Thursday, September 19, 2019

24 hour Zoom Room Available to Community Members

We all love Zoom, right?

Well now we are taking our Zoom engagement to a new level.

Effective immediately, we are making our Zoom Room available to all SBT Community Members 24 hours a days, seven days a week!

24×7
Why and What? Here’s what we’re up to:

Members Click Here to Access the Link.

Whenever you want to chat with someone in the community, you simply go to that link. Your video and microphone will be OFF by default, but you can always turn them on. Recording of the session is also OFF by default.

If you’re ever just hanging out and wondering if anyone else is hanging out, we encourage you to log and engage.

Note: This is the same Zoom room we use for classes and Community meetings. So if you’re hanging out and we crank up a class or meeting, we will (politely) let you know that we “need the room” for an hour or so.

We are VERY open to ideas you have about how we can use the Zoom Room.

:-)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

NexGen Conference - Free on Me Oct 23-24

From my good friends at NexGen:

NexGen Conference  2019

Complimentary General Admission Pass for October 23 & 24th
Use Promo Code SmallBiz
Anaheim, CA - Anaheim Marriott

www.nexgenconference.com

Managed services are at the heart of the IT solution provider business, generating a staggering $158 billion in sales. Partners at the forefront of managed services are rapidly expanding by offering customers new services and solutions. NexGen caters to this critical segment of the channel, with a conference custom designed for elite services-led and cloud-focused managed services professionals.
MSPs attend NexGen to:

  • Stay ahead of technology services and industry trends
  • Identify strategic partners to fuel their growth
  • Engage with peers for feedback and validation of their strategies


This year-s featured sessions include:

  • The X Factor of Customer Centricity
  • Max Out SaaS Sales to SMBs
  • 3 Ways To Sell The Cloud 
  • Securing The Customer: Taking Relationships to The Next Level
  • Google Cloud Pros & Cons
  • Using AI to Measure Customer Satisfaction Levels


View the conference agenda

:-)

Monday, September 09, 2019

The Real Cost of Travel

As some of you may have noticed, I like to travel. A lot.

Travel is a great example of why "cost" is a relative thing - and why the cheapest looking price is often not the cheapest at all. Remind your clients and prospects of this when they want to talk about pricing.
My apartment in Edinburgh

Here are some of the key costs of travel that people ignore.

1) Travel by car is not cheap!

Many people think, "Oh, it's cheaper to just drive." Why? Because they look at the cost of fuel in isolation from everything else. It may be cheaper, but you have remember all the associated costs. Many conference hotels charge $20-30 per day to park. More if you use their valet. Plus you have to stop for more food during your travel than a you would with a quick plane ride.

2) Published hotel prices are all fictional.

You need to dig into the real total here. Many hotels add "resort" fees even though the resort consists of the workout room with three pieces of equipment. Hotels also don't always include taxes and fees in their pricing. So an advertised room at $129 might end up costing you $170 when the total bill comes. (Plus parking.)

3) Food, especially breakfast, is a huge variable.

Many mid-range hotels (Courtyard, Townhome suites, etc.) include a very basic breakfast with your stay. This can save you $10-20 over the cost of breakfast at a higher-end hotel. Of course, if you're Platinum or some other expensive metal, then you can eat for "free" in the executive lounge. But your room will be in the $169 range rather than the $139 range.

4) Wi-Fi. Get the real deal before you book.

As a very frequent business traveler who works from the road, I always need good Wi-Fi. And very often that means I have to bring it with me. In most countries, I can use my T-Mobile phone and just add a data package. In some places, I buy a local Mi-Fi device or even a low end cell phone with a data package. If you have to constantly upgrade your Internet access, it can cost you as much as $10-20 per day. Make sure you know what you're getting into.

5) Local transportation can range from free to expensive.

Once you're on site, you need to get around. So, for example, if you stay in the heart of the tourist district, you might be able to walk to everything you need. Of course, you'll pay a higher price for your hotel if you do that. It's cheaper outside the tourist area, but you'll end up driving and paying to park, or take Uber and Lyft everywhere. Sometimes it's cheaper to buy the more expensive hotel room.

6) Air fares are NOT all about the price.

