Managed Print: Real-World Insight and Feedback

Cycle One: Adding Managed Print Customers, and Driving New Profit

You have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run.

That’s the lesson David Polzin wants to impart to anyone looking to get into and expand a managed print services business.

Polzin, owner of BusinessWare Solutions, a Xerox Peak Partner in Hutchinson, Minn., whom we first introduced you to last month, knows firsthand that solution providers don’t typically build a large managed print services business overnight.

BusinessWare Solutions got into managed print about five years ago. And even though the economy overall was in better shape back then than it is now, the managed print customers didn’t exactly come pouring in.

"In the first two years we did this we only had 10 contracts. There really wasn’t hardly any business those first few years," Polzin says. "Now we have more than that every month."

"You need to develop a culture shift [toward a managed print services focus]. It took us a long time to get there, but once you’re there it’s a good thing."
– David Polzin

In fact, BusinessWare Solutions has seen its managed print services business grow on average about 70 percent each year. What contributed to this level of growth? Hard work, persistence and a companywide emphasis on print solutions.

The hard work comes in learning the print services business inside and out. Polzin says that includes dealing with the "bumps in the road" that inevitably come and figuring out how to avoid these in the future.

Then there’s the matter of persistence. "You’ve got to keep sticking with it," Polzin says. "You need to develop a culture shift [toward a managed print services focus]. It took us a long time to get there, but once you’re there it’s a good thing."

Polzin recommends starting with a few small customers to get a feel for the business. Then you can look to expand and develop greater expertise along the way. "You’re going to make a lot of mistakes," he says. "You’re going to learn what you did right and didn’t do right on every deal. The program will evolve, including things like pricing and how to provide services. Keep your antennas up," he says, so as not to miss out on any lessons.

The culture shift entails making sure everyone in the organization is aware that landing new managed print services contracts is a priority.

"We’ve been doing this for five-plus years now and it’s fairly engrained in our salespeople," Polzin says. "It’s up to the salespeople to go out and win the contracts." The company has created incentive programs to compensate the sales staff for new business, he says.

BusinessWare Solutions sells both printers and related service. "We will take over customers’ existing devices," Polzin says. "When they buy a new device, we put it under a maintenance agreement."

While Polzin didn’t disclose any specific figures, he says managed print services is a "very profitable" part of BusinessWare Solutions’ business. The company delivers managed print services using a cost-cutting strategy aimed at business customers that are looking to eliminate inefficiencies. Selling print services has also been a springboard to offering other products such as storage.

Managed print services is not a "one-size-fits-all" type of solution, Polzin notes. Managed Print Providers have to listen to what their customers want and need and meet their requirements when delivering services. Having a versatile yet consistent managed print formula, like Xerox Page Pack 3.0, is key to maintaining profitability and reducing waste, he says.

The Xerox PagePack managed print formula has removed some costly variables that can cut into a managed print provider’s profits. For example, PagePack 3.0 eliminates toner-based pricing, opting instead for a more consistent cost-per-page model. Servicing a customer print fleet is also simplified under PagePack 3.0, and quoting managed print services for any size company is more accurate and quicker than ever before.

"It’s been a huge focus for us," he says. But success in managed print services is by no means guaranteed. "We’ve seen organizations just absolutely knock it out of the park and others that are floundering," Polzin says. "It’s not the most glamorous sale; typically you’re not going to have one huge contract that’s a big part of your business. It will be just a lot of little ones that add up."

Next in our series, we’ll look at managed print problem solving – what you need to know.

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