Reduce Printer & Copier Costs with App for Print Management, Part 1: Benefits

Reduce printer and copier costs with printer management appIf you’re an IT manager or coordinator, you probably are expected to keep your eyeballs on lots of different types of technology and equipment. Everything is somehow integrated into the network, right? While this is all done in the name of efficiency, it can sometimes be difficult to monitor so many systems and make sure they’re delivering the speed and cost savings your CFO expects.

One place where business expenses can get out of hand fast is with your printer and copier fleet. That’s because very few companies have a clear picture of their total print volume. A great way to get a grip on this is through a print audit, which I’ve discussed in a previous post. The key to auditing your copiers and printers – and staying on top of how they’re being used over time – is good print management software.

Benefits of Using an IT Solution to Manage Network Printers

If you’re an IT person like me, your first priority is to make sure the print management app you select will deliver great benefits without bogging down your server. In part one of my blog series on this topic, I first want to cover the features your software should deliver.

Great printer manager software should:

  • Be free! Many printer and copier dealers will offer it at no cost to your company, so why pay for it?
  • Allow you to see all printers and copiers in a single web-based interface.
  • Collect a broad range of printer and copier metrics using a data collection agent (DCA), including meter reads, error codes, toner levels, non-toner supply levels, detailed equipment ID information and more.
  • Send e-mail alerts when certain faults or conditions are met (i.e. low toner, maintenance required, etc.).
  • Run historical reports showing volumes, usage and failures, which is helpful in determining cost of operation and over-utilization and under-utilization of machines.
  • Operate 24/7.
  • Allow you to customize transmission intervals.
  • Offer you the option of one-way and two-way communication.
  • Use SSL encryption of at least 128-bit and collect data via SNMP, ICMP and HTTP.
  • Give you the option of porting meter readings directly into a billing system so you never have to chase meter requests again.
  • Never collect personal or user data.
  • Never impact HIPAA compliance

How Much Can You Save with Print Management Software?

A recent survey from IDC concluded that implementing a managed print services program could result in the following savings:

  • 23% average overall cost savings
  • 40% reduction in IT help desk calls
  • 25% cost reduction in consumables
  • 20% cost reduction in unscheduled maintenance
  • 10% cost reduction in installation and upgrades
  • 5% cost reduction in acquisition

At Copeco, we can offer you a great printer management app, perform a thorough print audit and help you reduce costs associated with printers and copiers. If you’re located in Canton, Akron, Toledo or anywhere else in Northeast Ohio, contact us for more information.

Achieving Goals: It’s All About the Steps You Take Every Day

Making New Year's Resolutions Last All YearI ran across an article today that says 35 percent of Americans break their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. That’s unfortunate, but not surprising.

As a long-time salesperson and now VP of sales with Copeco, one of Northeast Ohio’s leading providers of Sharp copiers and printers, I believe the steps you take every day toward your goal are more important than the goal itself. Without a clearly defined plan of action, goals end up being a fog or a glittering generality. And, I’m sure, that’s a major reason why people give up on New Year’s resolutions so quickly.

When it’s time to plan goals for the New Year (or any time of the year), here’s the method I like to follow. Not only does it work when applied consistently, but it also can be adapted to fit every part of your life, including career, personal, family and more.

It’s not hard to do, but throughout the process, you must WRITE everything down. If you don’t, all your ideas are little more than – you guessed it – glittering generalities.

  1. Write down these six main categories: financial, career, education, spiritual, family and physical.
  2. Put the categories in order of most important to least important for you. Those last two words are critical because goal planning encompasses every aspect of your life and should be a very personalized process.
  3. Identify a goal for each category. Be specific and, yes, write it down.
  4. Carefully and strategically plan your steps to get to that goal, in writing.

For example, if you place your career at the top of your list and say your goal is to earn $100,000 per year, you have to decide if you’re willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal. And, you must place that goal within the context of your history. To make $100,000 a year, you might need to sell 1,000 widgets. But, in the past, you’ve normally sold only 500 widgets. Is your goal one of those glittering generalities?

Each goal you create must also include these important items:

  • Time frame. A goal without a time frame is a day dream.
  • Obstacles. What stands in your way? How do you overcome the obstacle?
  • People. Identify the people that can help you attain your goal. Also, determine whom you will share your goal with so that you will stay accountable.
  • Knowledge. Identify the knowledge you must have to attain your goal.
  • WIIFM. What’s in it for me? Why are you setting this goal?

Key Ingredient: the Plan of Action

Any plan of action for achieving a goal must be implemented on a daily basis. So, dissect your goal into microgoals that are manageable. What can you do each and every day that will move you a little bit closer to your goal? As with the goal itself, your plan of action must be specific.

