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Coronavirus: Stories From The Front Line

A Look at What Business Continuity REALLY Means, How MSPs Can Position Themselves as Trusted Advisors, and Much More…

On this episode of the MSP Show, Stuart Crawford, CEO of Ulistic, speaks with Blake Shwank, CEO of Colorado Computer Support (CCS) and Curtis Hyde, Sales & Marketing Coordinator of CCS. During their discussion, they take a look at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on MSPs and businesses around the world – covering a range of topics, including what business continuity really means, how MSPs must position themselves as trusted advisors, the difficult conversations MSPs need to have with their clients, and much more.

What Does Business Continuity Really Mean?

Stuart starts the discussion about business continuity with the following…

I firmly believe MSPs have awakened to the importance of business continuity being more than just data backup and disaster recovery, which is a vital part of it, but we’ve learned that it’s so much more than that. It’s about mobilizing a 50-person law firm overnight to work from home.”

In the past, the majority of MSPs focused on business continuity in terms of making sure data and applications were backed up and recoverable in the event of an accidental loss or natural disaster. But the coronavirus pandemic shows us that business continuity needs to go above and beyond that.

Blake mentions that although sending everybody home was easy, there were little things, like lacking power adapters for phones, that were overlooked. He explains…

“We have medical practices that are still open, but schools have closed so they’re trying to figure out how to get everybody on a virtual meeting so they can keep teaching the kids. It’s nothing like we ever imagined business continuity would be like on a large-scale.”

So What Does This Mean for MSPs Looking to Act as Trusted Advisors?

Stuart explains…

You, as the trusted advisor, must mandate [business continuity] as part of the relationship – [ask questions like] if the school needs to shut down, hypothetically, let’s go through a scenario like that. How do we prepare for not if, but when this type of crisis hits us again?”

Although a pandemic is a rare occurrence, even drastic flooding or massive hurricanes can shut physical offices down for days, if not weeks. It’s an MSPs duty as the designated outsourced IT department to sit down and inform their clients about the risks. But for many, the risks weren’t clear until the coronavirus pandemic started.

Blake expressed,

I live in Colorado Springs. It’s a beautiful place with mountains and snow, but we don’t have natural disasters. While some may think of this all the time, people in our location and many others simply don’t get tornados, hurricanes, massive flooding, etc. We may get floods, but they’re in communities taking out homes – not businesses. We don’t have the same kind of level of awareness of disasters that people living in those locations have.”

Curtis described his own experience as a young professional in the MSP space…

I’m 30, so I haven’t lived through a bunch of things, but last time I remember was 9/11 when the world stopped because of a tragedy. It’s a different dynamic that tech-savvy people my age didn’t expect to prepare for. Last time something of this magnitude happened was 100 years ago.”

In The Past, People Never Thought to Prepare for Such a Widespread Disruption. But Now They’re Aware… So What Kind of Conversations Should MSPs Be Having with Their Clients?

The world didn’t close for SARS or H1N1. In fact, a pandemic of this magnitude hasn’t happened in over 100 years. Thankfully, we have the technology to handle this sort of disruption now – as long as we’re prepared. Although many businesses aren’t able to operate at full capacity, they’re able to use various tools to take care of projects and/or tasks from home. Blake expressed the type of conversations CCS is having during the pandemic, as well as their plans for afterward…

“We have some clients who are hurting more than others, but none of our clients are at risk of actually closing. Some may experience significant cash-flow issues over the next few months, but we’re working to help our clients as much as we can. We’re also maintaining a positive attitude. We do a twice daily check-in with our team because we know they’re at risk for anxiety as to where this is going.

He continued to explain how they’re balancing keeping their clients afloat while taking care of their own obligations,

“You’ve gotta make sure you can do payroll. Part of it depends on what’s happening with relief for payroll, so if you’re having serious cash flow issues, look into that. For us, it’s on a case-by-case basis. If we have a client who is in a serious cash crunch and they’re approaching it in a professional manner, we’ll work out a plan. We might knock a specific amount off the bill each month and spread it over the course of the next year.”

Some experts have stated that this is the biggest opportunity for MSPs since Y2K. Why? Because it offers an opportunity to discuss planning for the future once the pandemic starts to slow down. Blake explains…

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get out there, communicate with our clients and the people that they know, and as people look back, they’re going to realize they had a lot of holes – a lot of things they couldn’t do at home. They’ll want to prepare for the future.”

Watch the full video for more stories from the front line. Questions? Get in touch with us anytime.

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