ID Card System Sale Teaches VAR Profitable Lesson
VAR Plas-Tech Resources, Inc. saw its first sale of an ID card system to a high school turn into three sales totaling $10,500.
VARs selling digital ID card solutions often find the technology contagious. In other words, once one business discovers the success a VAR's customers are having with ID card solutions, the VAR's phone begins to ring. This is especially the case in vertical markets such as education where multiple locations have similar needs yet operate autonomously. VAR Plas-Tech Resources, Inc. (Sylmar, CA) found out firsthand how ID card projects in education could quickly multiply after landing its first high school as a customer in 2001.
No More Cut-And-Paste Systems
Since 1987 Plas-Tech has focused on selling embossing equipment. However, in 2000 the company added ID card printers, software, supplies (e.g. blank ID cards, printer ribbons) and digital cameras to its line of products. The nationwide rash of school shootings at that time had educational institutions of all levels scrambling for ways to increase security. Student ID cards instantly became a popular element of these new security plans.
In April 2001, Plas-Tech received a call from a 3,000-student high school in California that had seen the VAR's Web site advertising digital ID card solutions. "The school hired a photography studio to create student ID cards," explained Louis Gutenplan, service manager at Plas-Tech. "Originally the studio was using a cut-and-paste solution for creating cards but then switched to a plastic card printer system. But the studio was taking too long to create cards and was making mistakes on replacement cards. In addition, each card cost the school almost $2.00."
Plas-Tech, along with some other VARs and one card printer manufacturer, gave presentations to the school's vice principals and principal. Ultimately the school chose Plas-Tech. The school administrators proposed the project to the school board to receive the final budget approval.
Simplify ID Card Software Training
Plas-Tech's solution included an Eltron (Camarillo, CA) P310 card printer, a SiPix (Fremont, CA) SC2300 digital camera, and NFive Software's (Simi Valley, CA) CardFive premier ID card software. According to Gutenplan, the NFive software was a key selling point for the school. "We do sell other ID card software, but the NFive product is one of the simplest to use and it works well across multiple platforms," he said. "In fact, there was almost no training needed for the graphic arts and computer lab staff who were creating the cards. The system was very self-explanatory."
All students at the school receive new ID cards each year with new photos. This badging process takes place during the summer. Since Plas-Tech started working with the school in the middle of the school year, only 1,500 cards (to be used as replacement IDs) were ordered at first. The school reordered cards and printer ribbons from Plas-Tech for the 2002-2003 school year.
More Education-Related Clients Await
"Once we installed the first school's system, we began contacting the other two high schools in the district," Gutenplan said. "We sold the exact same system to one of the new schools. The last school had its own digital camera and purchased the CardFive professional software instead of the premier version. Everything else was the same, though."
Each of the schools' ID card systems cost approximately $3,500. The schools found that amount more reasonable than the $10,000 price tag presented by one of Plas-Tech's competitors for the first school's project. In addition, Plas-Tech's solution enabled the schools to instantly create cards and do so at a cost of only $.35 each.
The last school's system was completed at the end of 2002. Since then, Plas-Tech has used this experience as a springboard to earn more education-related clients in neighboring school districts.