Congratulations! You’ve founded an MSP and you’re ready to sweep the world off of its feet. If you are at a point where you have enough business and the right budget to expand it by bringing on more people to work for you, it’s only smart that you do it the best way possible.
To avoid common mistakes new MSPs make on their first hires, follow our advice that we’ve gathered after having worked with more than 40 MSPs:
- Avoid hiring people with overlapping weaknesses
- Transfer knowledge and create a firm structure your staff can follow
- Have good technical and procedural documentation
- Find the sweet spot between being too available and not being available enough
- Embody project leadership principles
- Value the professional and private relationships equally
- Trust your staff and delegate responsibilities
If you don’t hire the right person, your clients will not be happy. That’s what our founder Eric learned after he started expanding his IT business.
With this experience, he transferred his insights to other MSPs that want to have the best staff, service and clients.
MSPs should avoid hiring employees with overlapping weaknesses
As a managed service entrepreneur, you’ve probably become accustomed to wearing every hat at your company– accounting, bookkeeping, setting up any technology, etc. You are savvy and want to hire someone who is just like you!
We are here to tell you that this is not the best idea, because you can end up hiring people who have the same weaknesses as you or other staff members.
It’s important to hire MSP techs whose strengths vary so that you can position them at different seats in the system. This way, you ensure that the company as a whole has a strong performance.
Consistency in quality of service is crucial to getting and keeping the best clients, allowing your company to grow further. By hiring staff that complement the system as a whole, you will ensure your business functions smoothly.
The first person an MSP should hire should be someone who can do triaging and is well-organized. A level 1 technician should be good for this role if:
- They are detail oriented
- They can create documentation
- They can handle client databases
- They are disciplined in following up on issues
This type of person will bring extra value to your company by utilizing their organizational strengths.
MSP owners should hire techs with POVs different from their own
You are successful because you are probably exceptional at solving people’s problems due to drive and passion. You had the self-initiative to start your own business, find clients, market your services and everything else that was needed.
However, you can’t expect that everyone who responds to your job ad will think the same way and have your same experience.
When applicants have a different background and personality to your own, then they will inevitably respond to things differently than you would. So you can’t expect them to know how they would act in certain cases compared to what you would do.
That’s why, mentoring your staff slowly, little-by-little, helps guide them into the type of thinking and “common sense” that you have and do things the way you would like them to. This, however, takes time and patience.
Just remember that, common sense might not be common between you and your employee. That’s why it’s important to:
- Have patience when mentoring
- Build a structure that teaches your employees how to provide the best service you have envisioned for your company
- Create guidelines that can serve as a support system when your staff is in doubt.
Managed service founders must transfer knowledge well
Instead of just seeing things from the perspective of a managed service provider founder, imagine that you are in your technician’s shoes. What would be the crucial parts of the company’s system to know? Would you like to get rid of any ambiguities?
Teaching someone new information successfully comes down to:
- Breaking large parts of information down to bite-sized portions
- Having everything in writing to avoid ambiguities
- Establishing a balance between over-explaining and under-explaining
- Recognizing the starting point of team members and their progress
- Creating a dialogue to optimize their growth, and thus the growth of your MSP
Offer structure to your MSP with guidelines, procedures and policies
Winging it can only take you so far as a managed service provider. Once you have more people on board, and more clients to service, it can all go downhill if there is not the structure to support your company.
When you have written guidelines, procedures and protocols for every aspect of your service, your staff will have a much better chance of advancing.
Having standard operating procedures and centralized documentation is a lifesaver. Without them, you’re stuck having to answer spontaneous emails, calls and chats. That’s not sustainable. Imagine doing this with five employees. Sounds nightmarish!
Just because you have all information about your clients stored in your head, doesn’t mean that it will be easy for the new staff to know.
ITGlue is great for keeping documentation–much better than using your head as a cloud database.
And ultimately, aAdding structure saves you the headache of constantly repeating yourself.
When and how MSP owners can be available for new hires
You will not be helping your technician by being available at all times for escalations. That would instead just make you a crutch for them. On the other hand, distancing yourself without providing directions is no good either.
