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Nuance & Canon

July 31, 2017

Apparently Nuance and Canon are fighting. How do I know? I can’t get eCopy Sharescan embedded on some of the newest Canon MFDs. Each of these large companies will undoubtedly blame the other, but My customers are the ones that are getting hosed.

I will say that Sharescan isn’t as popular as it once was, because now there are many other scanning solutions that have very similar features. Even the built in scan features that come standard on most MFDs have some of the features that eCopy ShareScan was known for. So many people don’t require, or don’t want a scanning solution that requires a back room server to support it. But eCopy Sharescan still has a terrific Connector Catalog and for customers that have standardized on a solution it is a pain in the butt to ask them to change one or all of their MFDs.

To Nuance I will say “If you force me to change scanning solutions you will never get that customer back”.

To Canon I will say “If you force me to sell a different brand of MFD to a customer that refuses to leave Sharescan we will eventually swap out the rest of their fleet to the new brand of MFDs.

Now Nuance will read what I said to Canon and Canon will read what I said to Nuance. To which I will say READ YOUR OWN MAIL!!! You two need to figure out how to work together so that our shared customers don’t suffer. This has gone on long enough. Stop embarrassing yourselves. You are starting to look like Congress! And you know how low their approval ratings are.

  • That’s My $0.02
  • Vince McHugh
  • vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

 

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Is Ricoh Circling the Drain?

June 23, 2017

While Toshiba’s financial troubles have been front page industry headlines, Ricoh news has only recently come to light as to how much trouble they are in. It’s hard to hide the massive layoffs, or selling all your “down the street” business to your Dealers. This has been a boon to many local dealers, not just Ricoh Dealers, as they hire some very talented Sales people. The stories they tell is that no one’s job is safe at Ricoh. That kind of uncertainty makes Ricoh not a good place to work! It’s Sink or Swim Time for Ricoh!

But this is what happens when you sales organization is focus solely on Market Share and not profit. It has proven to be an unsustainable practice. According to the article in the URL link above “President and CEO Yoshinori Yamashita in the middle of April began visiting Ricoh’s sales outlets in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, urging senior officials to pursue profits instead of more market share.” But this will take a culture change in your Sales Force. If you have trained your sales people to “give it away” and always be the lowest price than that is the only way that they know how to sell. Simply asking them to stop doing that and focus on selling for profit doesn’t train them on how to sell for Profit. It is a tall order. Time will tell if they can actually shift their sales focus. But if they don’t the future of Ricoh is bleak! Yamashita went on to say “We will incur a loss of tens of billions of yen three years from now if nothing is done,” he said. “People around me warn that our survival will then be questioned.” So yes, Ricoh is circling the drain (More Evidence of the Big Crunch). Whether or not they go down the drain will be determined by how well their sales force makes this transition to selling for profit.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

WWW.NECS.BIZ

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The Big Crunch Continues!

April 9, 2017

I first wrote about “the big crunch” in 2012 on the Copier Network as a guest blogger. Back then it was Sharp that looked like it was on the verge of insolvency, now Toshiba seems to be the lead candidate for that fate. While 5 years may have changed the landscape of the Copier Industry, the more things change the more they seem to stay the same. Clearly the big Crunch continues.

Ricoh just purged more than a thousand loyal employees and turned over their down the street business to a handful of large Independent Dealers. While this has not made the small to midsize Ricoh Dealers happy, they should see RBS (Ricoh BS Branch) leaving the SMB market as a gift! Other manufacturer’s dealers could only wish that their _BS Branches would disappear.

