by Michael Amiri
For many office equipment dealers (OEDs) today, traditional lines of business involving hardware, toner, and paper are being augmented with managed IT and network services. The office equipment space is changing at lightning speed, and this change is constant. Over the past several years, office equipment has become part of a much larger and more complex network environment. So, what are some things your business needs to keep up and keep improving?
It’s no secret that modern OEDs need to evolve their business to the next level in order to keep up with the changing industry. Whether or not you’re looking to add managed IT services to remain competitive, here are five helpful tips that will help your business adapt for future growth.
1. Automated Ordering Systems
If you ship supplies too early, you lose money because your clients will replenish their supplies before needed. If you ship too late, you will have unhappy customers. So, what is the middle ground? Automated ordering systems.
You’ll be able to save time, money, and grievances by implementing an automated ordering system. The processing of purchase orders will be simplified and quickened, thereby eliminating unnecessary delays. Similarly, duplications of purchase orders will be easier to spot and errors in invoice payments will be reduced. Also, your employees—who were earlier engaged in manual data entries—are now free to work on more important tasks. By integrating automated purchase order systems, you’ll be in a better position to concentrate on areas of business that would boost your profits.
2. Have a Strong Website
Did you know that 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process? We are living in a digital age where buyers rely on websites to make important business decisions. If a client were to visit your website and not find the answer they’re seeking, they will move on to your competitor’s website. Therefore, it’s vital that you are online and have a strong presence in order to stay relevant.
One easy fix to a poor website is to start a blog. Blogging is a great way to create valuable content, reach potential clients and share your knowledge and expertise with your website visitors. But, what do you write about? Think about the top 10 questions you or your sales people always get. There are you first ten blog posts. Certainly, you can link to some of your products, but think about blogging as building your brand, not building sales. People buy from companies that they trust, so strengthening your website with a blog is a great way to define your company as a reliable industry leader.
3. Track, Track, Track
Do you use analytics with your website? If not, you should be. There are many free analytics tools you can use, such as Google Analytics. The goal is to be able to understand how your visitors and potential customers are interacting with your website.
Look at what pages on the website people are looking at. Are they clicking around, or visiting your homepage and leaving? Are they filling out forms? Do you have forms on your website? A strong website is key to a successful business, and tracking your website is key to a strong website.
4. Develop A Strong Company Culture
Positive company culture encourages better morale, but more importantly reduces costs. Recruitment costs, loss of productivity, turnover rate; they all add up. Thus, developing company culture that encourages employees to stay and grow with your company can help you achieve long-term stability and growth.
There are a number of ways to refocus company culture and boost morale, and a great place to start is by ensuring your leadership and management staff can inspire your team members to be at their best. This is especially important for dealerships who are working to integrate IT and network services into the business, as these are significant changes that require buy-in and support from the top down. When shifting your business model and value proposition, everyone needs to live and breathe it.
On a smaller scale, things like team outings, employee lunches and training activities can have a positive and lasting impact on company culture as well.
5. Hire the Right People
Many companies might frown upon millennials for their lack of experience and different views on the world. The millennial generation, however, is largely tech-savvy and willing to help modernize your company and embrace new offerings like IT and network services. Don’t hire someone for their age or experience alone—hire based on the value they can deliver your company.
The same applies for developing a team that will enable your company to grow. When it comes to implementing managed IT services, a virtual CIO (vCIO) will be crucial to business success. A vCIO is responsible for providing an executive IT leadership role for clients guiding them in selection, implementation and ongoing support of technological solutions to address their company goals and objectives. This is often considered a billable position, and the first vCIO hired (or promoted internally) may also serve as your IT champion.
As the dealer channel continues to evolve and expand over the next several years, keeping these processes and best practices in mind will help ensure that you’re set up for success.
Michael Amiri A 20-year veteran of the IT industry, Michael Amiri is the Senior Director of Dealer Services at Continuum Managed Services. He has built a team of resources at Continuum that is dedicated to supporting the office equipment channel and its efforts to maximize both efficiencies and profitability with competitive managed IT service offerings. Prior to Continuum, he was a co-founder of an IT holding company specializing in software security services. Michael has also been a featured speaker and editorial contributor to dozens of industry-related events and publications.