Joe started Forza soon after college and over the past 20+ years he’s grown it into a successful MSP business. As Joe and his partners developed their business they also found work on the application development side of things. As they were growing, they used this expertise to develop dashboards for both Connectwise Manage and Kaseya. They now offer these dashboards for free to any MSP. Joe also discusses how they’ve succeeded and some great tips and trick for attracting new customers.
Free apps for MSPs:
- CWDash: The Simple and Light Dashboard for ConnectWise
- KasDash: The Simple and Light Dashboard for Kaseya
If you’re a vendor and want to advertise on the dashboards, check out the partner sponsor site:
- ForzaDash: The Most effective way to develop a successful channel
Watch on YouTube
Hello and welcome to MSP Voice. This is episode #21. And today’s focus is free stuff, so we’ve got a couple of good things on the internet – some free scripts and those types of things – but then also my guest, Joe Pannone from Forza Technology. He’s going to talk about some of the free stuff that they’ve made. They’re an MSP but they also have some free dashboards available to the MSP community, so we’ll talk about that as well with Joe during the interview.
But before we get started, I also wanted to say we have a big announcement. MSP Voice now has its own home: mspvoice.com. So this is going to be your source for everything MSP Voice. You can register here on the website to get new episodes; so you put your name and email in there and you’ll be notified when a new episode is published. If you want to be a guest, there’s a section where you can click on ‘Be the next guest’, you fill out a form and we’ll get you scheduled in. But otherwise, you know what we’re going to have here in terms of the site – it’s a standard blog site, so that’s how the episodes are going to appear. I will also have some additional blogs that we plan to have just as good general resources for the MSP community, so be sure to check out mspvoice.com and we’ll go from there.
Best of Reddit/Internet (and FREE STUFF)
So, free stuff. I promised free stuff. So as we were scouring Reddit this week, we noticed a couple of things. Some free scripts and, those types of things that might be useful to MSPs.
- Cyber Security Essentials Toolkit via Powershell
So our first one here is PowerShell toolkit for Cyber Essentials. Basically, it’s how do you enable all the Cyber Essentials settings on your Windows on your desktops through PowerShell? Now, what’s interesting about this tool kit? There’s a link here that goes to astrix.co.uk. So they’ve got the security central site here and basically what they did is they had a partner who asked them to create a PowerShell script that would automatically check and selectively revoke local admin privileges, get IT systems compliant with the relevant parts of Cyber Essentials in those systems that don’t have Active Directory Domain Services. So this is cool. So if you have clients that aren’t using Active Directory and they have PCs and you want to do this, this script will help you do it, especially through your RMM tool. So they go on to detail in terms of how they created it and now they’ve made it fully available for free. So they’ve gone ahead and signed it, so they paid for that. So it’s all good but the blog here talks about the scripts, so the intended usage is manual execution in HPC or automatic execution on multiple PCs via your RMM system or group policy. So it’s a PowerShell script, however, you want to deploy these PowerShell scripts to these endpoints; use your best method and you can use it for free. So great technology, great free resource for all of you that want to enable this for your customers.
- Check IT Glue Passwords with HaveIBeenPwned via Powershell
Our next free script, again it’s a PowerShell script, and if you’re using IT Glue, this can be very useful. So it checks your IT Glue passwords against the ‘Have I been pwned?’ breaches using PowerShell. So essentially what this does is HOC hackers walking these passwords spray attacks to gain access to accounts. These attacks work by trying commonly used passwords against many accounts. So if you’re using IT Glue documentation system you can use this script to determine how secure and common the passwords in your customers’ environments are by checking their presence in known data breaches. So again, it’s another PowerShell script. You click on this link and you can go in and do it and people are very appreciative of this. A great script, very handy; a couple of suggestions on some things, on how to end it, those types of things. But overall it’s a pretty good reaction to this script and definitely something you want to check out so that you can check to make sure that your customers aren’t using stupid common passwords that are kind of well-known and open to attack.