The Big Crunch seems to also be affecting Xerox. Splitting the company in two, has not seem to have helped Xerox.  They too are engaged in layoffs. One report I read that was posted last month said ~ 50 system analysts were let go across the country. This is especially short sighted on the part of Xerox’s Management team. I personally have seen this move before. Firing an SA (Systems Analyst) or an SE (Systems Engineer) is low hanging fruit, and seems like a quick fix, but it is a trap. SAs and SEs are well paid, and for good reason. But too often the Suits who run these large companies (and have great skills in many areas) don’t understand what the SA / SE really does. After all why do you need a Systems Engineer? SA / SEs are like yeast! You only notice them when they are not there! And you know what happens to bread with out yeast, it goes flat! So does your sales numbers without SAs or SEs! How do I know this? When I was first approached by Ricoh Business Systems the person interviewing me told me that they wanted me to reconstitute a “Solutions Team” to do technical Pre Sales work with the New England Market Place’s Sales Force.  I asked him what had happened to the previous Solutions Team? He said it was disbanded by Ricoh Corporate in a cost cutting move. They didn’t see the value of it. After two years of watching the branches miss their sales numbers they went back and studied what had changed and to their credit they recognized it was the firing of the SA’s and SE’s.

I thought that they had learned their lesson but after the Ricoh \ Lanier merge they did it again! They moved my Solutions Team to the Service Department. This was after my branch had a banner year. We hit our triple crown numbers. We were the only branch of 13 branches to hit these 3 goals and my branch had never done it before in it’s history. But Ricoh Corporate rewarded this excellent performance by dismantling what we had built. I resigned shortly thereafter. I did however see history quickly repeat itself. I go a call six months later from a Sales Manager at RBS. He told me that my name came up in a conversation among the Sales Managers. He stated that as best that they could figure I had cost the Branch a Million Dollars since I left. That is ~ $2 million a year. I asked him if he would mind putting that in writing on Ricoh letterhead, but he politely declined.

That is the problem with firing SA / SEs is you get a small and quick positive impact on your bottom line, as you try to figure out why your sales numbers tank! Xerox is now heading down this perilous downward spiral. And so the BIG CRUNCH continues, but it is not all bad! The Independent Dealers are thriving! It’s good and getting better on this side of the street. We see the Big Crunch as a culling of the heard. We seem to be seeing the dying off of the weak. Maybe a return of the 70s and 80s when the Independent Dealers were large and in charge! We shall see!

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

VP \ NECS

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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HP has a real opportunity with the Samsung MFDs, I hope they don’t screw it up.

November 9, 2016

I have been in the Industry for 30 Years. 25 of them I have spent at NECS which has been in business for 50 Years. This gives me a unique perspective of our industry. I was invited by HP to go Idaho with a fellow SE (Bill Peacan) many, many years ago to take a look at the Mopia and  to see if our dealership wanted to take it on. HP has a great name in the Printer industry. IT people love HP, and while we REALLY liked the idea of having the HP name on our Business cards, we did not take on the Mopier, because it was clearly not ready for prime time (it was a scanner mounted to the top of a printer connected by wires but not really integrated. Our neighbor to the North decided to take on the Mopier and their “challenges” with the product proved to us that our decision to gracefully decline was the correct decision. I will say HP treated us very well during our visit to their Headquarters.

When I first heard that Samsung sold their Printer Division (including MFDs) to HP I was upset with Samsung. They came in with a roar, and much pomp and circumstance, talking about how they planned on being #5 in 3 years, and #3 in 5 years. But Samsung became impatient. Our industry has a way of doing that to companies that think they will bend it to their will. I remember one manufacturer setting up shop (Direct Sales _BS Branch) in our back yard and directly competing with one of their largest dealers in the country. They also came in bragging that they would crush NECS and take our business as well as the Canon market share that IKON and Danka had. Not so much! Why? Because MFDs require support after the sale. When I say support I mean good service and network and solutions support. The Direct Sales offices have never been good at supporting what they sell. They have one good line “We are the Manufacturer, why would you want to buy from a Dealer when you could buy from the Manufacturer?” To which I reply “Who do you know that buys a car directly from GM or Ford?” Why don’t they? Because a car like an MFD needs service after the sale. That is how the large regional dealers have NOT ONLY SURVIVED, BUT THRIVED during the rise and fall of IKON, DANKA & GLOBAL, as well as the rise of the Direct Sales (_BS) Branches. Because they have shown that they CANNOT do what we do. All they can do is be cheaper. And I don’t know anyone who goes out to buy the cheapest Suit, or the cheapest Car, or the cheapest TV that they can find. When it comes to their personal life they demand value. It seems like even some purchasing departments are starting to look beyond who is the cheapest price. Because the sweet taste of a cheap price soon turns bitter in the face of bad service and support. How long is our lease (3, 4, please don’t tell me we have to put up with this terrible service for 5 years).

