Independent resellers need to differentiate stores on services strength in order to ensure future prosperity, representatives were told at last week's Leading Edge Group conference.
Leading Edge Computers (LEC) general manager, Ross Whitelaw, said it was now rolling out a strategy to help boost the profile of its participating dealers. This would concentrate on developing services nous.
"We can't beat the big stores like Harvey Norman on range, size or promotional weight," he admitted. "But we can beat them on quality of services and a well thought out product range."
Whitelaw said LEC would be introducing a fixed price offering for customers. The product currently suggested by the committee, LEC Care, would be priced at $99 and include options for extended warranty, pre-installed AV and applications software, seven-day exchange, serial number recording, theft insurance and consumables.
More than 300 members from the group's various divisions attended the four-day event in Auckland, including nearly 90 representatives from 110 computer stores. LEC has a total of 142 members across regional Australia.
The decision to launch a branded LEC Care product was the result of a recent survey of select dealers by Axxion Australia. According to the review, all shops boasted of at least one service technician, with 85 per cent maintaining dedicated services staff.
But at present, there were significant discrepancies across the pricing of services from LEC dealers, survey coordinator, Akio Abbas, said.
For example, the report found callout rates varied from $40 per hour to $100 depending on location.
As a result, the group should be focused on promoting and marketing services capabilities through a store-wide services product, he said.
Although details were still being discussed by members, Whitelaw said it was essential to introduce a branded services bundle.
"It's not about revolution but we want to be a more potent force than we are now," he said. "It is clear that competition is getting more intense from the box-movers. Our expertise is valuable and needs to be highlighted."
The services offering launch was scheduled for September or October.
Most resellers talking to ARN were positive about the idea. GMC Computing Mildura owner, Nick Cavallo, said he supported the concept of a branded, fixed price service add-on.
"I like the idea - as long as we're relating it to our needs," he said. "But I think we could do it in any LEC store."
Other resellers agreed the idea was sound, providing there were clauses allowing higher pricing for extra services features.
(Nadia Cameron travelled to New Zealand with Leading Edge)