IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Small Teams, Big Results

Some channel pros produce lots of revenue with few or no employees. Here’s a look at their secrets. By Rich Freeman
Reader ROI: 
CHANNEL PROS with small teams—or none at all—rely on a range of shared best practices to produce big financial results.
USING RMM SOFTWARE and other tools to automate operations is one of the most important.
OUTSOURCING TASKS to vendors, distributors, and peers extends a smaller company’s reach as well.
REFERRALS, cross-selling, and upselling all help small-team channel pros maximize business development productivity.

THE $375,000 Lori Hardtke made in 2020, her biggest year as a channel pro to date, doesn’t sound all that special until you consider that she’s a sole proprietor with a client base in Arizona that she’s supported for the last eight years exclusively from her home.

In Hawaii.

“To this day, even after eight years, only half of my clients know I live here,” says Hardtke, who is both president and the only full-time employee of ByteWize, an IT support and services company officially located in Scottsdale but actually based out of Hardtke’s house in Maui. “It really doesn’t matter where I’m located, because I can pretty much take care of, I’d say, 95% of the problems remotely.”

Lori Hardtke

Steven Banks, president of Banks Consulting Northwest, a Port Orchard, Wash.-based MSP that collected just shy of $1 million last year, has a comparatively expansive payroll: one full-time employee and two part-timers, one of whom is also a pastor. “They’re monitoring our support queue,” he says.

Numbers like those are impressive on their own, but even more so when you consider that 71% of ChannelPro readers average less than $300,000 of revenue per technician per year, according to a recent survey. What is it that Hardtke, Banks, and others like them know about generating big results with small teams that the rest of us don’t?

Operational Plate-Cleaning

Not surprisingly, most small-team channel pros with big-time revenue rely heavily on good, carefully configured, thoroughly scripted RMM software to increase their reach and productivity. “You really need to automate as much as you can,” Hardtke observes.

Standardization, in terms of both how you do things and what you sell, is a common trait as well. Banks, for example, sells only WatchGuard and Calyptix firewalls, which means fewer management portals to navigate and fewer training courses to take. It helps that Calyptix does device management for him as well.

“Having that off our plate is really, really nice,” he says.

Indeed, Banks outsources multiple functions to third parties. GMS Live Expert provides his after-hours NOC services, for instance, and TD SYNNEX handles managed print services. “The more I can delegate out and basically just oversee, the better,” Banks says.

Joshua Liberman, president of Albuquerque, N.M.-based managed service provider Net Sciences, employs the same strategy, leaning on Dark Cubed and Solutions Granted for advanced cybersecurity help and GreenLink Networks to run his VoIP business.

“They sell their products, they bill the customer, and we get 25%,” says Liberman, who has three technicians and just completed his first $1 million year. “Those vendor commissions go straight to the bottom line.”

Outsourcing work to other channel pros is an option as well. Michael Klein, for example, has been contracting wiring jobs out to the same firm for years. “That’s their specialty. I don’t bother with it,” says Klein, president of Albertson, N.Y.-based solution provider Computer Directions, which also parcels out website design and payroll software deployments to peers.

About the Author

Rich Freeman's picture

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Founding Editor

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