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087: Joe's Birthday Bash

Recorded live on February 3, 2015

This week's show has been brought to you by the good folks at Blue Mango Learning Systems, makers of Clarify. Visit Clarify-It.com to download a free trial of Clarify, and start creating how-to's and instructional documents today – and help others be great. Use coupon code CCPSENTME for 15% off.

Topics:

- Joe complains about the Windows 7 installation process, follow up to Jerry's point about Windows last week: 1) select appropriate version of Windows; 2) buy Windows 7 from Amazon; 3) wait for physical delivery; 4) insert Windows disc and run installer 5) enter product key when prompted; 6) update Windows updater & restart 7) install 174 updates.

- Wren Sound having a sale on current lineup; planning Bluetooth/AirPlay combo units coming soon - BONUS: CCP Listeners Who Enter The Code giffin50 at the Wren Sound Store get an additional $50 off! Bringing the total to $199 from the Wren Sound Store http://wrensound.com
This speaker has been rated by The Wirecutter as one of the best AirPlay speakers you can buy - http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-airplay-speaker/

- Tim Nyberg asks about client purchases: Apple Store affiliate program vs. Apple Store vs. Apple Authorized Reseller

- Alexis Cornellier asks about what tools we use for diagnostics; Joe recommends SoftRAID for its SMART status analysis

- Sam advises that Word 2011 may have sporadic issues saving to a sever with the word "file" in the share name

- iOS 8 GMT bug, which manifests as a "PST" bug for Joe

- Sam deals with an "email tough-guy"

- Jerry debates "you lie" vs. "new parakeet" - 
Monty Python "Dead Parrot" Sketch

077: Trust No One, Yoseminite Sam

Recorded on November 19, 2014

Topics

- Jerry bails out Joe onsite, and diagnoses an issue where a specific website wouldn't load or respond to pings from a client location, but loaded fine from elsewhere; turned out to be a block on the client's static IP due to three failed login attempts

- we discuss clients trying to set things up and fix things themselves

Yoseminite Sam: a no-nonsense guy

Yoseminite Sam: a no-nonsense guy

- do you give clients easy access to their servers, e.g. Screen Sharing?

- Sam lands a client on bowtie alone: "I'm a no-nonsense guy, and you look like a no-nonsense guy too."

- what's your dress code for consulting?

- Joe details troubleshooting serious permissions issues in Yosemite after a prior "consultant" tried to set up shared calendars

- how do you bill for extensive cleanup work like the saga Joe describes?

- Joe notices a pattern to Security Questions answered by a prior consultant

057: Kobayashi Maru

Microsoft's takedown of 23 of No-IP's most common domains to stop malware, claiming their intention to keep "valid" subdomains resolving, but apparently they have been unable to handle the number of requests; Microsoft's statement

- when it rains, it pours: how to cope

- redundancy, fault tolerance, risk tolerance

- Mac mini colocation via Macminicolo.net or Mac Mini Vault

- running a mail server for clients: backup MX via Dyn.com or McAfee SaaS, or using a cheap mail server to forward messages to personal email accounts

- clients sending banking info or passwords by email, forming bad habits

049: Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor

Broadcast May 6, 2014

TOPICS:

042: Managed Services Roundtable with Allen Hancock, Luis Giraldo, and Kevin Ginger, Part 2

Recorded March 2, 2014

Sponsored by MoonClerk

This is part two of a special two-part Managed Services roundtable feature six members of the Apple Consultants Network, discussing the benefits of a Managed Services pricing model and how to transition a traditional hourly-billing consultancy into offering Managed Services.

Thanks to our brand new sponsor, MoonClerk – an easy and inexpensive way to collect recurring payments for your subscription services.

