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The Power of Groups

edge to epicThere are many groups targeting VARs to be their members. At the core, every group must offer some incremental value in return for their membership fees. Rarely you find a free membership that is worth any value. At VAR Office Suite, we may found one – maybe the only one in North America. Here is a sneak peak  Edge To Epic. Unfortunately it only covers the Canadian market – for now. We will announce more details on this VAR Office Suite group member in upcoming issues where they will present their full value and their partners’ benefits. It really looks like many VARS will be able to save a significant amount of money on a variety of things that they use every day!

For this introductory article, we wanted to touch base on the main types of groups out there that we are exploring.

There is the typical distributor group where members get better pricing, education, partner networking and some other perks. However, the main benefit has to do with the special pricing level and the peer to peer networking that the members receive. The big distributors all have their own groups and battle each other to get the target VARs to join. It makes you  wonder why a distributor would form a group of a few hundred VARS while also selling to thousands of VARs. It’s like a group within a group? Shouldn’t distributors offer all their customers the appropriate level of pricing based on a clear set of purchasing rules? That said, if VARs get the value, then it is probably a good thing for them.

Buying groups are an older concept that may be running on its last leg. With margins so low, it is uncertain how buying groups can get better pricing for their members while also shaving up a percentage for their share. How can you really share an already slim profit margin? This may work for smaller VARs, so there is some value as a start-up. These groups are adding a wider range of value, but their “kick-back” commissions may be taking away too much revenues from the VARs. You really need to measure your return for your fee to determine if it is a good thing. If you see the ROI, join as many buying groups as you wish.

There are franchise groups where the benefits are as extreme as they can ever be. Joining the right franchise network can bring significant benefits to a VAR as well as increase their market value. These franchisors may have the right organization and success formula that they can replicate. The peer to peer collaboration on national accounts are also much better. We have worked with a franchise network and their value to the VAR/franchisee is truly remarkable. This may be a great exit strategy for VARs (who have built up a good business) looking to retire.

There are association groups where the members belong to a common industry or sector and in return they enjoy some great benefits like best shipping rates, credit card merchant accounts and a wide variety of discounts. We have one that has been around for over 70 years that is now part of our VAR Office Suite partners. They deliver at least 2 benefits that seems to be the best we could find in the industry. They offer more, but just 2 benefits makes the membership dues worthwhile.

We could have formed our own group with thousands of VARs. We could have formed a group with our e-commerce platform. We could have formed a group for VAR Office Suite. But, we did not and we will not. In general, we are not advocates of groups as we are open to helping everyone equally who wants help in the channel. So I guess our group is really the entire channel. That said, we have found some great benefits for being a member of some groups and we have partnered with a select few that we believe delivers the most return to the VAR for their investment. We are passing on 100% of the benefits.

In some cases, you may want to join several groups as their benefits may not all overlap and some may be better than others. The bottom line is that all groups should continue to add more value to their memberships. We know that several groups are really doing a good job of bringing value to their members. If you feel the benefits justify your membership dues, then it may make sense to join.

We will continue to seek out more benefits for VARs and pass on the opportunity accordingly. Check back often as we will showcase all of the group membership partners and their benefits packages. If you know of others, please let us know so we can share.


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