This year’s Survey reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, we looked ahead to 2021 with anxious anticipation, speculating that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic our 36th Annual Dealer Survey would be one of the most fascinating Surveys we have ever reviewed. Though we maintained constant contact with our dealers throughout 2020 and heard anecdotally their experiences, we were eager to see their specific responses to our Survey questions and gauge the pandemic’s impact on the office imaging industry. Now that the results are in, the pandemic’s impact on the independent dealer channel is coming into sharper focus. In some ways, this year’s Survey is a baseline for the channel’s recovery and one that we will likely come back to in the future as the industry weathers economic and market volatility.
From our standpoint, the revenue section of this year’s Survey that appeared in our October issue is the most revealing. Spoiler alert: We have some caveats about the overall revenue numbers reported by dealers, which appear a bit higher than we anticipated. Also notable was the number of dealers reporting their 2020 revenues down compared to the previous year. We have never seen anything like that in the history of our Survey.
When Frank G. Cannata first conceived of the Survey 36 years ago, his objective was to provide independent dealers with a venue to share views about their suppliers and competitors and acknowledge the manufacturers that excel in supporting their channel partners.
True to The Cannata Report’s original intent, these objectives remain the Survey’s guidepost. The information the Survey yields is as valuable today to the industry as it has been for the past 36 years. Like us, most dealers want to see how they compare to their competitors, and the OEMs, leasing companies, and software companies are equally interested in how they are perceived by the dealers that sell their products or use their services.
Creating a Dialog
From our first Survey to today, our goal has been to engage with dealers about their performance parameters and focus on areas of greatest interest within the dealer channel. The Survey’s results offer a deeper understanding of how dealers are performing and identify specific areas of concern, which is often of interest to their manufacturers, and something that OEMs may want to address should they deem those concerns valid. We believe most respondents are candid in their assessments, and those assessments may not always be what their business partners want to hear. However, these comments and candid observations should be viewed as an asset to other dealers and the manufacturers looking to improve.
By the Numbers
Our Survey questions are designed to assess where dealers stand in 2021, based on their 2020 performance. When we reference numbers from the 2021 Survey, they represent our dealer respondents’ 2020 performance. When we refer to “last year’s Survey,” we are referring to our 35th Annual Dealer Survey, published consecutively in our October and November 2020 issues, which reference our dealer respondents’ 2019 performance.
This year, we provided four of the “Big Six” A3 manufacturers—Kyocera, Ricoh, Sharp, Toshiba–with a link to the Survey. Each then sent the link to their dealers, encouraging them to respond.
The complete results of the Survey are featured in our October and November 2021 issues, as well as on www.thecannatareport.com. Results are also shared with non-subscriber dealers that completed the Survey in its entirety and provided their contact information.
We conducted this year’s Survey online for the eighth consecutive year. This year, the Survey yielded 385 responses—43 more than last year—after we deleted duplicates, those with corrupted data, and incomplete submissions. Across the history of the Survey, the numbers from dealers representing the “Big Six” OEMs—Canon, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. (Konica Minolta), Kyocera Document Solutions America, Inc. (Kyocera), Ricoh USA, Inc. (Ricoh), Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (Sharp), and Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc. (Toshiba)—vary from year to year. As a result, some years are more balanced than others, with 2016 being one of the most balanced when accounting for OEM population in the history of the Survey. This year is a different story as fewer Canon (37) and Konica Minolta (39) dealers participated. That’s a notable decline from last year’s Survey where 44 Canon dealers and 48 Konica Minolta dealers participated.
For most of this Survey, we only used the responses from those dealers representing the Big Six, totaling 377. The group labeled “Other” comprises dealers representing HP (3) and Xerox (4), as well as one dealer who did not identify a primary A3 manufacturer. When we included responses from the “Other” group, it is noted. All respondents’ information was included in the Survey results related to total revenue, average percentage of revenue, acquisitions, production print, areas of concern, and the Frank Award winners that will appear in a special recap of our 36th Annual Awards & Charities Gala in our December issue.
After an impressive turnout last year, we were pleasantly surprised at the uptick in responses this year. This year’s 385 responses represent our highest number of responses in the 36-year history of the Survey.
Overall, the Survey presents a picture of an industry impacted by the biggest business disruption since its launch in 1985. Over the years, the Survey has reflected the many technological changes, economic upheavals, new business models, and other transitions that have shaped and will continue to shape the channel. Last year and even into this year, the channel was challenged by an unprecedented event of enormous proportions. Last year and this current one have been an inflection point for the industry as the pandemic has inspired the channel to accelerate its adoption of new products and services to remain relevant for customers, no matter how and where those businesses are operating.
We extend deep thanks to Kyocera, Ricoh, Sharp, and Toshiba—all of which provided subscription incentives in support of this year’s Survey. In addition, we thank dealer groups BPCA, CDA, and SDG for encouraging their members to participate. The support provided by these independent dealer groups has been critical in increasing the number and quality of responses.
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