Start-up joins third-party warranty fray

Start-up joins third-party warranty fray

A start-up company is looking to break into the third-party services market by offering installation and extended warranties to the channel.

Choice Advanced Services (CAS) will facilitate the delivery of value-added services from a vendor or distributor through to end-users.

The Victorian-based company is the brainchild of former United Electrical Engineering (UEE) managing director, Phil Jackson, and operations manager, Jason Swaffield.

Its flagship offering will be formulating customised maintenance plans for clients in both commercial and domestic IT and AV markets. These packages will range from installation services and extended warranty to financing and repairs.

"What we do is work with our partners - vendors or distributors for example - and look at what they need from a services perspective," Jackson said. "We then tailor our offering to their requirements."

As an example, a vendor could offer an extended maintenance program to end-users, either via an installation kit or an add-on service.

CAS would then act as the third-party services provider either under its own name or the vendor's, Jackson said.

The business model could help the plethora of end-users buying AV or IT products to overcome the difficulties of installing these goods, he said, while giving the channel the ability to charge for value-added services.

"For the majority of resellers, distributors and some vendors, the margins are very slim," he said. "A value-add like these programs would allow them to improve margin by offering a high level service to customers."

The company has signed on television and screen manufacturer, Skyworth, as well as local media centre vendor, Development 1.

It has also struck partnerships with Jim's Computer Services - a branch of the national Jim's Group franchises - and is in final talks with home installation services agent, Computer Troubleshooters. Alliance Finance had also signed on to provide asset management financing and insurance underwriting.

Jackson said further talks were underway with three key vendors in the notebook and server spaces, as well as hardware repair agents. The company was also on the hunt for investors.

To retain efficiency in responding to calls, the company has devised a Web-based portal to lodge customer requests. Jackson said this would allow it to figure out the most appropriate service agent for that call based on geography and skills sets. Jackson came up with the idea for CAS while working with distributor, Westan. At the time, it had looked at it as a way of creating its own services arm, he said.

His two-month stint as managing director at United Electrical Engineering (UEE) earlier this year was the catalyst for establishing the new company.

Jackson said the company now had five staff on board, including a Web developer, marketing manager and technical expert. It had also outsourced its call centre requirements to an agency in Box Hill, Victoria. The company would look to bring on additional staff as required, he said.

"Some SLAs will require specific parts of the contract to be handled in-house," he said. "We will have our own people to handle that."

While installation services and maintenance are the initial focus, Choice was investigating the possibility of providing training services to distributors, service agents and end-users, Jackson said. It was also formulating machine-to-machine service plans.

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