Cheap airfare is one of the most expense things you can experience. With very few exceptions, airfares are very well coordinated with experience. You pay less; you get less. If you don't care about legroom (or side room), then cheap fares will get you in the back, middle seats on almost any airline. Just don't whine about it: You chose that experience. For $25-50 more per hop, you can get a good seat on almost any airline. Also, some cheap fares now exclude any carry-on baggage. Once again, look at your total price. AND cheaper flights often include extra stops and much longer total travel time.

7) Local meals and entertainment can vary dramatically.

In most places you travel, there are meals and bars that range from cheap to expensive. But not always. If you're going to eat out every meal, make sure you have local options. It may be worthwhile to pay a bit extra to be within walking distance of reasonably priced food.

8) Plan WAY in advance and save.

I try to buy my airfare and make hotel reservations months in advance. As a result, my airfare is usually super cheap, and my hotels are reasonably priced. Buying flights 4-6 months in advance can cut the price by half or more.

My current trip from Oakland to Manchester (UK) to Seattle over about two weeks cost me $932 all in. I took the train to Edinburgh and will take a train to Newcastle. Buying way in advance, both cost less than $60 USD. Similarly, my trip to Australia next month was paid for back in April and will cost about $1200 round trip.


Bring it all together: Expect to pay more than the advertised price.

For my current trip I booked an apartment above a bar in Edinburgh for about $160/night. With that location, I have no local travel expenses and lots of options for local eating and drinking. And, of course, no parking. I did buy an extra data package from T-Mobile for $35, but it's good for the entire trip.

In general, I guarantee a certain level of "quality" travel by following a few simple rules.


  • Start by avoiding the cheapest price. I buy main cabin airfare and hope to get upgraded.
  • Check a variety of housing options. I start with FlipKey.com and then Travelocity.com. Sometimes I get a deal with the airline while booking flights (especially Delta and Hawaiian airlines). But bundles with Travelocity are also excellent.
  • Consider alternative travel. For Americans that means trains, light rail, ferries, and even buses. 98% of non-US mass transit is reliable and reasonably priced.
  • Plan well in advance.
  • Plan to pay 10-20% more than the advertised fee on hotels and cheap airlines.


Note: Your clients have experienced all of these things when they travel. So when they want to talk pricing or want to compare you to low-cost IT providers, but remind them of the last horrible "cheap" flight or cheap hotel.

Cheap never is. And the experience leaves much to be desired.

Don't be cheap.

:-)

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

5-week Course - The Unbreakable Rules of PSA - Starts September 10th

The Unbreakable Rules of PSA – IT Service Delivery in the 21st Century

Taught By: Manuel Palachuk

Register Now

Five Tuesdays - 9:00 AM Pacific

September 10, 2019 - October 8, 2019

Course 5w11

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.

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.

$259.00 - Purchase The Unbreakable Rules of PSA - IT Service Delivery in the 21st Century
There are no modules in this training course.







:-)


Sunday, August 25, 2019

How to Email Files Into Your Kindle

One of the basic features of the Amazon Kindle device is the ability to import files via email. Most people probably see and ignore this ability when they first get their Kindle.

If you need a refresher on the official instructions, visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email.

Basically, you can email many kinds of files to your Kindle. Once you log into your Amazon accounts, you can browse to your Kindle and find the "Send-to-Kindle" email address for your specific device.

Supported File Types include:

  • Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX)
  • HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
  • RTF (.RTF)
  • JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
  • Kindle Format (.MOBI, .AZW)
  • GIF (.GIF)
  • PNG (.PNG)
  • BMP (.BMP)
  • PDF (.PDF)

Note: If you send a PDF and wish to convert it to Kindle format, use the subject line "convert" to automatically enable conversion. This will allow you to use variable font sizes, annotations, and Whispersync.

You must send emails from the email address associated with your account and device.

For more information, instructions, and details, visit that page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email and check out the Help Page linked from their.

:-)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Why You Need to Track Outstanding Time in Your IT Business

Free Webinar:

Why You Need to Track Outstanding Time in Your IT Business


Mark your calendars for August 15th at 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern.

This event was recorded. You can find the recording here: https://mspwebinar.com

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the live webinar on Zoom.

