Interviewer (I.): Hello, and thank you for taking the time for our interview.
Yusuf Sar (Y.S.): Hello, you’re welcome
I.: Only last year you founded the company Change-IT with the brand hardwarewartung.com and specialized in servers, storage and network devices. More or less on everything that stands in the data center. Why do you now expand your business to office environments and offer hardware maintenance for notebooks, desktops, workstations or laptops as well as printers, plotters and multifunction devices?
Y.S.: Our goal has always been to support small and medium-sized businesses and simplify their lives in all situations. At that time we started in the data center area, because we already had the right know-how and network here. We knew all the players, whether they were the manufacturers or the third-party maintenance companies. We wanted to start in a clearly defined segment to prove that our business idea worked.
I.: Hardware maintenance is probably one of the oldest businesses in IT. What is your business idea? And what is so much different about you?
Y.S.: Yes that’s true. We also thought that there was nothing new in hardware maintenance, let alone that we could really change something in the market. But we did it.
I.: What exactly have you changed?
Y.S.: 1. We were able to prove that the online sales channel for maintenance contracts is possible for critical systems. This means that you don’t always need a salesperson on site to sign a maintenance contract with the customer. If you place customer-relevant information cleanly online and have good hotline support, customers also buy maintenance contracts online. 2 Large maintenance companies have a strong interest in long tail, i.e. SMEs, but can’t get close to them. Their main problem is the administration of customer data and contract processing at very low volumes. That simply doesn’t pay off for you. We have solved these problems for you by automating and simplifying some processes and additionally aggregating the many small customers into one big customer, hardwarewartung.com.
I.: I understand that you take over the administration of customer data, operate contract management and bundle the customers into one large customer. This will give you better prices, which you can then pass on to the customer.
Y.S.: And don’t forget! We also select the right partner for the customer. With the quantity of suppliers there are very many middlemen. We eliminate as many middlemen as possible and work only with the biggest ones, which are behind 90% of the maintenance market in Europe, but which nobody knows, because they mostly work as “White-Lable”.
I.: Does this mean that my maintenance partner doesn’t always do the work himself, but that another company comes?
Y.S.: Yes, that’s very often the case. There are good pools of technicians that can be accessed and warehousing and logistics are also done by the big ones. Your maintenance partner is often either only a reseller or he has his own technicians to work cheaper.
I.: All right, but let’s get back to expanding your business. Why have you now decided to expand into the client area?
Y.S.: That’s simple. 1. We first had to achieve a certain volume with our existing data center business to gain a foothold in the client business and 2. We had to find the right partners who could meet our criteria. Maintenance for notebooks, desktops, workstations and laptops is very small. At 4-5 Euros per month for a desktop, neither high margins nor large volumes are achieved and the printer business is very complex. That means there was a lot to optimize until we could offer our service to customers.
I.: There are many small and medium-sized IT companies and system houses that offer their services in this area, so don’t compete with them. So you contradict your own principle to help the middle class?
Y.S.: No, we’re not competing with you. We are more like the manufacturer. The system houses are more or less the outsourced IT department of many SMEs. They offer their customers a complete package with consulting, hardware purchasing, monitoring, installation, software support, helpdesk etc.. For this very reason we have decided to only offer hardware maintenance in the form the manufacturer does. You don’t buy a Care Pack for repair services from HP but from hardwarewartung.com. The advantage is that we offer all manufacturers from a hand and thus the system houses and EDP companies even do a favor. In addition, through our partners we also offer far better prices than the manufacturers.
I.: Why can you offer better prices than the manufacturer?
Y.S.: There are several reasons for this. One of them is that our partners are very big. To get a feeling. One of our partners for the German-speaking area already serves over 500,000 clients. The 2nd reason is the way our partners work. They are independent third-party maintenance companies and manufacturers. This means that you have huge stocks of spare parts all over Europe, from which you look after the various customers. You can buy the spare parts very cheaply at company branches or from the manufacturer via remaining stocks. The bigger you are, the cheaper you can offer the spare parts. If you have 1000 HP notebooks of one type under maintenance you need 10-50 devices in stock, cost 2000- 10000€, income 4000€ per month, if you have only 10 under maintenance you still need 1-2, cost 200-400€ and income 40€. It has more of a big insurance than a maintenance company.
I.: Do the manufacturers not have the same conditions as the third-party maintenance companies?
Y.S.: Theoretically, they would have this, but their interests are more in selling new hardware than in maintaining older devices.
I.: I understand that. Did I understand correctly that you will also take old clients and printers under maintenance and repair them?
Y.S.: Exactly, there is also no End-of-Life or End-of-Support with us.
I.: So far you’ve only talked about clients, what about printers?
Y.S.: We have also included this in our portfolio and offer the same services as the manufacturer.
I.: Does this mean that you are not in competition with the small IT companies?
Y.S.: Exactly, we would rather support them.
I.: On your homepage you have mentioned only 3 service packages. Bronze, silver and gold. Why are there no more variants here?
Y.S.: Of course, we also offer customized service. But to keep it as simple as possible, we decided to list only 3 packages and clearly define the differences to the manufacturer.
I.: That would be?
Y.S.: What we always found very unfair was the surcharge for Post-Warranty, which was usually more than 200% for the manufacturer. We don’t have that. No matter how old the device is, the maintenance always costs the same. We have also omitted all these bring-in and shipping models. If someone takes a maintenance contract with us also gets an on-site technician who immediately tries to repair the device on site, and even if he does not succeed, the customer knows when the device is ready for use again. We also don’t offer premium service because the service quality has to be right from the start. Every maintenance contract is a premium maintenance contract.
I.: I think we can take this last sentence as the perfect conclusion to our interview. Thank you very much Mr Sar for the pleasant conversation. Who would have thought that innovation is still possible in the oldest IT business of hardware maintenance?
Y.S.: That’s very nice of you to say, thank you.