Industry Talk: Dealers Speak Out6 Oct, 2004 By: Editorial Staff imageSource
Industry Talk: Dealers Speak Out
month imageSource will provide a forum for dealers from around North America to
react to the latest issues that are challenging the industry. Readers will have
the option to respond to a question or issue we will place on
www.imagesource.com or to simply let off some steam on any topic they please. We
also encourage any dealers who may have overcome an issue facing a dealer in
this section to respond with a solution. Try and keep your letters concise and
include your name, position, company and location. Email your responses to
get this forum rolling, we asked dealers what they believe is the biggest issue
facing the industry today. Here are what some of them had to say:
"I believe that the biggest issue facing dealers
today is the direction that technology has taken us. It has become a necessity
to change our sales force into not only hardware solution salespeople, but also
into software solution salespeople. It is so important for dealers to understand
that a sales representative must not only have the machine knowledge today, but
also the software knowledge to set themselves aside from the competition. That
is the direction that the copier industry has taken us and we must adapt to that
and prepare our people. "
Adam Gregory, COO
Advanced Business Supplies, LLC
"In my opinion it is the same as it has always
been—differentiation. Be it through the customer service experience or the sales
experience, this is the one key word that we always need to keep in mind. It is
not about solutions or connectivity per se. Our industry is like any other, it
is in a constant state of evolution and change. If a dealer is to succeed and
develop genuine competitive advantage, it is necessary to obsess about being
different, in a positive way, from all competitors. Actually, if one works at it
hard enough, it is possible to make your mindset, your approach and your
delivery so different to everyone else that it is difficult for customers to
actually define exactly who your competitors are."
Damian Carville, Area Sales Manager
Advanced Business Systems
Los Angeles, California
"I believe the biggest challenge facing today’s
dealers is capturing revenue for non- hardware issues. Dealers are beginning to
charge for network services, software support and other connectivity issues. In
order for dealers to have the resources necessary to keep their businesses
thriving, additional sources of revenue must be obtained. Due to competition,
cost per copy margins are increasingly slim, therefore additional revenue is
needed to offset this reduction. By adding professional services to your list of
offerings, you have the potential to capture this much needed revenue. "
Chip Turner, Director of Service
Axsa Document Solutions
"Has the issues ever changed? In 40 years of
industry experience, I would say finding highly skilled, competent and
professional people in sales, service, administration, you name it has always
been the issue."
Terry Goldman, President
Xerographic Digital Products, Inc
"One of our biggest challenges is how to charge
for connecting MFPs to our customers’ networks. Plus, how to bill for training
and other issues that come up when our customers change their network
environment, such as adding additional PCs, changing their OS, etc."
"And with color products that use various print
drivers, the whole install/training situation is extremely challenging. I'm also
having difficulty getting my sales reps to understand how much this is actually
costing my company. I would love to hear some suggestions from other dealers.
Bob Matthews, President
Copiers Plus, Inc.
Egg Harbor Township. New Jersey
"Keeping up with the competition in a
recession-based economy has become a problem. I know George W. Bush said we have
turned the corner. The fact of the matter is, the customer base of our company
is not investing money into new replacement machines and equipment, but are more
inclined to let their existing equipment run until it breaks."
"This trend is in part due to a lack of cash flow.
In the past two years, we have had a noticeable decline in requests for new
equipment and maintenance type services. This decline in demand has several
different origins, including digital equipment and machinery requires less
maintenance and repair; the cost of doing business leaves few dollars on the
table to replace and/or upgrade existing equipment; and the economy is
contributing to the “wait and see if things improve” mentality of the business
sector. As a small business, the economy has a direct and immediate affect on
our companies well being. Lately, companies have had little or no expendable
cash to lay out for maintaining or replacing aging business equipment. They call
us as a last resort, and we can usually provide the service and repairs
necessary to keep their equipment running until a brighter day comes along. The
feds say that things are looking up. I say show me the money!"
C. David Cowan, Service Manager
Cowan Business Machines Inc.