This guest blog was contributed by Kim Louden | 9/27/13
Last year, my husband and I found ourselves pulling into our driveway each night and finding it easy to ignore our overgrown shrubs and trees, a bathroom that was outdated, and generally settling for what was adequate. We were comfortable, and it was easier to just overlook things we wanted or needed to improve because we were getting by just fine. But several months ago, we started investing in some remodeling projects and new landscaping because we understood that if we didn’t take the time to make these updates, the value of our home would decrease.
Just as the value of your home can depreciate if you don’t maintain and remodel, so can the financial value of your business. If you don’t refresh and optimize your financial “tool set” – or the financial programs and tools at your disposal for selling and best serving your customers – your business and your customers can suffer.
You’re not just selling copiers anymore. You’re selling solutions. You’re selling everything from managed IT, digital signage, document management, 3-D printers – the list goes on and on. With all of these new services and offerings, how do you assess whether your financial partner is ready to evolve with you? When evaluating your financial partners and the tools and programs they provide, here are some things to consider:
Your financial partner’s industry dedication and knowledge: Does your leasing company stay at the forefront of office equipment industry trends? Does this partner make it a priority to understand your business? Does this organization fully understand that your selling cycle has changed with the evolution to a more services-oriented business model, and has it made adjustments accordingly?
Flexible and customizable documents: Does your leasing company limit you to off-the-shelf documents, or does it provide documents that are customizable to your selling process? In today’s environment, most dealers don’t just sell a box, but customized solutions. Those solutions also require financing. Having a document that can be customized to your selling processes to accommodate you and your customers’ needs is important. You should have the flexibility to add any of your products and services to that contract so that you can close a sale. Are you confident that the documents in your briefcase (or iPad) can cover any sales situation?
Billing: a single-invoice solution: As your deals become more complex, so can your billing needs. Does your financial partner have an easy-to-read, single-invoice solution that allows you the flexibility to bill CPI, software and managed IT services to match your proposals? Can this partner provide integrations with your systems to alleviate your administrative burden?
Flexibility during the contract: Your initial deal has booked, and the billing has started, but does your finance partner have a single method to accommodate all of the ongoing complexities that can occur as your customers’ needs change? Did your initial agreement allow for supplements and add-ons? Can you customize invoices by consolidating or providing asset-level information to meet your customers’ requirements as contracts change? Your finance partner should be able to meet all your needs from a contract where there are no financed assets – when you take over the fleet to the day you fully control the relationship. Can this partner grow with you through all of the changes that may occur as your relationships with your customers grow?
Maybe like my husband, me and our home, you’ve gotten a little comfortable with your financial tool set. Perhaps you’ve been overlooking the necessary updates that could help your business better care for its customers as your business evolves and even increase the financial value of your company. It’s not too late to take a look at how having a refreshed and complete financial tool set can give you sales confidence because you know your finance company is a true partner that is ready to help you grow in flexible and innovative ways.
Kim Louden is director, National Accounts for GreatAmerica Financial Services. During her 17-year tenure at GreatAmerica, Kim has served in numerous capacities, including credit, sales and team leadership. She was with GE Capital prior to joining GreatAmerica. Kim serves on the MPSA’s Standards and Best Practices committee and earned her M.B.A. from the University of Iowa.