by Raegen Pietrucha
Founded in 1949 in Tulsa, Okla., JD Young began its business in the industry as a print shop. The company became a copier reseller in the 1950s, and until recently, it was focused primarily on selling hardware and providing electronic content management. In 2007, though, JD Young headed into MPS with two of its previously established customers, and its business in the arena has continued to flourish since.
Transitioning to MPS
JD Young’s strategy for entering the MPS space was to start small, testing the waters with a minimal financial investment, so the company partnered with GreatAmerica Leasing — one of PrintFleet’s distribution partners. JD Young began utilizing PrintFleet’s MPS tools — which are easy for clients and providers alike to access. “We started off that way until we built the business and saw that there was some legitimacy to it,” said Mike Milburn, vice president of sales at JD Young.
At this point — during its second year in MPS — the company felt ready to handle more of its MPS business, so JD Young invested in its own server and began working with PrintFleet directly. This dive deeper into MPS wasn’t taken lightly, and JD Young felt it wise to shop around before making the commitment. “We saw some things in (PrintFleet’s) tool that we didn’t see in others,” Milburn said, “and (PrintFleet is) widely distributed … (and is) worldwide, so we felt like they might be ahead of the game in terms of development for future upgrades to that software.”
MPS program components and infrastructure
Several features of PrintFleet’s offering appealed to JD Young both because of the different ways they cater to clients of various sizes and the ease they provide JD Young with with respect to monitoring customers’ environments. The PrintFleet Suite PRO Key enables JD Young to engage smaller clients who are uncomfortable with the installation of the Data Collector Agent (DCA) software on their networks, while the DCA allows JD Young to gather data from clients that positions the company to monitor and manage its customers’ fleets proactively. This latter feature was particularly attractive to JD Young, Milburn said, because usage data could be gleaned in a more efficient manner than a manual process, such as walking around a client’s environment collecting meter reads, would allow.
Another notable element of the PrintFleet Enterprise is its device-mapping tool, Milburn said, which provides status updates on entire fleets — whether units are functioning, require supplies, etc. — every 30 minutes in a traffic-signal fashion, where green equals working, yellow signals caution and red indicates broken or out of supplies. The mapping tool enables JD Young to kill two birds with one stone on support calls, as the company can check and see if any other machines need service or supplies before sending out a technician to address the problem originally detected or called in. The map offers an ancillary benefit as well: “When you’re showing (it) to a prospective client, it’s very professional-looking to see … and to (also) see that we can have somebody sitting there analyzing that,” Milburn said.
JD Young employs software from other vendors that supplements the PrintFleet program and rounds out JD Young’s total MPS offering. Digital Gateway’s e-automate is a back- office software that handles accounting functions as well as the dispatching of technicians, while e-info, an interface to e-automate, assists larger JD Young clients who have their own IT help desk to avoid duplicating service calls. “E-info allows (customers) to pop right into our dispatch system, and if PrintFleet’s already placed the service call or already placed the supply replenishment request, they can see that before they even pick up the phone and call us,” Milburn said. PrintFleet is happy to engage partnerships such as these with other software providers. “One of the things that PrintFleet focuses on is ensuring that we have the ability to partner with a number of industry experts to assist our dealers with building a fully supported program,” said Devon Gommer, PrintFleet’s MPS advisor for the JD Young account.
Similarly, several other business services JD Young offers complement its MPS program — document workflow and content management services, scanning and retrieval services (including indexing, storing, retrieving and managing back-end content management systems), and facilities management (FM) services, to name a few. Two in particular, however, have powerful connections to the company’s MPS program. The first is electronic content management (ECM), for which MPS serves as a discovery platform. “That (offering) is a huge selling point for us to our client base, because there’s very few companies that do all of those things, and at first blush, you might think they don’t go together — like they don’t even interact with each other — but they really do,” Milburn said. “(And) we find most of our electronic content management opportunities when we’re doing a managed print analysis. We’re looking beyond just the printed pages. We want to know, where do they come from? Why are you printing them? How are you getting them from point A to point B? How does this information move through your business? And let’s figure out along the way if we’re going to make a change in here; let’s try to see what things we could make changes in and think ahead.”
The second service that works particularly well in conjunction with JD Young’s MPS program is the company’s full-service print and copy shop, complete with a Web-based job submission tool that enables customers to upload print files electronically. “As long as you’re going to manage somebody’s print output, to us, it makes sense to look at all of it,” Milburn said, “And if we can help you manage all of it, it gives us … an advantage over our competition, but it also gives the client a huge advantage because you got somebody with some expertise that’s saying, ‘This is a job you ought to print inside, so let’s bring that job inside and put the hardware (in) that’s required to do it. And then here are jobs you’re printing in the building that really … shouldn’t be printed in the building; they need to be printed by a professional on a press because of the volume, or because of the quality, or because of the type of substrates they need to be printing on, or maybe because of mailing purposes.’ We have all those things in our arsenal to help them reduce their expenses, and when people see that, they gravitate to us over companies even like Xerox and IKON and some of the large players out there because they don’t do that stuff.”