This is a great webinar for service managers, but it's also important for technicians and everyone on your team to understand why we need to track all time - especially time inside your ticketing system.

No sponsors. No advertising. Just information you need!



One of the big challenges in tracking time is that most PSAs fall short on this. YOU have to make up the difference. That means using QuickBooks and Excel, or similar tools.

Outstanding time in your system - "Backlog" - is one of the most important types of time you need to track. We'll show you why, and then talk about what you can do about it.

Join us for an education and practical discussion of tracking time inside your IT business!

:-)

Thursday, August 01, 2019

How to Email Busy People

When I hire new employees, there's always a "break-in" period around communication. This is true no matter what age they are.

Everyone wants to communicate in their own way. For some that's Facebook messenger. For some it's text message. For a handful it's still telephone. But the most voluminous method is email. Good old email.

So, lesson #1 is: This is how we communicate. Internal business communication is not by Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. And with few exceptions, it's not by text message.

Email can be easily filtered, so I know all employee and outsourced staff email ends up in a specific folder. I can manage that folder.

Next, when it comes to email, don't waste my time!!!

Lesson #2: Don't cc: me on every little thing. Correlate: Don't thank me for every little thing. I hire people so I don't have to do all the work myself. In fact I wrote a blog post about this many years ago called Please Don't CC The Boss.

That applies to gratuitous "Thanks" emails. I wish I could figure out a rule to determine whether the only communication in a reply email is "Thanks" and just move all those to the deleted items folder.

Many people are in this habit. It's a bit like that friend who absolutely must have the last word no matter what. Instead, read the sometimes-lengthy email thread. When the conversation is over, let it go.

I sometimes joke with employees that, if they insist on doing this, I am going to assign them the task of opening my in-box, searching for their own emails, and deleting everyone that contains no communication beyond Thanks or Thank You.

Lesson #3: Keep the subject line relevant. When you've moved from one subject to another, update the subject line or start a new thread. I hate being asked about next Tuesday's networking event under the subject line "Zoom Cloud Recording is Now Available."

Email is about communication. Use the tool to achieve that simple goal. That means keeping the subject line relevant.

Lesson #4: One item per email, whenever possible. (This is actually the reason I'm writing this post.) Let's assume the busy person you're emailing glances at the email subject and first sentence before they decide to open the email. Don't bury the lead, as they say in the news business.

Example One. I often receive emails from readers, followers, and people who just found me while cruising the Internet. By often I mean every single day. Generally, their email falls into two categories. One is a quick email with a quick question. They usually get a quick answer.

The other is a long email with lots of reading to do and several questions. This is something that will take my time. I have to do all that reading, try to figure out how best to help them, and then answer a series of questions. Emails like this almost never get a quick response. In fact, they get moved to a folder called "Reply when you can." I often answer these within a year or so.

Example Two - The reason I started writing this post. DO NOT reuse an old subject line, have a first sentence that looks like it will take some analysis, and then bring up a totally unrelated and important subject at the end of the email

A few days ago, I received an email from a part-time employee who was having trouble with a simple assignment. She was replying to an email I'd sent with a request. The fact that she was having trouble was clear from the first sentence. So I didn't open the email for three days since I knew she was coming in that day.

And there in the middle of the email was a note to the effect of: Oh, and by the way, I found another job.

Huh?

The fact that she resigned in the middle of an unrelated reply email is a good indicator that she wasn't a good fit in the first place.

- - - - -

I know we all like to complain about so-called common sense and we wish everyone had our version of it. But there really are some basic guidelines for communicating with people at work.

Your guidelines for email may be different from mine. But you should have some guidelines. After all, you can't control other people. You can only control your own processes. So you should have processes.

Comments welcome.

:-)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm - Class Starts August 6th

Financial Processes for the I.T. Services Firm

A VERY popular class, taught by Rayanne Buchianico.

August 6 - September 3, 2019

Start Time: 9:00 AM PST

5-Week Course

There are few things more important than the finances of your business. But most technology consultants didn't get into business to run balance sheets or figure out cash flow.

This class provides unique content from a unique teacher! Rayanne is a managed service provider from Tampa, FL. She is also an accountant and an Intuit certified ProAdvisor. In addition to her MSP business, Rayanne helps I.T. consultants to take control of their finances and understand their own business at a deeper level.



