First off congrats on starting up a new MSP! That’s always an exciting time, particularly the notion of no longer having a ceiling over your head in terms of what you can now earn :).
In regard to ‘proper’ markup percentages, I wouldn’t actually worry too much about that at all. Margins shift depending on the class of customer you are targeting. Meaning if you’re working with majority break/fix and/or residential clients, you are likely competing with consumer products like Carbonite. So at that stage getting the sale, and ensuring you control as much of the customer environment as humanly possible is far more important than capturing a ‘magic’ margin. In fact, there are times it makes sense to use add-ons as a loss leader to ensure just that, especially if you are nurturing some break/fix customers in hopes of turning them into contract-based customers.
As larger percentages of your work shift to fully managed services, you can focus more on better margins since the customer dynamic shifts quite drastically at that point. Eventually when you get big enough, you’ll have fully standardized when and how you sell add-ons. In fact, in many instances those are simply enveloped into your base contract price.
Point being your biggest asset as a startup MSP is your ability to be nimble and change course at the drop of a dime, or change your approach as needed for a one-off customer. That type of freedom really isn’t feasible with larger MSPs who are always working to standardizing everything. It’s one of your best tools for capturing clients from MSPs much larger than you, actually.
In regard to what to focus on first for Syncro, I’d focus on ticketing above all else. The key to rapid growth at your stage is time management. Every second you are doing anything other than selling outwardly to new customers, your revenue potential (labor revenue per technician) is going down by the minute. Ensuring you are using the most low-touch ticket ingestion methods prevents you from wasting significant amounts of time having to track things in multiple places (transferring SMS messages or voice conversations to tickets, for example), and it ensures you are teaching your customers to use the most economic ingestion methods that work best for you as a 1-tech MSP.
So I’d focus on getting your ticket flow and prioritization queues solid. For example, as a 1-tech MSP, email and Agent Contact Forms are going to be your best ingestion methods. Live Chat is a sick Syncro feature, but it comes with certain expectations you likely can’t meet at your size. Also, understanding how to triage/prioritize tickets (along with on-site service calls) is going to be king here.
Don’t get overloaded with anything else just yet. After a solid 4-6 weeks of logging everything as a ticket, even internal stuff, then spend a Saturday or Sunday going over all your previous tickets and finding holes and commonalities. For example, I wasted more time doing this stuff because of X, or if I had a way to automate Y, then I would have saved a bunch of time because I manually resolved 17 tickets in that timespan by performing the same task.
From there, start to shift away from manually billing out of QBO or Xero (assuming that’s what you’re doing now) and start billing out of Syncro. The more systems you can remove from the equation the simpler things become, and this will set you up FAR better when you start to bring on more and more contract customers, because our recurring billing system (particularly the dynamic counting component) is second to none and will save you a huge amount of time down the road.
Chasing fancy scripts, perfect processes, and all the little bells and whistles can be a huge black hole at your size. In reality, you can do everything wrong and still rapidly grow if your compass consistently points toward new customer acquisition above all else.
The last piece of advice I’d give is to remember that you are no longer a technician, you’re a businessperson. Most new startups in this space come into it with a tech-driven mindset instead of a sales-driven mindset. This is often the difference between an MSP that grows rapidly in their first year or two, and MSPs that simply never grow at all.
Let me know if you have any questions and I’d be happy to help you out. Also, I have a book out designed specifically for startup MSPs. If you have a Kindle reader, PM me your email I will gift you a copy. I do tackle pricing and packaging and handling add-ons specifically in the book.