I gotta say that I was surprised at the large turnout for yesterday’s meeting. I didn’t expect as many people to show up to have their sacred cow poked as did. I’ve been talking about problems I see in the MSP industry for a long time. I think I spoke at 30+ conferences, townhalls, whatever they called them events in 2020 and even when it’s a technical course I still talk business because the tech doesn’t matter if the business isn’t considered. Much of what I said today has been said by me before, just maybe not all at once. I envisioned a small group discussion, but this turned into me as a talking head for 90 minutes. The first 30 minutes is the presentation, and the remaining hour are Q&A from the attendees. It’s all in the recording.
There was a very active chat during the meeting. Q&A is my favorite part of any event so many thanks to those that participated.
By far the most asked question was what about patching? My answer to that is that for a very long time now Microsoft has not released patches on Patch Tuesday for every machine. Instead, they are rolled out over the course of a few weeks. This reduced the risk of having a patch problem take down a significant number of devices. When that change occurred, we changed. In the Windows 7 era we decided to allow all desktops to update themselves and we’ve never looked back. This alone saved my staff a huge amount of time and calls. This changing our processes and procedures when technology changes is a central theme of my business. As far as third-party patching goes. We automate that using as many built-in tools as possible. The remaining outliers are updated manually. This is also a central theme in my business. We never make decisions based on the exception. If something can cover 90%, then we choose that solution and manage the exceptions as exceptions. This is covered in one of Amy’s Sayings blog posts.
Another theme in the chat were questions around my comment that we work to educate end users. We have a strong belief that an educated end user will make fewer mistakes and be more modern in their use of technology. This combination of results makes our client more money and reduces the number of support calls too. A true win-win. How we achieve this is to send a weekly how-to blog, host all day education events, and put them through a six-month security education course. For the course and the testing, we leverage our bullphish subscription.
There were a number of specific business operation questions too. At the beginning of this presentation, I mentioned that we make money. $300,000 per technical person is the standard. That’s revenue. Our utilization rates per tech, if we do the math to bring it all back down to a billable hour, vary between 65-85% with one crazy guy sometimes going higher and then burning himself out. We try to keep him reigned in. Our ticketing system generates a spreadsheet per client that is attached to their invoice with all of the work details in it. It’s basically a duplicate of what they have already received in real-time as work is done. This keeps the invoices themselves simple. We don’t follow any specific pumpkin or profit principal. If anything, we’re probably closest to the Good to Great and Execution models. In general, I don’t subscribe to any of management “principle of the month” clubs. I lived through that in my previous work-life and never want to subject my staff to those winds.
Finally, there was some interest in staffing of both Third Tier and Harbor Computer Services. These are separate unrelated businesses with completely different missions and staff. Third Tier helps MSPs and Harbor helps small businesses. There is no overlap or sharing. Harbor only has co-equal technical staff and a technical manager who also works on larger projects. We don’t have any outsourced staffing, no low-level helpdesk people, no part-timers. Just salaried professionals. One attendee referred to my people has “wonder boys” and himself wondered what would happen if one was lost. We hire another. No one is irreplaceable and there are people who really love their profession out there and they aren’t as rare as you might think. So we hire a replacement. I don’t know if people stay here longer or not. I’ve never really compared. I do try to offer great benefits and treat them like the professionals they are. I never wanted to create a job if I couldn’t create a good job.
These were just for me to get to know you and for you to also know who was in the meeting with you. The results sometimes flipped by quickly, so here they are.
You will find the recording in our Store.
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