Topics for this class include:

  • Learn to read and understand your Balance Sheet and P&L Statements
  • Create a chart of accounts that makes sense for your business
  • Separating out information on the P&L for management decisions
  • Entities and tax considerations - understanding how your entity is taxed. Handout is a tax projection worksheet for 2017 taxes
  • Cash flow forecasting - Handout is a cash flow projection spreadsheet to forecast revenues and expenses
  • Understanding margins and ratios - Deep dive into the P&L and Balance Sheet to understand how the numbers work together to make decisions. Handout is a worksheet on calculating and understanding the ratios & margins.
  • Use margins to price your services for profit
  • Calculate billing and burden rates
  • Action plans for success

. . . and More!

Delivered by Rayanne Buchianico, Financial Coach and QuickBooks Advisor. Rayanne has been an MSP - managed service provider - for many years and advises MSPs on how to get the most out of their QuickBooks and PSA integrations.

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 Owner or Operations Manager.

Week One: Introduction to Your Company’s Finances
Week Two: Cash Flow Forecasting
Week Three: Margins, Ratios, KPIs, and Breakeven points
Week Four: Jobs, Budgeting, and Internal Controls
Week Five: Planning for Taxes







:-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Updated YouTube Class - Revised for the New Interface - Starts Aug. 14th

Tune Up Your YouTube – 3-week Course – Revised for 2020!


Want a great way to finish off the year? How about tuning up your YouTube Channel?

Note: This is a revamped class. After the original 3-week class, YouTube completely changed their interface. That’s the challenge of social media, right? So we had to create all new screenshots. And the checklists had to be updated.

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, we’ll show you how to set it up right. We’ll talk about the graphic sizes you need for background images, how to set up playlists, and much more.

Most people don’t take advantage of all the features of YouTube, and therefore don’t get the great results they should. We’ll walk you through the process of posting your videos so you maximize visual appeal, keywords, and links back to your web site or other social media. With a checklist, of course!

If you don’t post a lot of videos, that’s okay. Karl will give you a checklist for posting so you don’t forget to take advantage of all the options.

We will also walk you through the process of telling Google (YouTube’s owner) which Internet properties are yours so that you can link to them from your YouTube channel.

Finally, we’ll walk you through the process of using a video in your Google advertising. This boosts your video performance dramatically at almost no cost. And of course we’ll answer all your questions.

Includes the following checklists – revised for 2020:

  • Checklist: Set Up YouTube Channel (pdf)
  • Checklist: YouTube Video Upload (pdf)
  • Checklist: YouTube Maximization Checklist (pdf)

– Classes are generally 30-60 minutes

When:

Aug 14th at 09:00 AM Pacific
Aug 21st at 9:00 AM Pacific
Aug 28th at 9:00 AM Pacific

Only $99 for non-members!

Free to Small Biz Thoughts Community Members.




Topics Covered:

Create and Customize Your Channel

  • YouTube and Google
  • Getting Started
  • Set Up Your Channel
  • Channel Artwork
  • Pro Tips


Upload Videos

  • Video Upload Checklist
  • Advanced Settings
  • End Screens and iCards
  • Show and Tell


Maximize Your Channel

  • Comments
  • Custom URL
  • Longer Videos
  • Video Ads
  • Cross-Posting Social Media
  • Custom Greeting Videos
  • Closed Captions
  • Reports
Join us!

:-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Join Me at ChannelPro's SMB Forum - San Jose - Sept 5th

I am honored once again to be part of the ChannelPro SMB Forum.

My brother Manuel and I have a fun and educational presentation. Please join us!






Join us for the 2019 ChannelPro SMB Forum!

A Free, live event in San Jose on September 5!

REGISTER TODAY WITH PROMO CODE BIZVIP!


Who Should Attend?
  Local area IT integrators, consultants and Managed Service Providers

What's included?
  Free access to all sessions, learning materials, meals, and parking

Why Attend?
  The ChannelPro 2019 SMB Forum features an all-star cast of top industry experts, a unique interactive format that puts you in direct conversation with them, and a fast-paced, information-packed agenda covering topics you care about:


  • Sales Tip Shootout!—Concrete advice on landing appointments, overcoming objections to cross-selling services and beyond.

