Are you considering getting new office technology? Have you considered working with a local provider instead of dealing directly with a manufacturer? There are plenty of manufacturers out there. Xerox, Canon, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, Toshiba, Lexmark, Sharp and probably a couple of others that I’m missing all offer direct services.
Many companies believe they are getting a range of built-in benefits by purchasing equipment directly from the manufacturer. Such as:
- The best price — Who could sell it for any less than the manufacturer after all?
- Service in all parts of the country.
- Accountability — If there’s an issue the manufacturer should stand behind their product.
- Best technical support for software and solutions.
But you may not have considered the wide-range of benefits that come with partnering with a local, independent office technology dealer, including but not limited to:
- The best price and value
- Service in all parts of the country
- Accountability — Not only do you have the manufacturer on the line, but the local dealer principal will also be extremely concerned about their reputation.
- Best technical support for software and solution.
- Higher quality of service and support
- Better solutions and more flexibility than dealing directly with a manufacturer.
- Personalized service from a team that knows your name, not just your account number.
- Profits are donated to the local community.
- Consistency with your support team.
So what do all these benefits actually mean to you? Let's dig deeper into the first, Best Price and Value.
Both the manufacturer and the local provider have targeted pricing. Both need to be profitable. No business will last very long if it isn’t. However, the local provider typically has less overhead. They can run a lean organization made up mostly of support staff and sales people. There are fewer layers of management. So the pricing should always be competitive.
Why are the manufacturers dealing directly in the first place? Simply put, they have demands from shareholders to keep growing. So no matter how many independents may be in a geographic area, there is always room to sell more. They need to keep their manufacturing plants hopping, so it's all about moving equipment for them.
We here at HGi take a different approach. Yes, we too want to keep our sales growing, but we primarily want to provide a great client experience. If the manufacturer fails in a particular market, they still have the rest of the country — and world for that matter. If we as a local provider were to fail in the only market we are in, well that’s a whole different matter. So we make decisions that will be financially sound and provide great service and support.
Perhaps even more importantly, we provide for our employees so they continue to work with us and provide great service in return. An unhappy customer service representative, Help Desk team or service technician won't be able to provide outstanding support.
Manufacturers are typically dealing with very large enterprises, and in these accounts, they may be selling hundreds and thousands of devices. These accounts may be city government, Fortune 500 and publicly held accounts. They may have a dedicated team of people that support accounts of this size. Small to midsize accounts, though, are different. They typically are not acquiring thousands of devices, and may not be a priority account for the manufacturer direct. However, these smaller accounts still expect service excellence — and rightfully so.
This is where we specialize. If ever an issue were to arise in billing, device reliability, technical support, or whatever the demand may be, we can resolve very quickly. Why is that?
Most independent providers recognize the importance of resolving concerns very quickly if they expect to keep their clients happy for many years. Instead of a chain of command that involves supervisors, managers, general managers, Directors, VPs, etc. to get a problem resolved, we can walk over to the head of a department or the President of the company for extremely fast resolution.
Case in point, in my past life in Washington DC, we had a very nice account that was extremely unhappy with a desktop device which was one of dozens of devices. They demanded a replacement. The company policy (of the manufacturer) was to fix the device in question at all costs. Gone were the days of replacing devices due to client complaints. Well, several days of ordering parts and trying different ideas, turned into several weeks. Finally, the client reached a breaking point and canceled the contract at a huge expense to them. And the manufacturer lost a client they otherwise would have kept for years.
Now here is how a similar situation is handled by a local dealer. HGi has a client in the Miami market with a machine that was getting excessive service calls. The client was clearly unhappy so we quickly decided to make a change for them. Within a few hours, we had a new machine for the client on a truck for delivery. Within a day, the same issue occurred. We later found out that the issue was due to a very simple user error.
Do we regret making such a move? Would it have been better to let the client get more upset? Once we replaced the device and showed our goodwill, they were much more receptive to our advice about how they were using the machine.
Best Price Means Nothing Without Value
Now go back to the first scenario. How likely would it have turned out to the benefit of both parties if the manufacturer and multiple levels of management, made the decision to do “the right thing” and make a low-cost problem go away to save a high-value client?
As it happens, the client who originally had the “best price” ended up spending much more by buying out of the contract, since they were dissatisfied with the quality of service. This is why "best price" means very little if there is no value to what you're buying. With a local dealer, you get infinitely more value.