MSP Exec On Scale: ‘Run Your Business Like A Professional Sports Team’
‘The only way that you can innovate your services portfolio is to know exactly what it is that you’re offering to your customers and exactly how you’re delivering it,’ says Don Monistere, CEO and president, General Infomatics.
Don Monistere believes MSPs should run their businesses like they’re going for the gold.
“I always like to use sports analogies, and one of the easiest things for my folks to remember is that I want to operate our business much like an incredibly valuable sports franchise might run their business,” he said. “The first thing that they do is clearly define what the championship is to win.”
He said when that goal is clearly defined, it makes it much easier to execute and attain.
Monistere, CEO and president of Baton Rouge, LA-based MSP General Infomatics, spoke to MSPs at CRN parent company The Channel Company’s XChange March 2023 event in Orlando this week about not just growing but scaling their business.
“The game plan is nothing more than a three-or-four page document that we send to the entire organization and they have to read it and sign off that they’ve read it,” he said. “What is the playbook? We have a very high-level plan, and then we get down to the plays. This is exactly how a sports franchise would run their business.”
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But the difference is between growth and scale.
“Growth is when you grow your business at any cost,” he said. “Sales people are coin-operated machinery. If you give them enough money, they will give you the production that you’re looking for. It is very costly to do it that way, and it doesn’t mean that you’re actually getting the customers that you want. You may be getting exactly the customers that are not allowing you to scale your business.”
He said true scale is when MSPs add dollars of revenue that they don’t have to add dollars of cost in order to bring that revenue into their business.
When his company is eyeing an acquisition, the team performs a QofE, or quality of earnings, and looks at the company’s financials, “to make sure those financials are what they say they are.”
And when thinking of how to scale, Monistere said to perform a QofO, or quality of operations, to take a deeper look at the operations within the business.
After the QofO, MSPs must manage the framework within their business.
In order to scale, he said MSPs need to be “hyper focused” on four areas: grow it, innovate it, improve it and automate it.
MSPs must grow their sales enablement process. To do that, he implemented a “very disciplined” sales process and sales enablement process in his business, “and we clearly defined the resources required at every phase of the opportunity.”
He also gathers feedback from customers to identify where in the prospective-client phase did he almost lose them, “and then we tweak that process.”
The second step is for MSPs to innovate their services portfolio.
“If you don’t have your services portfolio documented, you should start doing that right now,” he told MSPs. “There’s three levels of documentation that you need for your services portfolio: one for your customer, one for your implementation team and one for your service delivery team.
“The only way that you can innovate your services portfolio is to know exactly what it is that you’re offering to your customers and exactly how you’re delivering it,” he added.
Products are innovated every day, he said, “But what we don’t think about, is there something that I can do to my current stack of services from a delivery perspective that will simplify the process of doing business with us.”
He said MSPs should be looking at the tool sets they’re using, the way that they implement them and the way that they support them. The simpler it is, the better results an MSP will get.
“If you’re not trying to extract steps in the process that don’t add value, you’ll never be able to scale your business,” he said.
The third phase is improvement. In order to scale a business, he said the three processes MSPs must have are document management, continual improvement and change management.
MSPs should also document the policies, procedures and processes in their organization.
When it comes to continual improvement, he said MSPs should be getting input from their customers, peers in the industry and their internal staff. Change management comes into play not only for customers but for internal environments as well.
Automation, the last step, is crucial.
“Make sure that you’ve done the first two steps of improving your processes before you automate it,” he said. “Because if you automate something that’s broken, you get broken faster.”
Once you’ve done these four steps, once you’ve taken a look at your processes, your procedures, you’ve documented them…you can start creating that iterative step that every time you add a dollar of revenue, you don’t have to add a dollar of costs just to deliver it,” he said.
Brent Yax, CEO of Troy, Mich.-based MSP Awecomm, said his biggest takeaway from Monistere’s presentation was the differentiators of growth and scale.
“I thought that was a very big distinction that needs to be made,” Yax told CRN. “I really liked how focused he was on creating documentation, creating the process and then taking iterative steps over time to improve that process. I thought it was a really good look at what’s necessary to create scale.”