Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation Bound

Well friends, I will be off next week and will most likely not be posting to the blog (but you never know). Just an FYI.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ontario to hire "Printer Police"

Protecting the community from toner bandits and copier salesmen...

According to

"According to local paper The Hamilton Spectator, the employee would help the city save up to $700,000 a year in printing costs.

The employee would be required to control printer purchases, make sure staff use duplex printing and only print in colour when necessary.

The position was reportedly recommended in a report to city councillors outlining a five-year, $6 million printing contract with Ricoh."

Man, you think mall cops get made fun of? This guy is going to be the laughing stock of Ontario...

"Freeze! Drop your toner!"

"You there! Stop that single sided printing or I'll Shoot!!"

"Refrain from using color in that document or you will be tazzed!"

"Sir, do you know how fast you were printing? Try to keep it under 20 ppm next time..."

You can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

MPS has a touch of grey

Grateful Dead

Yesterday I read a post at DOTC about elements of Bruce Springsteens career as an allegory for the future of managed print services.

A great read indeed however, I must offer my own perspective on musical metaphors in regards to MPS and I believe that the Grateful Dead as a whole make the perfect allegory for managed print services past, present and future.

Trust me this will not be as abstract as you may think...

In many ways the early years of managed print services reflect those of the Grateful Dead (at least from a business standpoint). Only a handful of dedicated folks knew of the band and expressed a true passion for the group and their music. This is comparable to the early years of MPS circa 1989. No one was doing MPS then right? Wrong! Printelligent claims working in MPS then and the following year our CEO Luke Carpentier signed his first managed print services contract.

For 15+ years this industry was owned by small companies around the country who pioneered managed print services, their customers a small yet dedicated base of people who could see something special about managing their document output in this way. In this sense, not unlike the dead heads, they were doing things differently and for some this provided the sense that "we have something special".

MPS was for a time, a grass roots movement. While our industry was not built on trading free live recordings of a band in the way which the Grateful Dead accrued their growing fan base, folks like our founder had been offering his products door to door, one customer at a time, getting them to "turn on" to his program by spoiling his customers with the best service and products to the extent that referrals from his current customers started to generate new customers. In many ways these two "sales" tactics are the same.

Give your followers, or customers rather, a reason to tell others about what you have to offer and why it is awesome. If what you have to offer is truly awesome, then it will start to sell itself.

(And that way you won't have to get Ben Stein to try and sell your products for you)

For a long time the glory days ruled the scene in respect to both managed print services and the Grateful Dead. However, when a scene gets to big, it gets bad and problems occur. While drug addiction and serious health problems won't be the downfall of many MPS outfits as they have been for the band, sudden and unexpected growth in the amount of supposed "MPS experts" will be the demise of those who only see the potential yet lack the ability to achieve the goals needed to make an MPS practice profitable for the provider and valuable to the customer.

When the Grateful Dead had a random super hit in their 1987 single "Touch of Grey" their fan base exploded to a size of great and weary proportions, forcing the band to move from playing amphitheaters and venues of that size to performing in football stadiums. From a financial point of view this may seem like a good thing and yet this sudden growth separated the band from its fans physically (as to how the stages in the stadiums had to be so massive for various reasons, there was a much grater distance between the first rows and the band) and for some, emotionally.

In a similar way it seemed like come 2008-2009 everyone from the big boys such as Ikon, Canon, HP, etc. to Staples and Office Depot (meh!) to copier salesmen to grandma Elly and cousin Roy had decided that getting in to MPS was "the thing to do".

Now that sounds good doesn't it? A get rich quick scheme that might actually work!? Great, we will send our sales team to Vegas for a week and when they get back we will be "experts" in managed print services...

Now who really gets hurt in this situation? The real managed print services providers who have been in the trenches for 20 plus years? Sure, but the real shame is that there will be good honest people out their who sign contracts with these inexperienced and uneducated fools. So while sub-par MPS "experts" line their pockets and true MPS providers slam their fists on their desk in frustration, the most important people in the equation are at the greatest risk of being screwed.

Sounds bad I know, however...

