Killer VARs: Breaking Down the Walls

Being successful in the accounting software resale business has been enough of a challenge over the past few years to say the least, but for the handful of value-added resellers that continue to outpace even the top firms in the field, growth comes more from the new ways they serve their clients and structure their business than just from the software they sell.

Granted, software sales are indeed returning for many of the top VARs, and they are glad to continue to represent an array of products -- whether they're from publishers that they have had longstanding relationships with or expanding outside of traditional offerings. Ultimately, high-growth-oriented VARs - or consultants, as many are opting to be called -- are looking to expand outside of the ways they've conducted business over the past few decades, and have accomplished this in a variety of ways.

Tampa, Fla.

Creating specific solutions for its clients -- particularly in the cloud -- and not just being one of three Microsoft Dynamics Master VARs has helped push Florida-based Tribridge to being a $100 million business, a plan it had five years ago when it was just a $21 million company.

Like McGladrey's Becker, Tribridge co-founder and chief executive officer Tony DiBenedetto admitted that size does have its advantages, and the firm does "think big," but overall, its success has been about executing on its strategies and serving specific client niches.

"For us, the vertical solutions we created for the cloud have contributed largely to our growth, but just 'cloudifying' something doesn't allow you to generate a lot of revenue. We win a high percent of deals because of how deep our knowledge is in key industries, and we've built a tremendous amount of solutions and success in these areas," said DiBenedetto. "We also have a lot of customers, over 3,000, so for any business, one way to grow is to add value for those you have. We do so much to add value that they stay with us."

DiBenedetto explained that the company's own Concerto Cloud Services, in which it hosts Microsoft Dynamics products, and its Offender 360 inmate information tracking product have allowed the firm to close large deals. Ultimately, the firm no longer sees itself as a VAR, but a service provider.

"We never really use the word VAR; we are a consulting organization and we are the firm our clients turn to for service. We build services around our clients, we don't chase new deals and we are regularly signing new work," said DiBenedetto. "Our client retention is at 97 percent and our organic growth rate is about 34 percent over the past year. We target 20 percent and clearly are beating that. We still expect that, even with the nice gross revenue base we have."