Who Cares if Office Print is Declining? You Have Too Much Going for You to Worry About One Bit of Bad News.
01 August 2018 | Norm McConkey
It's time to end the pity party that the office printing industry has been having for the past 3-4 years. Apart from a few A3 vendors that are in complete denial of what is happening, everyone is aware that offices across North America are winding down their 100 year relationship with paper. More statistics, more earning reports, and more LinkedIn diatribes about how dealers are “asleep” to this fact are not helpful. What is helpful? Being grateful about what you do have going for you, and using that to make some course corrections to your business model.
If you are not selling your business, or planning to close up shop and retire, the only strategy that I see is enabling your business to become more of a complete IT products and services provider. That space is crowded, but it doesn’t matter. Your company can dominate, and do it quickly.
Here are 3 overwhelming advantages that office print dealers have over IT resellers.
How many customers have you been doing business with for over a decade? Without a doubt, the hardest thing in business is to get a new customer. Building trust is a long process. You already have that with all of your customers.
Why did Xerox buy Global Imaging? Why is there such an intense acquisition play happening today? Because acquiring customers is a slow and hard process! You’ve done all the heavy lifting here. It’s time to reap the reward.
Who’s the most successful salesperson at an IT company? The owner. Who does most of the large technology implementations at the customer sites? The owner. Chief cook and bottle washer? That doesn’t scale. Office print dealers are professionally run businesses. IT companies are almost exclusively micro businesses.
This advantage is also a double-edged sword. Without even knowing your business, I bet your headcount, and skill sets, in these parts of your business need attention. Turning over leases is important but you need to reduce the cost of this activity. Field service is important, but as pages go down, and your MIF migrates to A4 with lower monthly page volumes, the cost of executing service needs to go down.
You are in business today because of equipment financing. When the paper document was king, customers needed copiers. They REALLY needed them, but they were too expensive. You arranged financing. Today, IT is that same issue for your customers. Ask any small business owner what their biggest issue is? Cash flow. It's always been cash flow. It always will be cash flow. IT companies don’t get this, they never have. It’s not part of their DNA. You always have.
Turn your energy toward solving that problem for your customers across the IT product spectrum, just like you did for office printing.
I’d rather be in your shoes trying to grow business than be in that of an IT reseller. Of course, this is not easy. It will take some time and investment in different areas of your business. I hinted at it earlier, but the good news here is that you have the resources to make this happen quickly. BEI Services released a white paper on managing inventory and reducing service costs. Most dealerships in the channel subscribe to BEI Services. Reducing costs in service will free up the capital to spend on initiatives like e-commerce and digital workflow. Sales is also likely an area where aligning your current activity with headcount will free up the money to invest in new employees that better understand the IT strategy you are embarking on.
I’m pumped about the future of office equipment dealers—at least those that see the same things I’m seeing, and have decided to point their strategy in a digital direction. When would be a good time to make that change?
About the Author
Norm McConkey has been involved in the print, imaging, and software/tech business since 1993. Holding executive level positions in a number of emerging technology firms, he founded PrintFleet in 2003, and Tangent MTW in 2009. A founding member of the MPSA, an award winning author and presenter, Norm has spoken at various industry events around the world including the Lyra Imaging Symposium, Photizo confernece, ITEX Tradeshow, Regional BTA conferences, Remax Europe, and World Expo. He has been contracted to consult and build go to market and sales training programs with several OEM manufacturers such as Canon USA, and HP, and distributors such as Parts Now and Supplies Network, as well Resellers including Office Depot. Norm’s current project, MPSToolbox (www.mpstoolbox.com), is a software platform which helps technology dealers develop and maintain e-commerce websites.