Avoid getting behind or spending all your time putting out fires. If you do, you’ll get overwhelmed. Then the goal becomes an irritant.

So, write down your microgoals and stick to your daily plan. It’s all about the preparation!

How to Help Others with Goal Planning

If you’re a manager who’s responsible for helping others set goals, you must make sure the person you’re working with develops and takes ownership of their goals. You must be on the same page. If you give people a goal, it’s no longer their goal.

Plus, the result of achieving the goal should be fulfilling, as opposed to giving a negative consequence for failure. Build people up! I believe you’ll get a person to push harder if they feel supported. The process must be motivating, and, of course, everyone has different motivations. As a manager, you have to figure out what motivates each person who works for you.

In the end, you can’t sell yourself or anyone else on goals. Each of us must own our goals and implement a consistent plan of action for achieving them. Hopefully, this encourages you to establish and work toward your New Year’s resolutions differently – and more successfully – in 2012.

Six Tips on Building a Successful Outside Sales Team

If you’re building an outside sales team, hopefully you’re not starting over from scratch.Creating a sales teams It’s so important to be able to rely on your sales leaders, especially during a season of transition. Throughout my lengthy sales career, I’ve been through a number of such transitional periods, and I’d like to share these six tips that I’ve personally used to develop successful outside sales teams.

#1: Introduce New Hires to Your Sales Leaders

If I asked you who your sales leaders are, you could probably name them off the top of your head. These are the people who have been successful over the long haul for your company. They are your role models. When new individuals join your sales team, they should get to know the sales leaders and aspire to be like them.

#2: Provide Step-by-step In-house Sales Training

I recommend a week of in-house sales training for all new outside sales representatives. Before new hires go out on any sales calls, several different staff members should guide them step by step through the inner workings of your products and services, as well as building a call database, conducting a demo, assessing the customer’s needs, closing a deal and more. Online training may be valuable, too. Make sure that after a week of training, they are fully prepared to get on the phone and schedule their own appointments and demos.

#3: Coach Them During Initial Appointments

Once in-house training is complete, you should accompany your new hires on the first few appointments they have made. Coach them but don’t criticize.

One thing I like to do before we get out of the car is to decide what our goals are for a particular appointment. If it’s an introductory meeting, then it’s to get a demo. If we’ve already done a demo, then we want to close the sale. Explain how they can get to the goal. Show them how to walk the customer from point A to point B.

During the appointment, lead by example. Perhaps you do the first demo and then let them know they are responsible the next time. Review processes with them and let them know your expectations. Then, let them take the lead. Let them gain the experience and confidence they need to be successful.

#4. Set Standards and Expectations

You must let your outside sales new hires know what your minimum acceptable standards and behaviors are. Otherwise, they won’t know and they won’t succeed. If you expect 140 phone calls in a week, then let them know that. Then, if they only make 25 calls, you can manage that at a more granular level (perhaps a daily goal) and take steps for correction.

#5. Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Change

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in the past is hanging on too long when new hires aren’t working out. Usually it’s because I think that if I could just help them more or encourage them more, they’d improve. But, when you’re honest with yourself, you know within the first week or so if people are right for the job or not. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, allowing them to remain even though they aren’t going to be successful can create a certain negativity in your department.

Some early signs that place new sales hires on the bubble include:

  • Coming in late on a regular basis.
  • Not taking the initiative to ask questions about their training and your products and services.
  • Making excuses about why they can’t do a demo or make sales calls, especially if you offer them scripts. (Read my earlier post about overcoming call reluctance.)

Anyone can have an off month, but consistent mediocrity won’t work in the long run. Even if you feel like you’ve invested a great deal of time and energy in your new hires, it’s better for them and your company to call it quits sooner rather than later. Then, you can go back to your pool of possible candidates and try again.

#6. Create a Team that has Fun

Bottom line, you want to have an outside sales team that has fun and develops camaraderie. And, when there’s success, people are having fun and building positive relationships. Therefore, do everything you can to surround yourself with salespeople who are capable of being successful.

How to Recruit for B2B Outside Sales Positions

How to recruit people for b2b outside sales rep jobsAlthough economic analysts tell us the hiring candidate pool is overflowing right now due to the recent recession, I still think it’s a challenge to hire the right person for a business-to-business outside sales representative position.

In our industry, copiers and printers are more than just office equipment, they are technology solutions that improve business workflow. An outside sales rep needs to not only be assertive, personable and motivated, he or she also needs to have a strong understanding of the technical products and software we offer. It requires just the right fit.

