Fax/copier dealers eye off IT network business

Fax/copier dealers eye off IT network business

A conference for copier and fax dealers held by the Business Technology Association (BTA) has focused on helping them leverage existing customer relationships to move into PC network support.

Presenters at last weekend's Gold Coast event included Paul Brady, co-owner of BMS Wollongong, a dealership that has been making the transition from a traditional copier/fax business into network services since 2000.

Technical convergence and diminishing copy costs had prompted the change in business focus for BMS, Brady said.

“We were at the end of the loop in the customer’s decision process," he said. "As a copier company playing in the IT guy’s network, we were losing ownership of the customer. They didn’t see us as a major player.”

BMS targeted existing customers, with a goal of growing its service relationship with them beyond copiers and faxes.

“Our core customer is 10-50 desktops on the network. Above 50, they’re probably going to have their own IT guy,” Brady said.

The strong service background of copier and fax dealers meant they had a significant customer focus and relationship to draw on as they attempted to move further into the IT space, he said.

In the two years since beginning its business shift towards integrated IT services, BMS had seen its traditional copy and service revenue continue to grow along with the newer IT service integration and IT hardware, Brady said.

IT and traditional service integration had grown 44 per cent since the second half of 2000, while traditional hardware sales had grown 96 per cent. The increase in hardware sales had been achieved without additional sales staff.

BMS qualified existing customers by offering to audit their network service requirements, and estimating an average maintenance cost of “about half an hour per desktop per month,” he said. "We don’t charge for that audit. It’s very costly, but I’m investing in ongoing revenue. We have never done an audit for a customer and not gotten the business.”

While agreeing that the move was placing BMS in competition with traditional IT resellers, Brady said it was not trying to become a PC boxshifter.

“The box is a commodity," he said. "What people pay us for is our knowledge and services.”

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