I’ve written extensively about the technical aspects to consider when expanding your horizons and embracing the Mac platform. What I haven’t covered much up to now is why. Why bother learning an entirely new skillset, targeted at supporting a minority platform, when you’ve got your hands full just keeping up with Windows?
For a lot of admins, working with Macs after mastering all the peculiarities of troubleshooting Windows is like suddenly driving on the other side of the road. Everything you’re used to is there somewhere, but still somehow weird and wrong—the gearshift is by your other hand, but the gas and brake pedals aren’t reversed. Because of that unfamiliarity, you might be more hesitant when addressing issues with the Macs in your network or only bother when something breaks.
Isn’t it your responsibility to prevent that kind of thing from happening to your clients’ machines? While you’re looking the other way, that’s the opportunity for small things to build into big problems.
And that’s how you should be thinking about Mac support in general: as an opportunity.
An holistic approach
As an MSP, your customers aren’t engaging you to keep their devices healthy so much as to maintain the overall health of their whole network. It’s about the entire forest, not just the trees.
If you’re not tending to the Apple trees (see what I did there?) then you’re not managing the whole forest. And even if there’s just one, that’s a foothold for infection. Or worms. Or some other mixed metaphor that applies to both malware and trees. The point is that any unmanaged machine is a threat vector.
You have the servers all backed up and the latest Windows patches installed. But your customers will call you because they read about some exploit for macOS, because anything affecting Apple makes the news. Are the Macs in the design department up to date? Maybe there’s only a handful of them, but you wouldn’t leave even a handful of PCs unpatched or unmonitored.
I’ve seen plenty of businesses where the majority of their devices are Windows but there’s one or two Macs being used by the marketing department or for design. Or on the CEO’s desk. You can, and should, improve the security and reliability of your clients’ entire network by bringing those Macs into the fold. Even if you’re not able to troubleshoot them with the same confidence as the Windows machines yet, you can keep them up-to-date with Mac-patching software and compliant with security best practices.
So, mitigate that risk posed by unmanaged Mac and Apple devices on your network and reduce your exposure to data loss and other downtime. The learning curve is not as steep as it might seem. For instance, the same tools you may already be using to manage backups and EDR work on Macs too.
Embrace and extend
A 2020 survey conducted by Parallels shows that 55% of the small-to-medium businesses they surveyed either allow their employees to choose a company-owned Mac for work or bring their own.
That means that a policy of “We don’t support Macs” or “We can’t manage your Macs” is potentially going to alienate more than half your SME prospects. And even if those prospects aren’t concerned about just a few devices here and there, you should be—since your competition understands the forest analogy I inexpertly made above.
If learning to manage Macs means you’re literally doubling your potential customer base, that’s a big opportunity for you. It will also mean you can increase your potential revenue within your existing client base. Every device in your inventory adds a little bit to the invoice, assuming you’re charging per device. And, if not, you can still add managed Apple devices to your services menu when it’s time to renew the contract.
It also means you can be open to a wider variety of customers that you might otherwise be turning away. A diverse customer base is more immune to market swings than a homogeneous one. And when it comes time to tighten the belt, having one vendor that can manage all the company computers is preferable to two—one for the Macs, one for everything else.
Finally, if you’re not providing Mac support but your competitors are, that’s their opportunity to get a foot in the door at your expense. When the C-suite is all carrying shiny new MacBooks but having trouble getting them set up by their MSP, they’ll go shopping.
For all things Mac support check out www.n-able.com/blog/mac-support
Charles Mangin is Head Mac Nerd at N-able. You can follow him on Twitter at @mac_mgmt_nerd or connect on LinkedIn here. Read more N-able guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.