  • Get Ready for Managed Everything—A discussion on offering profitable as-a-service recurring revenue opportunities including hardware-as-a-service, communications-as-a-service, disaster recovery-as-a-service, and other cloud and non-cloud solutions.

  • Winning in Cybersecurity—Proven best practices for launching a security practice, selling security services, and more.

  • Getting Started in the Internet of Things (IoT)—Actionable advice on what services to start with, the skills you'll need to deliver those services, and the most successful techniques for finding prospects and closing deals.

  • MSP Pain Point Clinic—How to get your pricing right, hire good technicians, get your clients to pay on time and more!

  • Hardware Tech Trends—The latest trends in SMB hardware including new laptops, tablets, and other devices.

  • GEAR AND CASH GIVEAWAYS

  • And more!


If you're looking to break into managed IT services, or to grow your IT business to the next level, this event is perfect for you. The event is free to IT pros, and you are encouraged to bring your staff with you so you can all benefit from the learning and networking during the event.
 


:-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Join me at ChannelCon - Free

Join me at ChannelCon - August 5-7

I've got a booth at the big CompTIA ChannelCon event in Vegas. And that means you can get in FREE.

ChannelCon is the tech industry’s premier education, networking, and partnering event hosted by CompTIA. This year, it's at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on August 5-7.

This $1,200 value pass is yours free when you register using promo code: CC19BIZ.

The name of the game in the business of tech is turning innovation into realities for your bottom line. If your business builds, sells, influences or drives the adoption of technology, this is the one event you don’t want to miss this year. The power-packed agenda will deliver:

Intensive training and education
Peer-to-peer learning
Exceptional networking opportunities

You’ll walk away with a jackpot of new ideas and tools to grow your business and keep our industry at the top of its game.

Please visit me at Booth 527!

We hope to see you there.

Click for More Info


:-)



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Which Conferences Should I Attend?

Okay - so I know I'm going to miss some, irritate a few people, and get some disagreement.

But I just checked my give-a-rat's-rearend-ometer and I don't care.

. . .

Andrew sent me an email. He's reasonably new to the industry and interested in attending a conference or two. The big question is: Which conferences?

Note: While everyone might have their favorite conference, this advice is for folks who are serious about improving their business and haven't attended many (or any conferences before). So keep that in mind.


First, You Should Attend Conferences!

Someone recently posted on a social media site: "I’ve yet to make a penny networking with other owners."

My only response to that is, "You haven't tried."

Networking with people in your industry is the fastest way to find out about new products and services, different ways of solving problems, and new ways of improving your internal processes. I've been involved in a million conversations that started with, "How do you . . .?" and ended up with people engaging in lengthy discussions about making their business more successful.

As John Donne said, "No man is an island." Your business does not exist in isolation. You need to read deeply about what others are doing. And you need to interact with them in order to understand where you fit. You are part of a larger continent.

Plus, isolation results in massive wasted effort as you reinvent the wheel and learn through all the mistakes one needs to make. When you interact with others in your industry, you learn without making all the mistakes yourself.

Plus . . . Conferences are a great place to meet new vendors, find out about new products and services, and make connections that may help you down the road. I highly encourage you to grab those vendor cards. Pick up every one you can. The person you meet at the conference probably can't help you when you need it . . . but they can put you in touch with someone who can!


Second, Which Conferences Should You Attend?

There are many kinds of conferences. If you are starting out, you probably do not need to attend the massive, big, expensive conferences.

Let's start with Microsoft. If you are not a $5 million and above partner, or a developer, then there is probably zero value in attending the Microsoft "Inspire" conference. That's okay since it's next week and very expensive. :-)

The other 800-pound gorilla conferences are IT Nation (ConnectWise) and DattoCon (Autotask). These are awesome, amazing, and spectacular. They are also a little pricey, take a serious time commitment, and will absolutely overwhelm you if you're new to the industry.

Plan to attend one or both of these at some point. But you need to be big enough to implement the changes and education you're going to receive. If your company is 1-3 people and you can only change one small thing at a time, these conferences will make you feel awesome and educated . . . but you won't be able to implement the changes you'll be inspired about.

