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I'm in the process of (re) designing a software product, and I'm attempting to find the right term to use. Right now, our product has been targeted at a few different industries that operate on a distributor-dealer infrastructure, and our software has been sold primarily to dealers. As a result, we have come to refer to the company (or companies) that are represented within a single database as "dealers", even though they may, in fact, be distributors and the dealers are actually their customers.

The package is expanding in scope and is now going to be targeted at other organizations that may not operate under this model, so the term "dealer" is becoming increasingly diluted. As a result, we are attempting to find a suitable term that is both generic enough not to be unintuitive, but also specific enough so as not to be easily confused with other parts of the database. In other words, simply calling them "Company" could be confusing because users already have other "companies" with which they conduct business entered into the system, and "Company" is the term used to describe them.

So far, only "Company" and "Business" have been found to be suitably generic, but I'm not sure if they're specific enough. I know that software like QuickBooks refers to them as a "Company", but I'm curious if there is something better suited.

EDIT: The database in question is the customer's database, not our own. We design the database and the application, but it's their data. Perhaps a little more information will be helpful, as there seems to be some confusion about what I'm talking about. I was under the impression that people reading my question could actually read my mind, but in case that isn't true:

As stated above, our current model uses the term "Dealer". In our database, we have a Dealer table that stores information about the dealer (or dealers) that our customer runs. In turn, we have a Customer table in their database that represents their customers, and a DealerId column in that table to associate a customer to a given dealership (some of our clients have multiple dealerships that they run out of the same database in order to share other things, such as product lists). What I'm looking for is an alternative to the term Dealer, as our target markets are no longer solely businesses that could be considered "dealerships".

Company would work, but I am concerned with our interaction with the customer becoming confused by mixing usage of the word "Company" for their company with other "companies" that they might interact with.

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Aren't they all just "customers" from the point of view of your company? Or "clients" if you want to sound more upmarket? –  FumbleFingers Oct 18 '11 at 19:33
    
Company is fine. You'll injure none of your customers' self-respect, plus you can define it to mean whatever you want - sounds win-win to me. –  Daniel Oct 18 '11 at 19:36
    
I don't think it's an issue that the users conduct business with other "companies". The user is a company, and the user's dealings are with other companies. Is it really likely that the user will accidentally identify himself with another company? –  Daniel Oct 18 '11 at 19:41
    
@FumbleFingers: Yes, but this is about their database. Sorry for the confusion. –  Adam Robinson Oct 18 '11 at 20:13
    
@drɱ65δ: While "Company" is a valid answer, the concern is that there is a distinction--from a data model perspective--between a "Company" that is our customer (but I'm hesitant to call it Customer since this is their database and their customers are other people) and a "Company" that they interact with. I'm not so much concerned with the user accidentally identifying with another company, but rather the fact that we're going to be talking about two entirely different tables. –  Adam Robinson Oct 18 '11 at 20:14
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8 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'm afraid that there isn't a single word meaning our company as opposed to another company in English. If it's too confusing to use just plain company, then you may have to come up with some form of us, this company, our company, etc. on the one hand, and affiliate or associate companies (or client, if that's applicable) for the companies "our company" is working with.

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+1. We've decided to go with "Company" to refer to our client's company and "Organization" to refer to other companies that they might do business with. –  Adam Robinson Oct 19 '11 at 19:20
    
That sounds reasonable. Good luck! –  Daniel Oct 19 '11 at 19:43
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If one client of yours deals business through multiple dealers/companies/entities, an apt term would be channels. Another good potential is locations.

EDIT: You could use distributors, but it seems the reason for your question is that either your clients' businesses are expanding beyond simple dealing/distribution, or your clientele is expanding beyond those who exclusively deal/distribute.

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Thanks, but the term does not have anything to do with their relationship to us. This is a term for our client in their database. It shouldn't make any reference to us or our relationship. –  Adam Robinson Oct 19 '11 at 17:43
    
It doesn't. It refers to their channels of distribution, or their locations. –  Jim Oct 19 '11 at 17:52
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"Buyer" perhaps? Seems suitably generic.

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The database in question is for the customer, not for us, so I'm not sure "buyer" is appropriate. –  Adam Robinson Oct 18 '11 at 20:12
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Other synonyms I would use are concern and enterprise.

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The context suggests that you don't really need a synonym for "Company" but for "Company which purchased our software". Candidates would seem to include "Software Licensee" and "Data Owner".

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No, what I need is a synonym for "Company" ;) This needs to represent their company/organization from their perspective, not ours. –  Adam Robinson Oct 19 '11 at 15:08
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It seems what you really want is to distinguish "myself" from "others like me". Perhaps something reflexive, like "Self" or "My Company", is a better choice"? Or brand it with the company's name?

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You might clarify in the question the sort of documents and the company levels where the terminology you seek will be used. I.e., company internal vs. external, verbal vs. written, documentation vs. contracts.

Because you apparently wish to refer unambiguously to two different levels of clients, concerns, buyers or customers, it might be reasonable to designate 'primary' and 'secondary' as terms referring to the two levels of customers.

The acronym VAR (value-added reseller) is often used to refer to an intermediate level of software distributors, packagers, dealers, resellers, or vendors, who are clients of software companies with, in turn, clients of their own.

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Please see my edit to the question. –  Adam Robinson Oct 19 '11 at 0:17
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I suggest that everything be, fundamentally, a Company.

The one that owns the database can be called the MasterCompany. (alternately - Owner, Main, Primary, etc.)

All the others can be called OtherCompanies. (alternately - Ancillary, Secondary, Partner, etc.)

You may even rethink the database structure and ask yourself if there really is a need for them to be separate concepts. Perhaps everything should be reflected in a single Company table with just a flag or type or something to identify the type.

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Organization meets the first criteria (generic enough), but it's not specific enough. I need something that clearly identifies that these records belong to your company ("your" pertaining to our customer, in this case). –  Adam Robinson Oct 19 '11 at 0:13
    
It sounds like you have different kinds of companies/organizations/businesses in your database. Either there is something that differentiates type X (dealer/distributer) from type Y (the other companies) or there isn't. If there is, quantifying that difference might help you come up with a good name. –  Lynn Oct 19 '11 at 0:31
    
type X is our customer (but remember, this is their database, so it represents "them"), type Y would be companies that they have some sort of business relationship with but are not a part of their company. –  Adam Robinson Oct 19 '11 at 0:34
    
I see. In that case I would call X "Company", meaning "the company that owns this database". I would call Y something else: "Vendor/Client/Partner/etc." as appropriate. –  Lynn Oct 19 '11 at 0:46
    
I would agree with that, except for the fact that all of these other "companies" could be any of those things (and more). I really need something that's just as generic as "company", unfortunately. –  Adam Robinson Oct 19 '11 at 1:13
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