Saturday, November 27, 2010

Managed Print Services - Assessment or Marketing Piece...?


I guess it isn't any wonder. As we traverse the MPS path, the once vaulted solutions, seem tainted and unfulfilling.

How many of you host your own server in order to capture the everyday activity from your MIF?

Sounded like a great idea at the time, didn't it?

Do you use 100% of the capacity available? Are you, today, utilizing all the functions and tools of this solution; the same ones that triggered your purchase decision in the first place?

Really? Sure, I bet you don't even use the F7 key in Word, let alone the other 99% of functionality MS-Word gets you. And let's not get started on why your 7-year-old can outrun you, smart-phone to smart-phone.

With more and more MPS providers getting smarter about what works and what doesn't, some, well many, are questioning the effectiveness of the "assessment" and re-visiting the purpose of Quarterly Business Reviews(QBR's).

Evolving takes time.

The Assessment is the beginning of every MPS engagement. There are dozens of philosophies, ideas, angles, and tools in the MPS ecosystem at our disposal.

And still, plenty of questions...Billable or non-billable, custom or generated, abound.

It is just a starting point. To bill or not to bill, depends greatly on your definition of MPS. Worse, there really isn't a right or wrong answer.

Here is the secret - if you are confident your MPS expertise will bring value to your prospect, go forward, and bill for your time.

This takes guts. This means the result of your toil will belong to your client, not you.

This also demands you provide value equal to the amount you charge. And there's the rub.

It's easy to do free assessments, there is no demand for value - one gets what one PAYS FOR. I mean, does Xerox charge customers for brochures? (or Konica or Lexmark or anyone) So why should we expect a prospect to pay for nothing more than one of our "buy from us" slicks disguised as an Assessment?

So, know thyself.

If you refresh fleets 1:1, churn older machines and schedule follow up calls around lease expiration dates, don't bill for assessments. Don't even try. (forget about non-disclosure agreements too) And that's ok.

On the other hand, if all your ducks are in a row, if you staff a level of MPS expertise the copier dealer down the street can only dream about, go for it.

One More Thing: The "M" in "MPS": Management not Marketing

Assessments are the first step in revealing your MPS practice as detailed and results-oriented. It is the first step in MANAGING the engagement - not capturing clicks inside a service agreement.

Simply put, the assessment shows how committed you are to keeping the 'M' in MPS.

What a concept. I know life is so strange, Destination Unknown...

*** UPDATE, 2016 ***

I'm fortunate to have found a product and a company willing to allow me to build a tool I would use, every day in my MpS practice.

From assessments to service dispatch to business reviews ArcDrive embodies my philosophies around assessments(for print or ANY other niche) and running a profitable practice(for print or ANY other niche).

Contact me for details.

Click to email me.