There are several good conferences that are either free or affordable and get a good mix of partners and vendors. As a rule, these conferences are more regional. But all of them get folks from all over. Here are my favorites:

ChannelPro SMB Forum - a great program!
https://events.channelpronetwork.com/

ChannelPro is a media company and, not surprisingly, their conference is extremely well put together. There is massive content, an educational theme runs through the whole day, and the planning literally begins half a year in advance. These events are extremely well designed for IT consultants who serve the small business space. Great vendor hall with lots of opportunities to interact.

Shows remaining this year include San Jose and Newark. Free.
Full disclosure: I present at these conferences.


The ASCII Group IT Success Summits
https://www.ascii.com/events/

ASCII is an awesome association dedicated to helping you improve your vendor relationship. You have a problem with a vendor? They will help you fix it. You want to get better pricing from a distributor? Members get that automatically.

So, as you can imagine, their conferences are 95% vendor focused. There are a few "partner" presentations, but this is an opportunity to learn which vendors are new, which offers are new, which services are new, etc. They have started hiring big-name keynote speakers that you probably won't see anywhere else. So that's a bonus.

Shows remaining this year include Denver, Toronto, New Jersey, and Boston. Free.


SMB TechFest
https://smbtechfest.com

TechFest is run by long time Microsoft MVP Dave Seibert. It is always held in Anaheim, CA and happens four times per year. This event is a little different each time, but always has a great mix of partners, vendors, and education.

I love TechFest because it's built like an all-day conversation about improving your business. You need sales? Let's talk about sales. You need new service partners? Let's talk about that. The vendor hall is normally excellent and the vendors here are very low-key. I think that's because so many companies have offices in Southern California and this is generally a low-stress event for whoever attends because they don't have to get on an airplane.

Shows remaining this year are July (next week) and October.
Full disclosure: I will present at the July event.


IT Owners Compass
https://itocompass.com/

ITO Compass was new to me this year. I think this was their third year. Run by Lori Tisinai, a multi-preneur along with her husband, this conference is filled with partners who have been successful in a variety of fields and are moving toward the more channel-focused and managed service type businesses.

The vendor hall was small this year, but the response from vendors was overwhelmingly positive, so I suspect it will be larger next year. The speakers and partners here were excellent. And while there were breakout sessions, it felt very much like a 2- or 3-day conversation.

Not sure when the 2020 conference will be, but get on the mailing list so you don't miss it. Price was $299. Not sure what it will be next year.


CompTIA ChannelCon
https://cc19.snoball.events/e/small-biz-thoughts

ChannelCon is the tech industry’s premier education, networking, and partnering event hosted by CompTIA. This year, it's at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on August 5-7.

You may have heard of CompTIA from their Plus certifications and training. They really are a major force in technical education and certification in the SMB space. ChannelCon is their annual gathering and is chock full of education from their various committees.

I am on committees for Advancing Women in IT, Managed Services, Emerging Technology, and the new Drone technology committee. All of these committees will be presenting at ChannelCon. Keyword: Education!

Ostensibly, this is a 41,200 conference. You can register for free with my link up above.
Full disclosure: I am involved with CompTIA on several fronts.


Robin Robin's "Technology Marketing Toolkit" Big Event
https://technologymarketingtoolkit.com

I have to throw this in because it's another big, big event. Robin Robins is the premier marketing consultant focused almost entirely on the SMB IT community. She has developed massive amounts of marketing programs geared specifically toward your clients and the solutions that you sell. You can (and should) just take her programs and send them out without editing.

Every year, Robin gathers up her subscribers and others and puts on a multi-day massive educational program. It is super high end. She also has great keynote speakers. There IS selling from the stage. But you'd be disappointed if a marketer failed to do that, right? Trust me, the education overwhelms everything else. You get a 3" binder when you arrive and the entire event is run like a massive boot camp on your success.

Pricing varies depending on when you register. Get on her list now for the best price.
Full disclosure: I've subscribed to Robin's stuff for more than 15 years and I love everything she does. It may not be your style, but you can't argue with success.


For the Aussies: SMB IT Professionals Annual Conference
https://www.smbitpro.org/media/events/

If you are in Australia - or willing to get there - you will LOVE the annual SMB IT Pro conference. It is 100% partner-run and extremely educational. There are vendor presentations, but they tend to be far less pushy than what we see in the U.S.

