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Economic Uncertainty Got You Down? Get Guidance from 4 Top MSPs

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Managed service providers and other partners face the same economic uncertainty as everyone else.

But in addition to adjusting to supply chain challenges and high inflation, channel business owners also have to make decisions around staffing. That compounds risk. Because the number and type of experts on hand directly impacts end users, MSPs have to maintain caution toward any layoffs or slowdowns in hiring. And yet, keeping too many people on the payroll can push a partner out of the delicate revenue-outlay balance.

Indeed, even giant corporations — think Zoom, Rackspace, Amazon, Google and more — face that same fine line. However, for smaller firms, the effects of any cuts can run deeper and last longer; losing even one client amid economic uncertainty takes a greater toll on finances and reputation. MSPs and other partners don’t need customers thinking they don’t have enough people on staff to handle their requirements.

[Editor's Note: See and hear more than 150 channel visionaries and experts speaking at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. The event also features more than 375 ICT companies in the massive expo hall. Register now for the world’s largest independent channel event, May 1-4, at the Venetian in Las Vegas.]

That’s just one of the topics four longtime MSP executives will tackle during the Channel Partners Conference & Expo keynote panel, “Using the Current Economic Climate to Your Advantage.”

They’ll also address other subjects, including keeping in frequent touch with customers and finding unique ways to approach the economic uncertainty that doesn’t look to wane any time soon.

To those points, Ron Lovern, Neil Medwed, Jason Rincker and Len DiCostanzo all will share their experience and advice on May 1. Lovern serves as executive vice president of Texas-based Triton Networks. He will moderate the keynote panel. Medwed will join from Texas-headquartered Meriplex, where he works as vice president of corporate development and M&A. Rincker, meanwhile, comes from Joplin, Missouri-based Stronghold Data; he acts as director of revenue. Finally, DiCostanzo founded and leads MSP Toolkit, which connects MSPs with vetted vendors.

If you’re among the many channel partners working to navigate economic uncertainty, and achieve positive outcomes, the “Current Economic Climate” keynote will be a can’t-miss event.

In the meantime, take advantage of this preview article to get a better feel for what the session will cover. Responses have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Channel Partners: The first recommended step for prevention customer attrition during this tough economy is to take stock of the value you provide customers by analyzing how it is articulated via your sales team, your brand and marketing materials.” Please explain more what this means, from your perspective, and what youll discuss during the keynote.

Ron Lovern, Triton Networks: Creating a “value statement” is essential for individuals and businesses. You should not only create a value statement for yourself and the business, but you need to re-evaluate it every 12 months. This has been key for creating successful teams in the past as well as current business focus for Triton. Here’s an example: “Triton Networks is a fully managed network service provider with proactive 24x7 monitoring and management of business network and communication services.”

Neil Medwed, Meriplex: I would add that ensuring quality communication with each client is more essential than ever. We are "partners" and must understand the dynamics that our clients are going through. Certain industries are impacted greatly by this uncertainty while others may not be as much. Understand your client base, their industries, and potentially create different strategies around each group.

Jason Rincker, Stronghold Data: I've found that regular check-ins with clients are key to preventing customer attrition. By understanding their business objectives and holding annual blue-sky sessions, we can ensure we're aligned and moving forward in the same direction. And, by having open and honest conversations with our clients, we can catch any potential issues early on and make adjustments to prevent attrition. During our panel discussion, we'll share specific strategies and tactics we use at Stronghold Data to maintain strong client relationships and prevent customer attrition.  

Triton Networks' Ron Lovern

Meriplex's Neil Medwed

CP: The keynote overall aims to help MSPs make the most of the current economy with the right formula and responses.” Without giving away the session, what details can you provide about the right formula and responses”

Lovern: Innovation and execution are essential to keep MSPs and businesses moving forward. The key may be “customer experience,” but effectively executing services and support with innovative technology contributes directly to the bottom line and gets clients to revenue realization faster than ever before.

Medwed: Investing in that foundation may be keeping greater amounts of cash in your business than you may otherwise. Having a solid financial base creates opportunities in many ways. First of all, it makes your banks and distributors feel better. More importantly, it can allow you to take advantage of market opportunities. An example of this could be to hire quality talent if and when they become available.  It could allow you to perform an M&A activity with less-fortunate companies or owners. Or it could allow you to invest in new marketing.

Rincker: We've found that the right formula for navigating a challenging economy starts with understanding our clients' specific situation and industry landscape. We take the time to do our homework and ask the right questions to gain a clear picture of where our clients are at and where they see themselves going in the next 18-36 months. This helps us provide tailored guidance and solutions that are unique to their situation. We also explore cost-saving measures like automation and process improvements. During our panel discussion, we'll share success stories and case studies of how this formula has helped our clients thrive during tough economic times.



CP: What one common mistake are you seeing MSPs make amid this difficult economy, especially as it relates to the formula youll discuss to help steer MSPs toward more profitable waters?

Lovern: Being afraid of changing what you are doing today while overstating the value and relationship you bring to a client, and having a lack of an ongoing development program for employee education and certification.

Medwed: The No. 1 mistake that owners make is not rightsizing their staff to market conditions. Instead of managing KPIs and having the right staff for the needs, many do not downsize staff when conditions deteriorate. Payroll is most companies’ largest expense, and an effective and profitable company does not have bloated payroll.

Rincker: One common mistake we see organizations make is not having open and honest conversations at the leadership level and failing to understand their business objectives. This can lead to missed opportunities for growth or misaligned priorities. We prioritize having these conversations with our clients and ensuring we're on the same page. During our panel discussion, we'll share tips and strategies for how organizations can start having these conversations and better align with their business objectives. We'll also discuss the importance of understanding not just their organization, but also their industry landscape.

Stronghold Data's Jason Rincker

CP: What will make this keynote a must-attend for channel partners?

Lovern: The three MSP leaders joining me on this panel are all recognized industry leaders with a history of successfully managing their businesses, as well as thousands of customers, through the ups and downs of the tech industry throughout the years. Learning from leaders who have not only built and sold successful MSP businesses in the past, but each have been major contributors to the industry as a whole.

Medwed: The panelists come from diverse backgrounds, some with as much as four decades of experience in this industry (me). And they have seen rises and falls of companies throughout their careers. Luckily, they have learned from those and share with you.

Rincker: Attendees will gain valuable insights from peers on how to navigate economic pressures with clients. We'll share specific examples of what we're doing at Stronghold Data to help our clients succeed during tough economic times, and we'll provide simple takeaways that attendees can apply in their own organizations. This is a must-attend session for anyone looking to stay ahead of the curve during challenging economic times.

CP: What other thoughts would you like to add?

Lovern: “It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” —Warren Buffett

Medwed: Should you look at economic uncertainty as a positive or a negative? Can it be both? These questions and more will be answered during this session.

Rincker: I'd love to make our panel discussion as interactive as possible. We hope to foster a dynamic conversation and ensure attendees get the most out of it. Additionally, we'll discuss the importance of understanding not just the organization, but also the industry landscape during our panel discussion.



Channel Partners Conference & Expo