Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Recharger Show, Managed Print Services and One Miff'd CEO

A few weeks ago, I ran across a blog entry over at "Adventures in Office Imaging". I know Nathan, the guy who wrote an MPS song, and has sponsored the "Destroy your Printer" contest, these last two years.

What caught my eye was the title, "Skipping this year's Recharger World Expo"

In the second paragraph,

"...The "Summit" is really just a sales pitch camouflaged as an MPS-101 course. It encourages everyone-and-his-uncle to dive into the market, then tells them they need a toner vendor or a printer-copier manufacturer as their "MPS partner..."

HOLY CRAP!

I put a few questions together for the author, the CEO of Expert Laser Services, Luke Carpentier. He was very kind in answering


Interview Questions – Sunday, May 16, 2010

AIOI- “…The "Managed Print Services Summit" -- now the show's opening event and big drawing card -- typifies my reasons for not going. The "Summit" is really just a sales pitch camouflaged as an MPS-101 course. It encourages everyone-and-his-uncle to dive into the market, then tells them they need a toner vendor or a printer-copier manufacturer as their "MPS partner…

DOTC - Your observations appear to be dead on – remarking that the show’s lead is nothing more than a paid commercial. How does this particular, MPS moment, differ from the past? Haven’t shows ALWAYS included sessions that can be construed as bought and paid for infomercials?

Luke - No doubt, but when the Recharger show first started there was a lot of cartridge remanufacturing education going on at the show. Now the event features MPS and pulls dealers in a direction that can hurt all of us.

AIOI - “…But it rips me to see our industry -- an industry which has had to fight long and hard to gain respectability and secure our seat at the table -- dragged back down into the muck by a bunch of greedy, know-nothing talking heads. The drill-and-fill and void-my-warranty fears of the remanufacturing industry's past will be replaced by a managed print services label of incompetence, short-ships and product failures…”

DOTC - I see the roster of instructors for the MPS Summit; Ed Crowley from Photizo, Doug Johnson with Your MPSA, Cortney Kasuba of Lyra and Greg VanDeWalker of Great America. I personally know each of these people. And though I agree with your assertion that the MPS industry is rife with “…greedy, know-nothing talking heads…” neither of these colleagues fit the bill.

Have you had experiences with other “talking heads” who left you less than satisfied?

Luke - Every marketing venue is filled with MPS experts – talking … and selling.

DOTC - Do you feel there are more “snake oil” salesmen than real, honest to goodness people?

Luke - My slam is general, but it comes from attending and listening to individual presentations. For example, one well respected presenter stated that you should price all black-and-white prints in a fleet at the same rate. By not taking into consideration a machine’s consumable yields and its particular performance, you effectively eliminate the consulting part of MPS. Why would anyone shift equipment for best utilization or best cost for the client if it’s all the same? The foolishness of that advice may seem obvious but, to get back to generalizations again, none of the other experts in attendance disputed that idea.

DOTC - As someone who has been in the industry from the beginning; the remanufacturing industry, how do you feel MPS should be implemented?

Luke - I guess I’m a Smith Barney type: Do it the old fashioned way. Earn it. The MPS opportunity belongs to those who have built the capacity to handle it, step by step.

It took Expert Laser Services nearly 15 years selling cost-per-print before we went over $2 million in MPS sales. That’s because we made sure we had the infrastructure in place to logistically support the programs we offered. Tech vans, technicians, cartridge remanufacturing capacity, service parts inventory, management software and expertise, etc. – infrastructure is critical.

DOTC - Do you see the future of re-mans defined or destroyed by real, honest MPS Engagements?

Luke - Yes, that is my concern. When the “expertise” being offered came from an off-the-shelf software and a three-hour set of tradeshow seminars, “real” and “honest” proposals are going to result in lots of failed MPS engagements.

And the remanufacturing industry cannot help but be negatively affected. The scramble for virgin cores among the major players will inevitably lead to short-cuts, to another wave of junk cartridges onto the market, and to a world-wide-web full of bad buzz.

DOTC - In your business, are you looking to expand your MPS into Business Process Optimization?

Luke - No. We don’t have the technical infrastructure for BPO.

DOTC - What do you feel is the biggest threat to your niche?

Luke - The push – across the BTA channel, from all the equipment manufacturers, from all the office supplies dealers, from I.T. managed services providers – this big tsunami swell of MPS marketing is the threat. How many of these “hybrid” and converted dealers are going to be able to deliver on their programs? They have nothing in place to actually do the work.

Hey, if you want to play the game, put up the money. Printer fleet management demands a significant investment.

DOTC - If implemented correctly, do you see MPS as a possible advantage or a non-issue?

Luke - No Comment.