On August 9, 1995, at 4:23 AM Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack due to complications with drugs, sleep apnea and weight problems. While this was the saddest and most miserable moment in the history of the Grateful Dead Jerry's Death forced the band and the fans into a much needed break that would dismantle the scene for a time, alowing for some to find healing, and recovery and also for many to find jobs... ( I have met doctors, lawyers, professors and many other highly educated and successful dead heads who in their younger years had been just as wild as many who had taken the road to destruction via trying to make the party last forever which for many, leads to a fate similar to that of Garcia)

Since Jerry's Death the remaining band members have reunited in multiple emanations of the original lineup and have also spurred their own bands and subgroups that have and will continue to carry the positive and beautiful aspect of the group (namely the music) onward through multiple generations.

In the same way many in the managed print services industry will hit hard times. They will crash and burn. They will fail. Hopefully some of them learn a lesson. On the flip side of the coin, this difficult yet necessary refining process will leave behind the tried and true. The best that the industry has to offer. The true "managed print services experts".

And despite all the bad, in the end, the good will go on. Sure, things may never be the same as the glory days, the early years, those magic times when it was all new and only a select few knew what amazing things would come, but as any mature individual knows, change is the only constant.

We will get by, we will survive!

Josh said...

After going over some older posts at a few of my favorite industry blogs I stumbled over Greg Walters "Managed Print Services Conference 2010, The DOTC Take Aways: Impressive" post over at DOTC.

Even after the second reading I must say, I really enjoyed this post. As usual it was relevant and had some great humor in it.

Reading this line from the article about the possibilities at the 2011 MPSCon "imagine a sea of Leopard Headbands...glorious, simply, glorious." I couldn't help but think the only thing that would make this scenario better would be to see such a crowed getting down to a live version of "Why can't you fix my printer" performed by the Expert Laser Services MPS all star band.

I also loved this quote from Greg
: "I am rough on copier peeps, because I once was one. Ok, well I am one, you can never really get out, once you're in. It's like the Mafia, which never existed, by the way."


And while the there was a lot more excellent perspective on MPSCon 2010 as well as numerous other tasty bits to this piece, I would say that this comment from "Josh" was the highlight of my reading experience in regards to this post,

Josh said...

It is still interesting to me that 50% of the presentations had the old "The customer hides printers under their desk" story.

My personal takeaway from the conference, from an end user perspective: I got to see glimpses behind the curtain of how this service is offered and sold; the things that are sometimes exploited, and how the ones doing it right can shine, even amongst a ballroom full of industry experts.

Emphasis mine.

Haza, Josh... Haza.

Office Depot drops the ball

From see the quotes below...

"Office Depot has agreed to a $4.5 million settlement with Florida Attorney General (AG) over allegations Office Depot overcharged government agencies"

"The supplier allegedly switched certain local government agencies and private non-profit organizations in Florida to a different pricing plan without letting them know, potentially resulting in higher prices."

Just a heads up for anyone considering buying their "MPS in a box" offering.

Dell enters hall of shame

Does being a "big boy" give you the right to be a bully? Dell seems to think so...

According to this article from the Dell has been placed in The Forum of Private Business's late payment Hall of Shame after the company extended the time it takes to pay suppliers by 15 days.

Below is an excerpt from the article.

Forum spokesman Phil McCabe said: “Small businesses continue to suffer from the blight of late payment, which devastates cash flow and forces firms into administration. Companies like Dell have a responsibility to pay promptly – failure to do so can mean the whole supply chain seizes up.

“When they receive a letter like this, smaller suppliers have no choice but to agree and stay silent. There is little room for bargaining. For the sake of small businesses and the economy the new government must prioritize tackling the culture of poor payment, addressing the bullyboy behavior of these bigger companies.

“In the meantime we will continue to give small firms a voice by holding them to account publicly in our late payment Hall of Shame."

Here's to those who fight for the little guys!

Green without Green

I recently re-read Ken Stewart's What Is Process Black and Green All Over? Your MPS Message Better Be! post over at MPS insights and while I would love to believe he is spot on I can not help but feel that he is not. While I pride myself as being an employee here at Expert Laser Services which is very much a green MPS provider, to take some of the assumptions of this post as actual possibilities seems more akin to that of a pipe dream than anything else, at least at this point in time.

Part of Kens post reads:

"If the enterprise generally leads the SMB market in business trends, get ready for your customers to begin requiring line items be included in proposals offering how your offerings will reduce their carbon footprint or impact their carbon footprint."

Emphasis mine.

