Ricoh’s dealers are talking. And Ricoh is listening. This is clear from what I took in during Ricoh’s annual Convergence dealer meeting held in Las Vegas on Oct. 28-30.
I say this not just because of the tidbits of conversation I was able to catch at the breakfast table and in passing between sessions that Ricoh’s staff addressed on stage. I say it because Ricoh invested some time and money this year in conducting a survey of 160 of its dealers through IPSOS, an independent research firm, specifically to be able to present answers to key questions and concerns at the event.
The survey found that while Ricoh’s dealers are a proud bunch who are loyal to the OEM’s products and believe in its brand quality and commitment to services growth, they also want more strategic partnership management, greater field and DBM support, better communication, additional sales and marketing support, and a solid business plan.
Ricoh execs such as Dave Greene (pictured) emphasized the company’s focus on growing its business through dealers.
Executives who presented at Convergence addressed these areas, noting how much they valued their current dealers, upon whom they’re resting nearly half of their success upon. “We have an aggressive plan to grow our dealer business,” said Jim Coriddi, VP, Dealer Division at Ricoh USA. “And our model is to grow with our existing dealers.”
In order to do that, Ricoh is now “mak(ing its) resources more accessible to (dealers) in ways that (they) could put them to practical use, real use today that can drive revenue for (them),” said Dave Greene, senior VP of U.S. sales at Ricoh USA. The OEM has recently restructured its services deployment structure so that its services resources, formerly stationed below the direct sales branch, now falls under Ricoh USA itself, making these resources equally accessible to both dealer and direct-sales branches without one having to clue the other in.
This Convergence presentation slide illustrates the game-changing update Ricoh has made to its services deployment structure.
Ricoh is also updating its Monster Mayhem competitive training of years past. The new offering, Monster in a Box, addresses the challenges Monster Mayhem was plagued with (such as a limited ability to cover new product releases and limited accessibility to training) and includes easily accessible dealer tools through the Ricoh website. Executive Solutions Support Specialists Andrew Young, Bob Meraviglia and John Kiefer were decked out in full costume to explain more about the “monster” and share a little Halloween spirit.
The problems dealers have faced regarding Ricoh’s ChaMPS program are starting to get ironed out. “If you want to look at one of the reasons we slowed down with ChaMPS, (it’s that) we realized we were a little bit naïve, in that every dealer … has different needs,” Greene said. Ricoh therefore sought out dealers to help improve the program, asking for their insight and developing a ChaMPS Playbook that provides tactics on how any dealership can deploy and execute the program.
These new developments will be critical as Ricoh moves forward with its continuing transformation into a services-led company. But it’s a fine line to walk, as Ricoh Americas Chairman and CEO Martin Brodigan indicated during the analyst meeting. “We’re a manufacturer, so we want to sell units,” he said. “We’ve been very conscious with the messaging to our employees. We’re a services-led company. We’re not a services company.”
That being said, Ricoh acknowledged this transition has been difficult for dealers who still struggle to understand how to sell within this new framework. “This industry has survived on renewing when the machine expires,” Brodigan said. “If you take a four-year sales cycle, guess what? You’re only selling to 25 percent of your customers a year. In a product (environment), that’s OK. … In a services environment, in four years, the service you’re (providing) today is obsolete. … So one of our biggest challenges is, how do you focus on selling to 100 percent of your customers?”
Martin Brodigan, chairman and CEO of Ricoh Americas, was frank about the struggle dealers face in shifting from a transactional sales model to a services-led one.
Which brings us to what might be the most interesting statement Ricoh made at the conference: “Expertise outweighs technology.” While the OEM plans for the first time to launch sub-$100 printers in February and its production printing segment is booming due to its similarity to traditional dealer sales, a much larger chunk of time was dedicated to explaining the “new world of work,” in which technology, the various generations in the workplace, remote/mobile workers, shifts in employee work behaviors, and tight budgets all present significant challenges to end-user organization. The company that can help end users address and overcome those problems will be the one that ultimately comes out on top.
Ricoh is positioning itself as the company with that expertise, going after what it considers a roughly $5.5. billion untapped overlap between document-process-centric services such as MPS and business-process-centric services such as business process management (BPM). Essentially, Ricoh believes that as it and its dealers improve document-related processes, business processes will be improved as well, moving the OEM from the position of managing strictly documents to managing information (including capturing, distribution and collaboration functions). “We’re here today to say that we’re staking a claim in this … space,” said Dominic Pontrelli, senior VP of marketing at Ricoh USA. “We plan to be a leader in this new space that we call document process outsourcing … leading into business process services.”
Solutions like Ricoh’s ICE (integrated cloud environment) and its latest MFPs will play big roles in accomplishing that, but again, the focus has been placed on expertise versus the technological bells and whistles Ricoh offers. “The Ricoh MFP becomes an information portal,” Pontrelli said, “(but we’re) really not going to focus too much on the speeds and feeds.”
In spite of being awarded the MFP Manufacturer of the Year Award by THE CANNATA REPORT, Ricoh emphasized its expertise in managing workplace trends over its print device specs. (Pictured: Jim Coriddi)
Instead, Ricoh’s “deep understanding of the work-style innovations, deep understanding about why Gen Y wants to work the way (it) want(s) to, why X wants to work the way (it) want(s) to, why Boomers want to work the way they want to, and … creat(ion of) an environment where all three can be successful” will be the company’s big differentiator in days to come, according to Terrie Campbell, VP of strategic marketing at Ricoh USA.
To position itself as this expert in “mak(ing) information work for (its) customers in the new world of work,” as one of the OEM’s new taglines reads, Ricoh is launching a Knowledge Center, a Web platform hosting daily publications through which the channel can learn how to adapt to workplace changes and better run business. “This is a community,” Campbell said. “When you go to this site, you’re going to be learning how information mobility affects your business and what you do specifically.”
Ricoh dealers are looking for a solid business plan that can lead them into a more profitable future. This seems like it could be that plan, especially considering how coveted the trusted advisor position with end users has become to the industry as a whole. On top of this, Ricoh is providing more tools and training to its dealers than ever. Will it be enough to propel Ricoh to the market-leading position in the DPO/BPM arena? Only time will tell.
Posted by Raegen Pietrucha on 11/12/2013