AND it's another conference that's basically a two-day ongoing conversation about improving your business. Great vendor hall and participation. Packed with some of the smartest people in the industry (not just from Australia).

The conference is put on by the SMB IT Pro groups that are still running successful meetings across Australia. I promise, no matter where you're from, you will love this conference.

October 25-26 in Adelaide, Australia
Full disclosure: I am speaking at this event.


Roadshows, Vendor Events, etc.
See my weekly newsletter - sign up here.

AND there are dozens - maybe hundreds - of little events you can attend. Most of these are either person-specific (e.g., my roadshows, or events put on by Richard Tubb, Nigel Moore, Jamison West, etc). OR they are vendor-specific.

Vendor-specific events are normally educational programs focused completely on the new products and services being offered, plus information on how to get more from your relationship with a vendor.

Many vendors put on these events. They are NOT a waste of time. They ARE a great way to meet other local partners. They often include a nice lunch and a few vendor give-aways. Keep an eye on your vendor newsletters, or my weekly newsletter.

Note: This category includes events such as Sherweb's Accelerate conference, which is super-educational even if you're not a reseller partner. And it includes events from distributors such as Ingram Micro. The goal is to educate you on how you can make more money. The hope is that you'll partner with them to make that money!

BTW - If you see an event that looks relevant but it's not on my calendar, shoot me a note. Thanks.

-- -- --

Sorry, Andrew, if that's too much information. Hope there's something useful in there somewhere.

:-)

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Super Monster Mastermind Opportunity - Free at ChannelCon

First of all, if you don't belong to CompTIA, just go join.

Among the great things about CompTIA is that they provide opportunities for people to talk about the industry as a whole - and the future of their own companies.

A number of my very good friends (and a relative) are putting on an amazing event for free while everyone's in town for CompTIA's ChannelCon event.


Sidebar:

ChannelCon is at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on August 5-7.

You can attend FREE with this link: https://cc19.snoball.events/e/small-biz-thoughts.

I would love to see you there.



Thousands of folks will be in Vegas for the big event. So a bunch of really great folks got together and decided to host a group mastermind event.

The Coach’s Huddle – Mastermind Group @ ChannelCon

Date/Time
Monday August 5th 2019
1:15 PDT – 2:45 PDT

Location
ChannelCon 2019 @ Bellagio Hotel
Da Vinci 4 Meeting Room
Registration is required

All the details are here:
https://manuelpalachuk.com/events/channelcon-mastermind/


Mastermind Coaches include:

Manuel Palachuk - President and Head Coach - Manuel Palachuk International

Amy Babinchak - Owner - Third Tier

Dave Seibert - Influencer, Technologist, Entrepreneur - DaveSeibert.com

Erick Simpson - Founder & Chief Strategist - ErickSimpson.com

Rayanne Buchianico - CEO - ABC Solutions, LLC

James Kernan - Principal Consultant - Kernan Consulting



What Is A Mastermind Group?

You may have already experienced the power of a mastermind group without realizing it. The best example would be a time when you were deep in conversation with a small group of sharp individuals and suddenly found yourself internally super-charged with new and different ideas, maybe even solutions to things you’d been pondering for months. This is the power of a mastermind group.

The intention is to feed the idea factory in all of us by making connections with other inspired and motivated people who share a desire to get to the next level. When you participate fully, you get access to and feel the power of the mastermind. Everyone makes new connections that are often long-term and certainly always beneficial.

See all the details at: https://manuelpalachuk.com/events/channelcon-mastermind/

-- -- --

The only reason I'm not participating is that I have another engagement.

I work with every one of these great people on a regular basis. Many of them are in an ongoing mastermind group I've been a part of for several years.

In addition to being my friends, I am honored to have relied on these folks for advice in both my business and personal life.

This event will be amazing - and I'm sorry I can't attend. But you should!

If you're going to be at ChannelCon, please do yourself a favor and sign up to participate in this amazing event.

:-)


3-Week Mini Class: Create a Client Newsletter that Works

Join me for another fun 3-part classs:

Create a Client Newsletter that Works


Starts Wednesday, July 10th
9:00 AM

One of the absolute best things you can do to get new clients AND sell deeper into your existing client base is to have a regular newsletter.

