Any service organisation trying to provide coverage across Australia will be familiar with the problems its vast distances pose. But in Queensland a group of 11 computer maintenance service providers have banded together to provide a potential solution.
Operating as the Regional Systems Support (RSS) network, the companies operate in a specific geographic location, and together claim to provide 24-hour standby support and guaranteed response times across all of Queensland.
RSS joint director Peter Brown says the network came together as a result of the difficulty that national service organisations have in servicing their obligations in a state as large and decentralised as Queensland. "The history is that one of these organisations may perhaps contact Cairns for one job and then ask if they know anyone in Townsville or McKay for another, so we were constantly referring to each other," said Brown.
While service organisations may employ a regional company on a regular or irregular basis to provide local service, Brown says that by bringing 11 regional organisations under one umbrella he can provide a one-stop solution for an organisation wishing to cover the entire State. As such, the network does not seek to compete with service organisations, merely to provide services to them. "We want to be a subcontractor - we're not in there to be tendering. We want others to tender and then come to us to provide the arms and the legs."
While each of the companies have their own separate and non-competitive territory, Brown says that through years of referrals many were known to each other. Each of the agencies in the RSS is a maintenance-based company which has been successful in establishing their own client base.
Strength in numbers
Brown says since all are members of a group rather than part of the one organisation, the group is seeking quality assurance so potential customers will know they are dealing with properly endorsed companies.
"But of course there's another quality factor," adds Brown, "which is peer pressure - the fact that we're all impacting on each other's business in our own regions. If, for example, Cairns is letting the ball down there's going to be a few other organisations in touch saying 'lift your act'."
Brown says the group is currently working to attract national service organisations to subcontract work to the RSS. "In the short term where we're best placed is for newcomers in the market. They can easily latch on with one phone call and get a common price, a common response time, and a common standard of service for all of Queensland."
He feels the larger service organisations will also see an attraction in contracting work to the RSS. "With the larger organisations having to cut back on staff, their ability to have a remote site housing an engineer is becoming less of an option," says Brown. "We can provide a better service, because all of our organisations are not just sole traders. So whereas they may have one engineer in a remote area, we may have three or four. And therefore the response times can be improved."
The RSS was founded with the assistance of the AusIndustry Business Networks Program, a federal program which assisted the four founding companies through the business development stage. Once the service is up and running in Queensland, Brown envisions extending the concept throughout Australia, and possibly overseas.