Is there a benefit to channeling your inner whiner?
As a leader within a company or organization, you've likely had your run-ins with different business technology vendors. These companies supply your team with copiers, printers, and other tools you need to get the job done. Some of these arrangements have likely been extremely positive. Other aspects—maybe not so great. Wouldn't it be fantastic if you could custom-design your ideal business services arrangement? Well, dream no more—you likely have much more sway over the details of the agreement than you realize. The real problem is that you may not have taken the time to realize precisely what you want. For this, it pays to use your past experiences to make your “wishlist” going into contract talks with such business technology companies.
Gripe Time: What did you dislike about past vendors?
This stage of forming your ideal arrangement will likely be the easiest. Why? Well, because who doesn't enjoy a good airing of grievances? If you've ever interviewed for a new position leaving a job you disliked, you're likely resisting the urge to badmouth your old boss the entire time. Execution: Take a few moments to jot down everything you disliked about your former business technology vendor. Did they fail to keep their promises? Did they take forever to deliver support? Were their personnel impatient? Make a list letting them have it. Simply channel your inner disgruntled Yelp reviewer. For some of you, this may be less "inner" than for others.
Shine Time: What did you like about past vendors?
Now that you've mopped the floor with past vendors, it's time to shift your thinking to the good ole days—days when they actually went above and beyond the call of duty. You may have to dig a little through the negativity you unearthed in the last section, but it will be worth bringing these positive experiences to the surface. Execution: Jot down all of the times you wanted to take to a review site, not to bash a business solutions vendor, but to sing their praises. What actions filled you with such delight? What specifically did they do that put a smile on your face? Jot these instances down in as much detail as you can muster—after all, its the little details that can make all of the difference.
Additional Help Determining Your Preferences
What were the positives and negatives of past vendor pricing structures? Remember that "they charged me money" is not a realistic beef—though "their rates quickly got out of hand" certainly is. Do you feel you didn't receive what you paid for? Did you enjoy the billing frequency? Did you prefer a subscription model or would a pay-as-you-go model have worked better? Are you willing to pay more for greater service flexibility? Think of what your ideal payment level and structure would look like...but, you know, within reason.
Service & Support
For many business solutions clients like yourself, service & support can make or break the entire relationship. Slow or overly expensive support is a great way to make a lousy situation nearly unbearable. Some local copier repair service departments may love to nickel-and-dime their clients. Meanwhile, large national vendors may be cheaper, while leaving you with 1-800-WHO-CARES when your printer breaks down or when you have a question about an invoice. Compare your best experiences with service and support with your worst. This exercise will help you determine whether you're willing to pay more for incredible service or save money while occasionally getting the cold shoulder—or somewhere in between.
Many strong words with business solutions companies muffled by clauses only readable with "cheater glasses"—that is to say, the fine print. Is your copier lease ending, but you're switching providers? The fine print your company signed may require you to pay to ship the colossal machine back to Wayupthere, Alaska. Other encounters with business solutions vendors may be relatively free of fine print. To what levels of agreement transparency would you prefer? Do you prefer a little fine print for some upfront savings or should the arrangement be completely free of fine-print stipulations, while costing a touch more?
Bring Your Concerns to the Table
Unearthing all of these positive and negative vendor experiences and jotting them down is not merely a cathartic exercise. This process aims to help you achieve an objective look at your past relationships with vendors and using them to tell any new business solutions company what it will take to earn and maintain your business. The power tends to be in your corner, so wield it to your advantage and get the agreement you want.
Free Worksheet Download
You’re invited to download a free and simple Word document that allows you to structure all of the items mentioned in this article. Feel free to edit the document to suit your needs Download the Worksheet Here