by Kevin DeYoung
Perhaps you looked at the Managed Print Services (MPS) Model, studied it, tried it, maybe even think you are doing it, only to find out there is a Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and a Stage 4. It seems arduous doesn't it? Or does it?
MPS is not for everyone. Just like hardware sales are not for everyone. The personality of an organization goes directly to whether or not the adoption of the MPS Model will be successful. We attempt to profile salespeople relative to their MPS acumen without considering the organizational and executive personalities of the companies offering or considering MPS.
Many try but fail. A high percentage of the BTA channel tries and exits. Why? Send me all the benchmarks, and statistical reasons as to why these failures exist and I will tell you that for them MPS is dressed in overalls and looks like work. For them, each new success in MPS buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem. This is why those that enter are stalled developmentally in Stage 1 or 2. These same organizations will attempt to apply commoditized transactional models to what should be a customized solution, only to consequently complain that their margins are suffering and their clients aren’t satisfied.
Instead of appreciating the spirit of the solution, they may seek outside help; hire a “specialist” or consultant. There’s nothing wrong with that but just remember an amateur built the ark and experts built the Titanic. In order to be successful at anything one has to first appreciate a premise for what it is and what it is not.
There are those that love this model, use it, provide it, advocate for it, study it, work at it, help others do it. They debate passionately about what it is and where it’s going. They push the envelope of reasoning and will engage whoever will listen to them on topics as general as fundamentals to behaviorism related to end-user printing. Jennifer Shutwell will articulate going 24 hours on coffee theorizing about configuring a client just right. Greg "the leopard" Walters will talk about eliminating prints altogether, Ed Crowley will tell you it's evolving to BPO/ITO/MS happily, as if it's Christmas and there are new presents under the tree.
It’s more than a model to them, to me, to others. It's appealing, plays to our desires and provides relevancy to our efforts. MPS is the opportunity to offer a solution that finally enables an organization and salesperson to differentiate on a level that exists through the flexibility and customization that only a provider can deliver. It’s a solution that hasn’t been manufactured on an assembly line. You don’t have to figure out how to hide the products weaknesses and espouse its strengths. MPS doesn’t have a brochure with specifications that can be reduced to the lowest common denominator. It’s different and overcomes the perception of functional parity.
If you are a principal, sales professional or executive reading this and this solution doesn't ignite your creativity, energy and passion it's probably not for you. Are you making money? Is your business growing? Are your clients satisfied? Most importantly, are you happy with what you are doing? If the answer is yes, you don't have a problem. MPS is not speaking to you and it really doesn't matter what the metrics and facts are, it's not for you. I submit there is nothing wrong with that.
David Maister, author of the book “Strategy and the Fat Smoker,” opines that there is no such thing as a best business strategy. The only strategy that counts is the one you will commit to and execute. A lot of this boils down to how you are “wired.” Cross country runners do distance, sprinters do speed; they are physically and mentally gifted to be effective in those disciplines. Doing MPS is not about business survival, it’s about satisfaction. Engage in a business that is satisfying and you’ll execute the model. Engage in a business that is not satisfying and you’ll try to form that model into something you know but probably doesn’t fit (CPC Leases on printers with no go forward evolution for the client is not MPS, it’s a copier lease without the scanner and you will experience deterioration in margin).
There are no wrongs or rights. It’s important to be true to yourself and never forget who you are. If reading this affirms that MPS is not for you find something that is. If your primary business model is MFPs — then the clock is ticking. One word: “iPad,” and that is a probable game changer. So you’ll have to figure out (now) how you will evolve your product offering. Here’s a suggestion; do what feels right. Oh, and if you’re truly committing to MPS — maybe dig in and appreciate those worn-in, dirty overalls!
Kevin DeYoung is the President & CEO of Qualpath Inc., a Florida-based Managed Print Services (MPS) provider. Qualpath has been recognized as the Top MPS Indirect Provider by the Managed Print Services Association and Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the USA. Kevin has 32 years of experience in the Managed Services and Office Automation Industry. Previous to Qualpath Kevin served as President of Kodak Latin America and CEO of Ameritrend Corporation, an Inc. 500 Company. Currently serving as President of the Managed Print Services Association, Kevin advocates for the Industry at both the end user and provider levels. Kevin is a graduate of the Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business.