PC Migration Company Zinstall Says It's Hitting Its Stride After Partner Program Reboot

After a recent partner program reboot, PC migration company Zinstall said it has seen huge success with partners and is looking to further expand its program into the channel.

On a most basic level, the Zinstall suite of products helps consumers, SMBs and enterprises transfer files, configurations and, most importantly, applications natively to a new Windows-based laptop or desktop so it feels just like their old one, even if it is an upgraded operating system. While it does handle some single consumer users or very large enterprise customers directly, the migration work is primarily given as a tool to Zinstall partners to package as part of their services offerings.

Around six months ago, Torrance, Calif.-based Zinstall said it seriously started revamping its channel program to improve the way that partners interact with the vendor and grow their margins, and the success is starting to show, said Zinstall's head of partner programs, Richard Lechtman.

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"We started the new approach, got some word-of-mouth from different partners and now we feel that we've had our growing pains and we've found our stride, so to speak. It's been very, very successful for us and our partners, most importantly," Lechtman said. "This is the point for us where we feel that more partners can benefit from this without any problems in terms of scalability and we feel that we are ready for getting this program on the road."

The biggest change to the program was the pricing model. Zinstall moved away from its per-use pricing model to a flat-fee model with a "negligible" per-use fee. Before, the product retailed at more than $100 per transfer, but now partners pay a flat fee for the year and then can transfer as many users as they want. Having the pricing model structured this way makes the product a completely different story for partners, Lechtman said, because it allows them to easily package it alongside their services offering, instead of as a product.

"It’s a whole new approach to the channel, mainly to make it much more attractive marginwise. This way we're also able to encourage them, and let them use this much more. With the way the program is structured right now, they can use this for all of their transfers," Lechtman said.

The company has seen particular growth working through partners in the SMB and consumer market, although enterprise has also seen a boost, Lechtman said.

Brad Spiegel, president and owner of Macon, Ga.-based Quality Computer Systems, said he was very cautious when he first started testing out Zinstall after a bad experience with a similar product. He said that while there were a few hiccups early on, he has been very happy with both the product and the upgrades to the partner program. The most important part, he said, is that Quality Computer Systems can now distinguish itself over local competitors.

"It's definitely a place where we make some money off it, but about as important as the money is that we're able to do things that other resellers don’t do. Best Buy doesn’t do stuff like that. It's another way to allow us to differentiate ourselves in the market," Spiegel said.

Quality Computer Systems packages the software as an optional add-on to hardware purchases, and Spiegel said he has seen the most interest from clients with 10 machines or fewer, including consumer and micro-small business clients.

As the platform continues to develop, Lechtman said Zinstall is looking to make technical improvements to the product to upgrade the way transfers are done. For example, he said Zinstall is looking into making the transfers through the cloud, instead of needing a local network or cable. Spiegel said that he was skeptical of future cloud upgrades and how it would work with the current software.

"I'm really happy with it now," Spiegel said. "I can foresee the answers on cloud and I'm just not sure in the long run that that’s the best option for that business. If they go down that road, we'll see how it plays out."

For the partner program itself, Lechtman said the company wants to continue to improve the margins for partners, for example by lowering the price partners pay per use even more if they migrate a lot of workstations.

"We basically continue to make sure the program is right for the partners in terms of the balance between us being a company for profit and us being a company that wants to allow our partners to use our product as much as possible for as little as possible," Lechtman said.