My career in IT is now about 2 decades old. In that time I have worked for Fortune 20 firms, small start-ups, manufacturers, service-providers, and value-added resellers. One of the most interesting things I have seen is about value-added resellers, or about VARs. Large, well-established firms almost always depend upon VARs to supplement their IT department while small to mid-market firms with a limited IT staff often don't use VARs at all. Of those that don't use VARs, some don't even know much about them.
The first thing to know about VARs is that every firm that uses computers, directly or indirectly, can benefit by using them. This is true for 7 main reasons:
A Value-Added Reseller is not a 'Box Pusher'- Firms like CDW operate on a high-volume, low engagement model where phone operators with very little (if any) technical training make a high number of phone calls attempting to sell equipment as fast as possible. VARs are almost the reverse: they have highly-trained professionals focused on learning about your business and your needs so that they can work with you to craft the best possible solution. The only similarities beyond the equipment available is that a VAR can also sell a large volume of equipment as needed.
They Save You Time Instead of Costing You Time- I don't know a manager who isn't 'wearing a lot of hats' in their day-to-day operations. Because VARs focus on taking the time to know your firm and understand your unique challenges they can save you time by taking over some of your 'hats'. Here's an example of the difference between partnering with a VAR and doing it yourself;
- A new business opportunity means that you need to add a new technology to your IT operations and fast! You could: drop routine operations; do the technical research to identify 2-3 possible solutions that might work for you; contact those manufacturers and request specifications and pricing; study the results and compare it to what you have learned on your own; negotiate pricing and support with each manufacturer; order the solution; and then install it.
- Or you could engage a VAR already familiar with your existing IT operations. Their staff would identify possible solutions, gather the specifications, and use their existing relationships to negotiate pricing, all while providing the information and resources you and your staff need to make an informed decision. Then the VAR would present a range of possible solutions for your approval. Finally, their personnel would augment yours for installation and support.
Even without an existing relationship a VAR can help make finding and implementing a solution faster and easier - they would just begin by learning about you and your needs!
They Can Save You Money- Plenty of people think buying direct from the manufacturer is always cheaper. In the case of VARs this simply isn't true. VARs are not like brick-and-mortar or ecommerce storefront retailers. Instead, VARs are partners with the manufacturers they represent and have their own ability to provide discounts. Because VARs collaborate with multiple partners like you to make purchases they can often pass on discounts for high-volume that you could never qualify for by yourself.
VARs can also coordinate purchases among multiple manufacturers, letting them find you very cost-effective solutions yet presenting you with a single invoice, saving you a lot of time and money.
Because of these factors VARs very typically are cheaper than buying direct - sometimes much cheaper.
Technical Expertise and Training- Manufacturers require VARs to maintain a certain minimum level of training and skill with their solutions. Partnering with a VAR means you have access to everything from formal training authorized by the manufacturer to a number to call at 3 am Saturday when you have a critical server down and need a technical answer right now.
Licensing, Warranties, and Renewals Are Easier- A good VAR will typically keep track of your warranties, support agreements, and licensing for you. Are you refreshing all the desktops in HR? The VAR will make sure that the serial numbers and appropriate paperwork are filed with the manufacturer so that the warranties are valid. Do you have a license that has to be renewed every year? A good VAR will track this and present you with a quote for renewal 60 days before renewal is due - without you needing to remind them. Have a laptop that needs warranty replacement? Email the serial number to your VAR and before you know it everything you need to replace the unit will be ready for you.
Relationships with Manufacturers- Are you considering a technology refresh for Q3 of next year, but don't know if the next generation server will be available by then? Contact your VAR and he can usually give you a presentation on the manufacturer's roadmap. VARs can get you the inside track to all sorts of offerings from manufacturers that you would otherwise never learn of.
Their Own Services- Many VARs offer their own local services ranging from on-site break/fix, email archiving, cloud-based back-up and restores and even their own financing and leasing options.
So now that you know that you need a VAR feel free to contact us so we can start our conversation.