No man is an island…and neither is a dealer. We are all part of a broader industry that, when united, can bring powerful changes that strengthen our business. As the 2007 chair of the National Office Products Alliance (NOPA), I believe the initiatives that NOPA has outlined for the new year will provide us with tremendous opportunities for growth.
NOPA’s focus is on government advocacy, industry projects, delivering industry information and providing dealer benchmarking services.
Phase one of the OPIDS project was completed in the autumn of 2006. Leading industry wholesalers and buying groups have adopted standards on manufacturer codes, product numbers and units of measure. This will save dealers time and money as product and price change updates, as well as online ordering, become more streamlined. The next phase will focus on maintaining standards, as well as implementing new ones. The OPIDS task force will actively promote broader adoption of the new standards by other industry channel partners.
Small business reforms continue to be an important legislative initiative for us. NOPA is working on building broad coalitions for fundamental government legislative reforms related to abuse in the SBA small business mentoring programme and the JWOD programme. We also hope to enlighten state governments on the value of supporting businesses within their local constituencies, therefore turning the tide on the trend towards single-sourcing to the big box companies. We continue to seek passage of legislation on Association Health Plans to provide small businesses with more competitive health insurance options.
NOPA also has been working on other initiatives to assist the independent with marketing and operations. These include a NOPA code of ethics and other tools to help dealers with "buy local" campaigns in their communities. Our staff is also developing a new website that will provide timely industry news, online educational opportunities, and a better platform for communication within the independent channel.
We will continue to produce our Dealer Financial and Operations Comparison and Employee Compensation benchmarking reports. In 2007, NOPA will offer a variety of educational tools for dealers to analyse results and put this knowledge into practical business application.
As an industry including wholesalers, buying groups, and independent OP dealers of all sizes, it’s up to us to make sure that we are all a part of these necessary initiatives. We must be united in presenting a common voice for the independent channel. By working together in unity, we will succeed in 2007…and beyond.