The Impact of Industry Consolidation on TAS Vendors

By supporting our vendors, we support ourselves

Last month we looked at the impact of TAS industry consolidation on answering services. After analyzing the causes and the results produced, we discovered many positive outcomes as a result of our industry consolidation.

However, as the number of answering services decrease because of mergers and acquisitions, this puts pressure on vendors who now have fewer customers. This requires vendors to continue to find ways to profitably serve a shrinking customer base.

Think about our list of industry vendors over the past two decades or so. Some have gone out of business, others have been acquired, and a few have moved away from the industry. We’ve also seen vendors diversify into other lines of business. And a few have grown through mergers and acquisitions.

Everyone in the telephone answering service industry wants our vendors to succeed. We want our vendors to remain strong, to be there to support us for the long-term. While their future may seem like it’s up to them, as their customers we play a part in their future success. Here’s what we can do to help them:

Buy from Them

The most tangible way to help our vendors is to buy from them. Not only does this provide us with a better system that will allow us to do more for our clients and earn more revenue, but it also helps our vendors continue to support us and invest in our future.

Seek Fair Transactions

No one wants to be taken advantage of when they buy a product or service. Yet trying to negotiate the lowest possible deal may leave the vendor wounded and bleeding. Sometimes the special pricing that customers seek, lowers the profit margin for vendors so much as to make the deal not worth pursuing.

The answering service may feel like they chalked up a win, but the vendor feels like they lost. This is a win/lose outcome.

Instead seek to negotiate what is fair. Fair for us and fair for them. Pursue a supportive, long-term relationship, not one that hinges on how good the next deal is. If we want our vendors around for a long time, we must do our part to make this possible.

Be Active in User Groups

Most all vendors have some sort of a user group. This ranges from formal to informal, as well as vendor led to vendor independent. In the past some users banded together to complain about their vendor or put pressure on them to do things differently. While the driving force behind this is understandable, taking in adversarial approach tends to not be too helpful. Hopefully the need for this negative approach is all in the past.

How much better to be a positive presence in user groups. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. This doesn’t mean that vendors are always without fault in all their actions and business dealings, but it does mean we should work towards resolution in a positive, “we’re all in this together” attitude.

Be active in user groups, seek to give more than we receive, and help both our members and our vendor to succeed at the same time. Let us serve as their advocate.

Appreciate What They Do

Remember to thank our vendors. If they sponsor an industry event or dinner, let them know we appreciate it. Better yet, help them get the most out of their contribution. When it comes to providing funds to make our associations and meetings work, we should view our vendors as more than someone who writes a check. In many cases, they are who makes our networking and education possible. They deserve our gratitude and our encouragement.

Taking proactive steps to support our vendors is a step towards protecting our future as answering services. If we want to be around for a long time, we need our vendors to be there with us.

[In the next post we’ll explore consolidation as it relates to our industry associations and user groups.]

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