Blog | April 28, 2016

From ASCII Milwaukee: Build A Better Brand Through SOPs

jim roddy

By Jim Roddy, VP of Marketing, RSPA

I can’t keep up with Karl Palachuk.

Recognized in our channel as a managed services pioneer and the owner of solution provider advisor Small Biz Thoughts, Palachuk dispensed an avalanche of wisdom today at the ASCII Success Summit in Milwaukee, so much that I couldn’t capture it all.

But good for me – and better for you – is that Palachuk’s talk focused on the importance of writing down standard operating procedures (SOPs), so he’s chronicled much of his teachings at There you will find links to articles and books written by Palachuk which will walk solutions providers down the path to strengthening their business through SOPs.

In this article you’ll read some of Palachuk’s best quotes from the ASCII stage related to SOPs:

  • “Branding isn’t about business cards and logos. It’s about everything you do in your business. Your branding is the fulfillment of your promises to your clients.”
  • One SOP/branding example Palachuk highlighted was DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels. “All hotels stand for something. DoubleTree wants you to have a cozy, comforting experience. So they give you a warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in.”
  • Palachuk still manages an MSP in Sacramento, so he continues to apply real-world experiences to his writing. “If a client’s first engagement with you is disappointing, they are going to start their relationship with you disappointed,” he said. “Then you have to build up from there. We actually have an SOP for a first engagement with the client. We nailed down what we want the first engagement with a client to look like. We don’t let the client control it.”
  • “Adopt a franchise mentality. You don’t have to join a franchise, but act like a franchise. Document every process and every procedure. The more you document, the more consistency you have. It allows you to repeat your successes and get better every time. Everyone on your team should participate in this so everyone can get the job done.”
  • “There needs to be a mentality about acting like a franchise. You’ve heard there’s an ‘HP Way,’ but there’s a your way as well. You need to get other people to configure a server the way you want it configured.”
  • “If you know where you’re going to put the drivers and the updates every time, you are going to save yourself thousands of hours across thousands of machines across dozens of employees over many years. It really does make a difference.”
  • “Adopt a checklist mentality. Checklists make scalability and reproducibility possible. Checklists allow you to be completely scalable. If you got a note right now that you had to configure 100 machines by Monday, you’d probably be overwhelmed. But if you had a checklist, you could hand that to someone and they could plow through it. We had a sales rep who had trouble spelling ‘PC,’ and he could plow through machines most of the way with our checklist and would alert us if there was a problem. People can execute the job on your behalf.”
  • “You don’t want your plane to take off without the pilot going through a rock-solid checklist every time.”
  • “If you can do it, you can document it. You all have processes and procedures, but you don’t write them down. So you don’t have the consistency that makes you more money.”
  • “Don’t be overwhelmed thinking you have to document everything at once.”
  • “You will not improve your business until you decide to do something and then actually do it. The more that you have standard processes and procedures, the more you control what you look like and what you deliver.”
  • “If you’re in a habit, you don’t’ have to think about it. I never make the decision to brush my teeth in the morning. It’s a habit. When you get in the habit of documenting, those good habits will get built into your system. You should not have to ever convince your employees to do anything. You should work together as a team to improve everything that you do.”
  • “When a prospective client asks you what you stand for, you can point to this. They will have faith in you and trust you to do even more important jobs.”

Palachuk recommended two books to the nearly 100 VARs and MSPs in attendance: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande and The Way You Do Anything is the Way You Do Everything by Suzanne Evans.

Palachuk also has created a web resource that enables solutions providers to conduct a self-assessment of their operations and procedures. A change plan workbook and policy project tracking spreadsheet is also included. For a link to this resource, contact Palachuk through the Small Biz Thoughts website.

The ASCII Success Summit – Milwaukee is being held April 27-28 at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport. It is one of nine solution provider-focused conferences ASCII will host in North America in 2016. For more information on ASCII, go to