Canon says that there is “no difference” between CBS and the Independent Canon Dealers!

March 3, 2010

I read a letter today that Canon has sent out that states that there is no difference between CBS (Which is owned by Canon) and the Independent Canon Dealerships. Canon treats both the same, they get the same pricing, and the same training, the same support from Canon.

The reason that it was necessary for Canon to send out this letter was that CBS was (IMO) misrepresenting themselves to some customers as if they were Canon. We did the same thing when we were at RBS. We would also say why would you want to deal with a dealer when “we” are the Manufacturer…..WRONG! So whether it is CBS, RBS, KMBS, TABS, or any other _BS organization they are NOT THE MANUFACTURER, they are a sales channel, just like the Independent Dealer is a Sales Channel.

Where the Independent Dealerships shine is in our flexibility and responsiveness to our customers. We do not answer to share holders we answer to our customers. And let’s be honest you can not be an independent dealer and have survived and thrived for the last 20-30 years without doing a lot of things right. In some cases “The Branch” (read _BS) are the new kids on the block. They have have only recently hung their shingle in our market place. They are like the classic Hollywood western town, all front and no real structure behind it. Ask their Sales Rep where their Warehouse is? where is their Dispatch located? how long have they been with _BS?

Then ask them if you (as their customer) were REALLY IN A BIND and needed them to get you ________ (fill in the blank with an MFD, a Toner Cartridge, a Service tech to show up in a hurry, etc.) could they do it???? Do they have the Juice? Because as a customer you want to know that your Account Manager \ Sales Person has juice! That s/he can get things done in their organization for you! In most _BS organization the sales person isn’t even allowed to speak directly to people in other departments. They need to go through their Sales Manager who has to talk to the manager in the other department who then has to talk to the person in that department who can actually help you. You could grow old waiting for this to get done, if they can get it done at all. Because our Independent Sales People have juice! They can talk to the Service Manager, or our Back Room Manager, or they can and will drop off a Toner cartridge to you so that you don’t have an emergency. You (Our Customer) are our priority!

So the next time some ex-ikon rep shows up and says I am with _BS and “we are the manufacturer”, you’ll know that they have truly earned the “BS” in their name.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh



  1. Hi Vince, Sorry, but I don’t know that your argument here holds water when compared to some of your past arguments regarding the Canon – IKON relationship. Any independant Canon dealer has the potential to one day be acquired by one of Canon’s competitors. As you have pointed out, once The Ricoh IKON relationship was finalized Canon made the business decision, not IKON, to gradually withdraw certain types of support over time from IKON. This, in the end has had more negative effects directly to the customers who had invested in Canon technology than any negative affects directly to IKON. As you know from your years in the industry, most customers buy from the Sales Professional that is right in front of them building their solution and either they trust that that solution presented meets their particular needs vs. a certain level of investment or not….. they are far less concerned with what particular manufacturers’ name on the device says than, will it work, and when I need assistance will that organization stand behind it and solve my problems. Canon pretty much bit off their nose to spite their face regarding the whole IKON thing. Their arrogance clouded their ability to see that the policies they put in place are a slap more at the customers who originally invested in Canon technology than at Ricoh, who is responding by providing significant money through programs to upgrade Canon equipment even faster than they normally would have…. Less parts revenue, less toner revenue…That said, in the current economic environment much can be said for acquiring your solutions from a well funded industry leading manufacturer vs. an independent dealer whose books may not be public and whose dealer/reseller agreement can be put into jeopardy from any number of factors including acquisition. If they did it to IKON who represented 60% of their North American business, Global, Danka, they would do it to anyone of their other independant dealers in a heartbeat. Your many posts which seem very anti Ricoh/IKON vs. the Canon situation are actually evidence of one of the major concerns regarding what can happen if you buy Independant vs. Direct I enjoy following your blog….. Happy Selling..

  2. John,

    Thanks for the post, I do appreciate your opinion but I am guessing that you work for either Ricoh or one on the _BS organizations. At least your arguments are very familiar. That does not invalidate them but it may color them (like my history colors mine).

    I will say that the “Independent Channel” is not limited to any one independent. Although the large regional independents have benefited greatly by the Rioch purchase of Ikon, there are a number of Independent dealers that are either growing or acquiring the ability to sell the Canon line. Both Canon and their loyal customers benefit by having a large and diverse independent dealer network. It is the single greatest deterrent to the type of arrogance that you speak of, because it offers the end user (who likes the Canon product) choice and competition.

    I think that Ikon, Danka, & Global have been replaced by RBS, KMBS, and Xerox Direct. Will they be able to do what their predecessor have not (Stay profitable)? Time will tell.

    Keep posting, I enjoy hearing your opinion!

