Looking to the year ahead, the number of resellers and ISVs who expect their sales to decline in 2018 disappears almost completely (10% in 2017, less than 1% in 2018). So things are looking up!

Part 2: Resellers accelerate pace of recurring revenue transition

A few interesting take-aways:

About 42% of respondents have most mostly or completely to a recurring revenue model. Another 26% describe themselves as about half way there. All of them expect to dramatically increase recurring revenue as a proportion of their revenue in the year ahead.

Part 3: Resellers and developers share compensation, benefits data

A few interesting take-aways:

About 77% of POS resellers have very low employee turnover (10% or less), probably due in large part to the benefits they offer. Top benefits are:
  • Two or more weeks paid time off: 77.4%
  • Health insurance: 67.9%
  • Flexible work schedules: 50.9%
  • Dental insurance: 49.1%
  • Vision insurance: 43.4%

Less than ten percent of respondents offered no benefits. As Jim points out, you're going to have a tough time finding and keeping good people in this era of low unemployment if you don't offer good salaries and benefits.

Webinar on Key Performance Indicators

WorldPay is hosting a webinar on March 21st - “KPIs of Rich-and-Famous POS VARs and ISVs” - where they'll discuss the study in-depth and answer your questions about the state of the point of sale channel.

All webinar attendees will receive their own copy of the complete 2018 POS Channel KPI Study.
Register Here for the webinar.

. . .

and Thanks to Jim for the information.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Unbreakable Rules of PSA - Class Starts March 20th

The Unbreakable Rules of PSA

- IT Service Delivery in the 21st Century

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific
You're guaranteed to learn something that will make or save you the price of admission!

Everyone needs a PSA - Professional Services Automation tool. But in addition to simply having a PSA, you need to set it up correctly and use it wisely.
Manuel Palachuk
In this course, you will learn how to double your value to clients and increase your profit with these powerful golden rules of PSA Service Ticket Systems.

Coach Manuel focuses on the direct connection between your service delivery system, the value you give your clients, and your profit, and how to maximize each. He also gives an overview of Agile Service Delivery, an emerging method you must learn to stay competitive.

Whether you’re a one-person shop or have fifty employees, to be consistently profitable, you must have guidelines for how to break down the work in an organized fashion and how you will communicate with the client along the way.

You don’t have to be an MSP or even use a PSA to work efficiently and be profitable, but you do need a system and a method. These "golden" rules can be the seed for your own system if you have none, or you can adopt them in whole to enrich your existing methods. Either way, this is your opportunity to take your service delivery and your profits to the next level.

The course includes a thorough discussion of the unbreakable rules of service tickets as well as covering quality communication with every client. It will be time well spent!

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!

Delivered by Manuel Palachuk, author and business coach.

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.

Register Now

Monday, March 12, 2018

Thoughts on a New Community

So I've been thinking about creating a new online community. Actually, I've been thinking about it for years. But I wanted to make sure that I felt I had enough "stuff" to make it worthwhile.

I've always tried to fill a void. So I want to do more than just have a place to distribute information.

One of the things the SMB IT Community needs is a place where we can all gather as a community. There was a time when that place was the annual SMB Nation conference. But as the community has grown, that conference has faded and lots of other events have take its place.

Now, there's a conference for Robin Robins, a conference for Datto, a conference for ConnectWise, a conference for CompTIA, and lots of smaller conferences. Then there are events for ChannelPro, ASCII, The Channel Company, SMB TechFest, and others.

So we have plenty of conferences, in my opinion. BUT different people attend different events. I just attended TechFest, ASCII, and ChannelPro events back to back. All were excellent. And maybe twenty people attended two or three events. Otherwise, there was basically no overlap.

We need a place to meet as a community. Yes, there are places online. But there are 100 places to get together on Facebook or LinkedIn. There are ASCII email lists, but that's not the same as an interactive forum. There are forums on Reddit, but mostly not focused on this community.

I Use The Term Community because that's the thing we need the most.

There are new-ish groups all over the place with people who are just getting into this business. They don't know about the channel. They don't know about managed services. They don't know that there are LOTS of people willing to help them.

How could they? If you're just getting into this business, you probably think you're a "computer consultant." How could you know the terms managed service or channel?

We need a community to help people who are new to our profession. And, to be honest, part of the role of community is to help show them that this IS a profession and to show them some of the standards.

As I travel around, I meet so many great people. Over time, I get to know them. I learn about their families and friends. I can honestly say that some of my best friends are people I met in our community.

But I'm afraid the community has become fragmented and will continue to fall apart. We need something where everyone can come together and interact with one another. The goal would be to add something we can't get anywhere else - not replace something that's out there.

- - - - -

Here's what I'm thinking about.