Please take notice of the text in black italics...

You would think that in this day and age where "going-green" has become so popular both due to the fact that its trendy yet also seemingly important enough in the minds of so many that this prediction would be true. However, do you honestly think that if said company requested the above information that said company would sign a contract with the green MPS provider if there was a less green MPS option with another provider who offered greater cost savings than the greener company?

In a perfect world maybe, but lets face it, this is not that world. As much as I would love to see companies go for the green plan, I would bet that many will not. The simple fact remains, the only green that really matters in the corporate world is cold hard cash. Sure if an MPS provider offers a plan with greater savings and it happens to be green then great, looks good on the press release.

Here in the real world, places like Guiyu China exemplify greed masked by the supposed nobility of being earth friendly which all to often is merely an elaborate and well played production of green washing used to make a corporate entity appear green, when in fact said corporations true colors more than likely resemble those of blood and oil.

Seem a little grim? Well it is. While not all companies are fiends in that respect it would be silly to think that even the majority of the best companies out there would opt for the greener option if it was the more expensive of several other possible MPS plans.

The truth may be hard to swallow but facing it and digesting it is the only way to utilize truth as a tool to make things better than they are or rather better than the reality behind the veil.

If we as a race are ever truly going to "go green" it will be when the majority chooses to sacrifice dollars for the greater good of the earth. Until then, going green will remain in the realm of propaganda and lies.

Lego Printer?

MPS Interview #4: DOTC

AIOI: What company do you work for?

DOTC: Death Of The Copier - one of the premier niche publications in the world.

AIOI: How many employees does your company have?

DOTC: We currently employ millions.

AIOI: How do you personally define Managed Print Services?

DOTC: Anything and everything the person on the other side of the desk says that it is.

AIOI: How long have you been involved with Managed Print Services?

DOTC: Its not the age, its the mileage. Let's just say, I have been in MPS longer than Staples has.

AIOI: What benefits does your MPS program offer your customers?

DOTC: We at DOTC try to tell it like it is, we may not always be correct, but we don't care.

Also, most people in our industry/niche are some of the most dynamic and fun folks to work with or be around - so why can't we show this off to those outside the industry?

Do we really need to be so...bland?

Copier nerds? Yes! Toner-dudes? Of course! MPS Geeks? Sure, why not? Belly up and share some stories.

In addition to the blog, we assist dealers, new MPS practices and individual Selling Professionals in "translating the corporate dogma" being spewed from consultants and the "big boys". We boil down or negate the propaganda, for the Selling Professional.

The Death Of The Copier, currently, has no "sponsor" - I don't advertise or engage Infotrends, so it is unlikely that you will ever see, "DOTC" in the upper right Quadrant. So, I can afford to be a rogue, a provocateur as you will. Suits me just fine.

AIOI: What are some of your major successes?

DOTC: Ok, now we get serious.

I have had the honor to advise an MPS selling team at a dealership, somewhere in the south - this client, who shall remain nameless, engaged me (yes, a check was made out to "The Death of the Copier) to simply "talk" about my successes and my failures in MPS - he wanted to get a real, from the trenches, no bullsh*t view of MPS. He had been a paying customer for some of the more well known copier consultants.

After talking for a couple of weeks, we moved to 1:1's with the selling staff.

Here's where the success comes in, during one discussion, I was able to pontificate and advise this selling professional on one specific account. I told them what I would do in that situation.

Well, I'll be damned if they didn't take my advice, say what I said to say in the way I said to say it, resulting in a close, a sale. I was stunned, flabbergasted, proud.

To me, this is the greatest success in the world. I know now how the consultants must feel or at least had felt back in the beginning.

It is weirdly fulfilling to have somebody take your advice and see results in the form of dollars, because they did what you recommended.

AIOI: What separates your MPS program from your competitors?

DOTC: In many ways, I have few, if any, competitors.

My uniqueness is my history: I started selling B2B solutions, accounting systems, back when the AT was still a viable device, when Epson 24-pins where all the rage and connected via parallel ports. I was in that niche for nearly 7-8 years.

I have sold uniforms, excuse me, I mean, Corporate Identity Programs and AFLAC insurance, excuse me again, I mean, pre-tax, self-funded employee benefit programs; again, all B2B.

