By Julie Ritzer Ross
For some managed services providers, simply presenting a line card of IT products and services and pointing to a collection of manufacturer certifications works to cultivate and retain clients. But for CMIT Solutions of Denver, nothing could be further from the truth. Here, a vendor-agnostic credential serves as a key business differentiator and a linchpin for fostering clients’ loyalty and trust.
From Break-Fix to MSP
Founded in 2004 by Debi and Phil Bush, CMIT Solutions of Denver is one of about 125 franchise units by the nationwide IT services and consulting firm CMIT Solutions. CMIT initially operated in break-fix, project mode, offering support and services to SMBs on an as-needed basis. However, the tides turned two years after its inception, when CMIT Solutions introduced the Bushes and its other franchisees to the MSP concept.
“We liked the enhanced revenue potential a migration to managed services could bring to the table," said Debi Bush, who serves as CMIT Solutions of Denver’s chief executive officer while her husband wears the presidential hat. Deploying Continuum’s remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform and Autotask’s IT business management software positioned the company to make the change. In 2006, it turned MSP.
At first, challenges ensued. Few clients recognized the benefits they could reap by hiring an MSP rather than a traditional break-fix IT services and support organization. Explaining the benefits through sales calls and other communications helped to turn the tide. Advantages included, but were not limited to, hassle-free access to the latest system upgrades and the convenience of a monthly IT expenditure. The MSP model also became better-known in the marketplace. Eventually, it was prospective clients approaching CMIT Solutions of Denver in search of managed IT services.
This was definitely a step in the right direction, but it was not enough. The Bushes wanted to give prospects a compelling reason for choosing CMIT Solutions of Denver over other MSPs. The solution they arrived at was the CompTIA Managed Services Trustmark, a business credential designed to qualify and differentiate organizations that provide onsite IT services using a managed services business model. To earn the credential, organizations must adhere to a code of conduct and criteria related to operations, management and finance, services and customer references.
“The Trustmark really shows the quality and commitment of the MSPs that have earned it, so we decided that pursuing it was the right path for us," she said. CMIT Solutions of Denver earned the credential in September 2011.
Point of Differentiation
CompTIA’s Managed Services Trustmark fulfills its promise in several ways, according to the Bushes. First off, it helps sell the firm’s services to new clients. Phil Bush doesn’t have to explain to prospects what managed services are, and instead can focus on how following guidelines and best practices that fall under the Trustmark umbrella helps CMIT Solutions of Denver excel in the MSP arena. “Using the business credential as a springboard, we can have a valuable discussion about what we do differently, what it means for the client and how we would work for them," he said. “It’s easy for us to demonstrate not only that we offer managed IT services, but that we provide them correctly."
As more IT firms adopt the MSP model, being able to differentiate your business has become increasingly important. Four or five years ago, CMIT Solutions of Denver was often the only MSP in the area competing for contracts. Today, the firm frequently finds itself facing three or four different contenders for a particular piece of business. “We need to stand out from among the crowd, and the CompTIA Managed Services Trustmark gives us a major edge," Debi Bush said. “We are perceived not as just any kind of MSP, but as a best practice MSP. It’s not clients’ only reason for engaging or staying with us, but it carries weight."
The CompTIA Managed Services Trustmark also bolsters an MSP’s credibility: Clients are assured that CMIT Solutions of Denver possesses the business tools and other attributes necessary to serve their current and future needs. The vendor neutrality of CompTIA’s Trustmarks helps MSPs develop a higher level of trust among clients.
“We are happy to be vendor-certified," she said. “However, vendor-neutrality — the fact that the Trustmark was awarded by an impartial entity like CompTIA — means a lot more to clients. They understand that it is something we earned and deserve — and that they can rely on our services and support with no reservations whatsoever. Completing the requirements for the Trustmark took time. But it was, and will continue to be, worth the investment."
A trade journalist for more than three decades, Julie Ritzer Ross has covered technology and its application in a wide variety of markets since 1990. She is a two-time winner of the Jesse H. Neal Award for business journalism and a graduate of New York University.