Find out what managed services are, their pros and cons, and why we recommend them.
“Managed Services” is probably a term you hear on a regular basis if you have a “web guy/gal”. But do you know what they are and why they’re beneficial to you as a small business owner? If not, keep on reading and find out.
Managed services is a fancy way of saying services that come with a monthly fee or subscription. In the world we live in today, it seems like everything is a subscription, am I right? It’s $7 and some change for a simple Microsoft subscription to be able to use programs like Word and Excel. If you are a designer of any kind, you are well aware of Adobe’s subscriptions and the various tiers that they offer depending on the software you want to use. With Adobe, it becomes more cost effective to have the tier that allows for access to all the applications (there’s more than 20 of them).
When we’re talking about website stuff and I.T., managed services include things like your monthly hosting, email, various security protocols on top of basic standard measures, backups and updates, etc. Managed services are services that are managed by the professionals that you’ve hired in that area of expertise. Now, why are they worth your hard earned money?
The benefits of managed services are many. The primary one being that it is something YOU don’t have to worry about. As a small business owner you wear enough hats. You probably run your own social media platforms, you conduct customer service calls for disgruntled patrons, if you have employees you get to be boss, mentor, educator, disciplinarian, etc. If you’re a brand new business, you likely keep the books yourself because you feel like hiring an accountant is out of your budget. One of the things hiring professionals who are working in their “zone of genius” is that it allows YOU to stay in your zone of genius. If you take all the time that you spend trying to learn and then applying that knowledge for all these different areas to run your business, how much money have you lost?
Let’s do a make believe case study, shall we? Let’s say you are a personal trainer (like my husband is) and your hourly rate is $75/hour for 1:1 training sessions. You spend 1 hour a week making sure your website is up to snuff, the plugins are updated, the security protocols are working, and backing up your website just in case you get hacked (that’s 4 hours a month). Then you spend another hour a week trying to post the articles you’ve written to the site and arrange them in a way that looks nice and professional (another 4 hours a month). Let’s throw on another 2 hours a month for some basic SEO and rankings research to see where you stand with your competitors on the interwebs. You decide you want to save money so you deactivate the spam plugin that was costing you $50/year but now you’re suddenly getting inundated with spam comments from some international bride who wants to show you a good time and you have no idea how to turn them off so you spend another 2 hours trying to figure it out.
We’re up to 12 hours a month. Still doesn’t seem like a whole lot, right? Well let’s do the math. That’s $900. (12×75). You could have used those 12 hours to work with paying clients instead of pulling your hair out. Our most expensive hosting and management plan is $325 a month (and that includes a whole lot of hand holding, content updates and SEO work). Granted, our most expensive plan is not for everyone, and even our most basic plan at $70/mo would have saved this poor business owner 12 hours of work. But let’s go with the top tier white glove service for this example. If this business owner had invested in managed services, that $325 investment would have saved them 12 hours of time (our most precious commodity) and would have been $575 ahead.
Think of managed services like an insurance policy for your website and IT needs. Most service providers include additional levels of security to prevent hacking in addition to the basic upkeep and management of your website. If anything goes wrong, you’re paying them to fix it. Here in Wisconsin, we pay more than $300 a month for full coverage auto insurance just in case we get into an accident. That $300/mo potentially saves us thousands of dollars on the backend. It’s an expense, but it’s one worth having.
Managed services ARE an investment. As I mentioned, our base plan for our hosting and maintenance starts at $70/mo at the time of writing this post. Sometimes you have to shop around to find a person or team that you trust to have your best interest at heart. It can also be hard to know what is a good deal, who will provide the level of service you require, and who is going to last.
When the world shut down because of covid in 2019-2020, there was a huge influx of people who pursued graphic and website design careers. Many did this on the false assumption that it was easy money you could do from home. While you can operate a successful web design and IT managed services company from home, it’s not as easy as many believed. There were lots of start ups that flaked and left their customers in the dark. There were many who overpromised and under delivered.
So how do you know if you’re investing in the right team? Short and honest answer is, you don’t. The best you can do is do your research, talk to the people, ask for referrals, and see if you’re a good fit. Do they have a continuity plan in place? Do they offer to make a referral to another team if y’all won’t be a good fit? Do you like their ethos?
In the end, only you can decide IF managed services are right for you and who you should hire as part of your IT team. At S.Barnes Designs, we have partnered with Daniel Curry at Indy’s IT Department so we can offer a comprehensive hosting and management plan. Daniel has more than 30 years of experience in the field and is responsive to all tech issues. We’ve been working with him for the last five years for personal projects, so enhancing and upgrading that relationship to a professional partnership just made sense.
Managed services are a worthwhile investment that allows YOU to stay in your zone of genius and actually MAKE more money. We want to help you succeed… and managed services can help you do that.