“We’ve come to the end of the road and the end of the month presenting the challenges facing our 2014 Elite Dealers. After compiling more than 60 responses to the question, “What is your biggest challenge?” we discovered there was a sizable consensus among respondents as to the biggest challenge they’re facing today. That challenge: staffing, particularly as dealerships expand into MPS, Managed Services, and other new business segments.
The following responses underscore just how widespread and wide reaching this challenge is to office technology dealers regardless of their location and the size of the dealership.
“Hiring sales staff in general continues to be challenging. We have been trying new venues to attract sales staff. This year we have tried Career Expos and multiple new career websites. Our HR manager has been working closely with our new regional sales manager to continue to grow the sales team. We are also interviewing for a full time recruiter.” Offix, Gainesville, VA
“The biggest challenge we face is hiring motivated sales professionals, despite offering a generous base salary plus an even more generous commission structure. We have changed our recruiting methods over the last year to include a variety of resources, including national recruiting sites (CareerBuilder, Craigslist), posting on our own website, and the use of professional recruiters.” Copy Concepts, Inc., Fort Myers, FL
“One of Fraser’s biggest challenges faced in the past five years has been recruiting quality people. Fraser has recently established an internal recruiting team consisting of the General Sales Manager, Human Resources Manager, and the Branch Sales Managers. The team has implemented an aggressive process of selection and review. Although our biggest issue is recruiting, we still believe quality is better than quantity. Fraser is proud to have tenured sales and service representatives and we strive to continue this in the future. A huge accomplishment as a company challenged in recruiting is that we have had multiple internal promotions during this year and internal referrals turned successful hires. Our company retention rate and the positivity of our employees is the life blood of the company.” Fraser-AIS, West Reading, PA
“One of the biggest challenges our dealership has faced over the past five years remains to be finding good personnel. A knowledgeable staff is a must if you want to remain competitive in the marketplace. Finding people who are driven to stay on top of new equipment and software applications is extremely tough. We continue to utilize all resources necessary to find those Extra Good People.” EGP, Inc., Orlando, FL
“The biggest challenge has been finding the leaders of the future. In order for us to grow and expand our product and service offerings we need people that want to lead. In the past our development was centered around our front line people. We have now secured a recruiter.” Coordinated Business Systems, Ltd., Burnsville, MN
“We have a few challenges right now. As a good part of our employee base is at or near retirement age, finding candidates who will fit in and compliment our unique culture is very challenging. We have a stream of candidates because of our reputation, but sometimes it’s comparable to finding a needle in a haystack. Coming from within our industry can be a negative since our ethics and integrity are never allowed to be compromised.” ACT Group, Cromwell, CT
“Continuing to find qualified employees to continue our strong growth in our Star Managed Services Division. We continue to grow this division with additional offerings in the future that may include 3D printing and POS systems.” Stargel Office Solutions, Houston, TX
“Turnover in sales personnel continues to be an area of concern for MOM. We continually seek opportunities to improve sales force retention rates. We’ve made some headway in this area over the last few years by implementing processes that start in the interview stage and continue throughout an associate’s tenure. “New sales associates go through MOM’s “Fast Start” 100 Day orientation program to get up to speed quickly and gain a solid understanding of the industry and MOM’s products and services. The program outlines “The MOM Way” of selling, teaches them what tools they have to help them sell, what they are selling, time management, how to deal with objections from clients, how to focus on the benefits of working with MOM, steps to improve value, and how to practice their selling skills. They develop the employees knowledge of selling, Salesforce.com, prospecting, closing the sale, and giving a great demo to a prospect. Reps also learn about MOM, detailed product knowledge, and the marketplace they will be working in.
