In what I see as another sign of major corporate player trying out innovative ways to add value to the relationship they provide with small business clients, Home Depot recently launched The Home Depot Business ToolBox.
The service is aimed squarely at the small contractor, but any business can become a member. As a member you are eligible for negotiated discounts on a wide range of products and services from folks like Office Max, Sprint, Dell and HP. In addition, members can tap into savings on things such as insurance, payroll processing, credit card processing and shipping.
The big item I suspect will be insurance. Members can apply for a product called BenefitProtect and enroll in a group health insurance and benefit program. This could be a real money saver for the typical small business.
Best of all I believe this program may allow Home Depot to capture the loyalty of one of its most important markets. This type of community building is a powerful way to lock out the competition.