But what does all this have to do with HP buying Samsung? Perspective! Having seen HP struggle time and time again trying to gain a foothold into the MFD market only to fail time and time again. If you work for HP and you are reading this please don’t get offended as I am simple recounting the facts from the Mopier to the Edgeline to re labeling actual MFDs you have to admit that HP has struggled in this space. Again you ask why? Because HP’s model is a drop ship model. It works great for Printers and you can survive on slim margins because you don’t have to do much of anything when you drop ship a product. MFDs do not lend themselves to a drop ship model. MFDs require infrastructure. You might have 6 to 9 Printers for every one MFD. If a printer goes down, no problem, you simply print to the next closest printer, and you can wait a couple of days or a week to get it fixed. Maybe it is a throw away printer (cheap) and you swap it for a new one rather than fix it. Of course the new one takes different toner and supplies so you end up with a closet full of orphaned supplies. But when your MFD goes down, and you can’t scan, fax, copy or Print in Color the office goes into a panic. That is why MFD dealers have to commit to a 4 hour response time. Those that constantly miss this goal are typically replaced no matter if they are the “cheapest” price next time around.

HP can get something that they wanted when they tried to sell the Mopier, that they have never really had; and independent dealer network to sell and support the Samsung / HP MFD. Their was a time that HP saw the value in this. I fear that they will let the arrogance that has been their hallmark in all their dealings with the Independent Dealer community push them to cut their nose off to spite their face. Samsung has done a good job putting together a National Dealer network. HP could leverage that to continue to sell and support the Samsung / HP MFDs. But they have to do a better job working with the Independent Dealers. HP needs to see it as a symbiotic relationship and not look at the dealers as subservient to the great HP. We are not. We have been successful for decades without you, and we will be successful if HP decides to take the Samsung / HP MFD away from these dealerships. But you know who won’t be successful; HP. Not without a National Dealer Network who can and has done a terrific job supporting MFDs after the sale. HP is another manufacturer or in this case a reseller of a product that the Dealers have had success and growth with. We have done it already and well done is better than well said.

I am not saying that HP couldn’t also sell this product but if they try to do it exclusively like they have done in the pass, and cut off the dealer network well….. Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I understand that this may be a bitter pill for HP to swallow. But Pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction. If they understand that there could be a great relationship between the current Samsung MFD Dealer network and HP and we could work together to help make each other more successful than either of could be on our own. We would have common ground to move forward on. But if they stay true to form, they will try to be heavy handed with the INDEPENDENT Dealers and they will lose their support and market share. The choice is yours HP. Chose wisely!

What would an Independent Dealer like to see from HP? First hire some “Copier People” to handle this channel. Maybe keep the Samsung people and allow them to keep working this channel for you. Secondly, what would be IDEAL for HP and the Dealers is to allow the Independent Dealers to continue to sell the Samsung MFDs (with their Android OS and large Touch Screen unchanged. If HP wants to add their own interface and OS to make it more compatible to the rest of their HP line that’s fine for their sales channel, but allow the DEALER network (Which could be HPs MFD Dealer Network) to keep selling the Samsung either as Samsung (to differentiate themselves, dealers LOVE to differentiate themselves) or if you MUST relabel them as HP (we could live with that) as long as you leave the OS and the Large Touch Screen in place for these dealers. This Independent Dealer network has been successful and will continue to grow IF, and only IF HP embraces the Independent Dealer channel for what it is, a Partner. The ball is in your court HP, don’t screw this up!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Not All “Copier” Dealers can support Software Solutions!

October 12, 2016

We typically don’t refer to ourselves as “Copier Dealers” anymore unless you have been in the industry for a long time. But there seems to be 3 types of Dealers currently operating in the “Copier Dealer space, with the third type being more rare than the first two.