A new online community with three levels. One is free, two are paid.

1) Free. Includes all the free stuff I give away, plus an index to everything I've ever produced. So if you want to find something, you can.

2) Paid content. Basically, this is everything I've ever produced. AND a commitment to continue posting new stuff month after month.

3) All that, plus an interactive community. We'll have forums, special internal-only webinars, community meetings, member-only training, and more.

As for the interactive forums . . . My head is exploding with ideas. We can have SIGs (special interest groups) for specialty and vertical technologies, sales, podcasting, tools, and pretty much whatever people are interested in. We could even have a buy-sell-trade board.

I really think this would be a great place for a group learning experience. For example, helping people learn to create client-facing videos and marketing material. And once the group went through the learning process together, we could hold competitions for the best products that came out of it.

. . .  Anyway . . . I've been thinking about this for years. And I think it's time to decide whether YOU would find it worthwhile. I put together a super quick survey. I would love your feedback on whether we should have just one offering or two or three. And, of course, what you consider to be a reasonable price.

Please give your feedback here: https://www.123formbuilder.com/form-3525888/

Thank you !!!


Thursday, March 08, 2018

What Do You Need to Charge per Hour?

I've seen a number of posts on social media recently that mention hourly tech support rates well below $75/hr. I find that shocking for a competent technician. Of course no one calls themselves out and says, ". . . I'm a total noob and have no idea what I'm doing."

When I started my first technology consulting business in 1995 I set my rate at $100/hr. The reason for this was very simple. I thought it was large enough to be taken seriously as a professional.

I also thought it would make me a lot of money. After all, billing 40 hours/week at $100 was a very cool $4,000 per week. Times 50 weeks = $200,000! Sign me up! Of course that didn't happen.

Lesson One: If you bring $100 worth of value to a job, no one will bat an eye at paying $100/hr for labor.

Lesson Two: You never bill 40 hours per week. In fact, you're lucky to bill 20, especially when you start out.

Click to Enlarge
You may not charge for travel, so take travel hours out of the possible 40 hours in a week. You certainly don't charge for sales meetings, or for putting together quotes and proposals. So take that out. Meetings, planning, and time spent actually running your own business are all not billable to clients.

A really, really good technician working for someone else and doing most work remotely can often be 80% billable. That's 32 hours per week. 65% is much more common. That's 26 hours per week. Managers are frequently in the 40% billable range. Owners who do sales are frequently 20% billable or less.

The point is: You cannot bill 40 hours a week. Track it. Be rigorous and honest, and you'll see that you're lucky to hit 50%.

Now consider your hourly rate. See the chart.

The average income reported in the U.S. is about $75,000 per year. The green blocks add up to about $75-99,999 per year. As you can see, there are two simple ways to get yourself in a green cell: Bill more hours or charge more per hour.

Plot the number of hours your realistically bill in a week. If you're starting out and you're a sole proprietor, you are probably billing 20 hours or less. As you can see, you'll never reach $75K charging $50 or $60 per hour.

If you're charging less tha $75/hr, I want you spend a lot of time staring at these numbers and being honest with yourself. What do you really, really charge? How many hours do you really bill?

If you use QuickBooks, I encourage you to invoice every hour - even if it's free. You don't have to send zero-dollar invoices to clients, but it's pretty good P.R. if you do. But I want you to do this for yourself: Invoice every single hour. At whatever rate. If you give hours away, write that down as well. QuickBooks will allow you to enter five hours at zero dollars.

When you do this, you'll be able to run report / Sales by Item / Detail (or summary) and see exactly how many hours you invoiced, and the total income. Let's say you work 50 hours per week. You bill 25 at $75/hr. And you don't send bills for another 25 hours at $0/hr. Your effective billing rate is $37.50/hr.

But again, I bet you're not billing that. In fact, many people tell themselves they're doing great - until they run the actual numbers. It's much more likely that you have an occasional great job and a lot of weeks very really bad numbers.

The market is excellent for technicians and everyone in I.T. Services. Be honest: If you can't earn more than $100,000 in taxable income on your 1040 income form, STOP playing around in this industry and go get a job.

When you're ready to commit to a career as an individual consultant, you need to do a few things. First, charge enough to be taken seriously. Second, get yourself enough of an education to be worth at least $100/hr.

I welcome all the new people joining this industry. But please know that there are lots of people who have a lot of experience and charge more like $150-175/hr. Make yourself worth that, and charge those rates.

It's a lot easier than trying to squeeze out impossible hours at almost-impossible rates.

- - - - -

BTW the other colored cells are as follows:
 Yellow = $100K - $124,999
 Blue = $125K - $149,999
 Orange = $150K - $174,999
 Gray = $175K - $199,999