- Open-Source tool from Netflix to find AWS credential compromise
So our next free thing comes from Netflix. Yes! Netflix, the streaming video service. They’re big AWS users so they have released a kind of utility or method for detecting credential compromise in AWS. So the team there has made this free. If you’re using AWS or you’ve got customers who are using AWS, definitely check this out because essentially what this does is it looks for credential usage from within AWS but outside of your AWS space.
So if someone’s trying to compromise something that you have running in AWS and your instances, they’re probably going to come at it from AWS instead of coming at it from the outside. So this will detect anything that’s going on. Again, it’s free. This blog here details how to use it. So you’ll be able to detect API calls within AWS EC2, temporary security credentials outside of your environment without any prior knowledge of your IP allocations in AWS. So it’s not like you need to go through all your IP allocations; this will actually automatically go and do that. You can go from zero to full coverage in six hours or less, according to them. And the methodology can apply in real time. So you’re monitoring things as they happen, as well as on historical AWS cloud trail data, to determine potential compromise. So definitely something you want to check out if you use a lot of AWS. And again, the links are in the show notes.
- Managing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
So next up, we have a little bit of a ‘Best of Reddit’ and this one is, ‘How do you manage your standard operating procedures?’ And essentially what this person is asking for is, if you have standard operating procedures for certain tasks or certain ways of doing things, how do you manage the steps of that SOP within your ticketing system? So they copy the document text into a ticket so the progress and time can be tracked there, but one of the biggest hurdles is, once they are in the ticket, it becomes difficult to easily track what steps remain, if not fully completed. So it’s how do you track the steps in your SOPs?
So a couple of good discussions here and one talks about using OneNote. They have one notebook with the SOPs and another for actual project plans, copy the SOPs needed into the project plan. That’s one way to do it. They said, ‘How do you track your time?’ And they said we did that with a single project ticket and ConnectWise. Another one says, ‘We have a procedure section on our PSA that converts into multiple-stage tickets. So essentially when you create a ticket based on this SOP, it will create it in multiple stages and then techs work down, the stages are confirmed once completed. So that gets rid of the original poster’s concept of ‘How do I know when one step’s been completed and go to the next step?’. This kind of does that for him. And then, of course, they say, ‘Hey! That sounds great. What kind of PSA are you using?’ And they say, ‘Custom-built.’ So the person who has this talks a little bit about it but it’s a custom built type of PSA system, so not sure if it’s going to be useful for you but if your PSA does provide for multi-stage tickets then that may be one way to look at it, to implement your standard operating procedures and your ticketing process.
- The optimal number of endpoints/employee
So next up is another interesting thread and I say that just because of the comments and where the comments went. But the initial question was, ‘How many new endpoints over workstations constitute a new employee for your MSP?’
So the original poster, they have tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 and right now they’re hiring a new tier 1 for every new 250 to 200 machines that they get or endpoints and they’re saying, ‘What do you guys do?’ So essentially, how many techs do you have per n number of endpoints? And the basic discussion is that 250 to 280 number is good for most MSP-type businesses. Some say 350 if it’s Windows 7. Others are saying if it’s Windows 10 you go to 450 or so. So it depends on the environment and what kind of computers. Windows 7 requires a lot more support and attention to detail than maybe Windows 10 does. And so that goes on to that discussion and then we get an interesting comment here from poster Pixie God, who apparently is running a great MSP. So no slams on Pixie God but they have some engineering firms getting close to the 35, 50 endpoints per tech. And so he prefers a personal touch. So he tends to hover around 75. So for every 75 endpoints, he has a tech. He says my clients do as well and luckily are willing to pay for better service. Now, as you can imagine, people started jumping on this and saying, ‘Well, you know, that’s expensive. Your clients are paying way too much. Blah, blah, blah.’ Of course, Pixie God comes back and says, ‘You don’t know anything about my business. I’m not giving you any detail on purpose.’ So there’s a little bit of an interesting discussion.
