Sunday, November 25, 2007

Selling Color Printers to the P4P Market

Ah yes, the print 4 pay market, some will say it is one of the hardest accounts to break into and others will say they are the easiest to breakdown the walls.
As B2C color improves, along with improved thick stock media ability, there are a few color printers that I'll refer to as a "Print Shop in Box". You might ask whats a print shop in a box, well I got this saying from a printer in New Jersey that referred to his color printer as a "Print Shop in a Box" and the term has stuck with me. That printer was referring to the quality of color, the ability to handle many different types of media, and the ruggedness to run 60 or 70K worth of prints per month!

When I look at some color laser printers that would fit the mold of the "Print Shop in a Box", the Oki 9650hdn (just launched) and the Ricoh C811dn.
We'll take a brief look at the new Oki 9650, and I like what I see. Oki has finally added thick stock capability for duplex (65lb cover) through the paper drawers and 120lb through the base. You can add up to 4 additional paper drawers for a total of 2,650 sheets. Do not under estimate the Banner Paper feature on the this unit. KonicaMinolta has promoted this heavily on thier B2C MFP's. This is a feature that adds value to the printer, they can produce vertical signage for their customers, this can be an additional source of revenue!

In reference to the Ricoh C811dn, this is also a "Print Shop in Box. Quality is 9600 x 9600 (4 Bit) , along with the ability to duplex 90lb index. The C811dn-dl can hold up to 3,200 sheets of paper and can also produce banners for signage. Both the Oki and the Ricoh are superb units that will make a splash in any printers shop. I thing that I would like to see from both of these manufacturers is the option to add a Fiery from EFI. Keep in mind that when selling these systems in a print shop that you must max all of the memory, hard drives and RAM.

Enough about these systems here's a few tips I put together for marketing to Print Shops:

1. You've got to know your product upside down and inside out! They have no time for someone who lacks product knowledge. You must also know their language.

2. Also be ready to ROI sell them, if it is a new product, be ready to show them how to make more money with your product or how to increase their productivity.

3. Go out and invest in a artist portfolio, one that will hold 12x18 documents and build a library of samples and stocks to show them. Keep this with you at all times and also make sure you get samples of jobs from other printers that were done with your equipment!

4. Memorize your cpc's and the competitors cpc's, already be ready to have an answer for single click billing on 11x17.

5. Cold calling has always worked best for me, the first call is treated as a look see and introduction and that's it. Keep visiting them every few months and you will gain their trust.

6. Treat them like as #1 TOP Priority, some printers have incredible volumes and they need to be treated as #1 when there service call comes in.

7. They are in business to make money and if you can show them a way to make more they will listen. If selling them a new product such as wide format, offer to conduct a marketing blitz for them. Meaning, you take two days a month for the next three months to cold call for them their literature. Make sure you bring them back all of the business cards and you keep copies for your self. Never know what you may stumble across.

Special thanx to Shaja from the P4P Hotel for this quote:

Be aware that not all printers have embraced digital printing and you will be competing against press manufacturers. (By my digital printing definition, I am including good high-volume copier/printer systems such as Konica's bizhub 1050 with digital presses such as Kodak's NexPress.) Actually, you are competing against digital presses (ie., NexPress, iGen, Indigo, Xeikon) AND traditional presses designed for short runs (ie., Printmaster). So, in addition to being informed about other copier vendors' products, get informed about the big iron products, too.

Some printers are still VERY skeptical of digital's quality - be able to demonstrate how good digital actually looks and holds up (Art's portfolio suggestion above). And if you can get your hands on some digital press samples to compare against, even better. I have a color sample from a Heidelberg that my Konica bizhub color stacks up very well against.

Some printers are interested in digital's cost benefits but haven't been able to wrap their minds around the technology transition (for example, read up on UV coating). And, some of them have this unconscious mindset that if the technology can't be traced back to Gutenberg, then it's not really printing! So, don't go in with an attitude that you can change their world, because that's not what they want! Respect their past and their industry's traditions.
"Print Shop in a Box"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Copier Questions Forum Launched!

The p4photel has just released a beta version for Copier Questions Message Board Forum. The Copier Questions Forum is designed to give end users the ability to ask our Docusultants questions that pertain to copiers and office equipment.

The Copier Questions Forum is the first forum dedicated to end users where they can have their questions answered from our p4photel members. Members will be able to monitor the boards and assist end users with tips, provide answers and even provide consulting advise to those looking to purchase a new system or evaluate their current cost and document workflow.

