As an office equipment dealer or managed print services (MPS) provider, you have spent years building a business to be proud of. You’ve called the shots that put you ahead of the competition. You’ve made the decisions that helped you to grow from a lifestyle business to a force to be reckoned with. You’ve weathered all of the storms over the years and you are in complete control of your future successes too.
Or are you?
A lot of things have changed in the last few years and not all of those changes are in your best interest. Consolidation and acquisition frenzy have led to near monopolistic business practices by some that directly impact how you run your business. Here are three questions you need to ask yourself right now to ensure you’re doing all you can to maintain control of your business’ future:
1. Who owns your customer data? You or somebody else?
Recently, we had a few customers of ours come to us with a problem. When they went to the provider of tools they use to gather printer and MFD metrics for an API key, they were told that because they were running a different business automation platform, the company was not going to give them API access to their own data! This is wrong, and I’m not sure it’s even legal.
We have the best software developers in the business, so this wasn’t a big deal. We simply engineered another way to get the data our customers needed regardless of API access. Needless to say, our customers were pretty upset with being told they couldn’t use their data in ways that they felt best supported their business. It begs the question: Who owns your data? Who controls your data? The answer should be pretty clear: You. If your toolset provider doesn’t allow you to use your data in the ways you want, is that really true? You deserve better treatment and you should demand it from anybody you do business with. You haven’t built your business to what it is today by being told what to do. Make sure you continue to call the shots.
In the Managed Services Space, the landscape is very different. There is fierce competition, but all competitors integrate various tools with one another's via APIs — usually at no cost to the other partners or the customers that use the integrations! This approach to an open ecosystem is good for the end users, and it forces competitors to stay on their toes. Competing in this space has made us stronger, rather than put us in a position to take our customers for granted (or take advantage of our customers).
2. Is my toolset provider taking my business for granted?
If you’re being treated like a number, if you aren’t getting the customer support that you need, if you continue using tools because you feel like you have to, that you have no other choice, is that really the best thing for you or your business? If your provider makes you feel like they can do whatever they like because you don’t have a choice, are you going to take that kind of treatment? Are you OK with the approach of buying competition, then cutting staff and innovation while raising prices? If you’re provider is doing this to you, they are not helping you adapt and grow to the changes in the market, and you didn’t build your business based on that kind of treatment. I venture to guess you didn’t get where you are by treating your customers this way either.
You owe it to yourself to demand that you be treated better.
At Tigerpaw, our mantra is “We don’t want to be the biggest, we want to be the BEST.” That mantra drives every decision we make and guides us on how we treat our customers. Your data is YOUR data. You deserve a live human being to answer the phone when things aren’t working the way you need them to (we have a support desk with an 800 number that currently averages under three minute hold times). You deserve a partner that is all about mutual success, because one-sided relationships aren’t what you do.
3. What choice do I have?
You might feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but you’re not! You might have to make some changes to your workflows, you might have to implement some new toolsets, and you might have to train some of your people to do things in new ways. But if you’re the kind of dealer that believes in growth, that believes in controlling every aspect of your business, that believes you deserve to be treated the way you treat your customers, well, you’re the kind of dealer that should be demanding better treatment by your partners and providers. If your provider won’t change — change your provider!
Maybe you need to give Tigerpaw a call and explore your options. Choose your own path. We treat our customers the way they deserve to be treated because our business AND your businesses are that important. We believe in honest competition because it forces the competitors to evolve. We believe that your data is your data, no matter what you choose to do with it. We believe you’ve earned the right to make those calls. We believe the best way to get your money is to keep earning it every minute of every day.
Maybe it’s time you gave Tigerpaw a call to at least explore your options. You have nothing to lose but the shackles.