Despite the Arctic temperatures outside, attendance and spirits were high at the annual Nor’Easters ConnectWise User Group meeting at the Hilton in Hartford, Connecticut. You couldn’t escape the familiar complaints—the snow, the roads, office closings—but these were just icebreakers (so to speak), and all conversation quickly turned to such topics as growing business, scaling and simplifying operations, and keeping clients up and running. Along the way, I learned three important things.
1. Face time is quality time
My colleague Randy Thay and I met early to set up our table and get ready to greet partners and introduce ourselves to prospects. A partner development manager, Randy enjoyed the chance to meet MSP professionals face-to-face. He reminded me how important it is to establish in-person relationships in addition to his more usual phone interactions. Conversations are clearer and more effective, and this leads to a higher level of trust. And frankly, it’s more fun. Randy did a few double-takes in mid-handshake after suddenly recognizing a partner he’d met previously by phone. This turned into a kind of game as the day progressed, and our partners seemed to have as much fun with it as we did.
2. Some MSPs think way outside the box
Most memorable for me were my conversations with people whose business models defy our common ideas of MSPs. There was the systems specialist for a digital signage service provider. His New Jersey-based company designs, installs, and runs digital display systems for clients as diverse as banks, multiplex theaters, and retail chains. Then there was the technician whose company had built a lucrative business in maintaining what might be the last stands of legacy IBM AS400 mainframe computers, still powering a handful of large manufacturers in southern New Hampshire.
3. Specialization pays off
Of course, we talked with many folks who’ve succeeded with more conventional MSP business models. Most of them managed over time to build expertise in one or two verticals, such as healthcare, legal services, or education, for example.
We were encouraged by those who praised us for the Intronis ECHOplatform’s effectiveness and ease-of-use, and by questions about the forthcoming Winter Release ’15. One partner even pitched a success story involving a law firm, a failed server, and a deceased system administrator! (We promise to exercise restraint and good taste as we pursue this case study….)
All in all, it was a great day and a half. Thanks to our friends at ConnectWise and to the vibrant Nor’Easters regional user group for giving us this fun and productive respite from our winter woes. Great timing too; the forecast calls for more wintry weather this coming weekend.