I am in the process of starting a Web Hosting Association. I already have the support of several vendors and manufactures. Below I have listed some of the benefits the assoiciation hopes to brings to its members:
# Competition - We all are competing, and while we all want to be number 1, there is plenty out there for all us. What is happening is this: Everyone can start a company, but many are not following all the business laws the rest of us have to live by. Many do not pay taxes, or are run by young kids that are just bored for a few months. This causes many accounts to go down for no reason, and then the whole industry gets a bad name which is not good for any of us. To be a member of the association, you would have to show proof of your legal existence, as well as some other qualifying stipulations that are being determined. Then by educating the public about the association, this would help the industry grow as a whole.
# Help standardize the software we us - Let me explain a bit here. I do not mean we all use the same OS, or control panel. What I am talking about is to work with all the Vendors of the association to make things work together. Make software x work in unison with software y. We all have experienced this. We goto to install a new cool piece of software, only to find it breaks half of the things that were working. While we cant 100% eliminate this, standards in the industry can help relieve this.
# Training and Certification - While we are all familiar with the national certification like MSCE, A+, etc. It is not realistic for all techs to fully certified. We run our businesses just like every other service industry. We have techs that are educated and can answer basic user problems, these techs receive all support tickets first. If they can not answer the problem, the ticket is escalated up, until it reaches a tech that can handle it. Just imagine if we always fed simple email password resets to our level 3 techs. They would get quite upset quickly. Trust me I know, just from asking them to help out sometimes, and problems like that come in. The Level 3 techs are more concerned with keeping our servers secure and advanced users problems. What the association can do is provide training and certification for several levels, for example (Tech Level I, Tech Level II, etc). This will not be just limited to techs. How many of you hire sales people with experience in this industry? Most donít. Most hire good sales people that can be trained. Same as office managers. While most recruit from within, some hire outside help that doenít have the experience in the industry. Then you just have to think how the industry grows with technology. We all need to be kept on top of this. The idea is for training and certification of Sales, Managers, and Technicians. While you may not think the certification is important, I can tell you from previous industries, anything you can brag (yes brag) that you have and your competitors donít to future customers is always a good thing.
# Preferred Vendors Ė While we all have our vendors that we love, the ones we hate. Many of us spend hours looking for solutions to problems, that could be easily solved by an association. A preferred vendor would be required / given the opportunities to do certain things for association members. Probably the number one thing that the boss man would be concerned about is discounts. Preferred vendors would be required to give a discount off standard pricing to members. Now before you go haywire, many of us already get discount pricing, but many do not. This can be as something as simple as 5% of standard retail price, or a volume discounts to members. There would be nothing preventing the vendor from giving you a volume discount lower then the association rate. We donít want to be forceful of the partner vendors, but we do want to see them take care of the members. Another thing the vendor will have the option to do is, provide training in relation to their product and or the certification programs. This will be held at either a sponsored association conference or at their discretion. So I know many of you asking, why would a Vendor join the association? They would be put in a win / win situation. They would get the ability to work with verified businesses in this industry, as well offer extended training at events, and they normally would not have the option of doing. If people know how to use / sell their products, they will sell more, which makes everyone happy.
# Group Discounts Ė Many of the smaller hosting companies as less then 5 people. Sometimes its 1 or 2 people, while there is nothing wrong with this, as long as they are legitimate business, many suffer for being so small. The association would work on getting things like: Group Insurance Rates, 401K options, Large Business Options, Accountant services, etc.. As long as we could show a major group interest in a product of doing business, we can go forth as an association, and get the discounts the larger companies enjoy.
This is just a start to some of the benefits the assoication hopes to bring. Right now we are in the process of laying out the structure. If you are intrested in joing please contact me, or post any questions and I will try my best to answer at this time.
I have also put up a survey on the temp URL for the association (ipitha.org)
have put up a survey on the web association