If you’re in the process of recruiting for an outside sales position in your industry, here are three sources of potential candidates I recommend trying:

People You Know

If you’ve been in an industry for a decade or more, then you probably know at least a few (or probably many) colleagues in your industry or related ones. You may even be good friends with some of them. This is the most logical place to start when you’re recruiting for a sales position. The chances of finding a good fit among this group are better than average.

Characteristics of those who may be interested in a new position include:

  • Those who are unhappy in their current position or locked into a smaller earning potential. A salary plus commission and bonuses can be very appealing to some.
  • Those who want to get more in-depth with the kind of technology you offer or are excited by working in a field where things change frequently.
  • Those who might enjoy the work environment you offer, whether the selling point is flexibility, family atmosphere or the latest tools of the trade.

People Your Employees Know

Another great source of job candidate referrals may come from your current employees. This is based on the same principle as my first recommendation. When you know someone, you not only have a good idea about personality, work habits, knowledge, etc., you also have a vested interest in his or her success.

At Copeco, we welcome employee referrals for our open job positions. If we hire, train and then retain someone an employee suggested, we’ll give the referring employee a bonus.

People You Connect with via Agencies, Ads and Websites

I list this option last because it requires the highest time investment and sometimes nets the lowest return. That’s because you have to wade through a pile of resumes from candidates who:

  • May be overqualified or underqualified
  • May not have the right personality for the job (which is pretty tough to tell just based on a résumé)
  • May not have the right experience for the job

Afterwards, there needs to be a screening interview and several in-person interviews to gather multiple opinions about the candidate. And, although you should always have candidates go through some type of interview process (whether you know them or not), the agency referral is usually the complete unknown.

Keep the Pool Filled

However, sometimes even the most promising candidate doesn’t work out. You usually know if a person is the right fit within the first week of training or on-the-job interaction. So, just in case your first choice doesn’t work out, be sure to retain your list of potential candidates so you can seamlessly continue your search.

How to Print Envelopes Using a Sharp Printer Copier

How to set up a bypass tray for envelopes on a Sharp copierI like how an address looks when it’s printed directly onto an envelope. To me, it’s more professional than labels. Unlike the “old days,” when typing an address was commonly done with a typewriter, most of today’s printers make envelope printing easy.

You may be one of the many people who like to print envelopes using a desktop laser or inkjet printer, and that does work well for the occasional printed envelope. But if you print envelopes frequently – say, more than 5 per week – this may not be the most cost-efficient method. Plus, if something goes wrong while you’re printing, you run the risk of wasting paper and money, especially if you’ve got high-quality paper loaded in one of the two standard trays. If one tray runs out, the desktop model will automatically pull from the other tray, no matter what’s in there.

With a Sharp multifunction printer, I recommend setting up a bypass tray just for envelopes. It doesn’t take long to do, and then printing envelopes is very easy afterwards. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide for envelope bypass tray set-up:

  1. Load a stack of #10 envelopes face down in a bypass tray.
  2. On the control panel, you’ll see hard keys and the touchscreen. Choose “system settings” (hard key). The remaining steps are handled through the touchscreen.
  3. On the screen, select “paper tray settings.”
  4. On the next screen, choose “tray settings.”
  5. You should see an arrow on the screen now. Toggle down until you get to the correct bypass tray and press the key that says “change.”
  6. On the last screen, you’ll see “type.” Select “envelope,” and then for size, choose “comm-10.” Press OK.
  7. Then, press “CA” (clear all). This will return you to the home screen, but it won’t clear the new settings you just entered for the envelope bypass tray.
  8. Now that the bypass tray is prepped for envelopes, you can be confident your Sharp copier will not print from this tray unless someone specifies it.

If your Sharp printer is set as your default printer, you can just create an envelope in Word, click “print” and the system automatically will pull the envelope from the bypass tray. If the Sharp printer is not your default, you’ll need to choose “print” from Word’s file menu and choose the correct printer. Tip: make sure you click “close” at this point, or the system will send stuff to the printer before you’re ready. Happy envelope printing!

Interested in learning how to make a booklet on a Sharp printer? Read my earlier how-to post.

Six Tips to Get the Most from Your Sales Prospecting Database

Update your marketing database regularlyA couple months ago, I shared five steps to conquering sales call reluctance, including the need to have a purposeful goal each morning (i.e. the number of calls you need to make in order to generate the sales you want.) A key component to success with this goal – and cold calling or sales prospecting in general – is an accurate, updated sales and marketing database.

A database of prospective customers is only as good as what the sales person enters into it. If you’re just starting out in a sales position or in a new sales territory, hopefully your predecessor left you with a good, clean call database that can help you generate sales leads right away. If you’ve been in sales for a while, you know people change jobs frequently. It’s important to keep track of those changes as much as possible.