Of course your newsletter should be educational. But it must be interesting and useful to non-technical people. So what do you put in it and why?

I produced client newsletters for more than ten years. In this class, you'll learn my process for creating and distributing newsletters that clients look forward to - and read. I'll show you how we create a template that makes everything easier, including the content. I'll also show you how we use newsletters to get clients to replace old equipment, invest in the right technology, and even put tickets into our system (it's true!).

We'll cover the great things you can do with newsletters, along with templates, email vs. printed, getting started, and producing regular emails without overwhelming yourself with work.

Taught on three Wednesdays in July:

July 10th at 9:00 AM Pacific
July 17th at 9:00 AM Pacific
July 24th at 9:00 AM Pacific

All classes 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. $99 for non-members.



:-)

Friday, July 05, 2019

Get Erick Simpson's Latest Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator Free!

A special offer from my friend Erick Simpson . . .

Get Erick Simpson's Latest Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator Free!


Version 1.5 of Erick's Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator computes your product, service and solution costs and maintains your margins to deliver final pricing for your Managed Services quotes and proposals in minutes! Designed to allow you to be completely customizable, letting you add your own specific products and configure it to your specific needs. Don't let pricing be a sales bottleneck any longer - quickly modify quantities, costs, and margins to ensure you present your prospects with compelling price points that meet your margin targets.




Erick Simpson's Managed Services MSP MRR Pricing Calculator

MSP MRR Pricing Calculator Version 1.5

Erick's added a Security Section to this latest version of his time-saving pricing tool that that also includes all of your MRR-based products and services. It allows you to modify and store your product, service and solution costs and setup fees, along with your desired margins to quickly calculate final pricing for your Managed Services quotes and proposals.

- - - - -

:-)



Join me at TechFest - July 18th

Dave Seibert's big quarterly gathering is July 18th in Anaheim.

I'll be there - Join me!

SMB TechFest 


Thursday, July 18th.  8 am to 6 pm.
Business Expo Center
Anaheim, CA
A $795 value


Reserve your seat now using my complimentary pass
Register:  www.smbTechFest.com



Additional Topics and Activities

A packed day of content
Speakers on Sales, Marketing, Leadership, and Operations
Partner Panels with Best in Breed insights
New Solutions in our Expo Hall
Largest quarterly IT Mixer in Southern California
Hot Breakfast, lunch and hosted bar
Lots of networking with leading technologist

And there is more

The Sky Is The Limit

Are you Armed for Success?

Win Flights on These Helicopters:



For more information, and to register, please visit www.smbtechfest.com.

See you there!

:-)

Monday, July 01, 2019

Be a Microsoft 365 Hero - Nominate Yourself or Someone Else

In case you missed the email from Harry B and M365 Nation:

You could be a Microsoft 365 Hero. 

Nominate yourself or someone else you think is a “hero” in the Microsoft 365 world.

This is your chance for global community validation and be recognized for your expertise in the Microsoft product stack family.

What are the next steps? Visit our Microsoft 365 Nation site and complete a few simple steps. Nominations are being accepted until July 3, 2019 (at Noon Pacific GMT-7). The election, where your fellow peers vote for your candidacy, starts July 4, 2019 and ends at 5:00pm Pacific (GMT-7) on August 5, 2019.

The winners will be announced on August 6, 2019 at Noon Pacific (GMT-7) at the CompTIA ChannelCon conference (Las Vegas).

Start the Microsoft 365 Heros nomination process HERE.

What do the top 100 Microsoft 365 Hero’s get? Well since you asked you will receive recognition with a digital badge your can proudly display PLUS you’ll also receive a complimentary digital copy of the new book “How to Be an MSP!” (Brelsford) to help drive further success (a $149.95 value).


How to Enter
…and WIN!!

:-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

New Five Week Class - Cloud Services in a Month - Starts July 2nd

Cloud Services in a Month - Applying the Book

- Five Tuesdays - July 2 - 30, 2019 -- Register Now
- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Based on the brand 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 say: The core technologies that every client needs.

Tuition for this course include the ebook version of the newly 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
Register Now



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

:-)

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.

:-)