I came across an article a few months ago that really caught my attention. It mentioned a study that had been conducted by the Photizo Group regarding MPS client retention. The study showed that 1 in 3 customers are not renewing their MPS contract with their current vendor. Even more concerning is that they claim 1 in 5 are leaving MPS all together because they have seen no value in the service. NO VALUE IN THE SERVICE; that really struck a chord with me. Before getting into the SaaS business, I spent 10 plus years in the managed print business where I lived and breathed MPS. It was still a somewhat new concept when I started and we definitely didn’t always do the right thing in the beginning, but we learned from each mistake to help us be even better for the next customer. At the core it was pretty simple; Do Right by the Customer. The owners of the company were passionate about building relationships and pretty much structured their business around it. As a result, during my time there, we had an over 90% client retention rate within our MPS client base. Now you may be saying, “I’m in the building relationship business too!!!” If that is true, then your business at the very least should be holding steady. If it’s not, like many other dealers in this market, you may be missing a crucial piece to the MPS puzzle and that is what I want to talk about today.
Since your company has decided to really get into the MPS game, you have done your best to create the right business structure to succeed. You’ve aligned yourself with the best supplies vendors out there, you have developed a clean process for order fulfillment, you have a dedicated staff that continually monitors the profit and loss of each contract, you’ve hired and trained the right sales staff to grow your MPS business, you have a great service team that has years of experience, yet your business is in decline. Why? What are you missing? Have you figured it out yet? No?
OK, ask yourself, if I was the owner of a large law firm and ABC company came in and asked me if I knew what I was spending on print I, like most, wouldn’t be able to answer that question. So I listen to what ABC company has to say and they convince me to agree to have them conduct an assessment on my print environment. They bring in this big team and walk every inch of my building, they have interviews with my staff, they take inventory of all of my devices and supplies, they show me pictures and maps, they show me this impressive PowerPoint that addresses all of my challenges and make me feel like they really know what’s best for my company, and to top it off, they don’t ask me to buy anything…What!!! All they ask is that I let them manage my print environment and help reduce my costs. Wow! Sign me up!!!
Does this sound familiar? If you have a substantial MPS business, I know it does. We’ve put all of this effort in showing people how great we are at MPS, how we are experts in the field and why we are the best fits for our clients. This is all needed to have a successful MPS business, so why is it in decline? It goes back to 1 in 5 saying that they see no value in the service. But wait, we’ve done all of this work and the customer was in awe of what we were able to show them and they begged us to help them. How is that not value? You’re right, partially. They wouldn’t have signed that contract if they didn’t see value in what you had to offer, BUT, what have you done since you activated their contract? This is a key missing piece to most MPS businesses and is why, I believe, customers are not renewing and leaving MPS all together. We do a fantastic job at showing them why they need us and then as soon as they sign on the dotted line, our sales people turn back into copier reps and are never seen or heard from again until six months left on the contract. Where’s the value? The value comes from what you do after the contract starts. My VP of Sales used to say, “Signing this contract is just the beginning of our partnership. Judge me on what I do for you from this point on.” He was and is correct. Your sales reps need to be trained on how to manage a MPS contract, not just sell one. They also have to be compensated to do so. That is another crucial missing piece to the puzzle but that is for another conversation.
It really is pretty simple—show your customer that you follow through on what you say. How do you do that? That too is pretty simple. Stay engaged with your client. The best way to do this is by having quarterly reviews, semi-annual reviews at the least if the customer is smaller. Be prepared and have compelling data, not only to support why you are their vendor, but also to give insight and guidance to make their environment even better and less expensive. This is a great opportunity to validate your original reason for being there and to show that your program is working, or isn’t working. Don’t be afraid to have that conversation with your client if your original program isn’t showing the results that you said it would. But also be prepared to show the changes necessary to get it on the right track. They will respect you for it and trust you even more. Are we showing value yet?
Use the tools you have internally to analyze the contract and environment. Bring with you ideas and recommendations on how to maximize their fleet of printers and where improvements are needed. This is also a great opportunity to increase your revenue by selling new gear. This step is just as important, if not more, as your initial presentation to win the business. That same team you had with you during your assessment should be with you during your review. Bring your service technician with you and let them give insight to the fleet. They know more about what’s going on there than you do. There’s so much value you can bring to your client when you just take the time to be their partner. You may be saying, “Ben, you’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.” I would reply, “You’re probably right so why aren’t you doing it?” If you want to see your MPS business continue to succeed and not stay in decline, do the work. Develop a plan on how to get it done and do it. And if you do, I promise you your client will see value!