Registration is free, and like other p4photel forums there is no cost to become a member. Please take the time to visit, and ask questions. We will be adding additional features to the Copier Questions Forum in the upcoming months.

The p4photel also manages industry message boards for copier sales people, copier technicians and customer service representatives for Dealers and Manufacturers. Manufacturers boards now include Ricoh Family Group (Ricoh, Savin, Lanier), Kyocera Mita, KonicaMinolta, Canon & Xerox.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Some Copier Humor For The Holidays!

An office in the not too distant future.

An ageless and timeless copier scenario plays out a few years in the future। Hopefully you'll all enjoy.

Mary and Bob had been celebrating the Holiday Season with a few too many drinks at their company party in Boston. Bob thought of getting a color image of himself and Mary on the new color copier and emailing it to a few friends. Both Bob and Mary made their way to the Genesis 3995. Bob had been fascinated with the Genesis 3995. A few years ago Bob had been employed repairing copiers for a "good six months".

Bob, being the ever so kind technician raised the lid of the copier for Mary. Mary being on the petite size had no problem lifting her onto the copier, however Bob (they all called him BIG BOB) had a much harder time saddling up on the system. Bob keyed in the email addresses, with an outstretched finger he managed to press the print key for the copier. Just as the scanner finished the Plexiglass (oh, let me explain the plexi, a few years ago, someone had won a law suit because the glass from the copier broke and caused that person undue harm when they emailed a copy of their behind to the President of their firm) on the copier gave way and both Mary and Bob fell into the copier butts first! They both struggled to get themselves out, however with his feet in the air and Mary’s foot in the paper bank, yeah.....they were down real deep। There was not much they could do to remove themselves from the Genesis 3995 color।

After a few minutes, Bob the always-thinking technician realized that he could access the "TECH STAR” key. Now "TECH STAR” was developed a few years ago by Genesis Corp. and was basically "copied” from the GM support called "ON STAR". Bob reached out his arm, while grimacing, all he had to do was just overstretch his index finger a little more and he would be able to "tap" the "TECH STAR" key, and he got it ! Bob new that in a few moments they would have the help of "TECH STAR". As they waited for the connection Bob, managed to shift his frame a little to the left thus allowing Mary to remove her foot from his from the paper tray. A few tweedles and a beep and they had been connected to "TECH STAR"! A picture and voice was displayed on the copier LCD Display. In an accent unknown to Bob and Mary. The "Tech Star" representative announced his presence."Teke Starrr" des iz Ranjii, me mean Chuck, hough I hep youz? After hearing the voice Bob had realized that he was in big trouble. Bob was able to eek out to Ranjii I mean Chuck that he and Mary the two of them were stuck in the Genesis 3995 and that they were in risk of getting एलेक्त्रोकुते Now as much as Bob had a hard time understanding Ranjii/Chuck, Ranjii/Chuck also was not that familiar with Bob's heavy Bostonian accent and euphemisms. Ranjii/Chuck thought he heard Bob say he was stuck making a two-sided copy of and electrician’s manual! So as Chuck/Ranjii the ever-courteous support person was trying to convey how to access the Duplex feature and the Book Copy...... Bob being very knowledgeable about copiers knew he was not getting the proper help he needed, heck he could not make out a word "TECH STAR" was saying.

HE NEEDED HELP! For a moment he reminisced about his first day at “The How to Export Support Jobs Corporation” almost a good six months ago!By this time Mary had her hair caught in the scanner and the Genesis 3995 dual laser beam had almost burned her right foot away. Bob knew his only recourse was to try and rock the Genesis 3995 off its feet if he was to save him and Mary.So as Bob struggled to move his frame left to right, back and forth, left to right and back to forth. He was getting there and really working it. The Genesis 3995 was violently rocking back and forth and side to side. Did we forget about Chuck/Ranjii, he could hear the Genesis 3995 be shaken apart; his computer sensors told him that there was a seismic event happening at Genesis 3995. Chuck/Ranjii thought quickly, called his superior and they then placed a call to 911 in the US.

Some time later, the Genesis 3395 was on its side. Both Bob and Mary had been removed mangled plastic and the scene, the 911 call had alerted rescue to the terrible accident. Newspaper article “Tech Star Releases Two from Genesis 3995”

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Close End of The Year Copier Sales with Section 179

Special thanks to a member of the Print4Pay Hotel, who reminded me of the Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code. I'll use his quote here. "Time is limited as the asset must be placed in service by the end of the year. Your customer can capture this deduction under a dollar out lease thus getting a size able reduction in tax liability for 2007 without any money out of their pocket".

