Managed Print Focus: Inside the Heads of SMB Customers

We’ve been talking about how the small- and medium-business (SMB) market is a vast, largely untapped opportunity for managed print.

Because while larger enterprises might have more printers and higher volumes than the typical SMB, smaller companies are often unaware of how much they’re spending on print, and they are always eager to find ways to cut costs.

“You can help them find some dollars that they can then apply to the bottom line or reinvest in technology,” says Tom McDonald, president of NSI in Naugatuck, Conn. “That’s true of all customers, but particularly SMB customers because they have no idea what they’re spending on print.”

NSI provides solutions in virtualization, business continuity, disaster recovery, project development and network consulting, and managed print services is a growing part of the business, McDonald says. He estimates that about 20 percent of the company’s maintenance revenue is from managed print, up from 10 percent last year, and about 70 percent of NSI’s overall customer base is SMBs.

McDonald says the typical SMB is spending way too much on printing. “Before we even look at anything we can almost guarantee they can save 30 percent to 50 percent on print,” he says.

The biggest struggle with selling to these companies, McDonald notes, is getting them to let solution providers come in to do an assessment. But clearly there’s a need for such analysis.

“They don’t have anyone paying attention to this,” he says. “SMBs are so busy trying to keep the plates spinning before they crash with their own business. No one is looking at what they’re spending on printing.”

The trick is getting their attention and their time so you can do the analysis and make the pitch. Bigger companies typically have a greater sense of what their printing costs are and also have enough people available to talk. “At an SMB the chief technology officer, the finance officer and the operations officer are generally one person,” McDonald says.

Once you get in to do the print analysis, it’s a good bet that there will be opportunities to show savings, often hundreds of dollars per month. In addition to savings on printers and supplies, many companies can save money on energy costs.

“A lot of them have old printers that are sitting around and they don’t ever shut off,” McDonald says. “They’re a constant drain on electricity, and they’ve been sitting there sometimes for five or 10 years.”

Regardless of where the savings come from, an analysis of an SMB’s printing costs will let the company know exactly what it’s spending, and what it can potentially save.

“SMBs are so busy trying to keep the plates spinning before they crash with their own business. No one is looking at what they’re spending on printing.”

—Tom McDonald, NSI

NSI has helped several SMBs move into managed print in recent months. One example is an accounting firm that was spending $300 to $500 per month per device just for print supplies. The solution provider came in and showed the firm how much it could reduce that spend and also upgrade to color printers while reducing costs.

Another customer is a physician’s practice that has multiple locations. NSI discovered that the practice had three closets full of toner cartridges that weren’t being used.

“They had frequent turnover in the office staff and people just assumed that these hadn’t been ordered,” McDonald says. “They kept getting more and more and they had [as much as] $3,000 worth of old supplies that was not being used.” NSI got the offices to sign on for managed print and one of the benefits is they now only buy what they need.

Yet another SMB customer is a moving and storage company that was migrating from a new midrange computing system and was doing a lot of impact printing and planned to move to laser-based printing. The company started buying up smaller printers and did not realize how much they cost.

“We showed them how they could do duplex printing and reduce the number of printers,” McDonald says. Most of the time a good assessment allows companies to get rid of a lot of devices that are not cost-effective, he says.

For Xerox partner NSI, which began offering managed print services about four years ago, managed print represents a great and growing business opportunity. The company has hired people who know the market and are experienced at collecting and analyzing customer data about printing costs, putting together presentations and working with salespeople to approach customers.

“We expect [managed print] will become the majority of our break and fix within 12 to 18 months,” McDonald says. And the SMB market, including many state and local government agencies, will be a big part of that growth.

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