Ideally, the path to growth within the dealer community is paved with promises of net-new business, but that need not be the cure-all solution. As with any ancillary offering that provides enhanced customer stickiness, your current book of business is the simplest solution to reaping opportunities for solutions such as enterprise content management.
Much like it did to cultivate its managed network services platform, AIS of Las Vegas looked to its base of 5,000 current customers in blossoming its ECM offering, according to Dave Clark, vice president of sales.
“We have a captured database of clients who have been doing business with us 5, 10, even 15 years,” he said. “What better way to grow than to start a conversation by saying, ‘We’ve been doing well by you and we’ve really enjoyed our partnership over the last five years, but I think we can deliver more to your organization. Have you ever considered ECM?’ You’re going to find a lot more opportunities than starting from a net-new perspective. It puts us in a unique position, because who are they going to rely on whenever they do upgrade their technology? It will be us because we control everything else.”
Clark noted that AIS is working toward making ECM, workflow and document management-type solutions account for 10-15 percent of its annual revenue. AIS is also targeting approximately $400,000 for monthly recurring revenue for solutions-based services.
“It used to be that you sold an ECM and you were done once you installed it and did professional services,” Clark noted. “Now, there’s continuing, subscription-based services you can offer that really drives high profitability margins for a dealer like ours.”
Brandi Noye, director of business development for Doing Better Business of Altoona, PA, believes that opportunities abound for ECM growth, but it’s a geographic market-dependent proposition.
“We deal with a lot of rural areas, and the bigger cities tend to have clients who are more forward-thinking,” she said. “What we’re coming up against is that a lot of the systems that customers are using for ERP are starting to develop modules that integrate with it from a paperless side. That’s making it more challenging for us because those are solutions and systems that customers are already familiar with. So we’re fighting that uphill battle with the incumbent ERP solution.”
Still, Doing Better Business is counting on its ECM offering being an extension of its managed print services program, notes Deb Dellaposta, president and CEO. “We’ve always believed the managed print services program was not about print, but rather a managed, optimized workflow services program,” she said. “A lot of times, the conversation starts as managed print, which is easy to get us in the door. But over time, the concept is that we start to move them over to core digital workflow processes and help them develop that. ECM plays a huge role in us taking the clients to that next level.”
Kurt Meemken, manager of software solutions for St. Cloud, MN-based Marco, feels the future provides fertile ground for ECM expansion. He points out that customers in the past have held off on pulling the trigger with ECM or document management solutions because they didn’t fit their cost needs.
“With a solution like M-files, it is very price competitive and metadata driven, and provides the ability to integrate with the would-be customer’s applications that they’ve already spent a lot of money on,” he said. “It’s the main artery of their business. We’re winning deals all the time just based on the flexibility of our offering and the fact that we do everything from sales, to implementation, to training and support.
“I think what’s going to happen is a lot of the legacy systems that are out there, that are not willing to change with the times, not willing to grow or add web or mobile access—or just have a very watered-down version of those—will eventually go by the wayside.”