Selling on service, not just low prices

The wide format print equipment business is cutthroat: competitors are everywhere, and the machines from different manufacturers aren’t THAT different from each other. If you offer color wide format, you’re either living the single footprint model for color and monochrome in a single device, or separating it into two devices.

So how do you, the wide format dealer, differentiate yourself from the other dealers in your region? The simplest option is to just lower your price. But price wars are dangerous, and if you go too low to win a customer, you are increasing your risk and reducing profit. Low prices don’t create loyal customers, they create bargain customers. Low prices give your customer a reason to shop around - you’re selling on price, not on service.

We spoke with Kevin Vaughan at TAVCO, a leading supplier of wide format equipment in Texas, about the difference between selling on service instead of price.

Convenience as a selling point

“Convenience is a huge factor for many of our clients” said Kevin when I asked how he keeps his business profitable. “We take over all the print-related management, and just charge a flat per-month fee based on expected usage.”

TAVCO offers Canon imagePROGRAF devices on a monthly, all-inclusive lease. The plan, Plotter Protection PLUS, is like an extended warranty for the device, but instead of just service, it also includes all consumables: paper, ink, printheads, maintenance cartridges and a pre-determined amount of printing each month.

This means that TAVCO customers never have to worry about when ink or paper is low, or when the device needs service; TAVCO automatically ships supplies when the device needs them, and schedules service calls at regular maintenance intervals and whenever the device needs repairs.

Taking the MPS model to color wide format

All-inclusive plans (aka Managed Print Services) with monochrome wide format devices are nothing new, but TAVCO’s plan is specifically for inkjet color plotters. The challenge with inkjet is the cost of ink. Paper is cheap, and the device is cheap. But ink? It costs more than human blood. The cost per square foot can vary from a few cents for a simple line drawing to several dollars for a full color photo.

Plotter Protection PLUS includes four types of print categorization: black CAD lines, color CAD lines, low density images and high density images. The plan includes a variable amount of printing in each category based on a usage assessment done by TAVCO prior to installing the device. TAVCO’s goal is to keep the customer’s print volume right at the expected levels. If a customer prints more than expected, usage is billed at a per-square foot rate depending on the type of print.

Powered by Printerpoint

It comes as no surprise that TAVCO uses Printerpoint as the backbone of Plotter Protection PLUS: all device communication, billing and supply/service information is automatically sent from the print device to TAVCO through Printerpoint’s notification system. But you’d never know this as a TAVCO client - they are selling the full solution, not just the technology behind it. By productizing Printerpoint into a greater offering, TAVCO is offering a service above and beyond their competitors.

Read more about TAVCO’s offerings on their company blog.