Readers share their questions and comments about what’s next for the office technology industry and the impact of conducting business in a pandemic.
In our previous Frankly Speaking, “What’s Next for Our Industry” post, we invited readers to share experiences and pose their own questions. Our hope was to build a dialog that would be helpful in addressing how to conduct business in a pandemic.
We have offered that opportunity in the past and for one reason or another, there was little in the way of a response. This current environment has many of us deeply concerned about our future. In some ways, it stimulated responses to our invitation to talk about what our readers are thinking and doing as well as asking questions.
The first response came from Gary Harouff, president of Advanced Imaging Solutions in North Las Vegas.
“Just wanted to drop a quick email to state I loved the latest content you shared. What we have done is sent our senior management team to the Disney Institute, to learn how Disney trains their cast members to ensure an awesome customer experience. We have also done this with Zappos, the leader on company culture and customer experience. We are doing this with our marketing efforts with Marcus Sheridan and the ‘They Ask You Answer’ process. Are we doing everything right, probably not, but we keep trying.”
Gary, from what I read you are doing the right thing and being innovative about it. Exploring how other successful management organizations are functioning and training their own organizations is a smart way to begin finding answers. You will be the best person to determine If anything useful can be adapted to the dealer business model via your actions and approach. It is refreshing and thought-provoking. Keep doing it and let us know how it is going.
The second email we received was from Jennie Fisher, senior VP/general manager, Office Equipment Group, GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp.
“Good read Frank. Two thoughts/questions based on feedback I have gotten. Do you think wide format will continue to expand as people become accustomed to ‘pay for print’ being remote? Will this be a continued trend?”
I’m not so sure about the increase of pay for print due to remote work environments. What I feel for certain will be the decline of print caused by the high number of employees working virtually. We have received reports from various sources that the Fortune 1000 companies have set up offices with key management to work virtually. They expressly forbid printing due to the threat of a security breach. The supposition in your question is that lacking the ability to print and possibly finish documents would cause employees at home to seek out print-for-pay providers to satisfy that need.
That aside, wide and large format represents the greatest single opportunity for dealers who are focused on print in the office to diversify. We say this because taking on a wide format line is not capital intensive. You have manufacturers that offer these products through national distribution such as HP. Most important, it gives the dealer an opportunity to sell a new or existing customer a print device that does not rely on cut-sheet media. Dealers are taking this seriously as they share their experiences with wide-format latex and textile printing. The supply business is attractive and there is no limit on how high you can go (WHAT?). We have one dealer subscriber who has installed eight industrial (large-format) printers since September 2019. In conversing with him recently, he has two more ready to be installed as soon as the leases are approved. This is during a pandemic.
Jennie’s second question: “Depending on the desire for continued social distancing (especially in some geographic regions), could this present an opportunity for an increase in A4’s as printers move back to the desks?”
Employees being asked to work virtually will need an MFP, more to scan than print. An A4 is the logical answer. In our office (Carol & Frank) we have an A3 and an A4 MFP. As a designer, Carol is always printing as she deals with different projects, and she uses the A3. I use the A4 for scanning and printing envelopes/labels as they are needed. I do very little printing.
As a rule of thumb, we believe A4 MFPs loaded with appropriate security software is the ideal vehicle for a home office. Lexmark has an interesting story to tell in this case.
Jennie added a side note of a dealer in California who is confronted with potential customers being leery about letting people in their door. They are setting up appointments and demos through Zoom. He also sees the added advantage of reducing costs.
It was great to hear from Gary and Jennie. How about more of you letting us know what you are doing if you feel comfortable sharing? We are also happy to address any questions you may have, and I mean any.
Email your questions or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.