Add to this my stints in the Office Equipment Industry, sprinkle in a little, Detroit smart-ass and viola!

In the end, my true "competitor" is Time.

MPS is a NASA Crawler

NASA Crawler

From the MPSA website:

"Why is moving to selling Managed Print Services (MPS) such a challenge for so many? Of course if it were as simple as adding a new product or service to your existing portfolio of offerings, it would be significantly easier. However, it’s more than adding another product or trying a new sales approach. Moving to an MPS model is really a significant change to what you sell and how your business operates. It entails moving from hardware sales to selling professional service contracts, which in turn, affects product, cash flow, sales, operations and customer relationships. It’s a big change."

The red text above speaks volumes about the assumptions many would-be MPS providers have made. For a while now I have been talking about the "mps bandwagon" which, is a myth in and of itself.

There is no bandwagon...

If MPS is comparable to any vehicle it would be the NASA Crawler. The NASA Crawler (pictured above) is a gigantic, slow moving tank like transportation device. It is the vehicle that moves rocket ships into place for take off.

In many ways MPS is (in a metaphorical sense) comparable to the NASA Crawler. People who think they are just going to launch there own MPS program because the iron is hot and it seems like "the thing to do" are in effect deciding to build and man a crawler, mistakenly thinking that it will be a simple, cookie cutter process... enter the bandwagon....

CRUNCH! What was that?

That is the MPS crawler crushing your presumptions.

For those who have been in the trenches of MPS since the early 1990's MPS is not a challenge. However, that is because it has been developed for years through trial an error by companies like Expert Laser Services, Printelligent, and other industry veterans that have in effect, created and evolved MPS to what it is today.

It took a while, the crawler moved slowly, one contract at a time. Until finally the launchpad was ready...

5...4...3...2...1... BLASTOFF! < Getting to this point does not come from adding another product or trying a new sales approach.

While there is a wealth of knowledge about MPS and organizations like the MPSA and the Photizo Group to help those who are serious about entering this industry reach their goals, the process is still a major commitment. MPS is not a fad, it is not easy. You can not go to Vegas for a week long seminar and expect to return as an MPS professional.

As we move further into the future the trenches will reveal who the real MPS providers are.

If you are considering signing a contract with an MPS provider, once again I implore you, do your homework and ask yourself, does your provider drive a wagon or a crawler?

MLS - Managed Laundry Services?

Washing Machines


Managed services are everywhere...

A few months back, midway through the second stage of an analysis for a local college, the IT guy and I stopped to engage in a short conversation about the MPS program that my company would be implementing at the school with a lady from the library.

Much to my surprise, about halfway through the conversation a parallel was drawn between our MPS program and the way that the school plans on managing it's... laundry?

Yes, indeed.

The school plans on implementing what I refer to as an MLS plan.

All service, supplies and repairs are included in the cost of the plan with a fix it or replace it guarantee (whoa, deja' vu).

The company (of which the name the IT guy did not know) will provide the machines to the school all of which will be under contract with a CPL "cost per load" plan. Monthly visits from washer and dryer techs will ensure all machines are running at optimum performance levels and will undergo repairs or cleanings when necessary.

As mentioned earlier all soaps, powders, dryer sheets and additional supplies are included in the price of the plan.

Students will be prompted to buy a "laundry pass" which will save them money on their weekly laundry should they choose to do their laundry on campus, while any profits will either be funneled back into the MLS plan or go to benefit other campus needs.


Think about the people

As many of you know, I have a certain level of contempt for the bloating of the managed print services industry. Or rather the level of non-experts who insist upon hijacking the bandwagon and riding the coattails of folks like us, which from my point of view dilutes the professionalism and elegance of a once respectable niche market. Adding to the frustration of this situation is the fact that the "big boys" speak of expertise and flaunt global accounts with flashy marketing schemes which for all intent and purpose are grandiose collectives of smoke and mirrors. There is more (snake) oil in this industry than there is in the gulf of Mexico.

While organizations such as the MPSA and the Photizo group are reflections of the finer points and honorable aspects of the industry, neither of these groups speak of these hard truths. While this is to be expected for obvious reasons, one has to consider the dynamics within the realm of managed print services and report on both the light and the dark sides of this industry.

Managed Print Services is at once an honorable industry with virtually unlimited potential while also serving as a catalyst for the darkest depths of depravity in regards to the filth of commodity which for some, will serve as nothing more than a tool for self righteous financial indulgence.