But I do think the summary of all of this discussion is it depends on the type of customers you have and the type of business and service that you’re providing. So if your customers don’t necessarily need a whole lot of hand-holding and support, then maybe you can get away with that – a couple of hundred endpoints per tech. But if you have highly demanding clients that need maybe constant IT hand-holding or constant support, then that’s going to be different. And it may depend on the industry that they’re in as well. And of course, the customer service level that you want to provide. And that’s what Pixie God talks about is his clients expect that level of service from his company so they’re willing to pay for it and he’s happy to do it. So again, the interesting discussion there. Jump in if you want to. But you know everyone’s business model is a little bit different.
- AWS now has a support account on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/aws).
And then finally, not exactly a ‘Best of Reddit’ but definitely Reddit-related is – again, this is an AWS story – but AWS has created an official customer support account on Reddit and they will help out with the queries that come up via the AWS sub-Reddit. So you know within that sub-Reddit, if people ask questions, you might get an official answer from the AWS support account. And so this article here from ZDNet is kind of talking about it and what they then talk about is using Reddit as a customer service channel as a growing trend. And they go into some detail about how popular Reddit has become. We know Reddit is hugely popular in the MSP community with the MSP sub-Reddit and some other things and people go there to find help and tips. So from the company perspective, the fact that AWS now has that support channel available there is extremely helpful. But of course it’s not just the AWS support channel, it’s the broader Reddit community as a whole. So you might go to the AWS site, ask a question. It may be the AWS support account or it may be one of your fellow Reddit users who just happens to know the answer, just like in the MSP sub-Reddit. So, the interesting story here about AWS, viewing Reddit as a great support channel and making it official with that account. So that is all I have today on ‘Best of Reddit’.
Again, make sure to check out mspvoice.com for this episode, as well as all the past episodes, and sign up to be notified of new episodes. And with that, we will now get to our interview with Joe Pannone from Forza Technology Solutions.
MSP Voice Podcast
Doug: Hello and welcome. Today I’m excited to be joined by Joe Pannone from Forza Technology, up in New Haven, Connecticut. Joe, why don’t you introduce yourself?
Joe: Hello Doug. So happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me. Joe Pannone here in the great state of Connecticut, New Haven. And looking forward to our discussion.
Doug: Great. So Forza is managed services, right?
Joe: Yeah, well we started in ‘93 and of course there were no managed service providers then. So I think we called ourselves computer support. We also did application development but our roots are founded in ‘93, a year after I graduated college.
Doug: Great. So I was just going to ask if you had a career in technology before getting into this. You just went right from college to this?
Joe: I took a job for a year to raise some capital. I was young then and didn’t need much money but I did need some to get along and I always knew in college back then. I had a computer science degree – that’s what you did back then.
Doug: Yeah, me too.
Joe: Yeah, that’s what it was called. And before that, I want to say, it was data processing – DP. That’s how I started. I got a job for a year at a consulting firm and raised some capital and then went off on my own.
Doug: And so you know obviously you had a computer science background, probably, growing up. Were you always into computers and doing that type of stuff?
Joe: Yeah, I was the first on my block as a kid to have a computer. A friend of mine told me about an Atari computer back then; this was in the early ‘80s. And friends of mine got together with it and really enjoyed it. Noticed that time goes by really quickly when we were on it and we taught ourselves basically and eventually, back then it was Clipper and things like that. And I got a couple of small contracting jobs doing programming work and really loved it. In college, I was the only person (can you imagine this, Doug?), I was the only person on the floor with a computer so I would not charge for them to type in their essays but I would charge $5 a page to print.
Doug: Wow! There you go.
Joe: It was my proactive approach, you know. But I tried to make some money with it.
Doug: They weren’t smart enough to know that they could save it on a floppy disk and take it down to the computer lab and print it for free?
Joe: Yeah, they didn’t want to do that. They liked the comfort of doing it right there. And, you know, it was fun. It was very fun.
Doug: Yeah, I remember the college days too. I don’t think I was the only one on my floor that had a computer but I was one of the few. You know, the old 286.
Joe: Yeah, honorable boxes back then, yes.
Doug: Yes. So you’re doing more managed services now, I imagine, and you probably started off doing a few different things. What was that transition like you know kind of going from application development? How has that transition been? How long’s it been? What’s the process like?
