Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pirate Mike; what is it about production that makes good men go bad…

Call to production; what is it that makes us sell our soul to be great…

So what is it about production copiers that lure dealers and manufacturers alike? Is it the large hardware revenue opportunities that lure organizations to seek out pirates to push their wares? I think not; everyone knows that the profits that come from the hardware revenues goes to keep the lights on and pay everyone. So what is it? What keeps VPs and Owners up all night dreaming of the one hit wonder?

When service directors say that we are running them into the ground? Well if .003 or .045 is so bad what do you keep approving it? How is everyone else doing it? Why is .0049 their "lead with" rate? Explain that to me. Is it that their service organizations have attained a level of automation and sophistication that tops the normal human organization that is still relying on human might and intellect?

If it is so desirable to do this business why is everyone so skittish? Why do organizations leave the production arena as quick as them came into it? It seems that the few that are known for selling production solutions love it and the rest can just not compete. For the few they seem to put the least value on their people. Why is that?

Why is it that when the future is obviously moving in the direction of full color messages and faster speeds, more capacity and higher volumes? With the sale of this "high speed" equipment comes with even more complex environments to place them in. More varied applications and software systems that the machines and high security systems that they must interface with.

With this ever evolving complexity comes also a sour market and soft economy. With the tough economic environment comes a greater margin compression from a better trained, experienced and motivated level of competition.

They say that the consolidation of large independent distributors and the eroding of the small dealership has put a lot of talent on the street yet my phone keeps ringing looking for a "Production Specialist" or a "Commercial Print Rep" or a "Print for Pay Rep". I love how you can tell someone what you are looking for and they ignore everything you said and say something like, "you know we would love to see you over such and such area calling on the print for pay market."

Why? They traditionally are the lowest margin deals that quite frequently do not pay their bills! This is not a slight on the industry. It is quite comical to watch the Dallas – Fort Worth marketplace. We are the 5th largest print market in the country and at least 1 or 2 large shops go out of business every month. We started off with 840 commercial print and quick print shops in 2009 and in 2012 it is predicted that we will be down to 600.

So what does that mean? Are companies printing less pieces of paper? NO we are constantly growing the amount of digital sheets we produce. So what does that say about the print for pay market? Are these companies not being run efficiently? Is there poor leadership, inconsistent business practices? Have you ever tried to acquire credit for a print for pay organization? It is miserable; you almost always need 2 years of financials and on and on.

So with all of this uncertainty and financial instability why do copier dealerships and manufactures direct outlets die trying to place this "Big Iron" in these shops that will run their technicians into the ground, cuss out our receptionists and eventually not pay their bills?

What is so urgent about the call to production? What is it about the large multi case orders of toner that sit upon the dusty shelves of the environmentally volatile warehouse space that houses the 55 gallon drums of solvent and 25lb tins of ink? I have been selling the Big Iron for some time and have yet to understand the reasoning behind the mad dance that flows from the scent of an RFQ or the nearing of a lease end.

What is it about the mad addiction of polymerized toner running through our veins that makes us fight to the death over a $150,000.00 worth of equipment to end up selling it at cost and at .00 nothing just to get yelled at by our service director that signs the order and then to get fired from our area vice president for doing what we were told to do.

May the toner reduction mode be selected and every sheet be clicked twice,

Pirate Mike

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