Top Managed Print Challenges and How to Overcome Them

This year has been one of tremendous opportunity for companies that offer managed print services. But it’s also been a year of challenges for MPS providers.

We queried print services providers around the country about the biggest challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve addressed them. Following are some of their insights.

How to Sell MPS Without an Assessment

Selling customers on the idea of managed print has been a challenge this year, as it was in the two previous years, says Tom McDonald, president of NSI in Naugatuck, Conn. “Why can’t we sell something that helps our clients by saving them money and time?” he says. “Why aren’t these clients calling us and asking for it? We should be writing orders every day all day long, but we are not.”

One problem is customers don’t let providers do the necessary assessments. “They think it is a hassle, they don’t have the time or the energy, and if they do let you do an assessment, they don’t have or won’t provide you the information,” McDonald says.

NSI now avoids doing assessments and instead focuses on finding a small place to start in the account, and then show success—one printer, in one department at a time. “Get it in, run it for three to six months, then go back and show them the results,” McDonald says. “Once they see it, the next time they need to order a printer, or hopefully refresh a fleet, we have already proven that it works and we simply propose. It is not perfect, but we are having better success doing it this way.”

Partner Up to Expand Services

For Strategic Print Solutions in Hiawatha, Iowa, diversifying into managed IT services to continue to differentiate and innovate in its managed print services offering has proven to be the biggest challenge this year, says Mark Shelton, president of the company.

The solution? “We have partnered with an IT service provider and are finalizing our offering to launch a co-mingled program set in 2012,” Shelton says.

Use the Cloud and Hard Data to Ward Off Competition

“The two biggest challenges were streamlining our process and learning to leverage our solutions to overcome the competition in this growing MPS market,” says Buddy Carpenito, senior partner and owner of Print Administrate/Technology Solutions of America in Winter Garden, Fla.

The company’s streamlining efforts included adding cloud services to better support clients. “These services even run on an iPhone or Android device, [and] this reduced reactive supply mishaps,” Carpenito says. “It also helped increase our service response time.”

As for increased competition, Carpenito says the “big box copier competitors” have made a strong push to offer managed print services for not only traditional copiers, but laser printer fleets as well.

“We had to leverage our solutions to the fullest to ward these competitors away,” Carpenito says. “I decided to really concentrate on our MPS end-user reporting tools. CFOs really appreciate the detailed data they provide. Our entire concept of management is based around end-user workflows and what their systems need to get the job done. The mistake the competition makes is they are still pushing the boxes as part of their initial attempt to gain MPS business. It won’t work.”

Customers Still Need Help Understanding MPS

Laser Technologies Inc. (LTI) in St. Paul, Minn., has been involved in managed print services for more than eight years and is the biggest MPS provider in its marketplace in terms of the number of printers under contract, says Sean Carey, president.

“But we’ve discovered that many of our long-term customers who have been using us for printer repairs and supplies don’t really understand what we do and the full breadth of services that we can provide,” Carey says. “That was our fault. So we’ve begun a campaign to revisit our customers in person and keep them informed through regular communication such as mailers and e-mail campaigns.”

This has resulted in a number of new MPS opportunities for the company, Carey says. “We’re also taking a much more aggressive approach in the marketplace to raise [the] level of awareness about LTI’s capabilities and how they can benefit even some of the small to midsize companies in our area.”

Educating customers was also a focus for CTS Services Inc. in Bellingham, Mass. “The biggest challenge in 2011 was clarifying our clients’ confusion about the proper way to approach managed print services and communicating the true benefits,” says Michelle Carlow, president. “There are many companies vying for our clients’ attention, each offering a variety of managed services. We have found that when we persevere and show them the value, the confusion disappears.”