Frequently Asked Questions
A buying group can be defined as several independent companies, typically in the same or similar businesses or industry that leverage their combined purchasing power in exchange for better pricing and terms on certain products. These products are purchased by the buying group and then sold to members of the group.
Unlike a buying group, a GPO does not purchase any products. Instead, they leverage the combined purchasing power of a group of similar businesses and negotiate special pricing contracts directly with manufacturers. The contracted savings are then passed on to the GPO members.
The National Service Alliance (NSA), which started in 1996, is today the leading GPO for building service contractors (BSCs) and related businesses serving some of the largest BSCs in the United States.
GPOs date back to the early 1900s when they primarily served the healthcare industry. After a slow start, their membership grew dramatically. By 2007, it was estimated that nearly 96 percent of all acute-care hospitals in the U.S. and nearly 100 percent of all community hospitals were members of at least one GPO.
NSA negotiates discounts on a wide variety of products and services that BSCs use every day in their businesses. Categories include janitorial hard goods, chemicals and cleaning solutions, paper and liners, professional cleaning equipment, office supplies and services, transportation, technology solutions, wireless and long distance phone service, promotional items, uniforms and more. A complete listing can be found under the “Partners” tab on the NSA website.
No. We know cleaning contractors develop close business relationships with their distributors. When a contractor joins a GPO such as the National Service Alliance, their distributor is notified that the contractor is to benefit from special pricing on certain products and equipment as contracted by the NSA.
We should note that there have been situations in which distributors have recommended their cleaning contractor clients to join the NSA. With the cost savings, contractors often purchase more products or higher quality products making joining the NSA a win-win for both the distributor and the contractor.
No, but if a contractor wants a certain chemical or equipment from a source that has not partnered with the NSA, they will have to pay “sticker” price for that product. However, the NSA has negotiated contracts with some of the largest and most well-known brands in the industry, including 3M, EcoLab, Diversey, Kaivac, ProTeam, even Dell Computer for purchasing office equipment.