Corporate structure and strategy
There are about just as many different ways companies have built their MPS staffs as there are MPS providers out there. JD Young’s own staff has evolved as its MPS business has grown. Currently, the company has one managed print sales manager, and he guides the down-the-street sales team in securing managed print opportunities as they present themselves and assists the major account group that works with JD Young’s larger customers.
The company also has an MPS analyst whose job it is to continuously ensure that alerts are set up and functioning correctly, crunch information collected through the software, and run reports for sales staff members so they can conduct quarterly reviews with customers, suggesting improvements that can boost customer savings and right-size environments.
PrintFleet is there not only to provide support for a fully integrated MPS program, but it assists JD Young with the service and supply element, although JD Young currently performs its technical support locally. Once a service or supply replenishment alert is received from PrintFleet, JD Young’s dedicated support manager responds, perhaps sending a technician to address the matter — whatever the situation calls for. Because PrintFleet’s software provides JD Young’s support manager with codes that indicate what the specific problem is, she is able to dispatch a technician with the part needed to resolve the issue, saving JD Young significant time and money.
Along with staffing changes, JD Young has also made strategy changes with respect to how its products and solutions are marketed. “Within the last seven years or so, we have really tried to rebrand ourselves as ‘not the copier guys,’” Milburn said. “(Prospects) think we are just an office equipment reseller 90 percent of the time, and so all of our marketing efforts are to say, ‘Here are all the things we do, and we are the document solutions people.’” PrintFleet has aided JD Young in addressing this common problem. “We have a marketing package we call PrintSpark that really helps the company start steering their marketing initiative toward managed print services,” Gommer said. Through PrintSpark, PrintFleet has helped JD Young to brand its MPS program, create and modify documentation that sales reps can deliver to end users, and establish presentation material and demo-ing capabilities for JD Young’s MPS offering.
When JD Young first decided to offer MPS to clients, the company had a clear-cut goal already in mind. “We were really looking to say, ‘How many devices can we put under a managed print contract in the first year?’” Milburn said. “We thought surely we could go get 500 devices under our wing.” While the company was short of meeting its initial goal by about a hundred machines, by the second year it was providing MPS, JD Young was managing nearly 1,500 units. Milburn estimates that the company has seen an increase in revenues of 15 percent since it began offering MPS.
Part of the financial success JD Young has experienced is due to the flexibility of its MPS contract. Although the company offers about four different ways of writing a contract, Milburn has noticed that the most popular choice among JD Young clients is currently the one that places hardware on a separate lease from service and supplies.
Milburn feels that the biggest challenges JD Young has encountered in building its MPS program were those it faced within its own walls. “The biggest challenge for us was getting a champion at JD Young that could say, ‘My job is to make the managed print program take off,’” he said. Initially, Milburn took on this role so that he would be able to successfully coach the next person or persons dedicated strictly to handling the company’s MPS offering. After getting his feet wet with the first couple of deals, this job was passed on to another champion who handled both the sales and analyst roles. “That period of time was kind of rocky and tough because … we had people that were doing two jobs at once, and we were trying to make the customer happy, and learn what we were doing, and develop all the documents that we needed to protect ourselves,” Milburn said. “We were kind of learning as we went.” But over time, JD Young’s MPS business grew large enough to necessitate separating the responsibilities of salesperson and analyst.
There was another fairly common challenge, though, that the company faced internally. Many departments beyond sales would find themselves impacted by the transition, such as accounting and service, and a change in staff mindset was required. “This was different than a traditional ‘place the hardware and leave, (then) wait for a service call to come in (or) wait for a supply call to come in’ (framework),” said Milburn. “Getting everybody to understand how it worked and to believe in it — that was the challenge too, because there (were) people that did not want to go through this change. They looked at this as a fad, like we were going to get tired of it and stop doing it. But once they realized this wasn’t going away, we got some buy-in.” PrintFleet helped JD Young’s staff adopt an MPS-oriented mindset by involving all the affected departments in several educational conference calls reviewing MPS best practices, software, back-end processes, support and PrintFleet’s ongoing webinars. PrintFleet also provided technical documentation and a direct link to its technical support team to further assist JD Young’s staff as it progressed into a new business future with MPS.
