It’s that time of year again – the holiday season has come to an end and everyone is getting back to work and starting on their New Year’s resolutions. Instead of thinking about what I want to achieve this year, I have been wondering what managed print providers can do to start 2017 off on a positive note as we embark on another year of new challenges and new opportunities. Here are three resolutions for MPS providers to consider as we get back into the swing of things.
Self-evaluation is a fundamental part of setting goals and making resolutions, but how do you go about conducting an evaluation of your managed print operations? You can start by asking questions. If you have made one, consider your own New Year’s resolution – you likely began by asking yourself what you want to accomplish in 2017 and set a goal based on your answer. The same applies to your MPS strategy for the New Year.
Like technology, pricing models, business strategies and markets are constantly undergoing change. A sure way to anticipate these changing trends and respond to them appropriately is to regularly review your own practices. If you are not willing to routinely examine your MPS strategy and adjust as necessary, you run the risk of losing out on new opportunities and new business.
Quarterly business reviews (QBRs) are an excellent way to ensure you are staying ahead of the curve. Part retrospective and part prospective, these meetings can provide valuable insight into how your business is performing. From looking at financial forecasts and projections to ensuring your executive and management teams are on the same page, QBRs are a worthwhile practice for businesses of any size. The goal of a QBR should be strategic alignment, which can not only help drive growth but also improve transparency and communication across all levels of the business, drive employee satisfaction and help reinforce your company’s mission, vision and values.
If you have ever worked a job in the service or retail industry, you know all about taking inventory. Inventory helps retailers estimate their ending inventory balances at the end of a year to help determine the relationship between the cost of merchandise and its retail price. This practice helps businesses identify what their best sellers are, what is worth investing in, in the upcoming year and what is not.
Even if you are not selling hardware or supplies, the concept of taking stock is still a relevant one for your MPS operations. Instead of taking stock of items, though, consider the following:
- What were your successes in 2016? Did you achieve any milestones or surpass a noteworthy target?
- What are your strengths? Consider customer feedback when identifying these, as what you perceive as your strengths may not be the same as what your customers believe they are.
- What are some areas for improvement in the coming year?
A SWOT analysis can be very beneficial when taking stock of your MPS operations. Be sure to consider both internal and external factors in your analysis. Internal factors can include everything from the features of your solution to program and technical support to the details of your MPS strategy, including pricing, sales, markets, geography and targets. External factors can include industry changes, competitor pricing and your responsiveness to change. The more specific you are in your analysis of your strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats, the better you can plan for the year ahead and make any necessary adjustments to your MPS strategy.
Regardless of whether your fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, January is a perfect time to refresh your managed print strategy because there is often a sense of renewed enthusiasm following the holiday season. An important part of rethinking or revising your strategy is diversification, or ensuring you set your business apart from competitors.
Competitive differentiators and core competencies are two of the most overused terms in business, but there is a reason they are used so frequently. Knowing what your strengths are and leveraging these is an essential part of a successful business. That being said, knowing when to branch out into new areas, be it investing in a new solution or new locations, can mean the difference between modest and exponential growth. Complacency can be detrimental to your business, so while it is important to know your strengths, it is also worthwhile to consider how you can diversify your program for greater success.
It is also important to note that differentiators and competencies are more than just the popular features of your product. They constitute the value that prospects and customers derive from your product. As I mentioned above, what you think your core competencies are may be different from what they actually are. The best way to determine your actual strengths is to consult your customers, particularly your brand evangelists, because these are the individuals who are promoting your business.
Here are some questions to ask customers when analysing how you can better communicate the value of your offering:
- Why did you choose our solution? How many solutions did you compare during the buying process?
- What are the top benefits to your organization?
- How has using our solution helped your achieve your goals?
The answers to these questions will help you determine the value customers receive from your business and your solution. Be sure to include the sentiments in your corporate mission, vision and values as these will give prospects and new customers a clear idea of what they can expect from choosing your solution. These three identifiers – your mission, vision and values – should be a reflection of not only what you hope to achieve, but what you are actually helping customers achieve.
If you are looking to take stock of your MPS strategy and diversify your offerings this year, remember that asking questions is essential. Download our free MPS Evaluation Worksheet to help you review your MPS operations and set your managed print goals for 2017.