What to do when a client's IT is a total mess
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “If you think a professional is expensive, wait till you hire an amateur.” The technology field is a perfect example of this. We’ve all had those clients that were managed by a semi-technically literate person in the office. You’ve probably inherited a client from another MSP in your area and found it was barely managed at all by the previous provider.
The fact that most people don’t understand technology is a blessing and a curse. If more people were capable of supporting their own IT needs, there wouldn’t be as much work for us. The downside is that people are often misled or simply unable to tell if their IT support provider is doing the work that is expected of them.
Here is a familiar scenario.
Client prospect company is a small accounting office with 14 staff. They have the youngest guy in the office do tech support for the rest of the company and they also have an “MSP” that they call when they need. They are looking for a new support provider because the current provider sometimes takes a day or two to get around to helping them. The prospect has grown tired of waiting and needs a more mature level of support.
STEP 1: Review environment
You should assess the environment. This can be as simple as a walkthrough of the office. An experienced senior tech should have a good sense of the situation simply by looking at the physical environment. Is the network rack a rat nest of wires? Is the server a white-box with the side panel taken off cause the closet they use as a server room is overheating the equipment?
This review of the environment can give you a great sense of what the current status is and how much risk the client would bring to your company as a supported client.
STEP 2: Gauge client’s willingness to invest
If the client environment is a hot mess, many people would assume it’s because the prospect is cheap and refused to pay for the appropriate equipment and support levels. Sure, this is often the case, but you shouldn’t jump to that conclusion without confirming with the prospect.
Meet with the client in person to discuss the results of your findings and what you would propose to remedy the situation. Lay out a plan of projects that are high impact and would remove the major points of risk. They may not agree to everything because they likely haven’t been budgeting for IT spending. However, they should express a desire to make the investment in fixing major issues. They should have a reliable server, hopefully with warranty support. They should have an image based backup in place. They should have cloud-based email services like O365 or G-suite.
STEP 3: Go or no-go
If you want to build a business that doesn’t cause you to lose sleep or feel like you’re constantly pushing a boulder up a hill, you need to be selective about the clients you take on. When you’re first getting started the temptation to take on any client is strong, but this approach can create a lot of headaches for you and your staff. If the prospect is a mess and resists spending to correct the major issues, walk away! If they spend the majority of the time talking about the price of service and projects. They are not going to be a good client.
If they see the value of the changes and appreciate you bringing them to light, get them to commit to making the major correction within the first 2-3 months of the relationship. Straight away would be better, but may not be practical based on their cash flow.
All revenue is not created equal. Don’t chase clients that are simply looking for the lowest price.
Just because a prospect environment is a disaster doesn’t mean they know that. Act in their best interest, be honest about the situation. Never blame the previous provider, remain focused on the future. Help them understand that you will provide a higher level of service and that lowering their risk will avoid costly issues in the future like downtime, data-loss, and crypto events.
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