Copeco purchased a sales database dedicated to our industry; from there, we expand that list in-house. Chances are there’s a database tailored to your industry, too. Hopefully, your employer already has one. If not, you may need to do some Internet searching to see what’s available. You can also tap Reference USA, a public database that many libraries offer as a free service.

Here are six tips I’ve found helpful in building my sales call database and getting the most out of it:

Update your database daily.

If you’ve found new contact names, titles, phone numbers, etc., make sure you add that information to the database immediately. Otherwise, you run the risk of misplacing the information or forgetting about it. Plus, you don’t want to waste time leaving voicemail messages for the wrong person or asking to speak to individuals who no longer work for a particular company.

You can also have your IT department run a quarterly database cleaning that checks for accounts with no activity during a certain period of time. I also recommend synchronizing the database with accounts receivable and payable. That helps you maintain customer relationships and follow up with people in a timely fashion.

Set a dedicated appointment call day.

I like Mondays because that’s when people are most ready to get something done. The rest of the week, I make survey calls and “dig” for information. Who’s the buyer or decision maker? What kind of equipment does the office use? When is the lease up? Then, it’s back to point #1:  update your database daily.

Target your database searches by industry or number of employees within a specific market.

For example, I might look for all real estate companies or medical offices or schools by zip code. Or, I may look for companies with more than 50 employees by zip code. That will be the group I survey and then approach on appointment call day.

Search for customers who may be interested in buying your product in the near future.

That’s a critical reason why I strive to gather lease information about printers and copiers when I’m making survey calls. Knowing that type of information gives me time to cultivate a relationship with a prospective customer before equipment is needed.

Add new names to your prospect pipeline through networking and referrals.

When you attend events, business after-hours, chamber lunches, etc., be sure to add that information to your database. Once again, point #1: update your database daily.

In addition, ask your satisfied customers for referrals. They can often be your best source of new sales leads.

Connect with as many customers and prospects as possible on sites like LinkedIn.

That way, when contacts change positions or companies, you’re in the know and can update your sales database right away.

As a sales person, your marketing database is your ticket to new sales. It pays to clean up your sales call list regularly and maintain it wisely. Get started today!

How to Make a Booklet on a Sharp Copier

As Copeco’s customer service trainer, I have a long list of copier and printer FAQs. One question I often get is how to turn letter-size documents into a booklet or pamphlet. If you’ve got a digital Sharp copier, the answer is easy. It only takes a couple clicks on the touch screen, and the copier takes care of the rest.

Schools, churches and similar organizations frequently use this option because booklet publications made in house can help save on outsourcing of small print projects. Many MFPs (multifunction printers), including several Sharp models, will even fold and staple the brochures.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using a Sharp MFP to create a booklet:

  1. Organize your letter-size documents in the order you want them to appear as booklet pages.
  2. On your Sharp’s touch screen, select “special modes” and then “pamphlet copy.”
  3. Load the documents into the document feeder and press start.
  4. While you wait, the Sharp copier/printer will scan each document into its memory; reduce and rotate the document images so that two will fit onto each sheet of paper in the correct order; and place the images on both sides of the paper.
  5. The copier will fold, staple and place the pamphlets into the finisher for you to pick up.

When it’s time to print additional brochures, either use the original letter-size documents or make double-sided copies of the booklet. I hope your office gets plenty of use out of this booklet-making guide.

High Efficency for Higher Education

Summer is coming to an end and parents and students have begun to prepare for the classroom with purchases of notebooks, laptops and other school supplies. Similarly, schools and colleges, would benefit from shopping a bit to update their copiers, printers and other essential equipment in an effort to increase productivity while reducing cost.

In the paper-intensive world of education, educators and staff must manage a large volume of materials, from classroom handouts to administrative data. Yet many of these institutions usually operate with smaller budgets while still being expected to produce high-caliber work.

The need for reliable yet economical resources puts a premium on the equipment schools select for their copying and printing needs. Copiers are one of the most popular tools used daily by teachers, administrators and other institution officials.

The dedicated team at Copeco has been managing the equipment, repair and product costs for learning institutions for many years. With the development of digital technology, schools are offered a number of high quality services, from advanced document scanning and transmission of data to e-mail and desktop faxing, and our Sharp Digital Imaging products have been leading the way.  From small desktop units to large multifunction units with a 6,600 page capacity Copeco has the right solution for your organization’s needs.

As always, Copeco is dedicated to providing the highest quality product and service to our customers and we welcome you to review the line of Sharp digital imaging products we recommend for educational institutions by going to http://www.copeco.com/ind_products.php?ind=11 or contacting your Copeco sales representative.