Joe: So in ‘93 when we started, the tools weren’t there yet. The process of managed services, they weren’t quite available for us in 2007. Pre-99. Pre-Y2K, if you remember those days.
Doug: Oh yeah.
Joe: We acquired a competitor in the area, tripled in size and they were doing a form of proactive work, managed services. So we started adopting it then but didn’t really mature it until I would say 2007 when we got both ConnectWise and Kaseya. And we had all the regular problems MSPs had back then – staffing – and at one point we’re hoping servers go down so we can make more money. It’s not good for us, it’s not good for them. And that transition wasn’t a difficult one to sell internally and it wasn’t a difficult one to sell to clients as well. I have many clients that have been with me for 20 years so they’ve gone through that transition. And they enjoy it much better now. They can budget properly and we can allocate staff properly and there are many advantages to that.
Doug: Yeah. So you said you worked with some customers for over 20 years. Do you specialize in any kind of verticals? Is it just anybody or how do you focus on your business that way?
Joe: You know we happen to have some very large architectural firms in the area. Yale is right in New Haven there and it breeds that, so while we didn’t focus on it, we ended up concentrating a lot there. But I wouldn’t say we’ve … we also have construction and there’s a lot of manufacturing here in Connecticut. And there’s a lot of pharmaceuticals here, between New York and Boston. So we have a lot of work there, especially on the application development side. You know there are a lot of these and Yale University, actually, so there’s a wide variety here in Connecticut, being sandwiched between very large cities of Boston and New York.
Doug: So you’re still doing the application development part then?
Joe: Yeah, very much so. And it’s interesting because I get the opportunity … I’m in a peer group of an HTG and when we got ConnectWise back, now called ConnectWise Manage, of course, in 2007, my internal staff, my managers saw a need to have some dashboards for the applications, some more business intelligence. So we built some internally, purely internal use, and then in 2009 I inadvertently showed my HTG group and they said, ‘Why don’t you bring this to market?’ So, how many MSPs have you talked to that have just created something kind of internally? Even ConnectWise itself; I mean David made it internally for them and then decided to go to market with it. So we had CWDash, a great application, out there. In 2015 some vendors of mine asked me to advertise in it. So – long story short, Doug – we now give it away to the MSPs. And we make more money giving it away than we ever did selling it because it’s faster paced and helps the MSPs, helps the sponsors. So while the MSP’s large and growing and we’re looking at some very big things, the application development side is very big as well and has a life of its own.
Doug: Well I’m sure it helps, too, to diversify a little bit, right? You’ve got your standard MSP work but then you also have your application development so if one goes down, the other one can prop it up and vice versa.
Joe: Absolutely. Great point, Doug. And the application development business is a tough one because it’s not proactive. We had very big contracts with big pharmaceutical companies around here and you staff up, and then once the contract is done you don’t let go as quick as you should. And now margins start to disappear. So having a product that has recurring revenue like this is a great model and it’s hard to do in the application development business.
Doug: Yeah. So it sounds like, from a software perspective, I’m guessing you still use ConnectWise Manage and probably Automate.
Joe: We very much do.
Doug: But what kind of software do you feel is pivotal to running your business?
Joe: Yeah, actually we don’t use Automate, we use Kaseya. In 2007 there was no LabTech or Automate. In fact, ConnectWise themselves were using Kaseya, so we just stayed on board and we actually have another dashboard for Kaseya, too. We kind of eat our own dog food. You know, we make products that we use internally and now we give away to the MSPs. So Kaseya is a big one. ConnectWise is the largest. And, by the way, we have over twenty-eight hundred MSPs worldwide using these applications. The adoption has been incredible and I meet with them once a month in a workshop. It’s very, very entertaining and when I was selling the application CWDash, it didn’t it whether the MSPs used it; we wanted them to, but it didn’t matter because we were getting paid. Now that it’s free, we want more MSPs to use it. That way, we satisfy the sponsors, so we released more updates in the last two years than we did the first five years. So the MSPs were averaging about 400,000 impressions a day. So this side of the business is really thriving. And those tools that you talked about – again, we have them and they’re great tools. We just needed a little bit more on top of them. And my peers, my colleagues said bring this up, not my idea at all. So the toolset, the stack on the MSP side is very important.
