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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Purchasing Managed print Services from a copier dealer? Three Things To Consider in Your Agreement

There was a time in my life when I provided managed print services to customers ranging in size from as few as 10 devices to as many as 1,100.  The MpS practice was one of five different practices within a VAR.  Managed print services was not a focus - indeed, some of my engagements generated revenue that was a fraction of the rebates generated on one transaction from HP or CISCO deals.

But after crashing and burning two times, ultimately, we became profitable, cohesive and well run, if I do say so myself.

Along the way, I added years of experience to an already varied past and volumes of seemingly disparate knowledge.  Today, working with end-users more than providers, I find many of the techniques I once thought gone and forgotten, implemented with abandon.

Here's a list of three such tactics to look out for when buying managed print services.  There are many more we'll address as the days flow through 2014.
  1. Price escalations - why would you agree to allow anyone to arbitrarily raise your price?
  2. No 30 day out - things change and real managed print services programs are designed to manage the naturally occurring reduction in the number of devices and prints.  A thirty day out is not much to demand.
  3. Capital investments tied to a service agreement - Never combine a service agreement with a hardware lease/rental. 
Why are these considerations typical? Just for fun, let's look at these five points from the providers vantage point, shall we?  What does a provider expect:
  1. Price escalations - This doesn't require the firing of too many neurons.  Bid a low cost per page and get the margin back in 12 months, after the price increase.
  2. 30 day out - Again, it isn't too much of a strain to see why a provider would want to "lock you into an extended agreement.  You represent a guaranteed revenue stream
  3. Capital investments tied to a service agreement - The mother of all facts is this: you can never get out of a lease early, without paying for the remainder of term. Yes, there are provisions for government-type accounts, but for commercial businesses, getting out of any lease is near impossible. So if I, as a provider, can attach or 'roll' service charges into a equipment lease, that stream is guaranteed for the life of the lease.  No matter what.
Not every MpS practitioner utilizes these techniques and is some cases, any one of the above stipulations may make sense.  The point is to see it coming.

My MpS practice was successful and sustainable - we didn't use entrapment, we implemented real managed print services at times under a Master Service Agreement that could include RMM and Unified Communications (UC) - that was in 2009.

Not "managed toner delivery" or "CPI invoicing on printers" or simply "managed print".  

MpS Purity.  Demand it.

This is not a plant stand.  It is an optimized device from an MpS engagement.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated