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Basic Analysis: Is Your Service Team Prepared for MPS?

28 Apr, 2011 By: Ken Staubitz, Strategy Development, Inc.

Basic Analysis: Is Your Service Team Prepared for MPS?

It is no secret that most office equipment dealers have experienced a decline
in service margin and aftermarket revenue relying on office equipment sales
alone.  However, the most successful organizations have incorporated an MPS
strategy to help carry the baton over the finish line of increased service
margin and revenue growth.

Client Analysis

A good example today is the Ohio-based dealership Modern Office Methods, which
monitored 400 printers 18 months ago and today monitors over 9,000 printers
producing over 11 million monthly clicks, and has attributed their phenomenal
MPS growth to a few basic principles.  “The basics of an MPS service strategy
are very simple.  A dealer must overcome the fear of something new. They must
have a plan of execution in order to provide a profitable solution to their
clients’ printing needs, and the dealer must be positioned to address client
concerns in a timely way,” explains Rod Randall, Vice President of Strategic
Accounts at MOM.  The truth is that the client wants a product that meets their
needs financially and operationally; when an issue presents itself, the client
trusts that their business partner (the dealer) is going to take care of their
situation timely and effectively.  These concepts are the underlying principles
to keep in mind when taking on MPS business. 

From a service perspective, a dealer must develop a plan of attack for needed
resources and support.  As a dealer, ask yourself if you are truly able to
successfully support the printers in your MIF (machines in field).  Be honest
because if you are not confident that you can support your current units, then
how can you be certain you can support various models and manufacturers as they
populate your fleet? Analyze your current MIF to see what printer makes and
models you are successfully supporting. Next, map out where these units are
located.  Are they spread throughout your territory or are they in a
concentrated area?  Would it make sense for you to focus your sales efforts to a
geography that you can support successfully until the service team is able to
support a wide scale sales effort?  This situation varies among dealers but is
key to effectively supporting a new initiative.

In order to be a major player today, a dealer should be able to support HP,
and/or Lexmark, simply because these two manufacturers make up the majority of
market share.  Not to infer that only HP and Lexmark make the best products, but
the odds of your potential clients having one of these two brands is
significant. Assuming your dealership supports another one of the major
manufacturers of office products, i.e. Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Kyocera, Sharp,
Toshiba, etc., does it make sense for your dealership to service and market
these other products to some degree also? 

Service Support

After understanding the products you are going to support, explore your service
team’s competence in fixing these products. Do you know what training is
available from the manufacturer or by a third party provider?  It is critical
that the service team has the competence to perform firmware updates and driver
downloads while at a customer’s site in order to fix the issue on the first
call.  The service team must be confident in a supplier’s technical support
should they face an unforeseen technical issue. For most manufacturers, printer
training is computer based.  However, many fantastic third party resources for
parts, supplies and training exist.  There are many reputable support companies;
these company’s parts and supplies are key to keeping your parts and supply
costs to a minimum. 

Data collection methods are critical in order to reduce valuable manpower
expense in collecting meter reads, examining toner levels for supply
fulfillment, and to head off service issues that could be eliminated over the
phone.  There are many products, i.e. Print Audit and PrintFleet that provide
such data collection, but do your homework to find the best fit for your
organization.  After you have chosen a method, next determine what data you
actually want to collect. 

For example, do you only want to get meter reads or would it make sense for
your organization to be notified when a toner level is getting low so that you
can arrange a supply shipment before the client gets involved?  Once the
organization has refined the information collected, a firm process must be
established for handling this info. Do you have an existing call center that can
monitor the information being sent, or is your organization big enough to handle
a full time person monitoring and disseminating the information?  Either
solution can work as long as the process is thorough and clear.

Action Plan

Once your product focus has been established, the service team is trained, the
service and supply data is funneling in, there is not much more to do then to
collect the revenue, right?  If only it were that easy.  Does your service
organization have a plan in place should a service issue arise that your team
cannot resolve?  A backup plan must be in place should your service team not be
able to fix a printer. At times it is comical to hear organizations squabble on
what to do when this scenario arises. Should the traditional delivery team,
typically the company box truck, be deployed to swap the unit out? 

Or perhaps the customer should wait until a factory printer representative
can arrive on the scene to fix the issue…these are typical responses. After the
product is removed then your dealership can decide to pull in resources to fix
the unit or permanently swap it out.  The bottom line is, when this situation
arises that product should be removed as quickly as possible with a like, or
similar functioning product immediately.  It does not matter to the client what
you do with it, to them they are paying for a service to resolve their issues in
a timely manner.  If your dealership cannot respond, then the customer will find
someone who can, it is that simple.  Having a replacement pool or loaner fleet
is the best way to prepare for such an event. This way they are ready at a
moment’s notice and the service team can fix the client’s unit once it is
brought into your office.

These are some of the scenarios that can happen, and of course, a single
article here does not fully define every situation you will encounter from a
service perspective when entering the MPS space, but it’s a good reminder to
start deploying better methods for improving your service operations overall.

Ken Staubitz is a service consultant with Strategy Development, with 14+
years experience in all levels of service operations and MPS service structure.
Formerly with Modern Office Methods (MOM) in various service and operational
roles; was MOM’s Director of Client Services where he oversaw all service
operations & managed a staff of 60+ field service personnel. Ken served on the
Lanier Dealer Advisory Council and was an E-Automate Service Committee member.


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