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Monday, January 26, 2009

Do You Keep Canon, Flip to Ricoh or is there somenthing more...?


IKON customers and independent dealers: what say you?

The Three Prospectives:

Customer: After exhaustive demo's, painful presentations of one copier rep after another, a dizzying amount of contract analysis, and final negotiations, you settle on a slightly more expensive, Canon copier fleet, provided by IKON.

Today you find yourself in the 2nd year of a three year agreement and your IKON rep wants to "move" you into a Ricoh.

Independent Dealer: You weren't around for the IKON/Alco Standard days, so you worked directly with Canon or Ricoh or maybe Sharp or Toshiba - over the years, you competed with Xerox, RBS, CBS, IKON and all the rest. You hesitantly moved from analog to digital, and heard all the "hoopla" around Electronic Document Management and "Solution Sales".

When Global came around you said, "no thanks...". You hired solid technicians who knew their way around belts and rollers and fusers and corona wires like nobody else. You delivered and set up copiers, and plugged them into the network - letting your client's "IT Guy" take care of the scanning and print drivers.

You remained true to the hardware.

As time moved forward, your collection of customers provided a steady stream of business - the owner often made sales calls.

RiKon Account Exec, Sales Person, et el: September of 2006 you closed and installed a small fleet of Canon copiers, 5020's and a 105.

Today, the agreement is within the 12 month renewal window, is part of your upgradable MIF and therefore used to calculate your yearly goal. You have always conducting your quarterly customer reviews, your service technicians have always been on time, and every service call has been a "one call, closed ticket" call.

Your customer's invoice has never been wrong, and overages have always been correct. Your customer and your crack Professional Services team toiled for months connecting the Canons to their legacy AS-400 system and getting the 105 to talk to the marketing department's Apple's.

Your customer loves Canon; but you don't sell Canon anymore, do you? And one more thing, nobody WANTS to buy a new copier but EVERYBODY wants to know more about this thing called Managed Print Services.

Also, this time around, your are setting down and talking with "the guy from IT"- not to discuss Documentum or KOFAX , you are talking about leasing, buyout amounts, and educating him on CPC and all of his overage charges.

This "IT guy" has five flat panel displays at his desk; one shows his network traffic, three are filled with custom built spreadsheets, he analyzes everything down to the granular level, the fourth screen is filled with WoW.

With a double click, he proudly shows you his "Copier Analysis Spreadsheet" - no less than 12 vendors names fill the first column, there are 23 columns of "decision criteria" - and this was one of your MIF accounts.


It hasn't even been a year since the announcement of the Ricoh/IKON deal but the merger looks like it is working without too many hitches. There may be some "internal" challenges, but the systems appear to be working as it was before the assimilation.

Today, Canon/Ikon customers are considering three alternatives: finding a good Canon service provider, sticking with IKON, or moving to another manufacturer - Konica/Minolta, Toshiba, Xerox, etc - all very good hardware choices.

There is more - the tumbling economy presents an opportunity for companies, with the help of Selling Professionals, to cut cost like never before.

The opportunity to redefine a costly, inefficient purchasing process by sweeping away the old and establishing a new more holistic approach to implementing print fleets and reducing the number of pages copied.

So while Canon/IKON customers evaluate their position and options, trying to figure out how to maintain their fleets, I suggest one more alternative - re-evaluate the Customer-Copier Dealer relationship in TOTAL.

Ask a simple question,

Who says companies EVEN NEED copiers today?

We know who: Ricoh, Xerox, Canon, Konica Minolta, Sharp, Toshiba, Oce, Samsung and Kyocera that's who and for obvious reasons.

Sure, you may need a device or two that can copy documents coming from outside the organization - but how many of us, in the commercial world, still assemble anything more than a stapled document?

When speaking with current Canon customers, I suggest taking a deep breath and appraising the existing print fleet, print flows, printing structure, hard costs, soft costs AND the relationship with the current equipment supplier - are they a vendor or are they a Partner?

Additionally, observe the existing fleet through a prism of absolute need. Asking, " I need a copier here...? - back to basics.

This may seem foolish to some, bold to others, but at no other time in the last 20 years has a opportunity to change the model on such a fundamental level been presented: Back To The Beginning.

The New Born "Elephant in the Room" - Managed Print Services

The single goal of MPS engagements is to lower costs associate with printing - primarily achieved by reducing images printed and machines in field.

The days of an "assessment" leading to new hardware are fading fast, if not gone completely.

So one may ask, "...if a Managed Print Service engagement will reduce the number of copiers, how can a copier manufacturer approach Managed Print Services in an upfront manner...?"

The answer is complex. It starts with the definition of MPS or more specifically, who is defining MPS.

For now, the basic response is because copier companies are the only ones in a position to understand Managed Print Services - either as an ally or a foe.

