Connecting Dealers With Digital Technology5 Feb, 2001 By: Collins Distributing Company imageSource
Connecting Dealers With Digital Technology
Digital products are entering into the market at an alarming pace. Many independent dealers are rounding the curve into technologys’ super highway. They are faced with technology that threatens their livelihood. Collins Distributing is helping their customers profitably bridge this transition into these new technologies. Collins is enabling dealers to respond to the needs of their customers more effectively. They provide the digital products, education and expertise to increase the installed base of resellers nationwide.
The company’s genuine concern for all of their customers is summed up by Sandra Purdom, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “We’re a relationship business. Our focus is to make it easy to do business with Collins. We try to make every contact a customer has with us a real pleasure. In a sales organization like ours, it’s all about our customer. In our case, our customer is the equipment dealer. We are a true value-added wholesaler.”
Collins Distributing is one of the largest and oldest office machine distributors in the United States. Located in the United States distribution capital, Memphis Tennessee. They are the second largest distributor of Sharp copiers and fax in America. Collins is also the Southeast U.S. Regional Distributor for Toshiba. Collins stocks over 40 different types of digital and connected products, including Brother and Lexmark. All products can be shipped the same day from any one of their 4 distribution centers.
Memphis,Tennessee is the home of Collins' new 25,000 sq foot distribution center. Memphis is the central shipping hub for UPS and FedEx. Their location also allows for one to two-day truck delivery to the majority of the United State. They also have distribution centers in Atlanta, Georgia, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Dallas, Texas.
Straight Shooters That Go The Extra Mile
Collins emphasizes complete honesty in all customer transactions. If a product is not in stock, they truthfully explain the product is not currently available. They will do their best to acquire the needed product as quickly as possible. Sometimes a customer will ask if it’s too late to get an order out today. “If you are talking to us, then it’s not too late,” is the standard Collins reply.
Each Collins employee has the right to make an instant decision to help out the customer. Red tape or slowly passing problems up the line of command does not exist at Collins.
Rhea Reed, General Manger of MTR a Tennessee based Sharp dealer is a living example of this philosophy. Rhea was in desperate need of some out of stock Sharp equipment. Mr. Reed explained his need to his Collins rep Brian Stevens who was empowered by the companys’ philosophy to go the extra mile. Collins became MTRs’ own outsourcing department. They located equipment that Sharp didn’t even have available. "This means a lot more to me than a nickel lower on the price,” said Reed
Every Collins employee's goal is to be the best added -value wholesaler in America. The company puts a tremendous emphasis on their sales’ service and support. Collins provides a toll free phone number (800-727-0884) to contact their in-house factory-trained service technicians. Their parts ordering department is staffed with certified technicians to help dealers maximize equipment up time. The help-desk techs understand networking as well as digital and analog functionality.
Collins telephone support technicians are dedicated to providing helpful, no-nonsense technical solutions. These help-desk technicians, which are made of of A+ certified as well as Sharp and Toshiba Factory trained engineers, understand the digital copy process and how it affects output. Many technicians have found difficulty in troubleshooting some of the issues that relate specifically to the digital process.
A common help-desk issue is when a machine will make a copy but it won’t print. This is usually a software related issue that a technician may not have encountered before. Kevin Dominquez, an engineer on the Collins team, has found great satisfaction in being able to hand-walk many field engineers through the troubleshooting process. By providing step-by-step instruction while the technician is in front of the machine, Kevin can usually help solve these issues in a few minutes. But he is willing to spend hours on the phone if it is necessary.
Kevin is quick to point out that with the knowledge he has of the equipment, these long troubleshooting calls are rarely necessary. “We do whatever it takes to make our customers look like a multi-million dollar operation. If they look good and are able to handle their customer’s calls more effectively they will inevitably pick up new business and in turn buy more products from us,” said Kevin.
Going The Extra Mile
“We routinely go the extra mile for the customer,” said David Hanlon, a Collins purchasing and sales representative. “We focus our efforts on the dealers. We don’t have corporate policies that slow the process down.” Collins’ goal is to treat each customers with respect and accuracy.
Steve Noel of Old Town Business Machines located in Winchester, Va experienced first-hand what true customer service is all about. Old Town was experiencing problems with several Sharp machines that his technicians were having difficulty repairing. After several hours of troubleshooting on the phone with Collins’ tech support, the company made a decision that would make Steve a customer for life. The put two of its’ techs on the road and sent them up to Winchester and helped them rectify the problem in their shop. “I have never experienced a company that cares that much about my success. I truly see Collins as a partner and not a supplier. They knew that getting that problem fixed was the difference between keeping and losing a customer.”
One system that supports Collins’ service to dealers is their sales staff organization. “We’re not territory assigned,” said Brian Stevens “Any dealer can talk to anyone here. A dealer with a need doesn’t have to wait to speak with a specific representative, everyone here knows that it is his or her job to take care of whatever that dealer needs. You still get a live person on the other end of the line when you call us.”
Moving In On The Pre-owned Market
Collins is entering into the pre-owned copier market, a natural fit for a company that is helping its’ customers upgrade analog equipment to digital. The company wants to offer its’ customers a quick and easy way to get rid of the analog equipment they don’t need. With 30 years in the market, Collins has its’ finger on the pulse of where this equipment can be sold to. Starting January 2001, Collins will aggressively buy and sell used equipment. Bruce Collins has appointed Steve Black as Used Equipment Manager and says, “There is still a lot of life left in the analog market and we feel Steve’s time will be best served finding, fixing and selling used equipment. The used equipment market will play a big part in our future”.
After 30 years of doing business the right way, the customer’s needs are still Collins Distributing Company’s primary concern. Collins Distributing goals are to provide the best customer service in their industry.
- Collins 95% fill rate is insured by their multi-million dollar inventory.
- As a value added reseller, Collins provides their dealers with 3 in-house technicians staffing the help desk. Access to manuals, parts list and specific technical knowledge that enables field technicians to receive real time, information that enables a complete field repair.
- The tech help line can simultaneously provide the needed part number and same day shipment of the product for next day early morning delivery. The product can be shipped directly to the end-user or to the dealer’s location.
- Complete line of office equipment and supplies, including toner, developer and full line of parts for all current copiers and fax.
- Collins provides OEM parts, manuals, training books and videos to help their dealers equipment functioning properly.
- Collins has a 30-year history of private ownership.
- Offers Toshiba digital and analog copiers and fax up to 28 ppm.
- Offering Toshiba Authorized Dealership Programs
- Aggressively establishes an open line of credit for new customers.