November 29, 2023
We'll be the first to admit that businesses with smaller print fleets may not prioritize Managed Print Services (MPS) as an essential service. However, organizations operating in intricate print environments with multiple locations often find MPS indispensable. This is particularly true when a print disruption could potentially disrupt critical business functions.
CIOs and procurement pros in large organizations typically already understand the value of managed print, so until now, we haven’t spelled out what you could (and should) be getting and from whom. But recently, I met with a few C-suite executives, and what I’m about to share with you challenged a few common procurement assumptions.
Don’t Assume Manufacturers Are Cheaper
It’s logical to assume that cutting out the middleman is an easy way to get more for less, and, therefore, that a top equipment manufacturer will offer you a better deal.
However, in large MPS contracts, that math is completely reversed. Here’s why:
- Manufacturers depend on dealer channels for product distribution; major MPS providers like Marco are often a manufacturer's largest customer — so they can advocate for their clients more effectively
- A national provider will know the market inside and out and can get you the best pricing for the products available."
- A large MPS provider can also offer you more flexibility in their contracts than a manufacturer can because they are built on a service model
Pro tip: If your MPS provider is large, working with them instead of a manufacturer probably won’t cost you any more, and you’ll get a lot more value from the service and leverage they can provide. In other words, it’s not a trade-off; it’s a trade-up.
A Manufacturer’s Technicians Aren’t Who You Think They Are
While you’ll have no problem finding a manufacturer presence located in a major U.S. city like New York or Chicago, it isn’t typically cost-effective for them to have a presence in a smaller city…and you certainly won’t find them in many more rural states, period.
So…if you have multiple locations in multiple states, even if you’re working with a manufacturer directly, chances are, they’re not the ones servicing your equipment.
When a manufacturer doesn’t have a presence in an area, they partner with an organization to fulfill the terms of their contract. You may not even know who that is, nor do you have any choice in the matter.
Well, it means you won’t be getting a consistent experience. It often means that service tickets take longer to process and fulfill. It means you’ll have very little control over who’s in and out of your offices. And it means that your equipment is being maintained by someone who has no direct relationship with you, doesn’t understand what you do, and may have no real incentive to go above and beyond for you.
You Should Get Really Nosy About Technician Incentives
Don’t hate the messenger, but some providers give bonuses to their technicians based on how often they show up on location and how many calls they can squeeze in during the day. That’s a huge problem because here’s how it typically plays out…
“The Trouble With Technicians”
Technician Tim shows up at one of your locations to clear a paper jam in drawer one, and while Tim’s doing his job, he notices a few other issues that will soon cause a serious disruption. Depending on which company Tim actually works for, he may have zero incentive to also fix those for you while he’s there. He might make a lot more money if he just does that quick fix and moves on to his next call! So what will Technician Tim do? Nine times out of ten he’s going to ignore the problem and wait for your emergency phone call.
If you’re wondering why your print environment is so frustrating and requires so many service appointments, that’s probably why. Don’t blame Tim. Blame the incentives. At Marco, we actually incentivize the opposite. We pay our technicians based on uptime, so the more disruptions they prevent, the more they make. If they do it so well that your fleet has no problems and everything works as it should, we reward them handsomely for it.
A Service Provider Is Better at Providing Service
Lots of companies say they provide “better” service. It’s an easy thing to say because, unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. So here’s what we mean by “better.”
1. You’ll Get More From Your Contract
First and foremost, a manufacturer wants to sell you their equipment, even though their equipment might not be the right fit for every department or every location. An excellent MPS provider will get to know your organization in depth and recommend the right solution for you, regardless of who made it.
They’re also able to provide account management and ongoing business reviews so that they can make sure they’re providing excellent value for you. Finally, they’ll also be able to bring their insider knowledge of what’s already worked well at organizations similar to yours.
2. You’ll Have a Consistent Experience Designed Around You
When you work with a manufacturer, you aren’t always in control of which technicians come to your office. Not only does that immediately change when you work with a provider, but you’ll also get the ongoing mentorship you need to make sure your equipment is in alignment with your goals.
MPS contracts are a long-term relationship. Manufacturers are great at optimizing production — not relationships. Even with the best intentions, they simply won’t have the tools a service provider will have or the account management expertise. These are not their moneymakers.
3. You’ll Get Faster, Easier Issue Resolution
This is a big, big deal, and you won’t get it from a manufacturer or a smaller MPS provider.
At Marco, we’ve invested in technology that automates ticket routing. Without that technology, here’s how it traditionally works at many large companies: If a print technician is needed, an employee will submit a print ticket, which will then get triaged through their help desk. That means someone from the company’s IT team has to manually sift through tickets and route print-related ones to their provider. It takes additional time every time a repair or order status has an update. IT time is expensive, and an additional ten minutes here and there throughout the day add up fast.
There are three advantages to this type of automation that really make a big difference for large organizations:
- With our system, any ticket related to printing bypasses an internal help desk and comes immediately to us
- Status updates are also automatic, and because we’ve invested in that technology
- We can also deliver reports, billing, and invoices in the format that works best for our clients, with the information they need for speedy processing
4. You’ll Get More Comprehensive Support
A manufacturer can help you fix your printer. Usually. But what if what’s causing your print issue is really a connectivity issue or a software issue? Who will help you then? Will your staff know which vendor to call? And will they get caught up in the blame game even if they do?
When you work with a comprehensive managed service provider, no matter what’s causing your print problems, they can fix it. And not only that, they might even be able to offer you a few extras.
For example, not every MPS provider is the same, but at Marco, we heard from many of our clients that they wanted additional help with print security. So we created a dedicated print security department, achieved a SOC 2 Type 2 Report for our managed print services, and now offer comprehensive print security services to all of our MPS clients at no additional charge.
We also have a dedicated production printing team that we’ve hired directly from professional printing. Take it from us — if there’s a production printer that is giving you grief, they’ve been there, fixed that. And while not every client relies heavily on wide format printing, these specialized devices are also in our wheelhouse.
Qualifying and Selecting the Right Managed Print Services Vendor
Work for a nonprofit or a government agency? Your favorite service provider may also be an approved vendor with cooperative purchasing organizations, so you can speed through the RFP process with confidence. If you use cooperative purchasing, just look for our name!
Bottom line, if you’re currently working with a manufacturer or a provider, and you have the sneaking suspicion they’re not giving you the hassle-free experience and mentorship you’re paying for, it might be time to talk to an expert. We’d love the opportunity to make your next 5, 10, or 20 years easier than your last.