Dealer Insight into Activity during the Age of Coronavirus

Carl Schell
Apr 15, 2020

Service, the State of Print, Managed IT, and More

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We’ve heard how COVID-19 has affected business from bliQ subscribers. We’ve heard from traditional A3 OEMs on the manufacturing impact, scanner vendors too. And over the past month, we’ve spoken with dealers of all sizes on both sides of the pond as well as in Australia. Let’s go!

1) Employee welfare: “We’re all learning that a surface doesn’t have to appear dirty to be dirty,” said one dealer principal. Also, as the weeks have passed, service tickets have rapidly declined.

  • Most employees are working from home with virtual setups nearly mirroring their office rigs.
  • Employees who go to the office are vigilant about hand washing and social distancing.
  • Techs follow health guidelines during onsite visits (e.g., calling beforehand, facemasks, sanitation kits).
  • Virtual service, including augmented reality, is used as often as possible.

2) Billing and contracts: One dealer commented that a customer wants to cancel in full—with no penalty. Some are feeling a bigger crunch because they have an in-house financial service.

  • Sensitivity is critical with financial hardship, so relaxing collection policies is an option.
  • Deferred contract requests and print volume adjustments are anticipated or already happening.
  • Taking things on a case-by-case basis and working with customers to find common ground.
  • Internal discussions are focused on minimum volumes not being met, and the longer-term ramifications.

3) Will print or IT suffer more? As the former has shifted to the home, the answer has become even more apparent. “Remote” is a frontrunner for tech word of the year.

  • The need for laptops has slowed, but helpdesk support is still busy to say the least.
  • Transform the pandemic into an opportunity for managed IT, cloud, and pro A/V services.
  • Unless the MPS deal carries significant cost reduction, on-hand cash will trump new hardware.
  • What happens if/when people print less upon returning to the office?

4) The future: “Difficult to predict, the future is,” said one famous character. Regardless, dealers are adamant that now is still the time to think business model and roadmap.

  • Discuss change, but don’t make any big changes (what with all the uncertainty).
  • Take stock of your business, every day, even during events like COVID-19.
  • It’s definitely a good time to cross-train print staff on IT, and vice versa.
  • ? Customers value their IT spend more than that of print, as the investment has greater benefit.

***

In the ensuing months cashflow could become a serious challenge for dealers and their customers, if it hasn’t already nailed multiple companies like a Foreman uppercut. It’s times like this when the rubber meets the road, the best and the worst in people are on full display—relationships can be strengthened, yes, but they might just break if the right notes and tones aren’t struck. Dealers have to locate that creative spark to push past the pain of the coronavirus outbreak, in sales, service, and everything in between.

Where do you stand? Take a minute to complete our COVID-19 Industry Survey.

Deborah Hawkins and Paul Brady contributed to this article.

To subscribe to Keypoint Intelligence’s COVID-19 Content Feed, click here and sign-up!

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