We must ask ourselves

Is being a giant corporation with a "now offering MPS" marketing ploy enough to make you an expert?

Will the customers who get burned by the "used car salesmen" of the industry spew hate for MPS as a whole?

Will they give the real experts a chance after such an ordeal?

Will MPS carry the same debonair after the wheat is separated from the chaff?

Who knows. Maybe the bullsh*t wont hurt the industry all that much and after its shoveled and removed everyone will forget about it right?

Customers who signed multiple year contracts swayed by the promise of savings falling from the lips of well dressed men, only to find out that had they dug a little deeper and had they looked past the buzz words and green wash that they could have done business with a real expert apposed to a magician with well rehearsed lines of double talk...

The most import people in managed print services are the customers.

The customers.

These are the people who matter the most.

And these are the folks who are going to get burned by these "MPS experts".

Yeah sure you may end up feeling bad for the guy who spent a month in Vegas gearing up for a long succesful career in MPS only to crash and burn. But think about all the hard working people in the companies he was supposed to be helping. When a customer signs that contract they believe that you are going to save them money and on some levels provide them with a sense of security. They believe that their business is going to be better because they choose you to be their provider.

So before you hotshots latch on to the bandwagon, think about the customers. Think about the people.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Truth and Toner

A couple months back I posted an article by guest blogger Amanda Brand of the Go-Green N' Save Blog about the fate of e-waste, notably toner cartridges. The article which cast light upon one dark area of the "green movement" was educational and indeed, a good pitch at potential customers why they should switch to re-manufactured toner cartridges over OEM. The post hit hard showcasing the sad truth that many recycling companies choose to sell toner cartridges and other such e-waste to Chinese "recyclers". In all honesty much of this waste ends up in the streets, rivers, and virtually any open space in the town of Guiyu, China (and other similar communities around the world). Children play upon heaps of old computers, broken monitors, circuit boards, wires, toner cartridges and a whole universe of junk technology. Fires spewing black smoke into the air burning away plastic so that folks can sell the precious metals inside for whatever they can get fill the air with toxic fumes.

As a marketing professional it was a no-brainer. Like a hungry journalist I jumped at the opportunity to not only help Amanda get an audience for her post through our blog, something which in theory would benefit us both (she was kind enough to return the favor and post one of my articles with links on her blog) but also to use this information to hopefully capture new customers for our own line of re-manufactured toner cartridges which at the end of their life are fully recycled here in the USA at our own plant in Southbridge, MA.

In that respect I realize that marketing and advertising is not unlike sorcery in many ways. We are paid to combine colors and symbolic images into ads, videos and or other such mediums with the intent to manifest emotional reactions from people that will aid in our quest to get them to buy our products. I am fortunate to work for a company like Expert Laser Services who actually provides a green product that not only saves our customers money, but when the product fully loses its use and profitability, it is in fact fully recycled and the fate of such waste is guaranteed not to be Guiyu, China or for that matter, the landfill in your community. This can not be said for all companies and I would advise you to be weary of messages that make you feel warm and fuzzy and also be sure to check out the company behind any slick marketing piece.

With that being said I would implore you to please do your homework. Many companies talk the good talk but only in the spirit of financial gain. A little digging may help you have a clear conscience when it comes to your own actions in regards to what you do with that spent cartridge, cell phone, computer etc. Sure, the small town of Guiyu, China is a world away, but if it was your child playing in a heap broken metal, plastic and glass surely you would think twice about who you give your e-waste to. A little poking around, a phone call, and a quick web search may help you find a recycler who can truly stand upon the integrity they claim to have.

MPS Interview #3: Greg Walters

AIOI: What company do you work for?

Greg: SIGMAnet - one of the larger, west coast IT services provider.

AIOI: How many employees does your company have?

Greg: We currently employ 100+

AIOI: How do you personally define Managed Print Services?

Greg: MPS is any process designed and implemented to reduce costs associated with moving, creating, storing and presenting information.

AIOI: How long have you been involved with Managed Print Services?

Greg: Technically since 2007. But I have been in the copier industry since 1999. Starting with Oce, through Panasonic and finally served three years at IKON. Going way back, I started working with clients in 1989, Selling B2B accounting software(AccPac, Timberline, Great Plains, Solomon, etc.)