Doug: OK, cool. The customization you’ve done and the fact you make it available for free – I’ll make sure to include some links to that in the show notes so that if people are using ConnectWise or Kaseya, they can take advantage of that if they want to.
Joe: Yeah. Great product and, you know, there’s no free trial because it’s free.
Doug: Yeah, free is great. So just kind of thinking back maybe a little bit as you were getting started and, even today, I know a lot of MSPs that are getting started, they struggle with certain things. Typically, it’s sales and marketing are the biggest struggles, because they come from a computer background and they may not have that. So when you look at your marketing and sales, how has that grown and transitioned over the years as you’ve grown your company?
Joe: Yeah you’re right. You know, I had to come to the realization a while ago that I can no longer be a technician. I’m the CEO of the company. I’m head of business development. I do all the sales, but I also am in front of the clients doing farming, quarterly business reviews, and regular reviews as well. And the marketing towards the MSP business is very tough because generally, clients are really sticky. And the only reason why a client would leave an MSP is if a disaster occurred. So it’s hard to bring them on. But we do; we do quite well. Our ideal client is a minimum of 10 to 15 workstations. We find that, generally speaking in this geography, I don’t know about the rest of the country but anything below that, their operational maturity level their own mettle is generally a little lower, where they kind of expect IT people, not to pick on plumbers, but the idea is that something’s broken, come in and fix it and leave. We’ll just pay for it. Once they have to really rely on a server and once that server goes down, they lose money. IT then is just no longer an expense. They’re going to be there as a partner. And it’s hard when you don’t verticalize to look at that baseline of minimum workstations. So we find that going to our clients’ events, their business events and trying to network that way, and referrals are really … we have a great referral program where we give a $500 Amazon card and never let them forget that a referral means the best compliment we could receive. It truly is. And a lot of business grows through that way. It’s very difficult. Also, LinkedIn provides some kind of warmth; it’s not that cold of an introduction. You know, it kind of warms them a bit but we’re limited in this geography here and that’s generally how we bring on new sales and new clients. And you’re exactly right; I talk to MSPs all the time in my peer and then through CWDash to the other side of the business and those are the two things: sales and staffing. Those are the two big things. With unemployment at 1 percent in IT here in the US, it’s hard not only to hire but to keep them. You have to incentivize them and the millennials are very different. I’m not complaining; it’s just very different, the way they work. They’re used to getting trophies for just working. So you have to pat on the back a little bit but I have millennials and they do work hard and they work after hours. They’re quick to answer texts and emails after hours, whereas some of our generations generally, after five, they don’t return it, you know. So they put the phone down. But then they kind of come into work a little. But it’s just a little different. But that is the pool and I enjoy working with them but I just kind of scattered that answer, Doug. Sorry about that.
Doug: No, that’s all right. So what do you think is the greatest part about being in managed services? What do you love most about it?
Joe: It’s definitely the clients. You know I’ve got some clients that, as I said, I’ve had for a long time. You know, I’ve got this one client who works three shifts and their business model is very unique, where they get food that comes in that’s packaged and they try to avoid E. coli from happening so they put it through this big machine and extend shelf life and they’re just … it’s a great business. And I go there and I have to go into the freezer room and I put the hat, you know, that thing, the shoes on and I take a look at what’s going on in their business and they just, you know, ‘Joe, you’re in charge of our IT.’ You know and I mention some more products, they say, ‘Aren’t we already paying for that, Joe? Come on.’ So I have been back and forth. And then I have another client that does security for vehicles and it’s the wide variety of these clients and then it’s just … and the architects are very different, building these skyscrapers that are just … in Dubai and then in Cleveland and then Paris, you know. So the client diversity is so … and it’s been around for a long time, so I have the benefit of being part of their family and going to their Christmas parties and things like that. And then the employees. One of my guys has been with me like 23 years, Regan. Alex has been with me for about 20 years. My service manager has been with me for a little under 20 – a long time. It’s just that legacy of the clients and the employees. It’s very rewarding, very rewarding.
