HOURS MAKE DOLLARS in the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing industry (MEP), a modus operandi not unlike the break/fix IT business where most MSPs have their roots. MEP firms, which include building design and construction companies, don’t take a managed services approach when selling to clients yet, but with modern technology they will likely evolve to that model too. So when DataCorps Technology Solutions made a marketing decision to take on one vertical at a time by developing good materials, targeted messaging, and an expert reputation (with intent to rinse and repeat), we started there.
We already had several clients in that industry, plus plumbing/HVAC is a $200 million market in our area. Even better, our MEP clients were also our happiest clients, and we were the happiest working with them. Why? They understand their needs. We understand their needs. We understand where we can add value. They understand where they receive value. We both sell expertise. It was a great fit.
Our services address their pain points, the greatest of which is communications. They live and die by the phone, so they need VoIP solutions that are reliable and have features that match their workflow.
In addition, technicians’ mobile phones and tablets need to have company-sanctioned email and other applications, so we provide mobile device management using IBM MaaS360. It allows us to push out accounts as well as new applications automatically. We utilize ConnectWise Control for remote management and troubleshooting.
We’ve standardized on the iPhone with Microsoft Exchange, because the Android OS is so different from manufacturer to manufacturer and from carrier to carrier, making it a moving target. If a customer chooses to use something else, we charge them more to manage it.
In the construction segment, the software hasn’t caught up with the cloud yet, so a lot of the companies still have on-premises servers that we manage for them. Many of our customers take credit cards, so we secure their payment information and transmissions. Those fall under PCI regulations, and we advise them on compliance issues too.
The MEP industry is also embracing the use of drones, making storage and data analytics critical. You have to download the video, store it, and make it relevant, and that’s another place we come in.
Finally, we make sure the infrastructure is designed to spec to run their line of business (LOB) software optimally. We also provide triage for LOB issues. If it’s an infrastructure issue, we fix it. If it’s a software issue, we work with the vendor. If it’s a broken business process, we tee up the vendor call for the customer so it’s a soft handoff. Service is key here. People don’t like to be bounced around. If we can act as a concierge and arrange an appointment for customers, it pays dividends in the long run.
Going forward, as more of my customers install Internet of Things devices like smart thermostats and sensors in buildings, my strategy is to turn them into referral partners. When they’re installing into environments that do not have an IT department, that’s an opportunity for my company to secure the network—a service that doesn’t conflict with their area of expertise.