A Survival Guide for Regional and Local VARs
At OnForce, we see thousands of service work orders come through our marketplace every day. And with companies still looking to maintain their current infrastructure, the “fix, not buy” mentality has remained steady through 2009. And while many are still managing IT budgets tightly and are conservative, I cannot help but wonder: will this mentality change in 2010?
The answer is not that clear and even though there are signs for improvement (Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke said the recession is technically over), it may not mean that companies will start investing in technology again. And not only that, companies may still need to shed workers, making it more challenging to support IT needs.
I have realized over the years that local VARs are among those affected the hardest when a recession hits and typically have difficult time recovering. Though we may see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel in terms of the economic outlook, I have come up with five tips local VARs should consider when trying to not only survive, but grow, in tumultuous times:
- Increase your skill sets – While specializing in one technology is great, in these times it will be important to see what else your customers need in terms of technology. If you’re a regional or local VAR, you may have the flexibility to investigate new technologies and become the savior for your end users.
- Expand geographic service reach – It is easier than you think. Companies like OnForce can find IT service technicians who can help you fulfill service events anywhere in the country.
- Be flexible – Beyond expanding skill sets, look for new projects your company can work on. Again, see what your end users need. Maybe it is not just one IT service event they need help with, but multiple. Maybe costs for them are a big factor and, as a VAR, you may need to adjust your pricing to stay within their parameters.
- Embrace new technologies – Cloud computing and virtualization are definitely areas to look into. Many of your customers are looking to invest in these technologies as they see the long term benefits. It will be imperative to help end users implement technologies like these that reduce overall IT costs.
- Remain positive – There is no doubt we have been in an economic downturn for almost two years, but there are signs of improvement. One thing all of us need to remember is that we will get past this and the economy will turn in the next nine to twelve months.
Peter Cannone is the CEO of OnForce a trusted national network that provides access to onsite IT and CE service technicians, connecting service demand with local supply through an online marketplace. OnForce just celebrated its one millionth work order milestone. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of The VAR Guy’s 2009 sponsorship program.