Over 250 of the UK’s independent ICT resellers have signed up for the FixITlocal service initiative, just four weeks after the concept was announced and DMSL is now gearing up for a nationwide launch of the service in mid September.
FixITlocal aims to drive new services business for locally-based resellers right across the UK. It will promote the benefits of using a locally-based reseller to provide on-going service and support to small businesses. The initiative has been devised and is being managed by DMSL, the Romford-based distributor that has built its business selling BT broadband through SME resellers all over the UK.
DMSL will manage the initial marketing and lead generation for the FixITlocal network through national IT press advertising and email marketing campaigns. Calls will be routed automatically to resellers that sign up to provide the service in their area.
By signing up more than 250 resellers for the service, DMSL has already surpassed its initial targets and Managing Director of the company, John Carter, expects momentum to keep on building. “The response we have had so far has been phenomenal. Independent resellers from all four corners of the UK have signed up giving FixITlocal a truly nationwide presence from day one. They are really enthusiastic about the idea and see it as a way of fighting back against the big guys like PC World who are targeting local SMEs – the local reseller’s core customer base – with their own service offering.”
One reseller who has signed up for the service Mark White the Managing Director of MDW in Maldon in Essex, says: “We’ve joined FixITlocal because, while we can give customers who are local to us a very good level of service we are, quite frankly, inexperienced and have little expertise when it comes to marketing. FixITlocal will give us the visibility we need with small businesses in our area. This could be the way forward for independent reseller marketing.”
Cormorant Communications based in Poole in Dorset has also enlisted to the FixITlocal cause. “We’re getting involved because we want to protect what has always been a traditional core area of business for Cormorant Communications, says Jason Emmerson, Managing Director of the firm. “We’ve seen all the value being taken out of the PC hardware market by direct vendors and High Street chains and now they are trying to move in on the services business as well. By making small businesses aware that there is a local and much more specialist and experienced alternative to the big boys, FixITlocal gives us a real fighting chance.”
Carter now expects as many as 500 businesses to join the FixITlocal network by the end of 2007. “The aim is to spread the network so that it reaches every corner of the UK and provides excellent locally-based coverage in major cities and towns. It will be a completely level playing field and we believe that, once we are up and running, more resellers will want to join in.”
He argues that experienced local resellers are in a much better position to provide good service, maintenance and support to small businesses in their area than any big business organisation. “Most of the resellers we work with have been established for many years and have a great deal of real-world experience in looking after SMEs and solving their everyday IT problems. They have rightly become concerned about these new services that are springing up and FixITlocal will give them a way of competing on the same terms.”
In some respects the emergence of new services has had a positive effect, Carter notes. “They have focused attention to the issue of service and support for the smaller business. It is making SMEs think about how they are managing their IT and communications systems and what they would do if something went wrong. They could, if they chose, rely on the local branch of their nationwide retail giant. FixITlocal will give them the choice of getting in touch with an experienced local IT expert.”
There is evidence that independent retailers can deliver better service and support than nationwide chains. In a survey published in November last year, Which Computing magazine found that independent suppliers were able to provide a generally more reliable and cost-effective service for computer repairs than PC World.
Carter states: “For many small businesses even setting up a simple broadband connection seems complex and they need someone local who will provide a hand-holding service and carry out simple jobs for them – that’s why local resellers are still the best suppliers for SMEs. They need someone who is just around the corner and who really cares. At the same time, these small, locally-focused resellers are finding themselves threatened by big companies with big marketing budgets. FixITlocal will give them away of getting their voice heard.”
FixITLOCAL is being strongly backed by the Professional Computing Association (PCA). Resellers who sign up will be enrolled in both organisations on a trial basis until the start of 2008. Thereafter they can renew membership terms in the normal way.
Keith Warburton, Chief Executive Officer of the PCA comments: “FixITLOCAL is an excellent idea and one that has the full support and backing of the PCA. This is just the kind of initiative we need in the industry – one that promotes the benefits of working with the most experienced and established resellers and gives the little guys a way of competing with the sales and marketing muscle of nationwide organisations. Dozens of our members have already joined the scheme.”