Today, the challenges JD Young faces with respect to MPS are generally confined to the customer environment. Toner replenishment, for example, can pose problems in a world where new product models continuously flood the marketplace; plus, not every piece of hardware is equipped to notify PrintFleet software that it’s running low on supplies. “We have to let the customer know that there will be devices that will not tell us that they’re low on toner. They will only say ‘I’m out,’ and so we have to address those a little differently,” Milburn said. JD Young has to contend with clients that occasionally turn off DCA software as well. “They’ll be working on something on the network, and their IT people will shut down the DCA service, and all of the devices will go stale, like the place was blown off the face of the map; no devices are reporting,” Milburn said. “We know when it’s happening because everything goes stale, but at the same time, then it begins this big process of trying to figure out what happened.” He anticipates the company will always have to deal with issues like these, but it’s well worth the trouble, given the rewards JD Young has reaped from its program.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” the Roman philosopher Seneca once said. With the help of PrintFleet’s on-site training on matters such as conducting assessments properly, overcoming objections during the sales process, working with clients’ IT divisions, security and compliance, and ongoing monitoring and optimization of end-user environments, JD Young found itself well-prepared to seize opportunities to grow its MPS business, and the results have been nothing short of impressive.
The greatest triumph JD Young has experienced thus far in its MPS journey, though, was almost a significant loss. An existing customer, Jane Phillips Medical Center (JPMC), had grown dissatisfied with the business it was doing — leasing copiers — with JD Young. “Our relationship with them was deteriorating, and it was because we really had not pursued that relationship any differently than any other copier-based customer,” Milburn said. “I could kind of tell that that was what was happening, so I kind of used that as a reason — it was coincidental that we were starting the managed print thing — … (to go) up there and (meet) with them.”
Unhappy thinking it was unable to afford upgrading its aging fleet, JPMC was ready to find new solutions. JD Young did a presentation about MPS to JPMC, using the 90 days afterward to conduct an assessment that led to a savings of 23 percent on JPMC’s total print spend — all while upgrading the hospital’s entire fleet. “So not only did they get new technology, which is what they wanted, but we were able to reduce their expenses and place a lot of new hardware and new technology that they desperately needed,” Milburn said. “And since then, that relationship has become a very close one. They call us when they want to add something to their contract. They’re looking at electronic content management from us right now.”
Milburn finds that JD Young’s MPS program has begun to inspire clients to rethink their own business processes and engage in the development of their own solutions too, which truly illustrates the immense potential MPS presents to all parties involved. “The city of Tulsa has become a huge JD Young customer for us, and they’ve had some budget problems of late like a lot of city governments have had,” Milburn said. “We meet with them once a month to recap where we can save them additional money, and a lot of times, they’re bringing the ideas to us. They’re saying, ‘Can you print this thing? Is there a way I can stop printing this outside and bring it inside?’ You just don’t see that with a lot of customers — where they come to you and say, ‘Please help me solve this problem because I know you can do it.’ And that’s what managed print’s done for a lot of our customer base.”
MPS Tips from Mike Milburn, Vice President of Sales, JD Young
1. HAVE A DEDICATED PERSON. If you’ve got your own server and you’re going to be managing it, you need somebody dedicated to be that go-to person that can go in and set up the account once you’ve sold it. (And) the salespeople need to feel like they’ve got somebody that knows the ins and outs of managed print that they can bring into the account to help them. There’s definitely a difference to the way this sales process goes.
2. GET THE OWNER’S BUY-IN.
3. YOU DEFINITELY NEED A COMP PLAN. The salespeople (must) feel they need to embrace managed print because of the value for them financially — that they’re going to be paid well for going into this process. The sales process does not occur as quickly as it does to place one product. Those are 30- to 60-day sales cycles, and managed print opportunities can take, at the earliest, 60 to 90 days. The comp plan has to be there to give them the time to not sweat out every 30 days if they’ve got to sell something. They need to have time to build that program.
MPS Tips from Devon Gommer, MPS Advisor, Printfleet
1. HAVE A DEDICATED PERSON FOR THE MPS SOFTWARE. (Have) what we refer to as a PrintFleet Enterprise administrator: somebody monitoring the actual program from a technical standpoint and ensuring there’s open communication with all departments.
2. BUY-IN FROM OWNERSHIP. In terms of changing an organization, a lot of people (could feel) internally that it may (be) a fad, and that definitely can create some tension and issues within a dealership when you’re implementing change and trying to ensure that people are utilizing the program and then communicating effectively.
3. EDUCATION. Ensure that all departments have the proper training — whether it’s from a technical standpoint or from a sales standpoint — (and) ensure that they’re up-to-date on industry statistics and industry information and are able to communicate that effectively with their own end users.