Your Prospective:

Customer: Your choice is simple, the ramifications huge. Do you opt for more of the same, or get back to basics and boldly go forward in revolution?

Independent Dealers: Are you in or are you out?

Once again, your "days are numbered" - word of your demise is greatly exaggerated. As an independent, your are in the best position to profit from the turmoil. It takes commitment. It takes money. It takes vision, and you will need to burn your ships at the shore, again.
RiKon Account Exec, Sales Person: Do you stay with RiKON, jump over to Canon or join a smaller, more appreciative dealer? (Or do you go sell pharms.)

You have alternatives too - and there really aren't any "bad" choices.

Sales People in the Industry: The terrible economy will not last forever, and with all turmoil and upheaval, opportunity abounds on a personal level. Now is the time to evaluate your unique personal position in the world - to find who truly helps you for you, not for the corporate bottom line.

The Rikon deal, challenging economy, socialistic skewing of capitalism, all influence choices - "should I stay or should I go?" or maybe a more apropos statement is "...nobody moves, nobody gets hurt..."

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  1. Interesting play with perspectives; but what people didn’t count on is relationship. Companies (people) buy from People not brand names. In a world where technology is ever changing and advancing we are not in a world where only one company has “micro toning.” Now we live in an age where everyone has good products. Sure there are better and there are worse, but they will all print, copy, fax, and scan. In fact now most have opened ended architecture which allows for customization and can be purposed for specialized tasks.

    In this day and age people see through most of the “hype” that used to be par for the course in copier sales. Now people buy from those that help them solve business problems and help them accomplish their business objectives. It is the application of the products that is important not the brand that you lease.

    My customers, albeit a narrow band of merry men are “printers and publishers;” whom are notorious for destroying equipment and being “brand conscious” now are readily looking at the new comers as they look for ways to lower their total cost of operations and look for people that will help them automate and reduce wasted time, money and other valuable resources while increasing their total output.

    In a talk that I gave to the regional group of Sir Speedy Franchise owners (TX) we talked about making the best of what they had and planning for the future. Partnership comes with obligations and responsibilities. These types of relationships do not come easy nor are they discarded readily.

    What no one counted on is that IKON customers bought IKON not Canon, Ricoh, Kyocera, HP, Konica Minolta (under their own label) or anything else for that matter. What they bought from was a person. And we are still selling….

    Pirate Mike

  2. ARrrrrrrrr......

    Mike, you are absolutely correct.

    Indeed, my perspective has changed.

    On this issue, IKON customers purchased IKON not Canon.

    The merger is going smoothly, conversions are occurring.

    The cultures of both organizations gel.

    As a matter of fact, Mike Dane Vice President of Product and Services Marketing IKON Office Solutions, Inc. could not have looked more calm when asked to discuss the merger at the 2009 Lyra Imaging Symposium.

    He echoed what you state, "our customers purchased IKON, not Canon...they are converting everyday..."

    - this is great.

  3. Here's the thing. IKON has started using compatible toners, parts and staples in the Canons that are in the field. Think what you want but in the end the Canons won't run as well as they should. End users are saying, "this Canon just doesn't run well any more." Guess what the Rikon rep is going to say? Let me show you this Ricoh that does run well. I really think end users should start demanding OEM supplies. That's what they think they're paying for and that's what was probably said at the time of purchase.

  4. TonerJockey! (great name)

    I did not know this, but it makes so much sense.

    Here's the thing - the copier business has NEVER been about solving customers problems. It has ALWAYS been about controlling the "clicks".

    Perhaps we can see this move as an "underhanded" trick - I see it as one more tactic in an overall strategy to convert Canon users to lifelong Ricoh customers.

    A quick review of a typical IKON IM Plus agreement, shows little regarding OEM or third party supplies...except this, "...the supplies will be provided according to manufacturers specifications..."

    oh boi...

  5. We are one of those companies that was a life long Canon customer. If we wanted to continue with the service company we used, Ikon then we had no choice but to switch to Richo because at some point Ikon would not be able to receive Canon parts. So do you keep with a company that you had for years and switch your copiers to Richo or do you switch companies so you can keep your Canon Copiers and have a service company that contracts with Canon to get parts and software updates. We learned our lesson and switched to Richo to keep our service tech's with Ikon. Both were a bad choice, the Richo was a piece of crap machine. We had to bandaid so many functions to make it work like our Canon. After only having the Richo for 4 months the issues started and Ikon wasn't willing to fix the problem without charging a hugh monthly fee for the switch, so we have owned the machine for 8 months and the copies are so bad we can't use the machine. Beware....don't use Ikon and don't buy Richo....

  6. Anon -

    I am sorry to hear about your challenges.

    It is unfortunate, but every merger has fallout and typically the customer is a bit more than collateral damage.

    Good Luck.


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