There are many small business owners who either forget or are unaware of the advantages of IRS Section 179. Our job is too remind them of the special advantage at this time of year. Personally, I will use this close to give my customers a sense of urgency to buy before the end of the year.

My end of year strategy is too do a mass email to all of my accounts in reference to the Section 179, and then to follow up with "key" companies that I think maybe able to take advantage of the code. You may also want to consider a $1.00 out lease at no interest in your marketing plans. Here's one way of how to do it, take the MSRP purchase price of the machine and divide by the term. So if we take 15,000 and divide by 36 , we have a lease price of $416.66 per month. From there we can "back out" the rate to see what the $416.66 yields to the end sale. In this instance we would get (using the 36 month $1.00 out rate of .03283) funded $12,691.44 . Here we are paying the interest on the lease and the customer is not. Keep in mind that there is no discount with this type of offer, the customer is already getting the benefit of Zero percent financing.
The business is out there, we just can't lay down and have excuses for not prospecting or marketing at this time of year. Excuses or negative thinking such as "who the heck is going to buy Thanksgiving Week, or There's not much going on this week, so I'll just take some time off will not work! Keep pushing, keep knocking on doors and create a sense of urgency for the client!

Good Selling!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Riding the Wave of Wide Format Color Copiers!

Are you riding the wave or still looking for your surf or boogie board? As the demand for scanning (color & monochrome) is at an all time high in the general office, the demand for color scanning is also gaining popularity in the AEC (Architectural, Engineering and Construction).

Recently, a few accounts have asked me for color wide format scanners to complement their existing wide format technology.

We have the a full line of scanners available through Paradigm Imaging, so in search of a solution one day I paid a visit Paradigm Imagings web site and to review all of their wide format scanners. I was in search of a color scanner, with a 36" throat (this would be the widest document that you could insert for scanning). What I found was amazing, a good quality color scanner could retail anywhere from $12,000 to $17,000! Plus, the margins were ok at best.

Now, I've been working with Paradigm Imaging for awhile and never really saw the value of their new EIS models. To tell you the truth, I saw, I read but didn't comprehend the value of these systems! Let me tell you this, if you are selling in the AEC market place and you have not checked out the EIS models (Multifunctional Wide Format), then you're missing the wave for increased sales and solutions!

Paradigm has about 12 different EIS configurations, the one that impressed me most is the Quatra series. The Quartra series is available in three different configurations, the M, C & E.

The one that I needed is the "C" series which includes a 36" color scanner, a 24" wide format ink printer and a Rockect PC Controller. Once installed the customer can color scan, color copy, scan2print or print and this is all controlled from the touch screen UI (User Interface) that comes with the Rocket Controller. BEST OF ALL, the MSRP is only $8,995. Now you can probably guess where I'm going with this.

We now have the ability to add value to our existing wide format placements, make the calls, there is a need for wide format color scanning, & copying. If you've hit a wall with your existing monochrome devices, along with many new players now selling wide format. You now have a real story to tell and solution to sell to your existing wide format accounts. Typically wide format copies can sell for as much as $3.00 per square foot and color wide format scans can be as high as $20 per scan. So, how many square feet or wide format scans do it take to justify one of these? I have done the math, with wide format color scanning, it only takes 9 scans to justify a Quatra, and this may be the easiest path to follow when conducting the ROI.

Go ride the wave, this is really what we needed!!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Who Should I Buy from an Authorized Dealer or Direct Branch?

Hmmmmm, should I choose Column A or Column B?

Many years ago you could only buy Copiers from Authorized Dealers. An Authorized Dealer is a privately owned company that is local to your geographic area. A Direct Branch is owned by the manufacturer and may or may not be local to your geographic area.

For many years the debate has raged who should I buy from. Too me it plain and simple, you should buy from the company that has the best support, the best people, the company that offers more than one manufacturers solutions and the company that change on a dime when your needs change.

Typically you should ask some key questions from your sales person or your service person.

  1. Ask the sales person how long they have worked with their current company. A sales person who has less than 2 years experience may not have the resources nor the knowledge to meet your needs.

  2. Ask about the the tenure of their service personnel and if you will see the same service technician. Having an experienced service person and the same person servicing the machine is important to quality work and troubleshooting. A company that send inexperienced service reps and multiple reps to the same machine is mot what you want. Too many chefs can spoil the soup and is true with copiers.

  3. Ask how long they have been in business. A couple of years may not be what you are looking for, today's machines are highly evolved from yesterdays, go with a company that has a proven track record.

