Last year when we were soliciting our Elite Dealer nominations for 2014 we asked “What’s the biggest challenge facing your dealership?” Because of space limitations those responses didn’t make the Elite Dealer profiles we ran in December. Instead, we’ll be sharing those in the ENX/The Week in Imaging newsletter and online throughout the month of January. It’s a good bet some of the challenges you’ll be seeing here are the very same challenges you’re facing or have faced in your dealership. Let’s look at the latest group of challenges.
“Increased competition from manufacturers and businesses seeking to cut costs during recessionary times is our biggest challenge. DPOE has strengthened its service department to accommodate the wishes of customers who may wish to hold on longer to equipment. In so doing, DPOE has further specialized by incorporating Managed Services (IT) into its menu of offerings. DPOE can now provide IT support literally across the nation. Additionally, DPOE has extended its reach into archiving and offering video boards and conferencing capabilities.” Des Plaines Office Equipment, Elk Grove Village, IL
“Selling on service and being a trusted source for a technology roadmap rather than giving away hardware to gain a new customer. Multifunction devices are treated as just another device to hang on a network, but they are not. They are the start to much larger managed service focus we are educating our customer base on. It’s not about toner on paper anymore, it’s more focused on education and providing hard proof to the customer on what they are really spending these days. Most of the education starts with the customer not knowing where they stand in case of a disaster. Will their business survive if they don’t have backup processes in place? That is where we come in to help educate and manage this process for them so they can do what they are good at—managing their own business.” SolutionOne, Lincoln, NE
“It used to be keeping up with technology was the biggest challenge. Today it has become more keeping up with our changing Industry. The logistics of the company that was built around supplying and servicing office equipment simply does not support our changing industry and our much wider service offerings. Education, recruitment, and placement of specialists and solutions support teams has been our biggest challenge. KOMAX still believes that if you aren’t learning something new, then you are going backwards and has made a substantial investment in ongoing employee education. We are confident that we now have the infrastructure in place to meet this changing Industry and provide additional services and solutions to our customers.” KOMAX, South Charleston, WV
“Our model has always been to expand our services based on the direct needs of our customers. In the past year alone, our portfolio has expanded exponentially with our launch of production print, and managed IT services, in addition to expanding document management and wide format in years prior. With so many diverse offerings, coupled with the myriad of advertising mediums now available, the biggest challenge Advance is currently facing is educating our existing customer base on our breadth of services and shifting the perception that we are not just a traditional MFP company, rather a trusted adviser for innovative business solutions.” Advance, Cockeysville, MD
“The first Xerographic copier was introduced to the world in 1959, just five short years before TGI opened its doors. Since then, the technology landscape has grown and changed drastically and continues to do so at faster speeds than ever imagined. Some may consider this a challenge but we look at it as an opportunity. Because of the constant change, businesses need trusted business partners who have been there since the beginning and who have embraced and even outpaced the growth of technology over time. Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve. We have gained expertise not only by implementing cutting edge solutions for our clients, but utilizing those same solutions to improve our own business processes, leaving us in a unique position to provide concrete, predictable and repeatable improvements to our clients in all facets of their business.” TGI Office Automation, Brooklyn, NY
“One of the biggest challenges our company faces is keeping up with ever-changing technology in order to stay a step ahead of competitors, and the needs of our customers. Meritech takes a consultative sales approach and leverages our managed service offerings, ensuring strong, long-term partnerships with our clients. We believe the future of our business is built around IT consulting and IT services. We are taking major steps to stay ahead of the technology curve that include expanding our product and service offerings with cloud services and hosted environments, enabling our customers to stay ahead of the curve and providing them with a more streamlined work environment.” Meritech, Inc., Cleveland, OH
“The biggest challenge ASI has recently faced has been the continued commoditization of our traditional office product and maintenance offerings. With commoditization came increased pressure on hardware margins and an increasingly competitive cost-per-page (i.e. the race to zero). But rather than giving into these forces, ASI focused internally on being more efficient at what we do, and externally on bringing greater value to our customers. By taking a consultative approach – MDOM (Measure, Design, Optimize and Manage), ASI assesses the customer’s business, technical and physical environments and is able to provide a comprehensive deliverable complete with actionable items for their consideration.
“Additionally, identifying our Managed Services offering to the market has required that we adopt a best practices system to help solidify our offerings. To assist ASI with that strategy, we have joined forces with Service Leadership, Inc. (www.service-leadership.com) an organization that measures best practices and designs specific models to achieve best-in-class profitability for service models in the managed service space. The focus is designed to identify client’s technology offering (Tech Stack) and measure all components of your business to achieve the highest Operational Maturity Level (OML) in your market.” ASI Business Solutions, Dallas, TX
“The biggest challenge facing our company today is the development of our Managed IT business into a differentiated offering with robust processes and high quality communication. While we acquired companies to launch the business, it is truly a different business than imaging and has immense opportunity to succeed through innovation. Our approach to meet that challenge is twofold: 1) Surround ourselves with highly successful IT businesses and learn as much as possible from them, and 2) Challenge even the best in the industry to identify opportunities for innovation and new, better ways to serve clients.” Fisher’s Technology, Boise, ID
“Staying on top of the training and product knowledge so that we don’t go too wide and too deep. No one wants to be the jack of all trades and master of none. We are trying to beat the odds, as the old equation states that the top 20 percent of the sales reps make 80 percent of the money; we are trying to make all of our sale people 20 ‘percenters’. It’s mathematically impossible, but reality means a full sales force performing at high capacity.” Kelley Imaging Systems, Kent, WA
“This past year, Applied Imaging acquired a managed network services company and has added that capability to our product and services offering. Our challenge is to now build a team and incorporate it into our existing culture. To do that, we need to invest in people, training, and the appropriate technology to insure this function, so critical to our existing customers and prospects, meets the standards of what Michigan businesspeople have come to expect from Applied Imaging.” Applied Imaging, Grand Rapids, MI
“Our biggest challenge over the past year has come with integrating Blue Technologies Smart Solutions (BTSS) division – our IT division that has resulted from the 2013 acquisition of Smart Solutions Inc., now a wholly owned subsidiary. The biggest step needed to solidify this smooth transition was the hire of general manager for BTSS. We realized there were many ways to go to market and run the financials for the company – and we needed the right person at the helm to field this initiative. “When we identify an opportunity to better the company, president Paul Hanna takes the lead and goes to industry experts for advice. After the acquisition of Smart Solutions, an IT organization that was named Autonomy’s 2013 Dealer of the Year, Paul worked diligently to recruit the correct leadership talent using the recruiting and hiring process as defined and taught by Riordan and Associates. He also worked with Paul Dippell and CDA for assistance. “We’ve since made a successful hire for this position, and see things ready to come to fruition. Under this associates leadership, we are currently packaging our IT managed services offering and positioning it properly to go to market. We have also identified the right person internally to bridge the gap between our hardware and IT sales, and named them Director of Sales to realize the revenue we have budgeted for in 2014. These right leadership moves have led to a smooth acquisition transition, and the continued smooth operation of our various business divisions.” Blue Technologies, Cleveland, OH
“[Our biggest challenge is] hiring talented people that fit our culture. We hire first and train second as we believe culture is so important. Our growth has put us in a spot where we can’t hire fast enough and the talent pool constantly seems to be a struggle. We are always recruiting and allowing employee rewards for finding great talent.” Corporate Business Systems, Springfield, MO