Do I Stay or Do I Go? Equitrac’s Quest for Excellence

4569204460 e6dd147eb3 Do I Stay or Do I Go? Equitracs Quest for ExcellenceAbout a month ago, I ran a post on print management software that had some interesting reactions. Perhaps most surprising of all was being contacted by Noel O’Dwyer, VP, Marketing and Strategic Alliances of Equitrac.

To say that I have not had great experiences with Equitrac’s products and solutions would be a mild understatement. One of the projects I managed involved 5300 devices across 90 sites and represented about $10 million in service and equipment revenue. As with any massive project, failures of a subcomponent are amplified simply because of the size, and this project was no different. What salvaged the contract was the relationship between us and our client.

But Noel’s call started a little differently – and in fact was rather refreshing. Noel went on to say that he, as Director of Software Alliances at eCopy, oversaw the relationship with Equitrac and could directly empathize with how painful some of the experiences may have been up to five years ago.  However, his decision to join the company a little over two years ago was based on significant improvement and commitment he had seen in areas of customer support and channel commitment. His role as VP of Marketing and Strategic Alliances was to retool Equitrac’s marketing programs and initiatives to better support their channel.

Noel went on to ask if it would be possible to fly in an meet in person to discuss. While many might have chalked this up as another half-baked attempt at getting just one more sale, Noel’s story was specifically compelling.

Why?

Because I used to be a client of a little company called Kearns Business Solutions, and while I enjoyed the services provide the integration process was painful at best. Literally, I was 4 hours away from closing it down because of failure to start. What salvaged the initiative was the relationship between I and my partner.

So I could empathize with the position Noel was in, the opportunity he had, and mountain he had to climb with former customers like me. I know as a customer service focused professional, I would enjoy the same courtesy.

After flying in to spend the afternoon with me, I was impressed with a few things worth mentioning:

  • Training had clearly been well thought out, and a lot of horsepower put behind the Equitrac training program.
  • Integration with manufacturer bonus programs and rewards programs was well conceived and would engender sales reps support.
  • Marketing collateral was well put together, specifically laser-focusing on quick stand-up of a sales and support program.

But you know what impressed me the most? The candid and open stance throughout all the conversations which simply represented the tone, “It’s up to you to make the decision. All we can do ask for another chance, but it’s up to you to give it.”

Much like a failing marriage, the partners have a decision to make. The easier decision is to walk away, but the difficult decision is to stay and work through the pain.

As the business unit leader for my company’s professional services group, an avid business and technology blogger, and highly-passionate service-oriented person it is an interesting dialog to reopen.

What do you think? Do I stay or do I go?


Ken Stewart’s website, ChangeForge, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology in an information-centric world. Ken serves on the board of the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA), an international industry organization seeking worldwide best practices for the managed print services industry, and writes a weekly column for MPS Insights. He is also the founder of Seeking the Son, and is always interested in connecting with you to see how he might help you.


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About Ken Stewart

We are always faced with change, but that doesn't mean it has to be so hard! Ken Stewart is a leading tech and change guru. As the Founder and CEO of ChangeForge, LLC, Ken serves today's busy professional, executive and entrepreneur in achieving positive change in their life and business by staying focused, staying motivated and saving time. Ken graduated from Western Governors University with a BS in Information Technology Network Management. A decorated, former Marine, he has successfully navigated the business and technology landscapes for nearly 15 years, advising businesses how to orchestrate process, align technology and motivate people to achieve results.
  • Ignacio De La Torre

    Ken, I understand exactly where you are coming from. As a software solution provider, you always want to be aligned with solid partners. Our success relies heavily not only on our ability to deliver quality solutions, but on our partner’s ability to support us.

    From personal experience, my dealings with Equitrac have always been positive ones. Granted most of projects are much smaller than the one you described in your article, but I believe that my positive experiences are due to the relationship I have with the people that support me. I have always experienced prompt response from my sales professional, and technical expertise from their support staff.

    My opinion is people don’t like doing business with companies, people like to do business with other people. We look for the personal touch and commitment from our partners when doing business with them. I believe the fact that Mr. O’Dwyer has reached out to you exemplifies his commitment you.

    As you stated, you were able to salvage your contract because of the relationship you had with your client. I would give Mr. O’Dwyer and Equitrac the opportunity to prove to you they are worthy of your business.

  • Ignacio De La Torre

    Ken, I understand exactly where you are coming from. As a software solution provider, you always want to be aligned with solid partners. Our success relies heavily not only on our ability to deliver quality solutions, but on our partner’s ability to support us.

    From personal experience, my dealings with Equitrac have always been positive ones. Granted most of projects are much smaller than the one you described in your article, but I believe that my positive experiences are due to the relationship I have with the people that support me. I have always experienced prompt response from my sales professional, and technical expertise from their support staff.

    My opinion is people don’t like doing business with companies, people like to do business with other people. We look for the personal touch and commitment from our partners when doing business with them. I believe the fact that Mr. O’Dwyer has reached out to you exemplifies his commitment you.

    As you stated, you were able to salvage your contract because of the relationship you had with your client. I would give Mr. O’Dwyer and Equitrac the opportunity to prove to you they are worthy of your business.

  • KC

    As the primary Equitrac Elite Reseller for the State of Hawaii, I have had nothing but positive experiences with the product and its services. Equitrac continues to be the primary choice for cost analysis and tracking software for my entire customer base in Honolulu and on all outer Hawaii Islands. I have found other software options, but nothing compares to the reliability and versatility of their product line.

