This month’s State of the Industry report on vertical markets outlined many of the challenges facing specific market segments. From health care to hospitality, legal to manufacturing and education to government, dealers quickly discovered that a one-size-fits-all approach would not work across the board.
To continue the July discussion, we asked our dealer panel to provide insight as to how they were able to provide relief and solutions to some of the vertical markets that felt the pandemic’s oppressive thumb more so than others. Beyond merely extending considerations for payment terms and usage declines, what approach did dealers take to alleviate business disruption challenges?
Offix Inc. of Gainesville, Virginia, found it had to skirt around the issue of engagement availability, since even those markets that were bustling with activity during the pandemic, namely health care, found it difficult to dedicate time to discussing technology additions or purchasing decisions. The dealer worked with two of its OEMs, HP and Canon, to devise work-from-home packages with various solutions contained within them. It helped that Canon was offering leases that were structured specifically for the needs of companies transitioning to remote activity.
While temperature-scanning kiosks were helpful adds, Marketing Director Matteo Recanatini points out that VoIP solutions were critical for end-users that were operating in a hybrid fashion. Thus, regardless of where the line extension’s recipient was operating, the VoIP system would follow that person and ping them across multiple touchpoints, ensuring the calling experience is opaque to the customer.
“This also offers integration with Salesforce VoIP, so it provides a level of flexibility that allows a company to install and deploy it quickly, then be able to address people that are working remotely,” he noted. “Even post-pandemic, it’s beneficial for people who may be working from home a few days per week.”
Mindful of clients that might be looking to reduce their spend, Offix revamped its certified pre-owned program for its MFPs, providing up to 50% cost savings over the price of a new unit while still reaping the benefits of a new machine order (such as four-hour response and 95% uptime guarantee).
Chip Crunk, CEO of Nashville, Tennessee-based RJ Young, maintains that his company’s role as a partner is to continuously vet and evaluate solutions that address customer challenges. During a time that was as taxing as the pandemic, the greatest thing a partner can do is consult and advise, enabling the client to focus on its own core responsibilities.
“For education, we’ve been diligent in finding solutions to deliver a remote/hybrid learning environment for the educators and their students through integrated technologies,” Crunk said. “Further, we’ve provided on-site labor and managed services for many of our health care customers to keep the administrative work off their frontline workers so that they can focus on providing the best care possible for their patients.”
Ability to Adapt
Agility is a key competency that enables dealers to be responsive in bringing new solutions to the fore. That has been the case for Advanced Imaging Solution (AIS) of Las Vegas, where these solutions can allow customers to migrate and adapt to a decentralized office environment while maintaining a focus on supporting longer-term planning.
“Having the strong IT infrastructure, backed with telephony and MNS support provides us an enhanced ability to create, collaborate, connect and communicate, all of which are a necessity to operate in today’s environment,” notes Jeff Miller, vice president of sales for AIS.
Brad Cates, president and CEO of Cincinnati-based Prosource, points out that as many of his company’s customer verticals were designated essential businesses, the dealership sought to be adaptive and flexible in meeting client needs as their circumstances evolved. It was also important, from the standpoint of the dealer and the client, to serve with an eye toward the resumption of normal business activity.
Cates believes Prosource did an admiral job of balancing the needs of the present and delivering in a manner that would augment their client relationships. “We were able to not only continue to meet the needs of our existing customers, but also grow our business and build new relationships, bringing on new schools and new hospitals,” he said. “We were able to do this because of our efforts over the past eight years to aggressively diversify our business. Throughout the pandemic, while we saw a significant reduction in clicks and copies with our traditional business, we saw increased demand from our customers for managed IT services, cybersecurity and document automation.
“Because we have grown and diversified into a comprehensive technology solutions provider, we were able to serve our customer base in the ways they most needed throughout the disruption of the pandemic.”
Race to Reinvent
Alex Kusters, sales manager and partner for Impact Networking of Lake Forest, Illinois, notes the pandemic imposed a forced adoption of technology and digital innovation among businesses and their employees across most industries. As the pandemic continues to lift, Kusters believes businesses are racing to reinvent themselves and leveraging technology and marketing to achieve that end.
“For industries that were hit more than others, specifically from a labor perspective, our focus has been on using digital innovation strategy and managed services to help them do more than less,” he said. “We’re leveraging our managed marketing services to help them build stronger recruitment strategies to attract talent, sound marketing plans to retain and grow existing business and expand into new and existing markets through lead generation.”