Thanks also to our special guests for this roundtable:

Allen Hancock, The Orchard Solutions and Watchman Monitoring
Luis Giraldo, Ook Enterprises and MonkeyBox
Kevin Ginger, kGinger Consulting

Topics:

- offering clients "self service" options through CasperSuite or RobotCloud

- building a "book of service" to work toward an exit plan for your consultancy; building something of value; getting acquired

- the benefits of talking about your service offerings to get comfortable pitching them to clients

- the fact is, servers should be managed proactively to ensure reliability, and Managed Services is a natural way to provide proactive services, billed automatically on a monthly basis consistent with the way services are rendered

- with Mission Critical services, the consultant takes on a psychological burden to ensure that the services keep working; Managed Services makes it equitable for the consultant

Resources:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/acn-alumni

http://watchmanmonitoring.com/acn-benefit

https://www.watchmanmonitoring.com/sample-agreement/

http://mhelpdesk.com/better-way-to-inform-customers-about-how-they-are-being-billed/

http://community.watchmanmonitoring.com

http://mac-msp.com

Value-Based Fees by Alan Weiss

Small Biz Thoughts by Karl W. Palachuk

Tools:

Watchman Monitoring

MonkeyBox

MoonClerk

ZenDesk

mHelpDesk

TeamViewer

Support menu by Forget Computers

RobotCloud

Casper Suite

Backup Minder

041: Managed Services Roundtable with Allen Hancock, Luis Giraldo, and Kevin Ginger, Part 1

Recorded March 2, 2014

Sponsored by MoonClerk

This is part one of a special two-part Managed Services roundtable feature six members of the Apple Consultants Network, discussing the benefits of a Managed Services pricing model and how to transition a traditional hourly-billing consultancy into offering Managed Services.

Thanks to our brand new sponsor, MoonClerk – an easy and inexpensive way to collect recurring payments for your subscription services.

Thanks also to our special guests for this roundtable:
Allen Hancock, The Orchard Solutions and Watchman Monitoring
Luis Giraldo, Ook Enterprises and MonkeyBox
Kevin Ginger, kGinger Consulting

Topics:

- using half-day and full-day rates to discourage "tire-kickers" and very infrequent break-fix clients, helping to position Managed Services as a better alternative

- should a Managed Services Provider include Help Desk services? end-user training? value-adds vs. just keeping the systems running

- transitioning from "one-man-show" to managed services consultancy; see also: CCP 013: Easing into Managed Services with Allen Hancock and 010: Managed Services discussion with Luis Giraldo

- developing systems for consistency, standardization to improve efficiency

Quantifying the Value of Managed Services blog post by Luis

- "first 15 minutes free for $_/mo" is a good first step; relieves burden bulk hours

- business clients are more efficient billing-wise, and from the perspective of delivering value

- residential clients are higher-maintenance, higher-touch, more-demanding, and less efficient

- yet, Allen points out that residential clients can be more satisfying to work with, and when charging hourly it doesn't matter because they all pay the same rate

- enforcing the use of a help desk ticketing system

- user training: why should users use your ticketing system?

- reminding clients to restart

Memorable lines:

- "Hourly billing breeds inefficiency." – Luis (see also: "how hourly billing is the scum of the Earth" in 010: Managed Services discussion with Luis Giraldo)

"All inclusive billing breeds efficiency." – Luis

"We hate spending time tracking time." – Luis

"Allen, is there any way to wire that support menu to a restart command?" – Joe
"And we don't need to save, right?" – Allen
"If they call, their call can be directed to voicemail if they haven't restarted." – Joe
"Spoken like a true 'break/fix man'." – Luis

013: Easing into Managed Services with Allen Hancock

Joe, Jerry, and Sam are joined by Allen Hancock of The Orchard Solutions and Watchman Monitoring to discuss Allen's "hybrid" Managed Services model.  Allen offers a "Personal Support" option including unlimited quick phone calls and emails for $25/month per person.