So you might be wondering, what is the best practice for managing the way your staff communicates with you?
For one, encouraging self-sufficiency in your staff is most beneficial. However, this cannot happen overnight, but rather through organized training and providing guidelines. To help you with this, here are some steps we employ:
- An escalation policies
- Prioritizing issues
- Micromanagement vs. training
- Come with two possible solutions
An escalation policy should be part of your onboarding guide documentation. It should describe what types of issues are emergencies and which are not. It should provide different communication channels for each level of urgency by prioritizing issues.
Depending on the level of priority, staff can then use the adequate communication channel to communicate about the issue. You can use something like this:
|Chat||Video meeting booked in advance|
|Email with “URGENT” as subject||Ticketing system|
Having procedures and policies in place, like the best way to write tickets for example, are part of good staff training practices. It has to be in writing and provide useful information on how to navigate the systems in your company. This way, you are avoiding micromanaging for any and every extraordinary instance and instead, focusing on strong and high-quality training.
A practice that’s turned out to be beneficial for technicians’ self-reliability is asking them to come up with a possible solution to the issue they are escalating. This way, they will have to engage their little gray cells and push through their comfort zone.
If they are right, escalating the issue will give them confirmation and a confidence boost. If they are wrong, escalating the issue will help them find out why they were wrong and how to do it right next time.
By integrating these guidelines, you will hit the sweet spot between being too available and not being there at all. Issues will be raised for you to deal with in an organized fashion and with focus.
The technicians will have the structure that guides them to escalating issues correctly and learn even if they can’t solve it. This will create order by prioritizing issues and a culture of seamless mentorship. Feel free to brainstorm other ways you can mentor your technicians.
Embody leadership principles
Operating as a one-man band often means solving issues on the fly, and obtaining as many clients and as much revenue as possible. When this is your workflow, there is not much need, nor time, to dive deeper and define the values of your company and your leadership principles.
But don’t sleep on this. You must do research and define what you want to stand for as a leader, what your company stands for in terms of its quality of service, its core values and your brand.
Once you’ve defined those values, be consistent!
Consistency and reliability are two principles that make an MSP great. By embodying them yourself first, you will serve as an example to your employees and get the best clients.
Once you embody your ideal values, you need to enforce them in your employees as well. This can not happen if you are being too friendly and giving them slack for not acting according to the principles of your company.
If they are often late, for example, sit them down and confront them about the issue. Take initiative to suggest solutions, but be firm and professional about the things that are not acceptable.
Setting the standard principles is a priority. But although business comes first, don’t be a villain!
True leaders have charisma, a mix of warmth and strength. You want to be seen as a strong leader and a role model, but you want to be warm to them too! Hiring someone just because you like them or you’re good friends does not turn out well, believe us.. However, if you are already choosing the best person to work with, you should also like spending time with them.
Allocate responsibility, create trust and be a strong mentor
Since you’ve succeeded so much and have become really capable of solving any issue that comes up with clients, you will be tempted to do everything yourself. We are here to tell you– don’t!
Being a leader also means giving people the power and the means to be as independent as possible. Don’t just take the problem off their hands but rather make any problem they can’t solve an opportunity to teach them. You can do this with the following solutions:
- Reverse-escalate tickets with the resolution to them
- Have strong internal notes with steps taken that they can replicate in the future
- Allocate time for mentoring, as an addition to written procedures
The mentality of doing everything yourself, because it’s faster or you lack trust in your staff, will no longer serve you if you want to successfully grow your business! It takes time to adapt to a new situation and it can be weird at first, but patiently taking that time being a strong mentor pays off immensely.
Consult with us!
If you apply all of these principles we mentioned in this article, you will be on your way to building something that will turn into a five, ten or 30 person MSP one day.
It is a lot of work, but the main thing is getting out of the “lone wolf” mentality of looking at the world. Instead:
- Hire the type of people that compliment your skills
- Create a framework in which you can mentor them
- Have strong policies in place
- And consult with us!
We’ve been in your situation and thus understand the challenges. If you want to find out more useful strategies to transform and scale your help desk, apply here to become a client!