IT management, MSP, Sales and marketing, Small business

GreatAmerica Expanding Master MSP Sales, Help Desk Services for Partners

Greg VanDeWalker
Greg VanDeWalker

GreatAmerica Financial Services is doubling down on its Collabrance business, assisting channel partners and MSPs with help desk, NOC (network operations center) and sales support across office equipment, IT equipment and unified communications solutions.

GreatAmerica is perhaps best known for its financing options and Hardware as a Rental (HaaR) solutions for channel partners. The privately held company believes in responsible growth and deep partner relationships rather than hyperscale expansion.

GreatAmerica's Collabrance business is a Master MSP -- essentially managing a range of IT services for MSPs across the United States. The Collabrance offerings are available as white label services for MSPs -- ensuring that the MSPs retain end-customer account control and associated customer relationships..

GreatAmerica: Past, Present, Future of Collabrance

GreatAmerica launched Collabrance about six years ago to help copier dealers and office equipment specialists address customer support.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, Collabrance focused in on a select group of equipment platforms and launched premium "white glove" type support for channel partners. "We found that nobody was the premium help desk for end-user printing and other related issues," says Greg VanDeWalker, senior VP for IT channel and services at Collabrance. "We filled that void" for channel partners, he asserts.

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> LinkedIn: Greg VandeWalker, senior VP, Collabrance

To wit: Collabrance's help desk and NOC services remediate roughly 90 percent of customer inquiries, freeing up partners to focus on other portions of their business.

But Collabrance is more than a help desk service for equipment dealers. The company also offers sales support, sales training and other services that empower partners to win and retain more business, VanDeWalker says.

Collabrance: Expanded Partner Services

VanDeWalker shifted from his senior VP role at GreatAmerica to his new post at Collabrance in November 2016. Among his key priorities:

  1. Expand the number of partners that Collabrance services -- including partners that specialize in office equipment, IT equipment and unified communications.
  2. Continue to increase the customer service level that Collabrance provides to end-users and partners. But here again, channel partners will maintain their strong end-customer relationships because Collabrance's services are white label by design.

Amid those two priorities, Collabrance "will not sacrifice our service levels amid our growth," says VanDeWalker. "Our white glove treatment of partners and their customers will continue."

So far, Collabrance's help desk services are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. central -- meaning that end-customers or partners receive "instant pick-up" within those support hours. However, the help desk can be reached after-hours. And Collabrance plans to expand its official support hours. It sounds like an announcement in that area may come in 2017.

NOC and Help Desk Services: Build or Partner?

GreatAmerica's focus on Collabrance comes at an opportune time. Many MSPs and IT channel partners are trying to figure out whether to build our outsource their help desks and NOCs.

Plenty of third-party companies have attempted to offer outsourced NOC and help desk services to MSPs over the years. But the barriers to entry are tall. After all, supporting multiple MSP platforms and end-customer platforms across the U.S. requires heavy IT, automation and talent investments.

Key players in the market, in addition to Collabrance, include ContinuumGMS Live Expert, InbayLive Virtual Help DeskNetEnrich and ConnectWise, which inked a NOC and help desk partnership with IT By Design in November 2016.

Admittedly, it's not exactly accurate to lump all of those NOC and help desk players together. Specialties certainly vary from company to company.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.