The first type is the old style Box mover. Their sales people think “solutions” only slow down the sales cycle, but doesn’t understand why his \ her margins keep shrinking. All he wants to know is speeds and feeds. How fast is your current Box (Copier) and can yours do double sided single pass scanning, because my new one can. When they run into competition selling a Solution (see Def of a true solution) they typically drop their price or become dealer type #2.

Type # 2 Dealer relies on the Manufacturer or Software Provider to provide Solution Support. Many Direct Sales Organizations, Branches and smaller Dealers don’t have the resources to provide in house installation or support for a software solution. Far too often I have seem this lead to a software sale that NEVER gets installed or NEVER gets truly up and running. We lost a deal for a school that we had done a real good job supporting over the years. But they asked us to also quote a Document Management System. We had in house folks trained to install & support the DMS Solution and some support from the manufacturer for specialized Workflow. Our competitor was a Global Xerox Company that came to the school in force, made great promises but had a terrible demo, according to the customer. But they “said” it would work great once the new fleet was installed, it didn’t. We were told that we didn’t need to demo our new equipment because they knew us and our equipment and service & support had been constantly good. We thought that it was ours to loose, But they also asked the Xerox \ Global company to propose a Document Management System. They came in $10K lower than we did. The Customer thought that we were “screwing” them so they gave the entire deal to a slick talking sales person from an untested dealership that had never actually done anything for them. My sales person was beside himself as this had been a decent size customer that he and we had taken good care of. His first instinct was to send a nasty email but after he cooled off and we talked he sent a very nice email thanking them for the past business and letting them know to please contact us if there is anything we could ever do (That is how a professional sales person handles this kind of situation). They called him SIX MONTHS later asking if there was any way he could get them out of their lease with the Xerox Global equipment? He said yes, in about 2 more years! And he did. They told us about the terrible experience they had with this Global Xerox Dealer. This school is 99.5% MACs. All you have to do is walk around, or walk into the IT Dept and there are MACs everywhere. Even their Windows OS run on MAC hardware. The Global Xerox Sales Person had the nerve to ask them “When they became a MAC house?” This Clueless Sales person apparently didn’t notice or didn’t want to know because as soon as they did an upgrade tot heir MAC OS all of their printing broke. And the Global Xerox Sales Person said that this was the School’s fault because they never told him they were a MAC house???? Really???? He must have been wearing blinders. We also found out that this Global Xerox Dealer paid to have an SE fly in from Florida to do the installation, configuration and training for the new Document Management System (DMS) that they sold to the school. But at the end of the week, it was not up and running and the SE from Florida said “I gotta go” because the Dealer only paid for a week of his time. They NEVER got the DMS running!!! I later told the IT Director if I knew that I didn’t have to get my DMS System running we could have come in $10,000 cheaper too. For some reason he did not think that was funny.

