Focus On: IBPI9 Apr, 2013 By: Sand Sinclair, Editor
Wanting to learn more about IBPI and its members, and some of the challenges and direction that office dealers are facing today, imageSource editor, Sand Sinclair, spoke with IBPI Executive Director, Randy Horshok, for information on both the organization and their dealer community within the office channel.
[Sand] Randy, what are your initial priorities when working with IBPI’s members?
[Randy] First and foremost, we want independent dealers to be just as competitive (if not more so) than the bigger players in the industry. Trying to compete with extremely large dealers, or OEM owned operations in their market, can be very challenging for dealers. In general, we try to provide an alternative to the OEM for members’ aftermarket products. In addition, we provide options for supplemental products and services to augment our membership’s business lines.
[Sand] What are some real issues that dealers are facing today?
[Randy] There are so many challenges facing the independent dealer today: Shrinking margins, transitioning to MPS and MNS, monetizing document management and network services, evolving technology, etc. In addition, I believe many dealers are wrestling with the question of selling their business or acquiring someone else’s.
[Sand] Are the mobile/wireless technologies (mobile printing, cloud, mobile device management tools) changing the landscape for doing business?
[Randy] Not necessarily. With the popularity of “bring your own device” becoming a part of the business landscape, it will be more important for dealers to gain and share their expertise in these areas. However, if you toss in technological advances (and requirements in today’s business world) of Social Networking, there are many new roads they encounter. They face the challenge of having the right image, right person responsible for presenting that image, and the proper policies in place for posting and responding to Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and countless other media sites.
By the way, if you used those names (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with business owners just 6 or 7 years ago, they would have stared at you as if you were speaking a foreign language.
[Sand] Are e-Commerce companies becoming more of a threat today?
[Randy] Not as long as dealers keep their customers under contract, as well as maintaining strong relationships with their customer base.
[Sand] What is the upside for dealer groups and wholesalers (suppliers?) to work together to grow their business?
[Randy] Both want to grow their business, right? So, for the dealer it must be done under the right set of ingredients: to improve margins, maintain customer satisfaction, and provide a positive environment for their staff. Service techs installing products they don’t have confidence in, is not beneficial to anyone. The vendors must remove the fears and concerns of using their products (or services) and help educate the front-line dealer staff in understanding the benefits of the item they are bringing to the customer—whether it is a tangible product or an intangible service.
[Sand] What type of independent dealer is doing better business today?
[Randy] I still find an occasional dealer that is “selling the box.” The dealer that is truly becoming more of a services led organization, and selling solutions, is the more successful entrepreneur. As pointed out before, with shrinking margins it is critical for dealers to find non-traditional ways of generating income. In addition, it is important for dealers to continue to invest in their staff and business. Attending a leading trade show like ITEX is a classic example - opens up the possibilities by exploring new products and ways of doing things differently. Dealers need to walk the exhibit hall, learn the latest from educational sessions, and network with dealers outside of their/your own OEM line.
[Sand] Are there things you want us to know about IBPI today?
[Randy] As we are midway through our 26th year of serving the independent dealers of our industry, we remember that IBPI began when a small group of A.B. Dick dealers had a better idea for operating against their competition, as well as dealing with OEM’s. Today, with over 330 member dealers, our membership and many of their challenges have evolved. With representing over $3.8 billion in annual sales, our dealers are evenly divided between smaller dealers and medium sized dealers. The fact that we also have some of the largest independent dealers in the industry as members of IBPI, should prove to the others the value of belonging to IBPI. We want to be responsive to the needs of our membership - as well as being proactive in providing ideas for future solutions.