by Ryan Humphrey, Parts Now
Not long ago, managed print solutions was less than mainstream. Now it’s recognized as the present and future way to manage hard-copy output, yet it’s still a business practice not fully embraced by many.
It’s true that some continue to struggle to find MPS success. Here we offer valuable insights we’ve learned while implementing programs with customer partners over the past five years.
First, consider these industry facts we’ve known for some time:
- U.S. corporations spend 1 to 3 percent of total annual revenue on printing.
- Perhaps surprisingly, 40 percent of IT help desk calls are printer- or copier-related, a waste of high-value professional time on paper jams and toner orders.
- Prior to the recession, 50 percent of imaging fleets were greater than 5 years old. And according to a recent Lyra Research Inc. report, the average age of a monochrome laser printer was 6 years in 2009, while the average age of inkjet machines in 2009 was 4.8 years. Businesses have fleets that are expensive to operate and maintain. Still, few companies have a plan to minimize replacement cost and maximize return on their capital investment.
Managed print programs were created out of a fundamental business shift. The printer dealer universe was trending away from a more transactional break-fix model to solutions-focused customer engagement. MPS emerged as an opportunity for providers to be more effective in selling, servicing and managing their customers’ fleets.
The goals of any great MPS program are to protect your customer base, grow revenue and be a trusted consultant for your most valuable customers. The old adage “Take care of your customers, and business will take care of itself” applies well to the philosophy behind a successfully executed MPS program.
More than software
With the introduction of remote monitoring software technology, it became clear there was going to be a big switch away from the break-fix model in the marketplace. We knew customers would benefit from the technology yet also knew they would need a hand both getting an MPS program up and running and generating efficiencies for their business. Remote monitoring software is expensive to buy and complex to use, leaving many small- to midsize dealers at a disadvantage.
But technology alone does not solve problems. Beyond that, look for your program to include a trained MPS sales staff, marketing that best represents your value proposition, trained and effective service teams, alternatives to new hardware and cost-effective parts and supplies.
There’s evidence that this approach — when components are used together — cuts print-related expenses by as much as 20 percent to 30 percent over time, maximizing the value of print management.
When it works, it works well. In practice, we’ve found the following to be key elements to success in MPS:
- Program buy-in — Owners and VPs must lead this initiative
- Solid partners — Work with your
vendors and partners to leverage
- A correct compensation strategy
that drives the desired results
- The right sales staff
- Training, training and more training
- Market awareness and go-to-market strategies.
Companies that get the greatest results have leadership and staff that look at MPS not as a tool or billing mechanism, but more as a business change. Those successful at it also have a dedicated sales force to handle managed print, which can accompany a shift in company mindset.
Finally, these companies fully embrace technology and use software to collect and analyze data such as page counts, device locations mapping, error codes, maintenance kit statuses, trending reports, toner levels and more. Using software is not difficult, but it does take some training, and the dealers most successful with MPS dedicate staff to understanding and utilizing the technology.
Other important keys to success:
- Remote monitoring software — Our numbers show that the typical customer tracks an average of 34 devices per account and approximately 3,581 pages. Monthly power usage is 0.0126, with an average coverage of 4.9103 and average utilization of 4.8005.
- Sales coaching — The 30 percent of our dealers that have used our sales training average 5.3 times more devices than our nontrained dealers. Our top 10 percent of dealers handle 67 percent of monitored devices, and all of these dealers use some sort of sales training.
- Turnkey marketing — This gives sales reps the needed tools to communicate the company’s MPS message to its customers through marketing packages. Customers that have implemented marketing packages have shown significant improvement in monitoring devices and growing revenue.
- Toner choice — High-quality toner that produces the highest yield reduces the cost and product risk for you and your customers. This means greater profits and happy customers.
- Parts and labor — Fixing a printer is a different animal. If your technicians aren’t prepared to diagnose and fix the printer correctly the first time, you could see increased service costs and reduced profits on your MPS contracts. Training and access to manuals as well as tech support help prevent this issue.
Finding the savings
A 2010 MPS survey from InfoTrends showed that the number one reason companies engage an MPS program is to improve costs. Vendor support and service for printers were also rated high in the survey. Another report showed MPS growing to 35 percent of the total imaging market in 2012.
When done right, MPS can help seize savings where firms didn’t know there were savings available. That advantage — plus the MPS model of partnership building — will determine dealer success into the future.