Selecting a Managed Print Services (MPS) company for your business or organization is not a decision to be made lightly.
Though many enjoy the flexibility that comes with an MPS agreement, winding up with an ill-fitting vendor can be a frustrating and expensive experience. For this reason, it pays to interview a potential MPS provider like you would a new hire. In this piece, we’re going to review a few questions you should consider asking MPS companies before signing on the dotted line.
"How long have you been in business?"
Every business has to start somewhere; you get that. Still, to ensure your organization’s printer needs will be in good hands, opting for a Managed Print Services vendor with a proven track record will often help you sleep a little better at night. A company with a long history will bode well for its ability to deliver consistent, high-quality service. If the company hasn’t been around very long, it may still be worth inquiring about the MPS experience of the staff. Experienced MPS professionals can help younger companies deliver quality service, but you’ll probably want to avoid completely greenhorn companies with limited portfolios.
"What are some of your biggest clients?"
Some MPS companies may not feel comfortable disclosing any information about their other clients. Others may be eager to hand you a case study that outlines precisely how they helped out a local company. Though you should respect the vendor’s privacy of their clients (would you want them unabashedly throwing your name around in sales meetings?), it never hurts to ask.
"How have you served clients much like my company?"
Even if an MPS vendor can’t name names, there shouldn’t be any reason why they can’t give you an example of how they’ve served an organization of your similar size and need. Such a case may give you a better understanding of what kind of service you may receive going forward.
"What is the average staff turnover at your company?"
Yes, this question may seem reasonably bold, but you’re about to make a significant investment with this company. Knowing the likelihood of your account representative being around when you call or having to meet a new service technician each time you face an issue is useful information to have. Having to start from square one may end up wasting a lot of time. Significant company turnover may also be an indicator of a poor work environment.
"How many tenured technicians do you have on staff?"
As you interview Managed Print Services companies, aside from what brands they carry, it may be difficult to tell a discernable difference between many of them. Where MPS vendors differ is where it truly counts—their service department. An ample, experienced service department can make the difference between your machine being down for 24 hours or a few weeks. Knowing that the company has a sufficient number of service technicians will likely be the deciding factor as you select an MPS provider.
"What is your service department’s average response time?"
Take special note of each MPS company’s answer to the “response time” question. Their answer during the sales process should also jive with what is in the fine print of the Service Level Agreement. If it doesn’t, this should raise some eyebrows. Either way, this is a reasonably stable metric you can use to compare vendors, though average response times have become relatively standard across the industry.
"What is your average turnaround time for print or copier parts replacement?"
When it comes to copier or printer device repair, service response times may only be as good as the department’s access to replacement parts. Some service departments keep a limited inventory of parts in stock, forcing them to continually order new parts as needed. Other service departments may hold a large inventory of replacement parts in a local warehouse or even in their service vehicles, which drastically reduces the wait time on access to new parts. The size of a service department’s local parts inventory can significantly affect the speed of repairs.
"What would make my company a bad fit for you?"
You may end up speaking with several different Managed Print Services providers in the course of researching which one is right for your company. While most of them can deliver the service you need, finding the right one for your organization is worth exploring in greater depth. If you’re a smaller organization, an MPS company that specializes in huge corporations may not be the right fit. Likewise, a printer device service that specializes in boutique businesses may not be the right fit for your multi-locational healthcare organization. Getting an MPS vendor to answer “what would make my organization a bad fit?” may help to simplify your decision-making process and identify an MPS provider that is more your speed.
The Managed Printer Services provider you select today will be a partner of your company for years to come. For this reason, it pays to consider your company’s philosophy on business technology, your need for flexibility, the importance of local loyalty, and willing to sacrifice any of these attributes for price. Between logistical headaches, ill-fitting solutions, and incalculable soft costs, even the “cheaper” MPS provides can wind up being immensely expensive. Using your past experience to craft your current needs and asking the right questions will likely result in the best MPS partnership possible.
Free MPS Interview Worksheet
To help you make sure you’re asking these questions and many more of MPS candidate companies, you’re invited to download and use this fully customizable Managed Print Services Company Interview worksheet. Feel free to download, customize, print out multiple copies, and use while you search for the MPS vendor that best meets your needs.