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Looking to be more competitive in regards to IT Support in today's market.

Posted on 2013-10-23
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Last Modified: 2016-03-20
Good evening.

Our business has been around since the mid-90's. Over the past two years we have noticed that a greater number of end-users are now solving their issues without the need for paid support services. Our residential client base has dropped significantly, while some of our business clients who used to have contracts with us have opted for incidental support options. We are not a hardware support company that offers repair of iPhones, etc... We provide managed services for our clients specializing in data backup and recovery, asset tracking and management, help desk support, vendor management, etc...

Some of the decline in business could be a result of the economy, but a good portion of this may be the result of free or extremely inexpensive online services. Furthermore, some of the big ISPs such as Comcast are offering IT support to residential and business customers,   which could result in an even greater loss of business.

The increased use of mobile devices and services such as Drop Box, Mozy, Carbonite, etc... has also had an impact on us. The iPad, to the best of my knowledge, cannot be remotely controlled using Bomgar, LogMeIn, etc.  A good number of residential users only have mobile devices because they're only checking email and Facebook. Our fear is that there could be a trend with application providers toward moving their services from server installed options on the client site to cloud-based solutions. If the customer's data is no longer onsite, there is no need for our data backup services.

We are getting hit on several fronts which include:

Data Backup and Offsite Storage
end users can take advantage of Carbonite or Mozy

Remote & Onsite Support
end users can either rely on their latest college intern or pay for services from the Geek Squad and other services

Contract Support
end users are opting to eliminate preventive maintenance and will only call when there's a problem

To compensate for the loss of business in the areas mentioned above, we have become an IT concierge of sorts. For example, we have begun managing some of our clients' building access systems. We also handle access to domain, VPN, email, and legal / medical applications. But we are looking for other opportunities so that we can expand and secure our position in the market. If anybody is willing to offer suggestions,  or share "lessons learned" in regards to the above, we would love to hear them.

Thanks
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Question by:Poly11
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by:Poly11
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Thank you.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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What peer groups are you a member of?  SMBTN?  Local User (Consultant Groups)? Nationwide mailing lists?  These groups offer constant ideas and communication on business strategy specific to our industry.  The New York City group I'm a member of has proven IMMENSELY valuable in guiding my own offerings.  Rather than let clients hear about all these services, I'm presenting them to my clients and selling them so I get a cut of the money.  There are products you can buy/license that allow YOU to be Carbonite (similar - not the actual carbonite service).  Are you providing redundancy to your clients using Hyper-V server's Hyper-V Replica feature?  Are YOU selling Office 365 or trying to convince all your clients it's not a good idea?
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by:chilternPC
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yes i noticed the same - Computers are maturing and so are the customers so I've stopped that section of my business and expanded the website design side and now provide internet and website services, which is also evolving a today its all mobile and tablets, with the PC dropping to 3rd place.
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by:Poly11
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Hi Leew,

We are not a member of any peer groups specific to our industry, but would like to know which group would be right for us. We are an MSP with StorageCraft that allows us to offer monitored backup solutions to our own server farm which provides system virtualization that can be used as failover. We are also selling Hosted Exchange services to a number of clients as well. Whenever a new client comes on board who has an Exchange server, the first thing we recommend is Hosted Exchange.

Thanks
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 250 total points
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When the wags say that computers are dying, they are talking about end users. That business is going to die because I have heard forever "I only need a cheap PC to do email". Now they have it.

I have been consulting for over 10 years. I do not touch residential business - no money in it. I stay with Small Businesses. Computers are here to stay in Small Businesses and larger, so there still is a market so far as I can see.

I suggest you steer away from residential and one-of end users and see if you can get into Small Business clients.

... Thinkpads_User
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Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
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I agree with the idea of dropping residential... keep what you have, but don't put ANY money into residential clients (advertising, etc).

If you want your business to stay relevant, you need to keep up on things... the best way to do that is to talk to others in your industry, in my opinion.  Where are you?  

I'm not sure how you define your business or your role with your clients... the mantra for those I associate with is TRUSTED ADVISOR.  We're not the computer guys, we're the advisors.  I regularly send my clients relevant notices of events that can improve their business... I bring new technologies to them and discuss with them the benefits and drawbacks of them.  DON'T SIT THERE WAITING FOR A CALL.  Don't do all the work remotely.  Make a POINT of going to the client's offices.  I make a point of telling my clients to let me know when they have a repetitive task and offer solutions - scripts, products, etc - to improve their productivity.

I have no idea, not really, how you run your business, your exact service offerings, etc... but I make a point of listening to what my competitors and colleagues are doing and I take those ideas for myself that are potentially useful.  Yes, we're competitors, but we're in a large market and we respect each other's clients and business... we often use each other to help in areas we lack expertise.  Peer groups are vital in my opinion to staying alive in this industry.
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by:shalomc
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Cloud services eating your business? Start selling them.
You can resell Google apps for business, Office365, Dropbox, Mozy and Carbonite.
You can resell AWS, RackSpace and MS Azure.

Just need to be aware of opportunities, and have a mindset that accepts change.
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by:Poly11
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Thank you all for your responses.
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by:John Hurst
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@Poly11 - Thanks and good luck with your business. I wish you well.

... Thinkpads_User
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