I am sure that you have heard the adage; Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. Yet too many businesses don't have practical working business plans. Most have a fanciful fairy tale they use for the bank, filled with rosy projections.
The plans businesses need will guide their response to the ever-changing business environment. These are real plans with actions to take for the entire company. These plans will serve as a real roadmap to the success you want to achieve for your company.
There are seven subjects we will discuss in this series. This article gives a brief description of each, and we will take a deep dive into each in later chapters.
The disaster plan is the one you hope you never need, but I am placing it first on the list because your company's survival will probably be at risk if you need it. Failure to have a good plan, when something happens, can...
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...
In our industry, the most important area for the profitability and survival of the company stems from the recurring revenue in the service department. When considering the trends in our industry for the future, this topic deserves serious attention.—dealers that fail to secure the revenue stream properly are most at risk for failure.
What Does it Mean
When we are talking about securing the revenue stream, we are talking about creating a binding support agreement for the duration of the equipment lease. I know some dealers do not like to build the service into the lease, but failing to do so diminishes the value of the dealership and does not provide any future security for the company.
I am not suggesting pre-funding the service component of the lease, and most leasing companies no longer offer that as an option. When valuing your dealership, a pre-funded service contract is viewed as a liability rather than as an asset.
When you build your service contract...
Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent time with some of the best-known consultants and analysts in our industry, both in person and through attending the training and webinars they produce. In off-the-record comments, the most-common fear about the industry and financial models we know today is that they have a limited lifetime left. On a webinar recently, I asked the presenter what the changes he described would do to the service model we use today, and he said that things would be okay for the next four to five years.
There are several challenges facing service that are starting to impact our industry now, and they will continue to accelerate in the future. Let’s take a look at some of them and what we can do to protect our businesses.
Declining Print Volume
While there is generally fluctuation from year to year, the overall trend in printing is down in most segments of our industry. The only segment that shows real growth is in the high-volume and industrial print...
Strategic Shock, Surviving the Inevitable Crisis
The event’s keynote address was given by Ret. 1st Sgt. Matt Eversmann. His name may be familiar since he was one of the key characters in the book (and subsequent movie) “Black Hawk Down.”
He began by relating how he wound up in the Army Rangers and what he learned in his early days. One thing that stuck with me was his statement that the Rangers did the same things the rest of the army did—they marched, shot and learned to fight. He said the difference was they did the basics at a Ph.D. level.
This concept is important in the service department because the marketplace is more demanding and the competitive forces are increasing. Most of what you do, every other service department also...
I want you to think back in time, let’s say 35 years or so. You’re working for a typewriter company. The future looks rosy — typewriters are everywhere, and every company has a number of them, so the demand for your service is steady. The future seems bright.
An announcement is made by a company that makes printers — they’re introducing a new product: the HP LaserJet. Your reaction might be “so what?” Just another fad and people will always need a good typewriter.
You could have moved your business in that direction, or maybe you had the opportunity to go into the copier business and thought again “who cares?” Just another fad, they’re too hard to service and people will always need their typewriters.
Then one day you look around, and the typewriter business is dead, nobody needs one, and nobody wants to buy one. The service business is non-existent.
The current dealership model for copier dealers is...
Last month, we discussed the current environment of our industry and the challenges facing it. In this issue, our next step is to examine the opportunities that exist within the service department and how you can leverage them to remain relevant going forward.
When we look at the leading players in the acquisition market, what do we see in common? They get deep and wide with the customer. Marco is a very good example of that process—if it touches a Cat 5 cable, it sells, supports and services the products. Recently, it became the IT department for a hospital. Who is going to sell the hospital anything, other than Marco?
The more you can provide clients with all the devices and services they need or want, the more secure your relationship with that client becomes. Anyone who wants to take the client away from you will need to service and support all the equipment you provide.
One of the presentations at the BTA national meeting in Orlando...
There are a couple of adages that highlight the need to keep changing. One that comes to mind is “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you have always gotten.” Einstein defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” In my last post, I highlighted the need to keep learning as an individual and as a business. For the learning to be really valuable, we must apply it to our lives and our businesses.
In many cases, our businesses exist in a rut. We keep doing the same things over and over because that is the easy and safe course. The problem with a rut is that dug deeply enough it can become a grave. The corporate landscape is littered with the decaying hulks of business that thought it was enough to keep doing what they had been doing.
We will discuss how companies can avoid this result and some of the necessary...