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Getting Out of the Gate with MPS

15 Jul, 2009 By: Rob Gilbert imageSource

Getting Out of the Gate with MPS

As your dealership looks toward adopting a Print Management strategy, many
questions arise. As this is an important commitment, first ask yourself these
questions to better gauge the outcome:

• What will my offering be to my customers?

• How can I differentiate myself in the market?

• Which tools are best to use?

• How will it affect the service department?

• How do I gauge profitability over the long term?

• Do I use a specialist or generalists?

• What about training?

• How do I collect information properly for billing?

These are just a few of the issues that dealerships have to contend with when
assessing how they approach MPS.  Equally important, though, is what type of
dealership you have.  Are you a:

• Copier or MFP dealer?

• Printer service / supplier dealer?

• Hybrid dealership?

The type of business model you currently have will ultimately help mold how you
launch your MPS program.  Different types of dealerships focus on different core
business principles or ways of operating, and look at revenue streams
differently.  For example, copier dealerships have some of the infrastructure
already in place to support a CPC (Cost Per Copy) or CPP (Cost Per Print)
business model because they already have billing mechanisms in place for service
contracts on devices they sell.  While some pieces may be lacking, the basic
structure is there.  Many printer service dealers, on the other hand, bill their
services differently and may not have a back-billing system in place sufficient
to account for or bill a CPC contract.  There are several good options available
with ERP systems and through leasing companies to help, but it is still a
different way of looking at the process. 

For these reasons and more, the dealer must make several decisions initially
that will help them determine how to engage with MPS.  At the beginning of this
list is what type of auditing tool you will choose.  Most auditing tools gather
the same data sets of information during an audit.  What sets them apart from
each other is how they report and process the sets of information, and what you,
as a dealer, do with the data. You can look at the information in two ways:

From the audit forward | collecting the audit data and creating a TCO (Total
Cost of Ownership) and figuring out what to sell or provide service on as a
result of the audit.  (A good TCO solution is vital in this step)

From the audit backward | what the software can do for you to enhance your
service offering and customer experience with the software.

Understanding which way to look at the information, what type of dealership
you have, and what type of initial and long-term offering you will provide will
help determine how to best use the audit data to your benefit.  Dealers that
already sell hardware and have a lease offering seem to be more capable of
taking the audit information and trying to generate at least some sort of
revenue upfront.  Of course, proper training and the right set of CRM tools and
tracking are essential as well.  Hybrid dealers and printer dealers have a few
more items to consider, as they are looking at an expansion of their billing
mechanism, the possible addition of leasing, expanding their service offering to
cover a wider range of assets, and possibly a hardware supplier.  MPS for some
of these dealers is a total revamping of their business model.  For this reason,
they tend to look at a total solution relative to the audit and audit tools
backward in terms of customer support.  Larger MFP and copier dealers also seem
to gravitate to the total solution model, because they already have most of the
correct processes in place to support it. 

Hybrid and printer dealers also have to think about the issues that arise
with customers who want a total CPP solution but who have several different
copier vendors already in place.  a decision must be made about whether or not
to partner with a local company that can provide service on machines already in
place, or select a national service provider that can bridge the gap until the
dealer either takes on a line of equipment or moves to replace MFPs with
printers.  This also can lead to the question of what a CPP contract can and
will include.  Is it just printer service?  If I don’t make it all-inclusive,
will a competitor come in and take it away?  Do I really need to offer
hardware?  Should I even bother with MPS at all?

One way to answer that question is by assessing your base of accounts.  Have
you lost any customers recently?  Do you have all of the business from your
existing customers?  What incremental revenue could you realize by offering a
more comprehensive solution?  If you were buying more supplies, could you drive
your costs down and increase profitability?  Do you have 5-10 good clients that
you could test now with an audit of their network?  I think we all have areas in
our businesses where we could become more profitable if we take the time to
properly assess where we are, where our customers are, and how we can create the
value-adds that solve problems for our customers. 

There are many things to think about as you make your journey into the MPS
business model.  There are good resources available to assist you and give you
the training and tools you need to win in your marketplace.  Take the time to
assess where you are, what model you think will work in the short-term and
long-term, and position yourself for success.

Rob Gilbert, Sr. has 23 years experience in the office equipment industry,
implementation of CPP programs from consultation to implementation, and performs
sales and management training & consulting including MPS program setup. Contact
him at: rgilbertsr@gmail.com.

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