One of the biggest challenges that service managers face is that of territory management. This task is challenging because there is no standard pattern that will fit every dealer. The service manager has to balance a variety of factors to achieve optimum results.
Territory Management is a Necessity
In discussing this concept with dealers, most find that while they have territories, they need to improve their results. For the dealers thinking they don’t need to develop territories, I would recommend reconsidering that position. If you don’t, you will never achieve the optimum results you could with properly designed territories.
I have heard service managers express concern with technicians developing a strong relationship with a customer and the potential risk that a technician will take customers with them when they leave. I will counter that a good technician-client relationship helps cement the client to the dealership. If properly nourished, the technician-client...
In our previous articles, we discussed the reasons why Mean Copies between Calls (MCBC) is the most important metric, and we looked at some of the issues that impact that value. In this article, we want to start trying to find ways to address the issues in the service department.
Start at the Top
The commitment to address the issue and change your philosophy has to start at the most senior levels in the company. In most cases, the goals, metrics, and practices will be significantly different than your current ones. If the owner/president is not behind these changes, it may be impossible to get the changes made.
The senior management team needs to understand that there may be bumps in the road as you move forward, but if you stay the course, the end result will be more profit, happier customers, and easier sales.
Articulate the New Philosophy to the Team
Once this decision is made, it is important that everyone involved understands the plan and why it will help them. You must...
The one critical factor that is often overlooked is training for future needs. Most dealers train for their immediate needs and don’t worry about future needs. This is a very short-sighted perspective.
The one critical factor that is often overlooked is training for future needs. Most dealers train for their immediate needs and don’t worry about future needs. This is a very short-sighted perspective. Training for future needs positions an organization to make better business decisions and scale for growth. With consistently evolving industry parameters, new digital technologies and a push for advanced business intelligence, training to meet today’s requirements is only part of the train game – future training is the goal.
Here are 5 reasons to start future training – today.
Our Industry is Changing
One reason to train for the future is the constant change in our industry. Think back 20 years, and we were all selling analog copiers, stand-alone fax...
When a copier dealer replaces a competitor’s machine they usually also pick up a supply of surplus toner that is stored at the customer’s site. These supplies in many cases get discarded or sold wholesale. While this is good for the dealer installing the new equipment, it is an unnecessary expense for the previous vendor.
When examining why service profitability is suffering, problems with supply expenses may not surface. This can result in pressure on technicians for more productivity and to reduce parts costs.
Why it Matters
Toner control affects two issues. One is the need for capital, and the other is dealer profitability. From the capital perspective, if the average toner costs the dealer $30, and they have 10,000 units in the field, and the average unit has two extra cartridges, that is tying up $600,000 of capital.
From a profitability standpoint, that same $600,000 has been written off and would show up as an unneeded expense. This could have an impact on a...
For many dealers, the prospect of adding managed IT to their company is a logical next step. For the sales department, it means adding a new talk track and developing some specialists to help close the business.
It does give a dealer the ability to better position themselves to manage and retain their current customers. It may also provide a competitive advantage in the sales process. However, a typical copier and printer service department will face significant challenges in supporting managed IT.
Separate or Integrated… or Partnered
The first step in moving into managed IT is to decide how you are going to handle IT support. Is it something that will be managed and operated through the service department, or will it be a separate department? Will you handle all customer support internally, or will you outsource some or all of the support?
This is a decision that will vary by dealership. If you currently have a help desk operation, provide all of your own internal network...
Light production print can be a stepping stone to new customers and it offers the opportunity to grow your business. When managed properly, it can position a dealership for growth and continued success. When managed poorly, it can spell problems that may haunt the dealership for years.
This is not an arena you want to dip your toe in and see how it goes. To do it effectively, a significant investment in parts and training is required. If you only have a couple of devices in the field, your ability to properly support the equipment will be nonexistent.
The Market Assessment
The first phase of making the light production print decision needs to be a market assessment to see how many potential units you can reasonably expect to place. If that number is less than 10, this is probably not a market you want to tackle. Additionally, these need to be in a geographic area that one team can support.
If your territory covers a wide area and you expect to have equipment scattered throughout the...
I remember talking to a dealer principal several years back and asked him for his e-mail address. He responded that he didn’t like computers, and told me to just send it to one of his admins.
I knew his business was in serious jeopardy, and in fact, it failed a few years later.
The point of that story is to emphasize that we are in an ever-changing business environment. And in many cases today, dealers and service departments are reluctant to get into the solutions business. Some have tried dipping their toes in and gotten burned; others just want to be old-school dealerships. But we must remember that we can’t afford to get trapped in the current way we do business, or we will soon be out of business.
Office equipment today is designed to be part of a network’s infrastructure. Devices are no longer output-only or scan/fax/print devices, but now can—and often do—serve as portals for access to applications. If your company is not currently...
I had the privilege of attending the training program that was provided for the service managers of the various Visual Edge Technology companies.
Visual Edge Technology is interesting in that it buys successful dealerships, and then provides back-office support while allowing each company to continue to operate the way it did prior to being purchased.
Because of this, many of the service managers in the room had never met, and many had never even spoken to each other before this program. They had a variety of backgrounds, with a number of them never having had any formal training as a service manager—they had learned their craft the hard way. Additionally, the experience levels ranged from very recent promotions to managers with decades of experience.
The training program was co-located with the ITEX show in Las Vegas, May 16-17. In addition to the service managers, the sales managers and company presidents were also there for training. While each group received an...
At some point in almost every service manager’s career, the need to promote someone to the position of service supervisor arises. By the time we need to promote someone, we are normally so busy that we don’t have much time to invest in the process.
What happens many times is we find our best technician, and we tell them that they are going to be the supervisor. We then wish them the best as we walk away. Too many times, that is where the process ends. This often results in an unqualified supervisor who has been set up to fail, and we may have ruined—or lost—our best technician.
There are a number of reasons this is not an optimal approach. First, just because someone is the best technician, it doesn’t mean he or she has the needed qualifications to succeed as a supervisor. The individual may not even desire to be a supervisor but may take the position expecting the training and support that will lead to success. Without that training, the tech is now in...
In talking with service managers over the last decade, I have found a variety of opinions about Managed Print Services (MPS). Some service managers have found it to be a profitable addition to their revenue stream. Others find it difficult to manage due to the wide variety of equipment and the difficulty in becoming proficient at supporting a multitude of brands and models. Some see it as an unprofitable nuisance mandated in their department.
No matter how it is viewed, MPS is a program that is here to stay. Sales will continue to sell the program and service will have to continue to support it. The need then is to find ways to make it both manageable and profitable.
We will discuss several challenges to the service department created by an MPS program. We will also look for steps to take to improve the serviceability of a contract and profitability.
A typical prospect for MPS may have a wide variety of makes and models. In...