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sarahcuster2016 sqby Sarah Custer   

If you’re like me, you hate the idea of waste. Whether it’s money, resources or time, it’s a shame to throw something valuable down the drain. Many pride themselves on running their homes and businesses with as little waste as possible. 

In managed print engagements, we promise to do the same for our customers. Helping to drive savings and efficiencies is one of our main selling points. Many realize supplies are the largest factor to consider when driving cost out of their managed print engagements and therefore focus on the price of the actual cartridges. While it’s import to ensure you have competitive supply pricing, there are other less obvious factors that can have a sizable impact.  

There are three areas of consideration that are often overlooked. The first is focusing on an automated supplies replenishment process versus allowing customers to determine for themselves when supplies are needed. The second is paying close attention to the yield of the cartridge you are shipping relative to the page volume of the individual device. The last, and maybe the most difficult to achieve, is ensuring that customers use ALL of the toner in the cartridge before replacing with a new one. 

It’s no secret that when left to make their own supplies determinations, end-users will err on the side of having extra supplies on hand. This can be especially dangerous for you if you are buying by the cartridge but selling to your customer by the page. To the customer, the supplies are “free,” but someone has to foot that bill. If there is too much excess, you won’t be able to support them with competitive pricing in the long run. Automating the supplies process eliminates excess, loss and theft by delivering the supply exactly when it’s needed. 

Once you are automating supplies replenishments, it’s important to avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy with the SKUs you select. Extended yield cartridges technically have the lowest cost per image, but it doesn’t do you much good if the cartridge you just shipped will last in that device for the next 10 years.  Chances are, you won’t have the opportunity to bill all the pages you just shipped.

Lastly, the level of supply remaining when a cartridge is replenished is an important metric for ongoing review. If you’re sending cartridges too early (or allowing customers to order at their discretion), you run the risk of end-users installing them as soon as they arrive. The supply remaining in the cartridge is essentially thrown-away pages that you will never get to bill! 

One study I read noted that, “on average, cartridges are returned with 15 percent toner remaining.” Pushing that number closer to zero can go a long way in reducing waste, in turn, driving profit and cost savings for you and your customers. Whether you manage your own or outsource areas of your managed print infrastructure, it’s important to always be mindful of your “toner remaining upon replenishment” percentages.   

If your MPS program is homegrown, the areas above are definitely places to focus attention in your reporting and oversight processes. If you are outsourcing your MPS infrastructure, request these metrics from your provider to see how efficiently your customers’ fleets are being managed. Extra attention and energy in these areas will go a long way to driving a profitable and sustainable MPS business for years to come.

Sarah Custer is Director of Services and Solutions – Supplies Network. Sarah joined Supplies Network in 2001 and has held several positions over the years; advancing through the ranks within the sales team before taking on the role of MPS Program Advisor where her expertise and leadership were key to accelerating MPS growth. In 2012, Sarah was promoted to MPS Solutions Manager leading a team of Solutions Advisors responsible for MPS engagements and ultimately equipment sales and related services. Currently serving as Director of Services and Solutions, Sarah leads a team of MPS Solutions Advisors, Equipment Advisors, Contract Coordinators, Fulfillment Analysts and a Technical Operations team focused on break-fix service and software solutions. Additional responsibilities include providing critical direction and design of program enhancements and vendor integrations. Sarah received a M.B.A. and a B.A. in Management from Webster University.