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Mike Minnich, president and CEO of
NetGain Information Systems, wanted to avoid the common missteps channel
companies make when adopting managed services, so he attended seminars,
conducted research and participated in various business groups to educate

He spent several months working on pricing, one of the managed services
model’s biggest challenges because it requires a shift from per-project
payments to utilitylike fees that clients pay monthly or quarterly.

“We didn’t want to overprice, underprice or overdeliver,” says Minnich.

But even after all his research, Minnich admits he didn’t quite have it. So
a year ago he did what an increasing number of solution providers have been
doing—seek therapy for his business. Minnich, who has run NetGain for 13 years,
turned to channel consultant Service Leadership to solve his managed services

IT channel companies typically are run by technology-oriented individuals
who often find they need help from a consultant or business group to run a
business profitably. While seeking outside help isn’t new, the need to better
understand the intricacies of running a business has become more acute as the
channel’s mission evolves to focus on delivering technology to meet customers’
business requirements as opposed to pushing the latest and greatest products.

“There are a lot of people in this industry who know they’re technology
people but need to become business people,” says Larry Kesslin, president of
4-Profit, a technology-focused advisory services company. Too many channel
companies, he adds, get by month to month by the seat of their pants.

Paul Dippell, CEO of Service Leadership,
says channel executives are hiring consultants for several reasons: to help
adapt the business to evolving trends, prepare to sell the business, acquire
another solution provider or overcome a near-death experience.

Service Leadership helps channel companies learn to deliver services
profitably, make improvements to existing services, and plan strategic moves
such as mergers and acquisitions.

Working with Service Leadership, says Minnich, gave his company the counsel
he needed to move forward with managed services. In six weeks, Service
Leadership shared with NetGain proven business practices on pricing models,
balancing costs and tending to customer needs.

“In the end, Service Leadership gave us a repeatable model and processes for
bringing on and providing ongoing managed services for each prospective
client,” Minnich says. “I wasn’t looking for a business consultant with a
cookie cutter approach. We wanted someone who understood our business.”