DOTC - The MPSA recently released it’s definition of MPS:

“Managed print services is the active management and optimization of document output devices and related business processes.”

How does this definition reconcile with your own?

Luke - We help companies manage an important – and largely unmanaged – asset, and save money doing it. I guess “related business processes” doesn’t apply under our definition.

DOTC - As a leader and a legacy company, what would you like to see in a MPS 101 course?

Luke - Make sure the class can answer questions like these:

- How do I buy back existing customer inventory?
- Where am I going to get my supplies inventory? … How many and which cartridges do I need to stock? … Is my vendor proven reliable?
- How will I handle failed cartridges?
- How to I book inventory? … in our trucks? … in supply rooms at customer site?
- How do I keep track of investments? … which engagements are actually profitable?
- How many repair parts do I need to maintain? … which machine models? … which parts need to be stocked in the printer tech’s vans?
- Whose technicians am I going to use? … are they reliable? … Should I cross-train my copier tech’s?
- How will I handle preventive maintenance?
- What am I going to do about the large percentage of local printers in some verticals?
- Pricing! – How do I price monochromes? … color? … black-and-white on color machines?
- Billing! – How do I bill a customer with 150 devices that needs departmental billing?

DOTC - Also, can you give some basic background information like company history, value prop, number of cartridges shipped, number of machines/clients supported – anything you feel is appropriate.

Luke - Our website does a good job with all that.

End Transmission -------------------------------

I FRIGGIN LOVE IT. Look at those questions! This is pure gold.

Thank you very much, Luke, for answering and putting it out there like this.

g

Click to email me.

Reactions:

4 comments:

  1. Greg,
    This was one of your better blogs nice work! I want to respond to some of Luke's comments. For the record, I am one of the presenters at the Summit plus my company is a sponsor of the MPS Summit and World Expo. I can tell you from my perspective, plus many of the other organizations at the Summit who I know personally, we are attending for the EXACT reason Luke mentioned in his comments. He stated "the MPS opportunity belongs to those who have built the capacity to handle it, step by step." I agree 100%.
    Here is my question for Luke. If you looked at the average attendee at World Expo, what percent of the attendees have 100% of the capabilities to run an effective step-by-step MPS program like you have been running? Based on the past 4 years of attending the show I would put that number under 10%. So it begs the question, what is the best way today to build your MPS program for the other 90%? This transition is very expensive and time consuming for companies. In light of the economy over the past two years, I don't know many rechargers who are flush with cash to invest in the capabilities. Plus, EVERY channel is going after this space. And although I agree that many of the big OEM's don't have a tight program, I can tell you some do. Plus if you look at the other channels many of the local and regional companies selling MPS are taking down millions of pages per month in MPS contracts. Many of those contracts are taking business away from the rechargers (I many of those stories every year).
    So, what to do? I know of many programs that a recharger can partner with today to help give them the capabilities they don't possess. This will help them protect their base. Then over time, do what Luke says, layer in capabilities until the time arrives when you don't need to partner and can run a program like Luke has with no help from the outside.
    I admit, doing it the way Luke describes is the best way! But he is very shortsighted to think every recharger can build a program like he has in a short amount of time in the current economic environment.
    MPS is like westward expansion, it is a land grab. Everyone is trying to get pages under contract. If you don't, you will lose business! I believe the MPS Summit is a worthy event that helps the typical recharger be exposed to organizations that can truly help them get into MPS in ways not even possible two years ago. They can be profitable with their first contract, with no major upfront investment. I don't view this as snake-oil-ism, I think it is the way business can be done in the 21st century, collaboration! Luke, I hope you change your mind about the Summit. If you do, I'll buy you a drink at Red Square in Mandalay and we can discuss this further!
    Thanks again Greg for your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's funny that someone who is concerned with the Summit being "a sales pitch camouflaged as an MPS 101 course," is fine with ending his blog with his URL and a "come on over to my website. I'll take of care of you."
    Looks a little like a "sales pitch thinly veiled as concern for the industry."

    ReplyDelete
  3. MPS Fan -

    Please note in the interview where Luke said "come on over to my website. I'll take of care of you."

    If he had said something along those lines (which he did not), the url would have come off as such, but considering the amount of info Greg requested in his question was already available on our website, why not simply post the url?

    GVDW - I sent your comments to Luke. Thanks for your perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  4. NATHAN DUBE SAID...


    MPS Fan -

    Please note in the interview where Luke said "come on over to my website. I'll take of care of you."

    If he had said something along those lines (which he did not), the url would have come off as such, but considering the amount of info Greg requested in his question was already available on our website, why not simply post the url?

    GVDW - I sent your comments to Luke. Thanks for your perspective.

    Nathan, I needed to post in this manner, something was not working with Blogger...g

    ReplyDelete