  • KC

    As the primary Equitrac Elite Reseller for the State of Hawaii, I have had nothing but positive experiences with the product and its services. Equitrac continues to be the primary choice for cost analysis and tracking software for my entire customer base in Honolulu and on all outer Hawaii Islands. I have found other software options, but nothing compares to the reliability and versatility of their product line.

  • http://www.papercut.com/ Chris

    A few interesting points here. One I’d like to make is that I think the question should be “should I evolve?” rather than “should I stay or go?” The way I see it is that the industry has changed substantially in the last 12 months because of one simple fact: everything has got simpler. Installing an application on an MFP today is almost as simple as installing an application on an iPhone or Android device. For example, it can be as easy as entering a Web Services URL in the admin interface (as seen in Sharp MFPs). Much simpler than the “old days” messing around 3rd party hardware attachments and clunky external interfaces. This shift towards “easy of use and easy of deployment” is a true point of technology inflection. Just like the iPhone has opened up the possibility for your Mom to find “an app for that”, copier embedded/on-board solutions are also opening similar doors. The possibilities in our space are just as persuasive.

    The ease-of-use iPhone App Store model has not replaced an existing market – it’s created a new one. Suddenly software is easier, cheaper and more ubiquitous. It does not need to be supported by “training program” nor sold at a price that requires “manufacturer bonus programs”. There are many parallels in our space. There is still, and I think always will be a need for the “traditional” service oriented models; however there is now a new evolving world of opportunity. PaperCut as reference in your post is part of this new world. As one of the coders at PaperCut, I can tell you this is how we see it (from a dev team perspective). We’re working hard to make to make print control easy and cost effective enough for everyone. Transparency, cross-platform support and open source code access is part of the new world too.

    I’d be interested to see what other readers think. Are there other parallels/shifts occurring in the greater IT world that will also end up in our space?

    • http://changeforge.com ChangeForge | Ken Stewart

      Chris, very interesting point here on evolution. You strike a chord with Microsoft’s pending release of SharePoint 2010. From what I am seeing on the surface, the very expensive proposition of investing in a robust BPA software solution to automate and manage complex workflows is now being undercut by 1 license of Visio and free WSS 2010. Granted, there is a comparison in scale and flexibility I would imagine, but on the surface, what do you think customers will naturally gravitate towards first? SharePoint (a Microsoft product integrated with Exchange and Office) or a 3rd party solution that may or may not be?

      Warmest Regards,
      Ken

  • chris_papercut

    A few interesting points here. One I'd like to make is that I think the question should be “should I evolve?” rather than “should I stay or go?” The way I see it is that the industry has changed substantially in the last 12 months because of one simple fact: everything has got simpler. Installing an application on an MFP today is almost as simple as installing an application on an iPhone or Android device. For example, it can be as easy as entering a Web Services URL in the admin interface (as seen in Sharp MFPs). Much simpler than the “old days” messing around 3rd party hardware attachments and clunky external interfaces. This shift towards “easy of use and easy of deployment” is a true point of technology inflection. Just like the iPhone has opened up the possibility for your Mom to find “an app for that”, copier embedded/on-board solutions are also opening similar doors. The possibilities in our space are just as persuasive.

    The ease-of-use iPhone App Store model has not replaced an existing market – it's created a new one. Suddenly software is easier, cheaper and more ubiquitous. It does not need to be supported by “training program” nor sold at a price that requires “manufacturer bonus programs”. There are many parallels in our space. There is still, and I think always will be a need for the “traditional” service oriented models; however there is now a new evolving world of opportunity. PaperCut as reference in your post is part of this new world. As one of the coders at PaperCut, I can tell you this is how we see it (from a dev team perspective). We're working hard to make to make print control easy and cost effective enough for everyone. Transparency, cross-platform support and open source code access is part of the new world too.

    I’d be interested to see what other readers think. Are there other parallels/shifts occurring in the greater IT world that will also end up in our space?

  • http://www.changeforge.com ChangeForge | Ken Stewart

    Chris, very interesting point here on evolution. You strike a chord with Microsoft's pending release of SharePoint 2010. From what I am seeing on the surface, the very expensive proposition of investing in a robust BPA software solution to automate and manage complex workflows is now being undercut by 1 license of Visio and free WSS 2010. Granted, there is a comparison in scale and flexibility I would imagine, but on the surface, what do you think customers will naturally gravitate towards first? SharePoint (a Microsoft product integrated with Exchange and Office) or a 3rd party solution that may or may not be?

    Warmest Regards,
    Ken

  • Anonymous

    Stay. This is clearly a partner willing to work with you and new partner will take 2x as long to get up to speed. I’ve rarely seen this dedication to a client in an age where “customer service” is conducted solely over email or a video skype call, at best. As long as the product will deliver, it seems like you’re in great hands. Hats off to Mr. O’Dwyer. Sounds like he picked the right co. to work for, and has the right team behind him to best support you.

  • susancasper

    Stay. This is clearly a partner willing to work with you and new partner will take 2x as long to get up to speed. I've rarely seen this dedication to a client in an age where “customer service” is conducted solely over email or a video skype call, at best. As long as the product will deliver, it seems like you're in great hands. Hats off to Mr. O'Dwyer. Sounds like he picked the right co. to work for, and has the right team behind him to best support you.

  • susancasper

    Stay. This is clearly a partner willing to work with you and new partner will take 2x as long to get up to speed. I've rarely seen this dedication to a client in an age where “customer service” is conducted solely over email or a video skype call, at best. As long as the product will deliver, it seems like you're in great hands. Hats off to Mr. O'Dwyer. Sounds like he picked the right co. to work for, and has the right team behind him to best support you.