So you figured out that using several staff members to buy printers, toner, maintenance & service is very expensive. While Printers still figure in very prominently in Business Processes, having half your team involved in supporting them take focus off of your core goals and mission.
Think about it, using IT, Office Administrators, End Users and AP to buy toner, etc and to manage your printer fleet consumes a lot of time and effort.
You have discovered that Managed Print Services (MPS) is no longer just a buzz word, but a very effective and cost efficient way of outsourcing all of the effort and reducing it to a Contract Administration function that can be handled by one manager in about 30 minutes a month. Other than AP, no one else needs to put out any effort to supply and maintain your laser printers, MFPs and other devices.
But Where do you Buy Managed Print? Who do you trust with your fleet of printers and the important role that they play in much of your companies’ business processes? And What criteria do you use in choosing a supplier?
Who Sells Managed Print Services? What Types of businesses offer this and what are their qualifications to manage your Fleet? What Level of Service can you expect from these providers? Lets look at this closer:
Copier Dealers, VARs (Value Added Resellers [IT]) and MSPs (Managed Services Providers [IT])
Why do Copier Dealers, VARs & MSPs offer MPS? - Copier Dealers have ignored laser printers for years. They were never concerned because frankly there is not very much Margin in selling $400.00 - $2000.00 printers. Heck, they are used to taking (up front) $2000.00 or more in Gross Profit on each Copier they sell. The copier dealership typically rewards Sales Reps for selling Hardware.
Dial forward to Today. Installations of Copier Hardware have been in decline for several years and will continue to decline for the foreseeable future.
Copier Dealers realize now that it’s the Pages that are produced from both copiers and printers that are the brass ring. The key for their survival is to try and capture the “pages” or “volume” from the printers to justify keeping a “copier” (or copiers) in the fleet. They also have figured out that because they have a recurring, contractually financial relationship with their clients (typically prolonged indefinitely using Lease Instruments), that they can also add the pages from the existing laser printers to their Cost-per-Page Agreements.
For VARs & MSPs, Managed Print is not much different than the other IT Services that they provide. You know Server & PC Maintenance Agreements, etc.
How do Copier Dealers, VARs & MSPs accomplish MPS? - Copier Dealers, VARs & MSPs and their Staff surprisingly have very little acumen with Laser Printers and because their Service Techs are already supporting “copiers”, servers, routers, etc; they tend to outsource Managed Print Services (MPS) to other companies. Yes that is correct; Copier Dealers, VARs & MSPs outsource the services that you are outsourcing to them. There are National Companies whose roots are in the Office Supply Distribution, Printer Cartridge Distribution, Printer Parts Companies, Office Equipment Leasing Companies,etc. These companies have designed programs to engage inexperienced (with printers) Copier Dealers, VARs & MSPs with the tools to manage, supply, service & maintain end-user Companies Fleets of Printers.
What does that mean? - It means they drop-ship toner to your location via UPS or Fed Ex with routing labels so the end-user knows what printer it is for. It also means that they outsource the Printer Repair and Maintenance to companies. Technician of the day, if you will.
What Level of Service should I expect? - Since they lack Laser Printer expertise and because they virtually outsource all of the working parts of a Managed Print Services Agreement, their Service Levels are lacking. Toner is always shipped to you, empty toner cartridges need to be shipped back to them or recycled.
Laser Printer Repair and Maintenance generally takes several days for a technician to arrive and because the National Company that outsources to Copier Dealers, VARs & MSPs, pay the least amount possible for technicians, they are often not qualified and arrive unprepared to resolve Service or Maintenance Issue.
Pros: Because Copier Dealers, VARs & MSPs have traditionally not profited from printers or the “pages” they create, it is all new business. They don’t need a lot of margin, at least for the first few years. So they sell Managed Print Service (MPS), Cheap.
Cons: The low cost only lasts so long. After they wrestle the “pages” away from the prior provider of toner, service, etc. Copier Dealers will raise the cost, perhaps “wrapping” those “page” costs in to the next lease. The other downside is the lack of reasonable service and repair. Copier Dealers, VARs and MSPs do not know printers. They have commoditized the entire fleet and have taken the focus off of Quality of Service.
You’re Friendly Neighborhood Printer Dealer (you know the guys who sell Laser Printers & Multifunction Printers (MFPs), Toner, Service & Support)
Why do Printer Dealers offer MPS? - This is what Printer Companies do. They sell laser printers, toner cartridges, offer Service, Repair & Maintenance for Printers, MFPs, Fax Machines, etc.
How do Printer Dealers accomplish MPS? - Printer Dealers typically perform all of the “working parts” of an MPS Agreement themselves. They deliver toner and remove empties (often rotating stock). They use Printer Fleet Software to manage the Service, Maintenance, Support and Toner Functions of an MPS Agreement.
They typically use their own Technicians, Delivery Staff and many have developed MPS Programs to ease the transition from transactional services to Managed Services for their end user customers.
What Level of Service should I expect? - You should expect a very high level of personal service. Printer Dealers don’t like their “space” being commoditized and distinguish themselves with a level of Support & Service that non Printer Dealers are simply unable to provide.
Pros: Expertise and High Levels of Support and Service are worth more than saving $50.00 a month. Businesses & Organizations still place a high value on the printers they use to accomplish their tasks. Lowest cost sometimes is not the best value.
Cons: Like restaurants, Printer Dealers come in a wide range of flavors (Diners, Fast Food, White Tablecloth), and many don’t get Managed Services. You need to find a Printer Company that has Programs in Place for MPS.
You wouldn’t count on a supermarket to maintain your car. Why would you choose a company with little to no experience with Laser Printers to support your fleet?