Finding The Right Talent At The Right Time: Four MSPs Share Their Strategies
Vennard Wright, president of MSP Wave Welcome, taps into local universities, offering internships and training students to be ready to enter the workforce with the skills MSPs need. ‘There still is a disconnect in terms of what they’re learning in college and what we need in the industry,’ he says.
In the ongoing fight to find the right talent, four seasoned MSP executives shared their knowledge with peers about how they use creative tactics to tap into a younger pool of talent and keep these employees in their organization.
But the number of employees has to complement the monetary size of the company.
The panel, “Right-Sizing Your MSP: Finding The Right Ratio Of Service Employees To Revenue,” was held at the XChange August 2023 conference, being hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company in Nashville, Tenn., this week. The panel was moderated by Michael Goldstein, president of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based LAN Infotech and included Julia Deien, principal and director of St. Louis-based Anders Technology; Wayne Hunter, president and CEO of Allen, Texas-based AvTek Solutions; and Vennard Wright, president of Oxon Hill, Md.-based Wave Welcome.
The four MSPs discussed a multitude of ways to find the right talent and how to retain these individuals, including offering incentives and bonuses. They also delved into some creative ways to find that talent.
When Goldstein needs to hire, he looks at the billable time versus what he’s charging.
“I always say that I don’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone, but I don’t want to outsource,” he said. “So I’m always making sure that I have enough people in the bullpen to be able to handle that, and sometimes that’s overstaffing. I feel like today we’re overstaffed but we have a lot of back-end work that always has to be done.”
Goldstein also cross-trains employees as he said it’s another way they’re more likely to stay.
When it comes to staffing, Hunter uses a labor efficiency ratio. For every dollar he spends, he makes $4.50 and watches that on a month-to-month basis. If he sees he’s only getting a $3.50 return, he knows he has to make some changes.
“Sometimes I don’t necessarily need that person there because the amount of tickets we’re hitting [with] those two customers is low, but we do it anyway because we’re going to continue to expand that,” he said. “I look at it that way based on having customer coverage. As long as my ratio number stays the same, I keep rocking and rolling.”
Deien uses a different formula based off revenue. For every $300,000 worth of new work that is potentially coming in, she has the ability to hire.
“We are constantly looking forward versus backwards at our pipeline,” she said. “We use quarterly business road maps … and if we have a downward period, [we look at] what can we throw in to keep everybody busy.”
Wright uses a similar system but the threshold is $250,000. He also uses the labor efficiency ratio like Hunter.
Starting his MSP around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he used to outsource but has since hired developers and brought more people in house.
Goldstein said it’s about having the right talent at the right time. That’s why he taps into the local colleges in his area and brings on apprentices for a year. He also told MSPs to look into grants through local government bodies as some states may supplement pay.
Wright is doing the same in tapping into local universities, offering internships and training young talent to be ready to enter into the workforce and have the skills MSPs are looking for.
“There still is a disconnect in terms of what they’re learning in college and what we need in the industry,” he said, adding that he makes sure his senior employees mentor his junior hires.
Aside from just recruiting from local colleges, Deien sits on different advisory boards at local colleges to give input into the latest technology in the market.
“And you can see top talent and get to know them sooner,” she said.
Tom Wyant, CEO of Traverse City, Mich.-based MSP Wyant, said he is doing similar things as the MSPs on the panel to find talent, which made him “feel better” about his approach. Giving incentives and bonuses to his team is also key to his company’s success, he said.