Synchronics: Making the Sale

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Synchronics is searching for partners in several geographic locations and it's counting on making the sale.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based company has been selling retail management software through its dealers since 1984 and currently has 255 resellers-100 of which have been partners for more than 10 years. "We want an additional 10 dealers in areas such as Pennsylvania and Southern California-partners need to be willing to invest in product knowledge, and want a long-term commitment. We don't want people who just want to do one sale," says national sales manager Andee Pure.

Synchronics CounterPoint might be a retail management software line, but more than half its partners also resell accounting software. Pure says, "Our partners have found that 98 percent of their customers either integrate their current accounting package or purchase a new one when investing in CounterPoint."

Partner Insights

Marc Want is no exception. Executive vice president of Iselin, N.J.-based Business Control Systems, Want has been working with Synchronics since 1983. His company also resells Microsoft Small Business Manager and BusinessWorks, and supports QuickBooks. "All accounting packages have a tight fit with Synchronics and it's designed to make purchases simple," says Want.

Business Control Systems, which has 150 clients, focuses on providing point-of-sale solutions for retailers and distributors. Businesses include firearm and jewelry distributors, and pet and grocery stores.

When working with Synchronics, Want usually encounters a couple of accounting situations. "In large environments, we usually interface with their existing accounting software, and in small environments we see a lot of QuickBooks," he explains. "We also come across some businesses that still have manual systems where the accountant comes in once a month. In these engagements, we match an accounting package with their business, and in most cases it's Microsoft's Small Business Manager or Synchronics."

CounterPoint V.7 and CounterPoint SQL, which utilizes Microsoft SQL Server, provide point-of-sale ticket entry, inventory management, purchasing, gift registry, rentals, reports, and customer tracking. In addition, the company offers a Basic Accounting option that adds general ledger, accounts payable, and check reconciliation to the system. Basic Accounting is designed to meet entry-level requirements. Much of Synchronics business was linked to the former RealWorld, and Synchronics itself was the largest reseller of RealWorld's Cobol package until the mid 1990s when that package faded. Now, a generic export interface will work with almost any accounting package, including Accpac, BusinessWorks, Exact Progression, RealWorld Classic and Expertise, MAS 90/200/500, Peachtree, QuickBooks, and the DOS and Windows versions of Great Plains.

Pricing for CounterPoint V.7 starts at $1,500 for one user, one location, and CounterPoint SQL starts at $2,000 for one user, one location.

CounterPoint's open architecture enables resellers to choose from platforms such as Windows, Unix, Linux, or Citrix. Source code is also available for V. 7 for any active dealer at $1,500 with annual rate of $750 for the updated code. Ten dealers are involved with the source code product.

"As customers' needs change, our dealers can easily upgrade their systems without changing their software," adds Pure.

The software also was designed to work in a wide range of vertical markets. Clothing stores utilize the software's apparel grids, while gift shops take advantage of the gift registries. There is an Order Entry option used by wholesalers and mail order businesses. Synchronics also sells a Starter Edition with a list price of $695 for one user. Dealers receive a 45 percent margin on this edition regardless of their dealer level.

All types of retailers use the company's frequent shopper program, which rewards customers for their repeat business.

Also available is CounterPoint Online, which allows businesses to use existing inventory and customer information, and connect the point-of-sale system with an online store. "It's built into CounterPoint. All pricing, quantities, and item descriptions come directly from CounterPoint. Online orders can be imported into order entry or point-of-sale for processing and fulfillment," says Pure. Pricing for CPOnline starts at $300.

Ready to Sell

Although the dealer channel has existed since 1984, Synchronics did not establish its formal program, the Synchronics Authorized Reseller Association, until 1995.

SARA has two basic levels: the Authorized Dealers and Authorized Associates. To join the program, resellers must complete an application and provide five references. The initial fee is $3,000 to join, with an annual renewal fee of $1,500.

Authorized resellers receive a free demo and automatic updates, a week's worth of CounterPoint training, leads, and an in-house system discount.

Within the Authorized Dealer program, the purchase level is determined by what Synchronics calls Qualified Product Purchases. This includes new CounterPoint Systems, upgrades, updates, and source licenses. The levels are as follows:

* Authorized Dealers receive a 45 percent margin and must purchase at least $3,500 in QPP.

* Diamond Dealers receive a 55 percent margin and must purchase at least $20,000 in QPP.

* Double Diamond Dealers receive a 60 percent margin and must purchase at least $50,000 in QPP.

* The Summit Club is available for any dealers who purchase more than $100,000 in QPP.

Training is included with the initial fee for new dealers, but is not included in the renewal fee. Diamond and Double Diamond Dealers receive a 35 percent discount on training for sending additional employees to classes. Fundamental, intermediate, and advanced training is offered.

In addition, all authorized dealers may attend a one-day or two-day training class at no charge.

Dealers can also participate in a co-op plan, which gives cash rebates for direct mail, trade shows, telemarketing, seminars, and advertising activities. The marketing materials include special flyers that cover specific vertical markets such as lawn and garden, liquor stores, and sporting goods. Dealers can print their own flyers or purchase them from Synchronics.

"We give our dealers 12 percent of their product sales for their advertising co-op bank," says Pure. "We typically reimburse 50 percent of the cost for trade-show booth space or ad insertion cost, if we are the only vendor mentioned in the activity. The dealer submits a claim with photos and other items to substantiate the claim and if it's approved, we direct deposit their account monthly with funds from their co-op bank."

Business Control Systems, a Double Diamond Dealer, receives 45 percent of its revenue from working with Synchronics. "Fifteen percent comes from the product, while 30 percent comes from services. Lately, the rate of business per month has increased to about three clients," says Want.

Want says the increase stems from his company's increased marketing and good leads from Synchronics. "The co-op program enables us to do tradeshows [that] we wouldn't have been able to do financially. National shows have been a good investment for us. We've seen at least five qualified leads per month turn into business," he adds.

Furthermore, resellers get access to the SARABoard, a Web discussion area in which resellers participate in conversations as well as question/answer sessions. "This is great for new dealers who want advice, and here they can get it from our dealers who have been with us for years. It's a great knowledge sharing place," adds Pure.

Meanwhile, out of the 255 partners, there are only 10 Authorized Associates who don't resell the software. Consultants can join the program for $500 per year. They receive CD updates of the software, user manuals, and a listing on the Web site. According to Pure, many dealers book consultants for their customers to offer training and post-sales support.

Synchronics Snapshot
HQ: Memphis, Tenn.
Phone: (800) 852-5852
Web: www.synchronics.com
Employees: 53
Founded: 1980
Products: CounterPoint V.7, CounterPoint SQL, CounterPoint Starter Edition, CPOnline

Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at carly.bohach@thomsonmedia.com.

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