  3. In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I am an IKON/Ricoh employee. Maybe I should have stated that up front but I thought it would be obvious from my post …. It has been an interesting transition from “IKOn – Mega Dealer” to “RIKON”…. For most of my career, 20+ years, I had always sold primarily Canon products for ALCO-ACopy-IKON and while along that road also had experience at different times selling Sharp, Oce, Savin, Konica, Mita, Ricoh, Kyocera Mita, KonicaMinolta and HP. At most points I could pick and choose from 3-4 of these Manufacturers at any given time, The IKON “Best of Breed” Value Prop worked best by using this flexibility as a means of competitive positioning when speeds and feeds were all important and each new model announcement held the promise of having a particular feature to give you “Competitive Advantage”…. Now the “boxes” themselves are highly commoditized and succesful Sales Professionals win deals and lock out the competition by providing Professional Services and designing and implementing unique workflow solutions which solve greater business problems than simple copying, printing and faxing. IKON has had it’s challenges over the years, Initial Oracle Implementation and it’s associated billing nightmares, Bloated Sales Management Structure, as well as others. My experience though has always been that at the local street level there has continued to be a Dealer mentality and the opportunity and promotion of good relationships between Sales Reps, Service Techs, and Professional Services, and if you can just keep that in tact you can take good care of your customers, the rest is just noise. Some choose not to foster those internal relationships and you find those dubious Salespeople bouncing from Dealer to Manufacturer to Dealer always in search of a new “Guarantee”. I can’t speak to RBS, but I know IKON still has that mentality which fosters these local relationships, and though all the “boxes” say Ricoh now, I think you will find that as Ricoh and IKON assimilate you will find that Upper Level Ricoh Executives are intrigued by by how quickly IKON reps have been able to turn the switch to selling Ricoh and are now significantly outperforming many of their own Direct Branches from both a revenue and GP perspective. Challenges remain in that the Ricoh Product line is still not fully complete in terms of WF Color(Currently partnered with Epson), Heavy Iron (Currently Partnered with Kodak DigiMaster and NexPress), and High Volume Roll Fed (Currently navigating the IBM InfoPrint acquisitiion which conludes in June)…and they still need to make strides and gain more traction in the A4 Printer market. I must say this, however, given the current economic environment I think most former IKON folks would agree with me that we are stronger now with Ricoh then we would have been on our own. Let the merger and soft economy shake alot of the “deadwood” out, salespeople and managers and “RIKON” will be poised for some good growth when the economy finally turns. They may be some “Rose Colored Glasses” I’m wearing, but hey, We all know a positive attitude is key to any Sales Professional’s success.

  4. The problem Canon faced here is that they had a well established policy of immediately dumping dealers acquired by a competitor. They were well experienced in dropping a channel by the time these deals were made. They cut off Danka support while the conference call announcing the finalization of the KM deal was in progress, even killing downloads in midstream from the Canon support website.

    Canon had always done this and they could not easily stop this policy because if they did it for Ikon or Danka after having a well established habit of minute-zero cut-offs with other dealers they would have been flooded in law suits from all of those dealers they had cut off before.

    I’m surprised that they got away with supporting Ikon for a year after their buy out by Ricoh. This was probably because it was a secret agreement hidden from public view, and that those affected (Global and Danka) had been bought by companies whose interests were served by having Canon cut them off. Those companies did not intend to sell Canon anyway, so why complain that they were cut off?

    Since I’m on the support side I can attest to the fact that Canon has probably done more harm than good in cutting those channels off that fast, but it was a policy established and carried out from back when the dealers that got bought out did not really impact Canon’s bottom line the way later deals did, but what could they do?

    In the end then the harm has been done to all non-direct manufacturer dealers, not just those tied to Canon. I have had several large companies tell me that they will no longer deal with a company who is not a manufacturers direct branch because they will not have the rug pulled out from under them again. The direct branch may loose a few smaller deals, but they keep the access to 100+ unit deals. The direct branch suffers, but the manufacturer does not because they still get the same chance in those small deals through their independent dealer chasnnels who they do not own. In my experience our Japanese masters don’t care a whit if the direct branch sells a box or a dealer sells a box, JUST SELL OUR BOX!!

  5. Mr. John Edward is very insightful. Not only did an IKON Branch force an under-performing RBS Branch to close in the Midwest last week, but several Ricoh Corporate and RBS people were let go over the past two weeks, in favor of IKON folks. John Edwards has also summarized the weaknesses of the Ricoh product line, which they need to fix during this current state of chaos.

  6. Mr Anonymous,

    I did notice an article that P4PayHotel re-posted from another blog that said major changes at Ricoh\Ikon will be coming in the next 11 Days.


    I know that I spoke to some of my Ricoh contacts late last week and they were unaware of these impeding changes. But it seems like word is leaking out. If that is true, we will all know shortly.

  7. I wonder what the IKON Sales Reps will do now, with the assimilation intoRicoh and RBS. Many will soon fall victim to an identity crisis.

    • Mr Anonymous,

      If history repeats itself the company that Ricoh acquires (Savin, Lanier) end up running Ricoh or in this case RBS.

      I feel for some of the good and talented people that I know at RBS. I hope that they find a soft place to land.

  8. Vince –

    Looks like we were both correct.

    IKON just swallowed Ricoh and has taken over the company, while mass layoffs are also planned.

    Canon has no choice but to continue it’s reactive position and focus on it’s Direct (CBS) business to compete against IKON/Ricoh.

    While there may be opportunity for you, since many loyal Canon customers want Canon upgrades, many of those customers will have CBS knocking down their doors with lower pricing (even more aggressive than last year).




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