Jack J. Bergman is the President of Allied Business Network, a business membership program that offers small- and medium-sized businesses discounts on items that they use every day. Jack is a business thought leader and brings businesses together with abnsave.com, smartbizsavings.com, and businessadvantageplus.com. He welcomes anyone to reach out to him on Twitter or Google+.
MO: Please tell us about Allied Business Network. Why did you start ABNsave.com, and where did the idea come from?
Jack: Allied Business Network (ABN) is a group of more than 124,000 sole proprietors, entrepreneurs, small- to medium-sized businesses, and individuals. ABN negotiates directly with national suppliers to get bulk pricing discounts on products and services that businesses use in their everyday operations. By leveraging the whole of the group, ABN is able to offer 5 to 85 percent off from Office Depot, Hertz, Wyndham Hotel Group, UPS, T-Mobile, and more. ABN is completely free for businesses to join, and our goal is to help give small businesses every advantage possible to compete with large corporations.
The idea of ABN came to me when I was working as a VP for a buying cooperative in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Like ABN, this was a group of large businesses that had been leveraging their volume to negotiate better deals in the electrical industry. I thought, “Why can’t I do the same thing with much smaller businesses in much more general areas?”
MO: Who can benefit from becoming a member of Allied Business Network? How do businesses become members?
Jack: We have yet to find a business that cannot benefit from becoming an ABN member. ABN’s discount program is made up of the general expenses that all businesses have when it comes to running their daily operations, such as office supplies, computer supplies, travel, and entertainment. There’s no question that when you look at most businesses today, they all have a common thread, and that would be their core expenses.
It’s really easy to become a member of ABN. As soon as you reach our homepage, you simply enter your general business information, click “Join,” and instantly become a member. In less than 30 seconds, you can have access to 50 business discounts from the top vendors in the country.
MO: When a business joins the Allied Business Network, can all employees of that company benefit from the discounts?
Jack: Yes, absolutely. In fact, we put together an employee discount program that does just that. We make it really easy for our business members to offer our discounts to their employees as an added benefit. We do this by providing each business with printed material or easy access to our website. We provide all the necessary information to the person who joins ABN from the business side. We call that person the program administrator, but it typically is the owner or the office manager. So when we think about ABN members, we say we have 124,000 business members, but there are over 3.5 million employees using the program through the employee benefit portal.
MO: Why would a large business want to offer discounts to smaller businesses on ABNsave.com?
Jack: This gets you in the door. It’s a great way to have the customer experience how great your product or service is and how well it works. Small businesses are at the core of all business, and they’re very loyal. Having small businesses as customers is a great way to grow your business because, as a business owner, you would rather have lots of small customers than one big customer. There is an added element of security. Small businesses generally have one person to convince, whereas large businesses have layers and are a lot more political.
Small businesses are usually concerned with finding good deals because they know how important every dollar is. They are great customers because once they find a deal and company they like, their loyalty is amazing.
MO: If a large business would like to become a vendor in the Allied Business Network, how would it become one?
Jack: Large corporations can simply go to our homepage, scroll down to the footer, and click the “Vendor Application” link. They’ll need to answer a few questions; once they submit their application, we do some evaluating to ensure they can offer their program nationally. We also make sure the discount is attractive enough to inspire our members to purchase from that vendor. If all of these preliminary answers meet our requirements, then we continue the discussion with them and ultimately add them as vendors.
MO: Besides ABNsave.com, what other money-saving tools or websites can you recommend for businesses?
Jack: Smart Business Savings is a program almost identical to ours that helps small businesses and individuals save on travel and additional expenses. Smart Business Savings is free to join, and they regularly email their membership exclusive deals and advice on how to book the best travel for business or personal trips.
If you are a business, we also recommend taking advantage of the Hertz Business Program. By utilizing this program, you earn free Hertz car rentals and have access to business discounts not available anywhere else. When you sign up for this program through our website, for example, not only do you get the above items, but you’re permanently linked to our discounted pricing and you’ll save up to 20 percent off every rental automatically. By giving Hertz your business’ loyalty, they reward you by making renting super easy and giving you the best deals possible. Hertz really knows how to take care of its business customers.
Another program businesses should take advantage of is the Office Depot Business Discount Program. By enrolling in the business program (which is extremely easy to do through our website), Office Depot sets that business up with a Business Solutions Consultant to answer all their questions and help with their ordering needs. As part of this program, members can save up to 85 percent on over 75 of the most frequently ordered items and up to 50 percent on over 10,000 general office supplies, pieces of furniture, break room items, janitorial supplies, and copy and print services. They also provide unique offers, such as free next-day delivery for orders of $50 and more.
It’s clear that, by committing to one company in a category, you can leverage the most from their programs for the best discounts and deals. We make it easy for our members to become a part of both the Hertz Business Program and Office Depot Business Discount Program; all they have to do is check a box for each on our form when they are enrolling with ABN for free. Our system automatically notifies each company and sets them up within their programs. We try to make everything as seamless and hassle-free for our members as possible.
MO: What are you most excited about for the future of Allied Business Network?
Jack: One of the most exciting things about ABN is that we make it extremely easy for any business that joins ABN to offer our full program not only to their employees, but to their customers, too. Many of the businesses that join are B2B, while some are B2C, but this makes our program a very valuable asset and unique offering for these companies. We’ve had tremendous success with this. Thousands of our members have taken advantage of this opportunity and have been able to pass on our savings to their customers. We provide everything the company needs to promote the program to their customers: promotional materials, a separate landing page, and an ABN contact to answer any of their questions. We’re really excited to see more of our members take advantage of this program.
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