Fleet Assessment: Round 2
Recently a group of industry insiders from around the world including OEMs, dealers, parts suppliers, software providers, bloggers, and other interested parties, with 100’s of years of combined experience created a firestorm of emails centering around the topic of an “Argument Against Assessments”.
In addition to the first email, no less than 70 exchanges were fielded in just a couple of weeks!
So that there is no misunderstanding … the
respondents were and are ALL PRO assessment!
What was intriguing was how easily we came up with reasons against doing an assessment!
The first volley …
One of the group participants sent out an email indicating his desire to be the devil’s advocate against assessment. He stated that he “believed in assessments”, then asked for any opinion, facts, logic, and/or experiences that could be offered that would support an argument against assessments.
An early respondent replied offering opinions that might be raised from an end-users perspective:
“Often resistance to an evaluation becomes an internal struggle between CFOs, CIOs and IT personnel within the company being approached – each will have a different stake in the outcome.”
Others followed in a similar “from the end-user’s” viewpoint.
Replies came in along the lines that assessments benefit the dealer and that often causes objection. Some noted that the mere mention of the word “assessment” caused discomfort.
Many group members added that end-users perceive the assessment as a means to an end --- which the dealer is going to use to sell them something.
It was even boldly stated: “Assessments are for Dealers, not imaging equipment users.”
Another end-user objection factor that was raised was cost … cost and the “hidden cost” of the additional time required to complete the assessment. Good appraisals cannot be completed in a week or two. Some are done with information gathered over a month and many take much longer. As we all know, time is money. One of the respondents even said that assessments should not be free, but threw in the caveat that charging for an assessment was easier said than done.
Another added that assessments often do not focus on the right things. I.e.: the speed of the printer is not usually a concern (as the user has already dealt with that) vs. managing supplies, controlling the stock on hand, helping with determination of when to replace cartridges, not to having to call the supplier to send more cartridges, etc. Additional concerns may also include information on energy consumption not just output and should consider disposal of non-manageable equipment as well.
Many noted that an assessment is just a “snapshot in time”. It was pointed out that the specific time when the fleet evaluation is done makes a big difference in the outcome. Who among us hasn’t received a request for proposal from a school or institution when they were going to be out on holiday?
Not defining an assessment objective was another reason machine users might say “no”. This certainly could be tied to stake in the outcome, cost, time or other reasons, including instances where someone on-site, simply doesn’t want an assessment to occur for whatever reason they might have!
Dealer Opposition to Assessment
From the dealer side of the fence, we had one respondent say that a good assessment takes a qualified person, and that qualified people are hard to find.
Additional dealer perspective input came in along the lines of “delayed closings” and advanced training needed to improve skills sets.
It was all summed up when one of the group members pointed out that dealership challenges against assessment often comes from sales management, and/or shortsighted dealer ownership.
… In Summary
The decision to instigate or delay initiation of an assessment certainly raises questions. The decision may even involve or expose issues of salesperson or dealership competency. I am sure readers have their own opinions and would be happy to field and compile them for the group and share them in a future posting. Send inquiry or comments via one of the connection methods offered below or post them in the LinkedIn thread where you found this offering. Click “Fleet Assessment: Round 3” to read a breakdown of reasons for and against completing a fleet assessment.
Thank you to the MPSA’s Standards and Best Practices Committee and other members who so regularly and whole heartedly offer their opinions and commentary. Without their involvement, I am confident many of us would continue to struggle with the practice of assessment.
Written by Brian Dawson, Sales and Marketing Director, Print Tracker, LLC
Brian is a productivity specialist, sales coach, mentor, and offers managed print solutions world-wide with Print Tracker software.