Growing Your MPS Business: Best Practices & Lessons Learned from ACP

posted by Scott Cullen on Friday, May 31, 2019 in Office Equipment Blog

There’s always room for improvement.

Consider MPS (managed print services), a service that has become somewhat of a commodity in some circles. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just ask the MPS experts at ACP (previously known as All Copy Products) in Denver, Colorado, a dealership with a thriving MPS business. All Copy has taken some prudent steps to grow its MPS business. Commoditization? Not an issue for ACP.

ACP first began offering MPS in 2006 before the term MPS even entered the lexicon.

It all came about when Travis Haas, executive director of aftermarket, and ACP owner Brad Knepper were discussing the possibility of placing smaller devices on contracts just like ACP was doing with traditional copiers. The rest, as they say, is history.

3 Best Practices That Helped All Copy Grow their Managed Print Side of the Business

What’s interesting about ACP's approach to MPS is that it hasn’t had to reinvent the wheel. One of the best practices it has implemented is something that all dealers who offer MPS should do, but many don’t. The other best practice is a differentiator that provides an edge in competitive situations.

Enlisting Dedicated MPS Specialists

What’s made a difference for ACP are dedicated MPS reps. The company now has nine MPS reps who have helped grow ACP's MPS business to nearly $6 million a year.
“We used to do managed print without specialists and just didn't get traction,” acknowledged Haas.

In 2006, ACP didn’t have as many product and services offerings as it does now. It was pretty much copiers, printers, faxes, and maintenance contracts. Sales reps were focused on moving A3 hardware and many didn't see the value of selling A4. That was the inspiration for hiring MPS specialists.

ACP typically looks for the same type of qualities in an MPS specialist as it does for outside sales reps. Both are responsible for making cold calls and identifying opportunities. While Haas looks for individuals with similar personalities, the biggest difference, he says, is that MPS specialists are more team and numbers oriented than a traditional sales rep.

“A lot of our outside sales reps are primarily hunters - finding the deals - but the MPS specialists think out of the box,” said Haas. “They are more detail oriented and are brought in to massage the deals, work the numbers, and create an efficient plan for the client.”
“Our MPS reps are held to the same standards, metrics, and responsibilities as a normal A3 sales rep, however they also offer support to a team of those sales reps so they also need that hunter mentality of an outside sales person,” added Will Champlin, All Copy’s MPS Division sales manager. “They also need to be able to step in and be the expert support on the A4 product.”

ACP's MPS reps aren’t just dedicated to MPS. They are also responsible for sales of A4 machines and A4 service contracts—both closely intertwined with MPS. Initially, MPS reps were not responsible for prospecting, cold calling, or digging up their own business. But that changed about 3½ years ago.

“We stalled a little bit on the MPS side and it’s shown value, not only to ACP, but our sales teams,” said Champlin. “Now they have a specialist on MPS and A4 products. And they are also in the trenches with them hunting for deals and digging up new business.”

Producing Their Own Compatible Toner Cartridges

ACP has discovered another way to make its MPS offering more profitable, and that’s by producing its own compatible toner cartridges. As most dealers know, or should know, toner cartridges are critical to any successful MPS program.

“That sets us apart from the competition because we can become more aggressive on our MPS agreements,” said Champlin. “It also allows us to control the quality of the cartridges, which gives us a big advantage.”

An Emphasis on Cross-Selling

Figuring there’s always room for improvement, what else is ACP doing to help grow its MPS business?

“One of the big focuses for 2019 and ongoing, not just in MPS, is more cross selling,” replied Haas. “We have 10,000 clients and I guarantee that every one of those clients hasn't been approached about everything we offer.”

Creating greater customer stickiness means greater value that the customer sees in the relationship, which will do well to help ensure ACP not only continues to grow their business, but also will ensure they remain proactive about addressing their customers’ needs.

Lessons Learned in Managed Print Services

What do the MPS experts at ACP wish they knew when they first started offering MPS in 2006?

Pricing Managed Print Services

“The most difficult thing is determining the pricing so you can be competitive and still make money,” observed Haas. “That's always a balancing act. There are a lot of companies out there that don't know what they are doing. A lot of times they do one of two things; err on the side of the rates being too high or err on the side where the rates are too low.”

Knowing When to Bow Out On an MPS Opportunity

Another lesson around MPS best practices takes a page out of Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler,” and that’s knowing when to hold them and when to fold them.

“We don’t want to lose any deals, but there are situations where a customer [is getting a rate for MPS] we know we can’t make money on,” said Haas. “We have to bow out of that business. In the beginning, since we did not have a whole lot of data, it was hard to know where we needed to be. Now I feel really good about where we need to be to make money.”

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About The Author

Scott Cullen is regarded as one of the most respected and longest tenured journalists in the industry. Throughout his distinguished career, Scott has contributed to numerous business and technology publications both inside and outside of the industry. In February 2016, Scott joined The Cannata Report as managing editor and chief correspondent and in October of 2016 was named editor in chief, his true dream job.  Since joining The Cannata Report, Scott has accentuated breaking news and related follow-up coverage and analysis across The Cannata Report’s digital platforms. He has introduced substantial editorial coverage of business modeling, software, IT and other professional services and enhanced coverage of product and vendor news. A pop culture enthusiast with a passion for music, movies, baseball, and women’s basketball, when Scott’s not writing about the document imaging industry or traveling to an industry event, you can usually find him at a concert or sporting event somewhere between Philadelphia and New York City.

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