Doug: So that’s all the best parts. Are there any bad parts?
Joe: You know being a business owner, Doug, you know it’s tough sometimes. Sometimes clients are not happy for a particular project that didn’t go well and our employees are dissatisfied with something that happened – the way a client treated them or something that happened in their personal life and these are still humans we’re dealing with and we have ups and downs. So you do your best you can to align priorities and address them but it is still a people business. I think technology owners sometimes look at the stack, look at the technology but we’re still humans there. And sometimes there are difficulties with that.
Doug: Yeah, it’s definitely always about the people. So you mentioned that you’re part of HTG, which is a peer group but when you think about the general broader community of MSPs and I am sure you have a lot of contacts through your dashboards and things like that, but do yourself, as a business … are there any MSP communities that you feel are really important to be a part of?
Joe: Yeah, I mean I do a lot with ConnectWise, so I’m going to the big user group in the northeast here tomorrow. I’ll be on one of the panels. And, you know, just collaborating with MSPs. I mean IT Nation is shortly coming up and that’s their big annual event. And I swear I learn more in the hallways and in the bar afterward, just collaborating with … because there’s nothing … you know, you still hear stories that shock you in a good and a bad way. You still think you’ve been around, you think you’ve heard it all, and then – boom – you know you hear something that just really surprises you. Something somebody tried and didn’t work or came close to working and knew if they changed it, it would work. It’s again people organization like you said, Doug, collaborating like that, even if it’s not face-to-face, it’s through email and through messages and through texting and so, so crucial. Unfortunately, sometimes I talk to MSPs that are using dashboards, for example, and they don’t know anybody else. They feel like they’re on an island and I … ‘Don’t you collaborate?’ And some are in peer groups that aren’t IT-focused, which is still good. But at least you’re collaborating with someone and it’s just so crucial.
Doug: Yeah. I mean, for a lot of people, too, I mean I know the MSP sub-Reddit, you know on Reddit, is extremely popular and, as you said, you see stories on there and you’re like, ‘Oh, my God! I can’t believe that’s happening.’
Joe: That’s right. Yeah.
Doug: There’s a lot of great places for folks to go out and at least connect with other like-minded people and get some answers to questions. Changing focus a little bit to technology. What technologies – it could be current or something new that’s up and coming – are you excited about? What’s kind of like, ‘Wow! I can’t believe this is happening!’ or you’re really looking forward to?
Joe: I mean the security part. We’ve turned into security companies, right? And the attacks that are happening. There are no more people with masks on, running into banks, right? They’re now parking a van outside and connecting through. They’re doing it from Asia and Eastern Europe. The way these companies or these people infiltrate. Antivirus, virus is old now, right? Malware. And there’s just these different layers of security that these companies are coming up with, such terrific ways, they’re monitoring the actual traffic coming into the network and they’re monitoring just the way people work and they’re hearing these threats and acting on them and it just fascinates me. We’ll be at IT Nation and there are these companies that are there that are doing such great work and even coming down to the remediation where not only where they’ll tell you, but there’s a bank, there are people that are going to put it out as well and attack it.
It’s just amazing to me and it becomes – I mentioned it a little bit earlier, Doug – it becomes a difficult conversation with my clients because they’re saying, ‘Aren’t we already paying for security and we already have virus protection?’ and I have to kind of have a piece of paper there or a whiteboard. And I say, ‘Well, you know we’re doing this at the workstation level but look at this part that comes in. Look at this.’ Because it’s just … they’re just so clever and these agents out there, these that are coming in. So the security stack is ever-increasing. And I just got off the phone with somebody just about an hour ago with those outsourcing, you know, we hear a lot of outsourcing of talent. And do you go … it’s just a body or do you go with a team? With the staffing problem, the unemployment which is so low; is this an approach? We’ve tried it, it hasn’t worked successfully. Our fault, probably. The way it was approached and I looked at my peers to see there. So I think those two areas – security, tool stack – and just pushing on these problems.
