You're tasked with finding the next copier vendor for your company and you've heard great things about the local copier dealer. Maybe the last time you leased machines you chose a copier manufacturer and you've been less than thrilled with the service you have received.
How does a local copier dealer serve a company throughout the United States? What about throughout the world?
As a larger company, are you doomed to only working with copier manufacturers - plagued by perpetually slow service?
As one of the largest Sharp, Canon, and HP vendors in the United States, we get these questions all the time. After all, they are reasonable questions to ask.
Fortunately, there is a perfectly sound reason as to why a local dealer may be capable of serving larger companies, despite only having branches within a single state. By the end of the article, you may even be surprised as to how similar local dealers and manufacturers are in their ability to offer service to larger customers.
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Why Choose a Manufacturer?
This article is ultimately about how local dealers can serve companies with many locations throughout the US, effectively. But it is important to note some of the perceived benefits of choosing a manufacturer over a local dealer.
The first benefit is cost savings. Yes, the manufacturer is in the business of increasing revenue on the sale of their machines. As a result, you can often save money on the cost of service (often to the point where the manufacturer sells service at a loss).
This is because manufacturers answer to shareholders. When their revenue numbers go up, so do the value of their stocks. This comes at a cost, however, which we will discuss in just a moment.
You may also think that there is cost savings for their machines. You would rightfully assume there isn't a mark-up because you're cutting out the middle man, but the reality is that manufacturers sell their machines to local dealers at a discount, so there isn't much difference in savings between manufacturer and dealer.
In fact, the inverse is also true for local dealers. Where manufacturers attempt to make revenue numbers on equipment sales, dealers attempt to make revenue numbers on service. This means a local dealer may be willing to sell you a machine lower than what the manufacturer will give you. The hope is that they can make it up on the backend through your service contract.
The second benefit to working with a manufacturer is service technician knowledge. This is a perceived benefit, though.
It is a common misconception (and one that makes complete sense to assume) that the service technicians for a manufacturer are more capable of fixing your copier correctly than that of a local dealer.
The reality, however, is that both the dealer and the manufacturer train at the manufacturer's facilities. This is because the manufacturer offers training to dealers as part of the agreement to sell their equipment. The result is equally capable service technicians.
Who Can Offer Better Service?
I will admit that this article has an inherent bias against manufacturers because it is being written by a copier dealer, but hear me out...
Earlier, I mentioned that manufacturers answer to shareholders. That is because they represent divisions of multi-billion dollar companies, and their number one goal is to ensure each quarter looks as strong as possible.
This means, increasing profit margins, and at times, trimming the fat.
Like many corporations, there is a strong attempt to adhere to a strict budget. By dosing so, it is much easier to gauge whether or not the current quarter will be profitable.
Now, this isn't to say that a manufacturer won't allow for some wiggle room in their parts budget, but only so much. If your machine breaks down near the end of the quarter and the manufacturer you have chosen to service your machines is running out of money for their parts budget that quarter, it's likely your machine's repair will be delayed/pushed till next quarter.
If you can afford delays like this, then perhaps this is not a huge problem. After all, you can always have employees walk to "the other copy down the hall." But keep in mind that each copier in your fleet was selected to manage a certain workload. Increasing the workload of a single copier by 200% can wear it out faster and cause reliability issues.
What About Service Across the Country?
You clicked on this article to get to this point. If you didn't read the sections before, I would encourage you to do so, or to click the link to a more in-depth article about the differences between copier dealers and manufacturers.
So, can a copier manufacturer service my copier fleet better when I have locations across the country (or around the globe)?
The answer? - Possibly.
It really depends on each individual dealer, but the reality is, even the copier manufacturers lack locations to service your machines in every state and every country. So, how do they do it?
They do it the same way some copier dealers service machines. Through the Copier Dealer Network.
The Copier Dealer Network is a network of local dealers who are capable of servicing the brand of machine you've chosen for your company. For instance:
Our company, Standard Office Systems, is located in Georgia and has three local branches. For companies outside of our region who do not have a presence in our state, they may contact us and ask us to share in the service agreement to provide copier service to the branches of one of their customers.
It's really that simple.
The copier manufacturers will do the same thing when they do not have a local presence in a state, and some manufacturers are even selling their local branches and relying on the dealer network.
Why is that?
Because manufacturers aren't in the business of providing service. As mentioned above, they are in the business of selling machines. In many cases, it is more of a hassle to provide service and would rather let the local dealer take care of it.
After all, local dealers have a vested interest in making sure the handful of customer locations in their region are very happy, and are very capable in doing so at a higher level. They don't answer to shareholders (except the president of their dealer), therefore never concern themselves with whether or not they can service your machine when it's needed.
So What Should You Do?
The advice given in this article is purely for informational purposes. The best suggestion I can make if you still aren't convinced is to reach out to your local copier dealer and see what answers they provide regarding your concerns for doing business with them.
You may be surprised at what they offer and how they overcome your objections. Should you have more questions about the differences between dealers and manufacturers, reach out to us today and we will be happy to help.
If you need a recommendation for local copier dealers in your area, let us pair you up with a dealer that we trust and who is a member of the Copier Dealer Network.
You don't have to find your next great vendor alone, and we can help you!
Posted by Daniel Gray
Daniel has a passion for educating and helping people and has spent over a decade in the education and office technology industries. He has a Bachelor's in Education from the University of West Georgia and an MBA from the University of Georgia. Daniel has been the lead blogger at SOS since 2017 and specializes in managed IT services, copiers and printers, and business phone systems. He lives in Atlanta and has a goofy greyhound named Ticker.