“The reps are then set up with goals for cold calls per day, what a typical day should look like and a typical week. They learn the detailed steps of sales and a 30 second elevator speech including the opening statement, going forward commitment, a closing line, and how to gain the client’s trust. The program provides an ongoing “skills benchmark assessment” to provide continued learning and development of reps on an individual level. This new 100-day process has shown great results with the new hires in terms of immediate sales and confidence in their selling ability. We know that our employees are our most valuable assets, and we strive to set them up for success. These programs and processes continue have had a positive impact on sales force retention because our new reps are seeing results with their sales.” Modern Office Methods, Cincinnati, OH
“As a dealership, we faced high turnover for new sales reps. In the past five years we have had only one rep become successful. In 2013 we introduced an urgency based selling, “Do or Die” sales philosophy. This program eliminated the faint of heart, and we have had four successful new reps this year alone.” Atlantic, Tomorrows Office, New York, NY
“Recruiting and retaining quality people to fill openings as we grew through the economic downturn. We had to increase our recruiting and training efforts as we saw a need for more personnel through our growth and expansion. Many of the people in the job market would not be good candidates for our company so we had to double our efforts in all departments.” RJ Young Company, Nashville, TN
“IOTEC’s biggest challenge is hiring and maintaining a full sales staff. Most of the sales reps find the technology part exciting, but the cold calling and canvassing overwhelming and discouraging. We are constantly changing up our strategy when it comes to hiring. We attend numerous job fairs, offer more incentives, provide better training and are constantly creating new marketing materials to help support the sales reps to feel comfortable with the products and solutions that IOTEC has to offer.” Integrated Office Technology, Santa Fe Springs, CA
“Finding qualified resources to expand our Managed Print Services and Managed IT Services initiatives.” Ohio Business Machines, Cleveland, OH
“Our biggest challenge is actually a good one to have. We are growing as a business which means multiple new team members. With new staff come growing pains as they start to jump into their roles. So our challenge has been to make sure we are getting everyone on the same page and that we continue our positive office culture. Also, we have had some people change positions in the office, notably one of our dispatchers has become our new Inventory Specialist working in our supplies room. Plus with our new commitment to Managed Services we have hired additional staff in that department.
These new hires will help our clients by being able to specialize more, for example service call scheduling and billing and Managed Services scheduling and billing are now handled by separate departments to ensure quality attention is given to each. Also with new members in our Managed Services team we are able to assist more clients and in a more timely manner like we do for service calls.
“While there is a lot to learn in these new roles with our office culture of teamwork, we are meeting this challenge head on. When current employees were asked to help and train our new hires they rise to the occasion. They understood that taking time from their personal workflow to help these new employees jump into their new roles was important to the growth of Martin Group.” Martin Group, Geneva, WI
“Hiring the appropriate personnel to service our customers is the biggest challenge we have been facing in the past year. Because of our growth in the office equipment and IT industry, we had to hire more technical people to support our demand to service our customers. We have to make sure they can do the work that is expected as well as deliver excellent customer service to our customers. We have hired a person whose full time job is to recruit and interview for us on a daily basis. This is has been a great investment for our company.” Quality Business Solutions, Baltimore, MD
“The biggest challenge that most office equipment dealers face is hiring qualified and dedicated employees, especially outside sales representatives. We participate in on-campus recruiting through local colleges (San Diego State University and University of California at San Diego). We are also a huge proponent of utilizing the social media site, LinkedIn as well as Facebook and Twitter.” South Coast Copy Systems, Solana Beach, CA
“The biggest challenge we are facing at the moment is finding experienced, qualified Managed Print Services representatives. Our VP of Managed Print Services is working to further educate all staff in the Managed Print Services industry and conducting on-going recruiting.” Copiers Plus, Fayetteville, NC
“Our biggest challenge is recruiting the manpower we need to fulfill our growth strategy for the next three years. We have a very aggressive plan to reach $100 million by the end of 2017. In order to do this, we have outlined the number of employees we need to hire to make this number a reality. We are looking to hire 40 more sales consultants by the end of this year to grow our manpower from 180 to 220. This past year has seen significant improvements to the recruitment efforts of Impact. We have gone from having one recruiter to a now a duo of recruiters that work in-house. They have worked on a various changes, outlined below. So far, they have increased the amount of sales consultants by 140 percent.” Impact Networking, LLC, Waukegan, IL
“[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
“As we continue to grow, we are in the process of building a sales force- which has proven to be a challenge in our area. We have a very committed staff, and expect our employees to uphold this standard. Therefore, as we are in the process of growing in numbers, we are faced with the difficulty of finding the ‘right fit’ for our company. As a result, each member of the Seeley team offers direct input on who we hire.” Seeley Office Systems, Glens Falls, NY