For Managed Service Providers (MSPs), providing IT services to rural communities is one of their biggest challenges. There are varied reasons for this situation, such as environmental factors, unreliable internet connectivity, and less savvy technology users.
However, there are ways that MSPs can get around the challenges of providing their services to rural businesses. We examine the issues and possible solutions:
Build Good Relationships with Clients
Did you know that few customers voice their dissatisfaction with a product or service they receive? Instead, they choose never to make another purchase. For an MSP operating in a rural area with a relatively low customer base, losing a single client can severely affect the bottom line. There are several reasons why it is vital to retain clients through outstanding service and good relationships:
- All successful MSPs have a track record of keeping their existing customers happy. Maintaining current customers is less expensive than finding new ones.
- When your customers are happy with your services, they are more likely to provide word-of-mouth referrals for your business.
- When your customers voice their opinions, they allow you to create and refine your product offerings to meet their needs continually.
Avoid Working on a Break/Fix Model
Traditionally, managed IT services were financially out of reach for most small rural businesses. The easiest option for them has been to call in a technician to fix a problem when it occurs. This reactive solution, known as a break/fix approach, is still common today for a range of computer problems, including failed hardware, improperly configured software, and malware attacks.
There are two critical problems with this model:
- Each time you fix a broken system, you do not know how long it will take you to resolve the issue or its cost.
- If you have to fix a system that you did not set up or maintain, you will be unfamiliar with it and unable to provide a satisfactory fix.
Instead of providing this type of situational help, provide managed services tailored toward a holistic and ongoing relationship with your clients.
Although you may occasionally have to take on this type of work to build up goodwill within your community or earn supplementary income, you should provide retainer agreements to clients you plan to convert from break/fix arrangements.
Implement Minimum Solution Standards
As any MSP operator can appreciate, it isn’t easy to build a sustainable and profitable business by providing unlimited support at a high maintenance and support cost to your business.
The solution is to offer minimal solution standards and specify a minimum stack of services. For instance, do not set up storage for a client who will not also take up managed backup, provide a firewall that the client maintains in house, etc.
Always have a set baseline cost that covers unlimited support. For instance, you could have a managed solution for a minimum of 5 PCs. If your client has less than 5 PCs, they can still sign up for your service but will need to pay for full, 5 PC coverage.
Minimum solution standards not only ensure that you are making a profit from your services, but will also weed out “bad” clients, leaving only those who value quality services and are willing to pay for it.
Reliable tech is essential for all modern businesses’ success, even those operating in rural or remote areas. MSPs are vital in providing accessible, timely, and accurate information to clients in underserved areas and bridging the skills gap in areas where qualified technicians may be in short supply.
The tips above help MSPs offer affordable and integrated solutions to rural businesses’ pain points and customize their offerings to the local conditions while remaining profitable.