AIOI: What benefits does your MPS program offer your customers?

Greg: My MPS Engagements bring all the benefits associated with Stage 1 and 2 of the MPS process.

We are fairly deep into a partnership with our distributor when sourcing and fulfilling supplies. I have a team of technicians and we specifically work with "HP houses", which are not that difficult to find.

We are certified up to Edgeline and we run all of our MPS on CPI agreements; B/W we typically sell at 0.0120. Not the cheapest, but we aren't the cheapest and all our supplies are OEM.

Additionally, I can work directly with IT for all their needs - from servers to storage to staffing. This is a major competitive advantage when working with IT-types- I have people who speak their language. What is more intriguing, even if I never engage a MPS client for their traditional, IT needs, the simple reason that I CAN gives me instant credibility.

Also, we are not afraid to work with any manufacturer, vendor or dealer. For example, when one of my client's true, output requirements(as determined by me) dictated a machine that I would not supply, my Partnership with the client allowed me to manage spec'ing the unit, and managing the RFP process.

I worked the copier guy.

An interesting spin, wouldn't you say?

AIOI: What are some of your major successes?

Greg: Successes are all over the board - I have saved a company $1,000.00 per month, not that much, but 12k to this small business was greatly appreciated.

I am currently 12 months into a 36 month project, we have currently reduced their hard cost by $500,000.00; my replacement ratio right now is 1:5, for every machine I place, I remove 5 other devices.

I have advised prospect and client alike on the ways of copier leases - sometimes resulting in a new equipment placement, sometimes not.

As a result of our assessment, I have helped many clients evaluate and re-align their oversight and internal accounts payable process.

AIOI: What separates your MPS program from your competitors?

Greg: This goes back to the IT Services - when I walk through the door, I am not a copier dealer, I am not a toner supplier, I am not simply a laser printer service company, to the prospect I can be much, much more.

Death of the definition?

MPS comic

I sure hope so...

The once worthy quest of defining managed print services has become at best a caricature of itself and at worst a gimmick.

MPS Insights had this to say about such ambitions:

"MPS is complex as a product, including hardware, services, software and consulting. Since it is new for (nearly) everybody, there has been a fair amount of discussion regarding the proper definition of the term. And just to compound the issue, a player with a printer background will have a different view of the world and a different view of the MPS industry and products than a player with an MFP (or consumables, or service, or . . .) background."

and a bit later in the same article noted:

"New participants are joining the industry all the time: vendors, channel partners and clients. While the discussion is no longer new for us, it is certainly new (and highly relevant) for them."

"There are a lot of alpha animals in this industry. Rather than adopting somebody else’s definition and methodology, many feel compelled to develop, promote and defend their own version."

The above quotes seem to suggest that there will never be an accepted definition of MPS for all people within the industry as a whole...

And why should there be?

Lets face it, because of the egos involved there will never be "the" definition of MPS. Everyone wants to be the best. There are the alpha animals and those who want to be the alpha animals and as long as there are at least 2 managed print services programs owned by different companies there will always be disagreements about what managed print services definition is.

It would also seem that most of us are aware of this truth and yet new blog posts speaking of "this guys" definition of managed print services surface almost daily. Why is this? Can't find something better to blog about? Is there enjoyment in beating a dead horse?

What ever the reason, I would hope that this parlor trick of a topic disappears soon...

MPS (Marriage Print Services)


Today I read Ken Stewart's "4 Pillars of your managed print services program" post from the MPS Insights blog.

In the article Ken suggests that the client/provider relationship should be one of a symbiotic nature. The kind of relationship where each entity involved receives something positive for their presence within said relationship.

I think Ken is on to something here and overall I thought his article was great...

I would however like to take things a step further and suggest that the best client/provider relationships should be (in a metaphorical sense) not unlike a marriage.

In his article Ken hit the nail on the head in saying:

"While this is not entirely an unpredictable thought-track, managed services at their core have a “win-win” endgame at heart; both the provider and client must share in the success while both understand that they must also sacrifice some in order to maximally benefit from the relationship." (emphasis mine)

The above statement is in many ways the key to a successful marriage and in the same way is also the key to any great relationship.