  4. Ask if they carry multiple solutions from different manufacturers. No one manufacturer can be everything to everyone. Authorized Dealers will have multiple solutions from multiple manufacturers. While direct branches will only sell their solutions.

  5. Ask them how long it takes for a service rep to be on-site and then ask for some references. Doing the research before hand will save you time.

  6. Get a copy of the sales contract and service contract to review before you sign, a wishy washy document that was created in a word document is NOT THE CONTRACT! The contract will have many clauses to protect the Direct Branch and allow them to charge you extra for supplies, fuel surcharges and more!

Do you really want to buy from someone who offers the lowest price? Ask yourself, what are you sacrificing when you buy solely on the lowest price? Will it be the service, the training, or the support years down the road.

Typically, Independent Authorized Dealers have longevity with their customers, sales people, service staff and technicians. Typically, Direct Branches have the higher turnover with sales people, service staff, technicians and clients.

Now some of you who know me may say that I work for a Dealer and he doesn't know the other side. That's true, I have only worked for a Dealer and never a Direct Branch. My problem is that with 27 years in the business I don't know one rep who has more than 6 years with a Direct Branch while on the other hand I know 40 or more with Dealers who have over ten years with the same Dealer (they must be doing something right). Plus, why is it, that I will get new service accounts from the Direct Branch and I don't lose any to them.

The end result is most Direct Branches (mind you there are a few excellent Direct Branches out there) are out there to capture market share for the manufacturer. They have a high turnover of sales people and support people. Since they have NO "Value" to sell, they typically sell on price. What is "Value"? It could be a number of items, the value of support after the sale, the value of competent support staff to conduct on-site training, the value of troubleshooting a problem and finding a solution. The value of providing the right solution at the right time.

Some of you may be located where there is not a choice between an established Dealer or a Direct Branch, just follow that you should buy from a company that has the best support, the best people and the company that can offer more than one manufacturers and a company that can change on a dime when your needs change.

We all want a good price, however a cheap price is long forgotten after poor service!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Polling Copier Sales People

One of the neat features we have on the p4photel is that we often run many polls throughout the year. We've conducted polls about Color Cost per Page, Do You Think the Manufacturer that you Represent is Fair to Dealers, the Super Bowl and many others. The information provided comes from our members. The p4photel consists of 1,500 members from around the world, our largest group is from the United States.

A recent poll of our membership were asked to answer this question:

Poll #1: How Do You Feel About Your Job?

(17%) My job is Perfect and would not trade it for the world.
(33%) My job is ok, however I need more help from management to be more successful.
(21%) I'm overloaded with work and put in too many hours.
(13%) My job is not pleasant, no support from management or manufacturer.
(17%) I am looking for a new job as I read this poll!

Poll #2: Professional Corporations will offer a "piece" of the company to hold onto valued employees. This usually happens with Architects, Lawyers, Accountants, etc.Leads me to this poll:

Do you think Dealerships should offer "partnerships" to hold onto key employees?
(95%) Yes
(5%) No

Poll #3: What size company do you work for?

(13%) Manufacturers Branch
(13%) Large Dealer 50+
(28%) Medium Dealer 20+
(41%) Small Dealer
(6%) On Your Own

The goal of p4photel is to Inform, Share and Maintain the highest degree of knowledge for the Digital Imaging Industry. Simply put you've got a place on the Internet to share information, increase your knowledge and keep an ear to ground for the latest changes in our industry!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Top Copier Equipment Leasing Companies for Office Dealers

I ask you, what do customers hate more when they are dis-satisfied with Office Equipment Leasing Companies? Yep, it us the sales people that put them into a bad lease. Most reps who have been in the business awhile know about some of the pitfalls of a good equipment leasing company and a not so good one.

Selling the copier system is only the first part of the process, most customers also look to you for financing. Some salespeople do not have choice of what leasing company they can use and some do. Keep in mind that if you what the customer back not only do you need to give them good equipment, and good service, you'll also have to give them a good financial institution that will work with the customer, sales person or dealer! Remember that if you or your customer enters into a FMV (Fair Market Value) lease, it is up to the customer to notify the leasing company of their plans before the end of the term.

