Australian Dealers Optimizing Their Operations
Shifts occurring in portfolios, payment plans, and personnel
Australian office equipment dealers are taking on new products and services, right-sizing, and looking into new financial options for clients in the face of COVID-19, according to Keypoint Intelligence’s interviews with ten dealerships across the country.
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The extent to which the dealers have been impacted by the virus depends on the region of Australia, their dependence on print, and their ability to invest in new areas. Some have been able to extend (or extend further) into spheres like hosted VOIP end points, managed IT, display panels and conferencing systems, as well as software solutions (especially scanning/capture/workflow solutions, which may require less of an investment versus other new areas of technology)—particularly for their already existing clients.
Dealers have benefited from campaigns, training services, and support from vendors in these adjacent areas, which they see as increasing market opportunities due to COVID changes in the workplace—including an increased number of people working from home. They haven’t quite seen the same level of support from their A3 print OEM partners, who appear to be focused on their own sales challenges.
To further combat the negative impact of COVID, certain dealers are looking to increase their in-house rentals business as well as finance operations as a way to reinforce their contracted revenues and business models going forward. Some are also exploring how they can better bundle their offerings to provide flat-based billing across all product and service areas.
Other opportunities reside in targeting specific verticals, especially health and education (on a regional basis), and A4 print devices for home-based workers. That said, these A4 products are generally not being integrated into managed print services agreements due to their low price, low print volumes, and the perceived complications associated with this type of contract (e.g., clients unsure how long workers will be at home).
COVID has also reduced the number of face-to-face interactions occurring with customers. Technicians are now just visiting offices if truly needed, versus on a more frequent basis, to help limit potential spread of the virus. When they do go into an office, they wear face masks, use hand sanitizer and wipes, and call ahead to ensure they observe proper client safety practices.
The pandemic has also been a catalyst for “cutting out dead wood” within their businesses, including lesser-engaged staff members, to reduce costs. This has also boosted the engagement levels of retained staff who are grateful for their positions, helping to make the leaner organization a stronger one. When combined with new and improved revenue and client retention strategies, a dark challenge can turn into something brighter and more exciting going forward.
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Paul Brady contributed to this article.