The Third Type of Dealer is typically found in the large regional Dealers. These dealers understand the value of having in house Systems Engineers (SEs) and most of them will have separate Pre & Post Sales SEs (There is a difference). The top tier of these dealers believe in Team Selling, pairing up a Pre Sales Systems Engineer with a Sales Person and have the SE get involved early in the Sales process to “set the bar” to show the customer that not all “dealers” are the same. They will all talk about Solutions but they cannot all fulfill their proposals. I have seen it time and time again from both “copier dealers” and many direct sales branches of the manufacturers. I can’t tell you how many times a new Customer has fallen for it because they are “Cheaper” than e Dealer who really provides (Sells, Installs, and Supports) Solutions. We have picked up, or gotten back so many customers who have believed that “all Dealers are the same”, they are not and some times a customer has to suffer through this painful truth for a couple of years before they can get out of their lease and come to or come back to a REAL Solutions Providing Dealer. That was the case of the School I spoke about above. I will say we don’t always get everything perfect the first try. But we don’t abandon our customers we continue to work with them (if they will work with us) until the solution is up and running as the customer was promised. We recently installed UniFLOW for a large Customer on their AWS (Amazon Web Servers) Servers. It was so new that there really wasn’t much info about how to do it. But we hung in there and worked through the issues, most of which were caused by the costumer locking down every single port (including 8000, 515, and 9100). Ports that we consider normally to be open by default. But we worked through the issues and got it working. In contrast the Direct Sales Branch was kicked off this same network because they couldn’t get UniFLOW to work even on their standard Local Area Network (LAN). That is the difference between a Real Solutions Providing Dealer and one that simple says “we can do that to”. Well Done is better than Well Said!!! Don’t get fooled by a slick talking sales person, ask to speak to their SEs, ask them where they live, and where they are based out of, ask the Dealer or Branch how many SEs they have locally. Now this costs the Dealership money, so we won’t be the cheapest price, but they will be the best value. What is the point in buying a solution if it never gets installed or installed correctly? That Money is wasted. It’s funny that I don’t know anyone who looks to buy the cheapest TV, or the cheapest Car, or the Cheapest Suit. We look for value, the best value, But this almost always costs a bit more than the cheapest. So when you are looking for more than a copy machine, when you want to truly leverage the power of the MFD or Smart MFD so that your company or organization gets the most value from it, than you will need to buy it from a Dealer who has a track record of not just selling software but installing and supporting it. Not all Copier Dealers can support the Software that they sell.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Samsung’s Smart Color Manager!!!

July 21, 2016

Unless you live under a rock or are a Luddite (look it up) you know that Samsung’s newest MFDs run on an Android Platform. They are for all intents and Purposes a Samsung Android Tablet “firmly attached and integrated into an MFD. In a post called “Defining our Terms” I talk about “Smart MFDs” I am not sure what to call what Samsung did except “Brilliant” (Think Guinness commercial voice). Not only did they make an MFD that is run by a TRUE ANDROID TABLET (Not just looks like one) but they have it open up (or locked down enough if you prefer) to add what YOU NEED!!!! NOT WHAT THE MFD MANUFACTURER THINKS YOU NEED, OR TELLS YOU THAT YOU NEED! (no my caps locks didn’t get stuck).

I am in my quarterly Sales Kick Off meeting when Samsung Reps Joe Alacata and Claude Jacobs start talking about all these apps that you can download from the Samsung Printing App Store and one of my newer sales guys ( Gian ) starts talking about how he used the Samsung (free) Smart Color Monitor to save a deal. He said he replaced a particular brand of MFD with a Samsung and the customer was unhappy because it printed different. And in the Color world different = wrong! Even if your color is better and more accurate to what they see on the screen they want it to look like it always looked. So Samsung was smart! They added in Simulations to match Canon, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, and Xerox. And they work pretty good and get you pretty close, but what if that isn’t good enough???? Enter Samsung’s Smart Color Management (free) tool. You could compare it to EFI’s Profiler except it cost $4,000 less and is easier to use. Now you probably saying how could anything free be that good! Well Samsung has a goal, world domination!!! Doctor Evil Laugh (Hear Dr Evil Voice hear here). Well at least in every industry that they are in, but let’s limit this discussion to Samsung wanting to be #1 in Digital Copiers \ MFDs. That’s a pretty tall order for those of us who have been in this industry for 30 years or more. But they have said that 5 in 3 years and 3 in 5. I think they are a little behind schedule but you know what is going to launch them to meet these goals? Apps!!!! Killer APPS!!!! The future of our industry “is” the Killer App. If I can find out what is the MOST important App in your industry and I can add it to my Samsung MFD (easily) and NO OTHER MANUFACTURER CAN will I need to be as cheap as you? No! Because you can’t do what I can do. I set the bar to high for you by doing more with my Samsung than you can with your brand.