Topics:

- Sam discusses some of the stresses associated with Apple Professional Services (APS) projects; normally as consultants we have flexibility and can work directly with clients to address unforeseen issues; but in the case of APS, due to travel and other agreements, APS gigs must be completed in the allotted timeframe which adds pressure

- Sam updates us on his hiring process; interested consultants in the CT-NY-NJ area should contact @IAMSamValencia

- Jerry reports difficulty with Find My Mac on machines with a static IP address; to be continued

- Jerry brings up the pitfalls of full disk encryption using FileVault 2 on an unattended server; in case of an unexpected or soft restart, the system will boot to the FileVault 2 unlock screen, prompting for the encryption password before the system starts up or any services start; this prevents any kind of remote access via screen sharing or remote login; Apple provides a command line tool (fdesetup authrestart) to perform a one-time restart that bypasses the initial unlock; however, this doesn't help if the machine has lost power or become unresponsive; a KVM-over-IP device can solve that, but typically requires a Java app on the client machine to access the remote machine

- Allen identifies a common problem for consultants: how to track and bill for all those random emails and quick phone calls

- Allen's solution: "Personal Support" @ $25 per month, per person; includes unlimited quick emails or phone calls. He estimates this part of his Support Agreement earns him about $2500/month after 1.5 years, based 100 people who subscribed.

- Clients paying monthly for unlimited quick questions encourages them to call on a whim; this leads to billable work too, since anything over 15 minutes would be a billable consultation

- He also offers a Proactive Monitoring service: collecting $10/month per computer; ($15/month for all the computers in a house) results in more billable work as machines report issues to consultant and consultant notifies client with recommended resolution

- His monitoring service received much more uptake; 350 monitored computers bringing in an additional $3000 a month.

- Had two techs on staff at the time.

Mentions:

- ProSoft Data Rescue

Memorable Lines:

- "Death by a thousand 5-minute emails" – Joe

010: Managed Services discussion with Luis Giraldo

This week, Sam, Jerry, and Joe are joined by Luis Giraldo of Ook Enterprises Ltd., based in Vancouver.  Luis employs a business model based almost exclusively on offering Managed Services, as opposed to hourly billing.  In addition, services outside the scope of his Service-Level Agreement (SLA) tend to be billed on a project basis rather than hourly.

Topics:

- Managed Services requires a change of mindset: it's a value-based approach to billing, not time-based

- references: Value-Based Fees, The Consulting Bible, and Million Dollar Consulting Proposals by Alan Weiss

- strategies for migrating break/fix clients to managed services model

- importance of trust, educating the client, and setting expectations

Memorable Lines:

"This is the amount of money we charge per month and it includes these services" - Luis

003: The ACN Office - marketing, finding clients, working with AppleCare, the Apple Store

Episode three of Command-Control-power features a wide-ranging conversation with Joe, Sam, and Jerry discussing the topic of The ACN Office.

Topics: 

  • marketing to existing clients, incentivizing referrals vs. mass marketing to public; relative quality of leads
  • Constant Contact, MailChimp, My Emma, Campaign Monitor
  • sticking with what you know vs. "the devil you don't know"; clients also trust a known entity
  • finding clients, never having needed to seek out clients before now
  • PR; marketing
  • press releases in local publications; working with non-profits to get one's name out
  • OnForce vs. ACN
  • Intro to Business at the Apple Store presentation includes an ACN slide; tip from Apple Store Business Manager
  • retail turnover in the Apple Store, especially in the Business Team
  • tip from local Apple Store about increasing ACN referrals
  • working harder to get new business?
  • "Sales"
  • Managed Services vs. Break/Fix
  • revenue streams; recurring fees
  • Wellness Visits, i.e. preventive maintenance
  • running a managed offsite backup service using CrashPlan
  • offering email and web hosting services
  • RackSpace offices in San Antonio, a former mall
  • recurring revenue streams, no matter how small; residuals
  • benefit of referrals from Apple Store; clients feel Apple endorses us
  • a day in the life of an ACN
  • next week: Live from Advanced Camp!

Mentions

Craig Cohen (@ccohen), Arek Dreyer (@arekdreyer), Ben Greisler (@magikben).