When I ask most managed services providers about what kinds of IT assets they monitor for their customers, answers such as “servers, routers, switches, firewalls, PCs, laptops, and even mobile devices” are common responses. Less common responses include “printers, fax machines, MFPs [multifunctional peripherals], and copiers.” After inquiring further about these latter devices, I’ve discovered there are a number of reasons MSPs give as to why they shy away from monitoring and managing copiers and printers. What’s also interesting is that there are a lot of copier dealers and ECM (enterprise content management)/document management VARs that provide break-fix repair services, but aren’t offering flat-fee monthly managed print services. The big question for all of these channel companies is: Is this a wise move or a missed opportunity?
According to John Iaccarino, president of Real Time Consultants, adding MPS (managed print services) to his managed services practice was driven by necessity. “About three years ago, we noticed large copier dealers were approaching our customers with subscription-based printer management services that frankly were much more attractive than what we were offering at the time,” he says. “We knew we had to either come up with a better way of selling printers, copiers, and services, or we were going to start losing customers.”
Even though selling MPS is a natural fit for MSPs like Real Time Consultants and copier VARs, both types of resellers can fall into the trap of thinking that, if they sell MPS, they have to be the ones to troubleshoot every alert, including providing and installing new toner and clearing every paper jam. Nothing could be further from the truth. VARs and MSPs should work with their copier vendor or distributor partner to discuss how services should be delivered, taking into account their in-house skill sets, customer needs, and business model. In some cases, it may make sense to completely outsource all printer-related repair and maintenance services to save your in-house resources for more profitable assignments.
What’s most important, however, is not to neglect managed print services. The fact of the matter is that doing so could be the weapon your competitors use against you to turn your customers’ attention in their direction.