In today's society you see a lot of "hook-ups", messy marriages and divorces. This is largely
due to the fact that often times people enter into a relationship with their focus being on what they want or rather what they expect from the other person involved.

This kind of selfishness may lead to initial gains for one or even both parties involved however, it will also almost certainly lead to a problematic future.

I am sure by now you have come to expect this warning in my posts however like the wiser parents who have gone before their children I must advise the clients out there...

Do. Your. Homework.

If you don't take the time to really dig into the MPS offerings out there and decide to just go with what feels right in the moment or pick the MPS plan with the most bells and whistles, you may very well find yourself locked into a multiple year contract (or shall well say marriage) with no option for divorce until you suffer through the experience and reach said contracts end.

Indeed there are MPS providers out there who truly want to help the customer. Folks who earnestly have the desire to make a living by truly helping you to save money, get the most out of your equipment and help you to reduce your impact on the earth.

With that being said there is no denying that there are those who want to sell you machines, sell you a "plan", get your signature and then move on to the next score.

This scenario sucks, but we all know this is the truth.

So how do you find an experienced MPS provider who is one of the "good guys"?

Do. Your. Homework.

Compare at least a few of the offerings out there. Speak with those organizations "MPS experts", talk with other business owners who are on contact with these companies and see what they have to say about their providers.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek will find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

Sometimes the truth is simple.

MPS, This ain't boxes or bullsh*t

Adapt or Die!

Ed Crowley's insight is alive and well and all to real. In many ways this decree boils with the poignant perspective that selling MPS is not like selling boxes, bullsh*t or anything else for that matter.

Selling MPS is different from selling anything else. It is from my perspective... cake. A bold statment indeed, but I have been marketing MPS for almost 4 years now, for a company that has been doing MPS for about 20 years. For many others though, it is nothing short of advanced alchemy and most of the newbies will find that making gold is better left to the Issac Newton's of the industry.

On our sales team we have a core three guys who have made the grade and seem to be in it for the long haul. Aside from them we have had other salesmen come and go. Some managed to sell machines even in this climate and were able to capture some contract customers as well. Some however simply did not get the true nature of selling managed print services and while they had a good track record in regards to "selling" in general, MPS proved to be a confusing animal.

So when we had to let go of one sales guy (let's call him Andrew) for the simple fact that he was not selling to the required extent, I offered to pick up some of the slack and work as a salesman in addition to continuing in my marketing roll.

Having cut my teeth in all the different areas of the company I felt I knew what our program was about and figured that I could do this. I have been in sales less than month and I must admit my first prospect is a lesson to those salesmen out there who think they know how to sell MPS.

On the first day of cold calling I hit a local college. From the gatekeeper I was transferred to the IT guy who happened to be a friend from grade school (let's call him Dave). After throwing out my pitch he said yeah that sounds great...

going on he replied:

"Actually I think we started this process with someone else from your company a while ago and nothing came from it"

Hmm... Ok.

With that I told him I would look into it and would be in touch. Upon hanging up the phone I searched for about a minute in our archives and sure enough there was a contract proposal with all the info laid out ready to go.

I found this to be odd...

Calling Dave back I set up an appointment and met with Dave in his office and laid out how our program could save him money.

Dave's response was something like this...

"Wow, that sounds great... Oh you do that? Great! I would love to get that off my plate! This sounds excellent! Let's get the ball rolling!

(Additionally, Dave said a friend of his who does IT for another customer of ours had called him and raved about our product, so Dave had already felt good about us before Andrew or I had even walked in the door!)

So we set dates for a free 30 day analysis which will come to a close next Thursday, at which point I asked, so... do you recall what happened with Andrew? Any idea why we are not already doing business?

Dave replied well, he came and did the analysis with some USB device and then sent me the proposal that was the last I heard of him...


So if you don't already get the picture let me lay it out for you.

Andrew came to the school, stuck a USB key into a computer and got page counts for the 16 networked printers, wrote up and e-mailed an MPS contract proposal to Dave and waited for the sale to go down...

Let me say this again,

"Selling MPS is not like selling boxes, bullsh*t or anything else for that matter."

While doing my "old school" analysis (walking to each and every printer) I found out that the school has upwards of 50 printers (of only 16 which are networked) of varying sizes and output. If Andrew had gotten lucky and Dave had been the one to instigate a phone call to move forward and the deal had closed, we would have only been managing 16 of the 50 printers at the school.


