Partner Points: RCP Reader Letters
Small biz vs. Best Buy; limitations virtual server technology.
Having been consulting on my own since 1988, I have constantly had to
redefine my business model and sell myself. My breakthrough came when
I stopped trying to compete based on price. How can I compete on price
when a complete system from Best Buy costs less than what I can purchase
the parts for? [See "Best Buy's Small-Business
Offensive," June 2006—Ed.]
I have to sell the value
of getting a system from me, rather than Dell or Best Buy, which is more
than dollars and cents. I even tell people that I have a high-price guarantee.
If my price isn't higher than any one else's, I will raise it 10 percent!
I may lose one or two jobs to Best Buy for Business (BBFB), but those
customers will be back when something happens after hours, or when Best
Buy sends out four different people after the other to their office and
they have to keep explaining the same thing over and over before it gets
done. How long is a customer going to put up with always seeing someone
different who doesn't have a clue, personally, about his company? One
of the things my clients like about me is that I have been doing their
work for years and have watched their companies grow and I know where
all the bodies are buried. If they are tempted to use BBFB, they're going
to get tired of having to explain things I would know automatically. I
have even had customers who briefly went with someone else who charged
$25 per hour less than me. I was very polite, burned no bridges and told
them I hoped it worked out for them. A few weeks later, they calle d me
back because I didn't rant on them.
The second thing is that I will stop recommending Best Buy for purchases
of anything dealing with computers and will send them to one of Best Buy's
competitors! They may be surprised by how much business they end up losing
because most of my clients ask me where they should go to buy computer
stuff that I don't sell. We consultants influence a lot more purchases
than we sometimes realize.
Besides, most people have heard enough horror stories about Best Buy's
computer services with home users, I'm not sure they will want to take
that risk for their business!
Small Business Server Specialists
Many years ago Tandy attempted to cash in on the small business
bonanza with their Tandy Business Centers. They staffed their centers
with former "radio battery" salespeople, and it was apparent the moment
you walked into the store.
Best Buy is attempting to cash in on the Microsoft certification "Small
Business Specialist." In reality, that phrase should be recast as "Small
Business Server Specialist." As an MBS Certified Partner in the SMB space,
I not only have to know about SBS 2003, but also accounting, business
procedures, personnel and HR matters, financial statements, etc.
Yet, Microsoft and Best Buy perceive this to be good for the SMB space.
What will either one of them do, when one of their Geeks sends a well-managed
company's financials south for the winter?
I've been investigating the possibility of leveraging a virtual
infrastructure of a site I'm working on [see "Virtualization
Saves Real Dollars," the June 2006 Solution Spotlight, for more on
Microsoft Virtual Server R2—Ed.].
I can see where virtualization can be used. However, there are practical
limits as to what you can virtualize (fax servers are problematic) and
how you provision storage. On the other hand, the disaster recovery, load
and resource management are great and what attracted me to the product
in the first place.
Oxford, United Kingdom