But I digress. What is one thing standing in the way of replacing your current brand with a Samsung? How about all the files that you’ve printed for the last 20+ years on your old brand. You want them to look the same when you print them on your new cooler, much cooler Samsung, no? Enter Samsung Smart Color Manager! Samsung Smart Color Management Pages

This cool little tool (did I mention it was free to download to your new Samsung?) will let you print a color gamut page to your target device (A) and then it will print out the same gamut page to it’s own Samsung device (B). THEN you scan them in one at a time (A then B) and it adjusts the Samsungs Color Gamut to match the target device. Pretty Frickin’ cool! And I am not easily impressed. But one of my Salesman did it with NO Training, he just downloaded it and figured it out. So I downloaded it (You need Admin rights) and installed it and I profiled a machine from a competitor with a fiery Tower Rip on it that cost 4 times what my Samsung cost (maybe more). Then I printer out 3 samples that we use a lot to show very specific strengths or weaknesses in a device, and I showed them around.

The first guys I showed them to has sold color for 30 Years, and I highly respect his opinion. I showed him two documents of each sample with the name of the device it was printed on written on the back of each (to make it fair). It took him 3 Minutes per document but he got them all correct. You may think that is a failure, but I don’t. He has a very good, very critical color eye. If HE could not immediately tell then the average person will never tell the difference. The only other person to get all 3 correct was my Service trainer and it was because of a particular finish that he knew the non Samsung – Fiery did when it laid down it’s color. The best any other sales person got was 2 for 3, some 1 for 3. If this little free app can make it that hard to tell the difference between a top of the line (Think Industry leader) Color “Press” with a Fiery Tower, and a little old Samsung then I think there will be very few, VERY FEW MFDs that I can’t replace with a Samsung running Smart Color Manager.

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh

Vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Ode to TechNet!

June 14, 2016

Technet 2

How many of you ever attended a “TechNet”? Maybe I should be a little more specific. How many of you (SEs) ever attended a Canon TechNet? I hear some other group called there gathering “TechNet” as well, but I am talking about the ones that Canon used to run down at Disney World (Florida) and Disney Land (CA) in August! It’s where many SEs learned their trade. I can still remember going to my first one and they had “remedial seminars” (for lack of a better word) for new SEs Like Managing Color. That’s where Mike Betsco (Now with Samsung, but back then with Canon) taught me the “Red Car By GM” trick to remember the relationship between RGB and CMYK color. In the early days EFI and eCopy were very involved in presenting their own solutions but towards the end Canon did ALL the presentations with maybe a vendor in the room for support.

The beat up picture above was a luggage tag that they gave out years ago. It finally fell off my bag this weekend and made me think about writing this blog. These were a great 3 days, not only because I got to take my young family on the cheap trip (a couple extra bucks for the room, and their own airfare, meals, and Disney Passes) but it was where I learned my trade as a Systems Engineer (SE). But then Arnold got caught, and TechNets stopped. Today the Canon executives shudder when you bring up the name Technet! But what has replaced it? Nothing really. So instead of taking a couple of years to get an SE up and running it now takes 5 years (IMHO) to get an SE who knows enough to be valuable. I once brought on a Network Engineer that was once our main contact at a large customer. He managed the fleet of Canons and when there was a problem he placed the call. When that customer closed the location he was working at it seemed like a good idea to bring him on as an SE. But even though he was a real good Network Engineer, and was responsible for the MFDs as a Customer (Main Contact) he really didn’t know the MFDs that well and that hurt him (I now think it’s better to promote from within or hire an SE who has done the job already). I had no Technet to send him to, where he could be exposed to 20 – 30 different technology solutions that Canon sold and we supported. As it turned out the economy turned bad and we had to let someone go, last in first out, but I am not sure he would have made it anyway. Not REALLY his fault. Where do you go today to learn to be a real SE, not a copier repair tech who knows a little about computers? You can get a CompTIA NET+ certification and that is a real good start, maybe you can get your company to send you to Fiery, Nuance, Papercut, or UniFLOW training, but God help you if you fail. You probably won’t be going to another school. I miss Technet, I have even proposed that it be done regionally at the Canon Regional Training centers so MOST SEs could drive there, and all it would cost is a hotel and a couple of days of meals. But Canon doesn’t seem interested at all. Maybe now that Mike Betsco is over at Samsung they can run a Technet to train SEs on their solutions.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@Yahoo.com

PS: Maybe when I retire I will start a consulting buisness to train Systems Engineers. 🙂