Dave was not only into the program and excited about it as a potential contract customer but was open to giving his time to show me around the campus so that I could do an in-depth analysis of their printer fleet. Further more not only is Dave excited about the program but he could see the value right off the bat and when asked about any hoop jumping in getting the contract through the CFO and onto the finalization process he replied "Eh, I have the same amount of clout here, if I say we should do this you will get a signature asap..."

Let this be a lesson to you would be MPS salesmen.

"Selling MPS is not like selling boxes, bullsh*t or anything else for that matter."

Destroy your printer contest 2

I am pleased to announce the Expert Laser Services Destroy Your Printer Video Contest II

This years contest is sure to be epic...

We ask that you make a creative, fun and humorous video of you and your cohorts destroying one of the following: Inkjet Printer, Laser Printer, Copier or Fax/MFP. Then upload the video to youtube and send me the url. At the end of the contest we will choose a winner and the winner will get his or her video posted here on the "Adventures in Office Imaging blog" and they will receive two FREE toner cartridges for their office copier, laser printer, or fax/mfp! In addition, this years prize will also include a $100 dollar donation to a charity of your choice! see below for full contest details, rules and regulations!

Rules and Regulations.

Contest starts March 1, 2010.

1. Contest is open to businesses in the United States of America, large or small. Contestants may destroy Inkjet Printers, Fax/MFPs, Laser Printers or Copiers.

* We are looking for humorous and creative videos of you destroying your selected piece of office equipment from the above list of machines.

* Have fun but be careful, Expert Laser Services will not be held responsible for any injuries resulting from the making of your videos.

2. To enter the contest, create a video, upload it to youtube or a similar video service and send me the URL via e-mail (or twitter @dubiousmonk)

3. Videos will be reviewed by myself, our CEO and several other ELS representatives.

4. The contest ends July 30, 2010.

5. The winning video will be posted here at the Adventures in Office Imaging blog ASAP.

6. The winner will receive two free toner cartridges for your offices copier, laser printer or fax/mfp. In addition this years contest will also include a $100 dollar donation to a charity of your choice!

Xerox ColorPuke... er uh, ColorQube

Just read this very enlightening blog post over at the connected copier blog about the Xerox ColorQube entitled
"Before you buy a Xerox ColorQube…read this!"


What good are these machines? oh wait they would be perfect fodder for
this. Seriously though aside from that laundry list of terrible problems in a world shifting towards MPS, why would Xerox release a product like this?

Maybe its because they spend to much time making videos like

Drinking eggnog at the office party, good. Drinking eggnog while designing ColorQube, bad.

Skipping this years Recharger

Leaving Las Vegas

Below is a message from Expert Laser Services CEO Luke Carpentier.

After 15 years of World Expos I'll be skipping the Recharger show in Las Vegas this summer.

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."

It's a great scam and -- you know what? -- there's still a sucker born every minute.

But, believe me, the new competition isn't the issue. The vast majority of those who buy-in to the spiel will definitely "come up craps" -- to use the Vegas' vernacular.

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.

A wild prediction? -- I wish it were.

The industry is already seeing shortages of virgin monochrome cores. There is nowhere for that trend to go but up, particularly while the MPS space is dominated by the hardware manufacturers. Most of their toner recharging is "one-and-done." They split the core, weakening the integrity of the cartridge, and it becomes either a throw-away or a "use it anyway and watch it fail" commodity.

Customers with companies like ours won't have to worry. We dropped off and pick up our own toners and remanufacture without cutting the core. Our process means a cartridge can be reused up to 10 times.

But we are a tiny minority, I'm afraid. (Are we the only one left???)

And, when the mud starts flying, we'll be labeled with the same ugly reputation as all these other johnny-come-lately MPS providers.

So, who wants to rub elbows with that crowd?

I'll be back for World Expo 2015. By then the dirt should be washed away along with this latest generation of gold-diggers. Then the World Expo can be a true Recharger show again.

Luke Carpentier
Expert Laser Services, Inc.

AIOI Returns to Blogger

Due to a surplus of issues including shotty functionality, embedding problems, a less than knowledgeable tech support team and various other headaches...

AIOI has returned to blogger with great joy, leaving behind the less than fantastic blog service of vmsol.

It is good to be back.