There are four basic scenarios at or near the end of the term. (A) Give the equipment back and pay the freight back to the leasing companies desired location. (B) Upgrade the equipment with the same equipment vendor a new one (C) Don't give it back and keep on making monthly payments for x amount of months (look to the Ts & Cs in the lease agreement). (D) Buy the equipment from the leasing company at a Fair Market Value.
When was the last time you read the back of one of those lease documents (whew!)? So what should you as the sales person or end user need to be aware of? To me, end of lease notification is at the top of my list along with the auto renewal. Any leasing company that requires you to contact them within a certain window (Window Clause) of time.... is not the company you want to do business with! Here's an example of a time line windows: Not before 180 days prior to the lease and not less than 120 days before the end of the lease. Not for nothing but a 60 day window is my only choice??? Plus, if you do fall into the Window Clause you may have to pay another year in renewal!!!!!

Now, I haven't read all of the leases from all Leasing Companies, however I can tell you which ones have the easiest end of term options for an FMV Lease and which ones do not have the Window Clause. They all have a renewal (Rollover Clause) clause however it is not for more than 90 days at a time.

Here's my top choices:

CIT Leasing Corporation, US Express Leasing, Clune Equipment Leasing and Great America Leasing Corporation

Lease rates for all of these companies differ, it seems to me that out of these four the higher the lease rate is will dictate the easier it is to deal with them at the end of the term. When it comes right down to it, you can't go wrong with these companies, just make sure that you and your customer are aware of the terms and conditions for each company.
Thus in closing here is a post from the P4P Hotel when it comes to the Dealers using Leasing Companies that have the lowest rates and usually have the heavy hand at the end of the lease with the Window Clause and Rollover Clause.
Great points all but who is to blame here? When one of our prospects does business with an obviously inferior company because their price was cheaper who screwed up? The prospect right? We think,"How could they be so short sighted." Well guess who the customer is in this scenario...WE ARE and the cheaper price comes in the form of lower lease rates. We are the ones doing business with obviously inferior companies because their price was cheaper. We are the ones keeping those inferior companies in business and we want to blame them? There are alternatives that allow us to keep our integrity, we just aren't willing to look at the bigger picture and do what's right.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ricoh Wide Format Solution Guru's

I'll admit, maybe I couldn't see the ocean through the fog when I pummeled the new Ricoh W2470 printer over Ricohs pricing.

In four recent appointments for wide format, I was asked about color scanning on three occasions. This got me thinking, I don't have an all in one box for wide format color scanning, mono printing and copying. However, not many of my competitors have these either. The OCE TDS 450 combines a scanner and printer along with the Xerox 510DP. I then asked myself why can't I make my own configuration (just what my techs wanted to hear). Heck, I have the relationship with Paradigm Imaging , maybe I should give Eric Hansen a call.

I called Eric and we started the talk track on the Graphtec line of scanners and then we spoke about the software, I needed some really simple software to act as the middleware so I could replicate what OCE and Xerox were doing with scanning, copying and printing. Paradigm has software however I could only scan2file and then print for copying purposes. Not exactly what I wanted however I was on the right track. I'm not sure who told me to call Rich Hipsky at Ratio, but I called and told him what I was looking for.

As a Ricoh reseller, I am very familiar with Plotbase Software and somewhat familiar with Plotbase PM. Plotbase PM and this is too keep it simple can drive a host of wide format products along with all of the accounting and wide format functionality that you'll ever need. What I did learn from Rich is that they have a four button UI (user interface) software that will allow you to walk up to a monitor and and be able to touch screen for Copy, Scan, Print & More! You can view this demo here .

Plotbase PM will run on the server along with the UI on the monitor, users can then walk up and perform all of the basic functions for wide format scanning, printing, copying and more!! Just what I was looking for, now its time to crunch the numbers.

I took a look at the W2470 MSRP coming in at $11,565. plus $3,659 for the Dual Roll Feeder and then we'll need the Plotbase PM software. Cost for the software to drive the one LED printer and scanner is $3,800 complete! Now I need to add a scanner, I took a look at the Graphtec IS200 Pro LC 42" wide scanner (It does not do photo color, but spot color will work. It will do OK on graphical stuff that is spot color like signage type stuff or comic book type graphics, but not on "continuous tone" images like photos, skin tones, etc..) The MSRP on this is $13,995. I've now got a system that comes in at a mere $33,015 in MSRP and some very powerful software with Plotbase PM as the backbone of the system. I can now compete with where I could not compete before. I can also rest easy with Plotbase PM software that is reliable and powerful enough that I can compete with confidence with the likes of the OCE and the Xerox.

Another great feature of Plotbase PM is that you can add additional print drivers to the system, there is an additional cost, however in the larger AEC firms I truly mix and match and put on my creative thinking cap for multiple solutions and placements!!