Doug: Well, I was going to say, what are you most worried about? I’m guessing security is also what you’re most worried about?
Joe: Unfortunately it’s the same answer. I mean, we sit and wait and hope nothing happens. We put these … the way it happens is, I hear about these technologies and I tell my technicians and they say, ‘Oh-oh, Joe. What’s Joe putting on us now?’ So I try to explain to them that we have a trial; they look at it, they’re the ultimate decider because we have to use it internally. I can’t say to a client, ‘We’re not using this. You should.’ They always say, ‘Joe, are you doing this?’ And you know, we just don’t work that way. So we have to adapt it internally, learn how it’s used and then pass it along. So, yeah, the same thing that excites me is the same thing that scares me. It’s really a model of the industry itself. I think what’s exciting about it is that it constantly changes; you have to learn new things and you have to stay up on it. What’s tough about it is that it’s constantly changing and you have to learn new things.
Doug: You know, trust me, I hear you there. I hear the same thing from a lot of other MSPs, that they’re excited for what’s going on in the security space but also it’s the thing that keeps them up most at night because they’ve got to worry about their data, their customers’ data, getting hacked and all those types of things. So all right. So now it’s time for a little bit of fun.
Doug: So this is our rapid-fire round. It’s easy. All you’ve got to do … It’s an ‘or’ question, typically. Just, you know, don’t put a lot of thought into it. It’s only six questions. So let me know what your answer is and we’ll just keep moving on. OK?
Doug: All right. So, first up: Apple or Android?
Doug: OK. Mac, Linux or Windows?
Doug: Amazon or Azure or something else?
Doug: OK. Local backups or cloud or both?
Doug: OK. Should you always virtualize? Yes or no?
Doug: OK. And then, finally, which is worse: printer support or vendor cold calls?
Joe: Do you know, this is the only one I’m pausing for? Vendor cold calls.
Doug: They’re equally bad, right?
Joe: Yeah, printer support is a tough one. Yeah. Very good. Very good question. Yeah and the virtualization – there are some cases if it’s a small app. You know, you don’t need to virtualize. Most of the time, it’s the answer. But, you know, as far as Mac and Android, Apple looked to us to be a partner and we’re a partner but the margins are just not there. And, as far as I can see, they really don’t care about MSPs. I mean, I’d love to have this debate with someone, because I don’t see it. And so, while they’re a trillion-dollar company and so successful in the consumer area, I just won’t touch the Apple at all.
Doug: Yep. You know, I talked to someone a couple of weeks ago down in North Carolina. They’re Apple-authorised and it’s a part of their business. So they went through the process and it’s working for them but you’ve got to dedicate to that and jump through a lot of hoops and, you know, is it really worth it? So. Great. So what else? As we wrap up here, any other advice that you want to give to anyone listening, MSPs maybe just starting out? I mean, you’ve been in business for a few years. What’s Joe’s bit of advice here at the end?
Joe: If you’re starting a new MSP, I’ve had this discussion with people before. It’s like, who should be your first hire? Should it be a technician? Should it be sales? Should it be admin? My first hire back then was technical but, looking back, I wish it was administrative. There are just so many things that can be taken off your plate. What’s the …? I think it’s Jeff Bezos who said, ‘If somebody could do it at 80 percent the same way you can, delegate it.’ I think that would be the first. There are just so many things that stop your progress because of things that you can delegate and many times as business owners, you know, ‘Oh, I can order that pizza for dinner much better than anybody else can in this …’ So, you have to learn how to … My advice would be … Of course, how long can you go without a salary? But your first hire to be administrative to really handle a lot of those marketing details, sales details, office details. I’m there with that decision.
Doug: OK, great. Great. Thanks, Joe. Great advice. Thanks for being a guest. You know, it’s been a great, great chat talking to you. And I’m thinking I’ll see you in Orlando in a couple of weeks here at IT Nation.
Joe: Doug, thanks so much. This was terrific. I really appreciate your time and your audience. This is tremendous. I really enjoyed it. Thank you, Doug.
Doug: All right, thank you.