Unitime: Back in the Reseller Hunt

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Unitime Systems' reseller program was once much larger. There were twice resellers as many before the company, which markets time-and-attendance products, split its program into reselling and referring components. But earlier this year, the company declared that it was recommitting to its channel and wants resellers to know, it is interested in them.

One new tool the company recently launched is a hosted version of its server-based time and attendance software to arm its resellers with a Web-based application and heighten its appeal among resellers of HR and payroll applications.

Unitime on Demand gives Unitime resellers a subscription-based product to provide a recurring revenue stream, which can be an asset a time when product margins are under pressure.

Partner Insights

"Recurring revenue is what everybody is looking for," says Jesse Gunder, Unitime's channel sales manager. "We're offering an excellent opportunity for businesses to grow."

"I believe it could be a good product offering for us," agrees Gregory Hamilton, president Genesis Resource Management Systems, a Unitime reseller since 1998.

Unitime on Demand is just one of a handful of enhancements that the Boulder, Colo.-based vendor has launched over the past year to generate renewed interest in its hardware and software products.

Unitime's software for organizations ranging from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies improves workflow management by automating time sheet preparation for payrolls in any vertical market such as healthcare, manufacturing and retail. The company's hardware offerings include data-collection devices and programs.

The product and channel enhancements are also intended to boost VARs' interest in Unitime's 13-year-old program, which Gunder says is key to the company's future.

Although partner ranks have grown over the past year-and a-half to 70, it is still less than half the number of resellers it had in 2003 before the company split its single program into two tiers: Business Partners and Referral Partners.

"It's [the Business Partner program] not growing as aggressively as we would like," says Gunder.

Today, there are 50 Referral Partners, compared with 20 Business Partners. Depending upon whether they just supply the lead, or conduct product demonstrations and are involved in the sales process, Referral Partners can receive commissions on software between 10 and 20 percent respectively.

On the other hand, resellers, if certified, can also perform the implementation and receive a 50 percent margin.

Only resellers can receive certification for implementing a system. Certification courses entail 4.5 days of classroom training and cost $500 for each attendee. Terri Gresham, director of sales and marketing for MCG Business Solutions, applauds Unitime's ongoing certification program.

The vendor also offers sales training, the ability to reference documents, and competitive data on other time and attendance vendors' products on Unitime's Web site.

"It gives Unitime resellers a resource to tap into and sell against if they find themselves in a competitive situation," she says. Gresham, who likes Unitime's flexibility, says the product line fits any vertical or business ranging in size from 10 employees to 10,000 employees.

The average sale of Unitime software for the Mobile, Ala.-based MCG is approximately $30,000. She estimates her firm could close another $120,000 in sales each year with a little assistance from Unitime.

"From a partner's perspective, it would be more helpful to have more lead-generation support," Gresham says. "With leads coming in from Unitime, I could close four more systems per year."

Genesis, too, would like more communication from Unitime. Hamilton says resellers should be privy to new products and applications in the works.

"If a prospect is looking for a particular application and it's in development, but we don't know about it," Hamilton says, "we could lose a sale. As Business Partners, we need to know what's in development."

Partner types

It is not a prerequisite that a Unitime reseller be a Referral Partner before becoming a Business Partner. But many follow that route.

"Part of my job is to court those folks (Referral Partners) and get them the support and Unitime resources they need to become a Business Partner," Gunder says. "The primary way we get Business Partners is through Referral Partners."

Although there is no fee to become a reseller, referrers must purchase a $1,500 Unitime Demonstration Kit that includes time and attendance software, product documentation, time clock and marketing materials.

Unitime is also offering a new co-marketing program. Business Partners who participate in a Society for Human Resource Management conference or local HR trade up to $350 to offset the cost of their registration.

At this point, Unitime's sales are evenly split0 between its VARs and its nine-member inside sales force, which it assembled in 2000/2001.

However, Gunder expresses Unitime's dependence on its partners.

"About 50 percent of all our new customers come from the reseller channel," Gunder says. "We recognize the value that the business partner channel brings to Unitime."

While the company doesn't have a goal to recruit them deliberately, more than 20 percent of Unitime's channel members are CPAs.

Gunder welcomes the value-add that the accountants, who are drawn in because of their involvement with related products, bring to the Unitime effort. "What we look for in a reseller is do they have a complementary suite of products such as payroll and HR," Gunder says. "Many times, people involved in selling those products are CPAs."

Having CPAs among its CSPs has been a competitive advantage for MCG.

"CPAs understand job costing principals," says Gresham. "We know how to track an employee's time back to a specific job that allows the client to track their labor costs and profitability."

A VAR for 14 years, MCG picked up Unitime less than three years ago. Since then, the company's products have grown to account for 15 percent of the firms' total sales, which she declined to disclose). Sales of Sage Software's Abra, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Citrix and Cisco applications represent 40 percent of MCG revenue. The other 45 percent comes from its consulting services.

Before picking up Unitime, MCG referred time and attendance leads on elsewhere and as a result missed out on as much as $500,000 in software sales in the prior years.

THE HRMS LINK

Genesis' Hamilton says it was through consulting with other Abra resellers that prompted him to choose Unitime eight years ago, when he was looking to electronically process time cards through Abra payroll.

Hamilton, who is not a CPA, says it was Unitime's depth of functionality that sealed the deal.

"The software comes with built-in rules and features that allow us (non-CPAs) to set up and calculate pay rules or hours rules that any type company can request," says Hamilton.

"It was Abra HR and HRMS that brought us to Unitime," says Gresham. "We choose Unitime because its interface has a smooth flow between it and Abra."

Riccardo A. Davis is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at riccardo.davis@sourcemedia.com.

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