There’s more to being independent than a tagline or splash page. Being independent means staying independent by buying independent whenever possible. Sometimes we have no choice and have to do business with companies that are not independent. How do you answer the question: “What is independent?”
Independent can mean different things to different people, but over the years I have settled on independent means independently owned. Another way to say that is privately held, not a publicly traded company. I think it is important to have a clear definition of what independent means before you attempt to apply independent thinking in your business. Not that you have to agree with my definition, but you should have your own clearly defined definition of what independent means.
Again, sometimes we don’t have a choice and have to do business with companies that are not independent. It is important to note that independent status alone does not a good or bad company make.
What is typically good about dealing with an independent company is that you have access to fully engaged owners that care about your business. They can make decisions without board meetings, without having to convince or obtain approval from distant and often aloof owners, and can address issues quicker than most public companies. This is likely the major advantage of independence that has kept many of you in business against the chain stores.
So why do so many independents put one of the most critical functions of their business in the hands of what is essentially a “Chain Store System Provider”? I am of course talking about Carlyle Group and its ownership of ECI.
I understand that changing systems is hard and that some of you feel trapped with nowhere to go. Is that really the case? Have you seriously looked at what is available from the many truly independent system providers?
I talk to dealers all the time who think no other system could ever meet their needs, but I wonder how much effort have they really put into verifying this claim? A lot has changed in the OP system provider space in the last few years. As ECI continued their drive to control through monopolization of the office products computer system market, the remaining independent system providers grew more savvy in terms of features, conversion capabilities, and return on investment.
You owe it to yourself and your business to fully understand exactly what your options are and what new possibilities are available. You may be surprised to learn that not only has a lot changed in the independent computer system provider business, but your own business has likely changed as well. Those functions you thought you once could not do without, may not be as relevant in today’s market.
The best approach is to start from scratch and evaluate exactly what you need from a computer system, both front end and back end. Only when you have a complete understanding of your needs will you be able to choose a business computer system appropriate for your business.
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to assume that because a particular computer system appears to work for another dealer that it is right for you.
Perform an honest and thorough evaluation of your business requirements and then check out one or all of the many independently owned computer system providers I list below!
Sorry, my list is limited to independent US system providers. If you are an independent system provider in the UK or Ireland please provide sales contact info and I will make a follow up post. Email me at email@example.com with your contact info.
List below is alphabetic by system provider name.
321 North Clark Street
Chicago IL 60654
(T) 312.445.6415 (C) 312.714.6824 (S) philip.evolutionecommerce