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 [email protected]


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.

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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:

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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.

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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

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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.