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How Printing Evolved from Equipment to a Service

The practice of leasing equipment for a business is almost as old as civilization. Reports of equipment “leases” go back to 2000 BCE, where use of farming tools and equipment was contracted for a recurring payment.

Fast forward a few thousand years, and copier equipment leasing became widespread in the 1960s. Back then, it was common for a firm to pay up to $30,000 to buy a copier. Service on these copiers was always offered for an additional fee. The 1960s also saw some of the first examples of what manufacturers and dealers now call “managed print services,” or MPS.

For 50 years, dealers and manufacturers have used the term MPS to explain non-cancellable lease contracts and services, calling it “managed.” Such contracts were managed in a way primarily benefiting the company offering the lease. The concept of a true managed print services contract—in which the client’s needs guided the choice of equipment and terms of leases—was unheard of until recently.

Finding a True Managed Print Solution

Not realizing there were other ways of leasing, companies accepted this system as the only type available. They’d pay a monthly fee on a contract, obligating them to a non-cancellable term and locking them into using a copier or printer for a set period, regardless of how their business changed during that period. If there were service issues, they could try to cancel that portion of the contract, but often were saddled with penalties or warranty issues, increasing expenses. Customer disdain for copiers and the companies who sold them grew because of the inherent unfairness of such contracts.

In 2007, the leaders of ARC Document Solutions decided they wanted to redefine the term “Managed Print Services.” They asked their customers what they wanted, and the answers were straightforward:

  • Contracts without long-term obligationsScalable equipment platforms that could change with their business needs, without penalty
  • Tools to control print volume, knowing less usage meant lower costs
  • Service-level agreements that focused on the quality of the print work, regardless of where their offices were located
  • Easy ways to send print-work out when volume or other considerations made it inconvenient or wasteful to do it their offices
  • Virtual solutions to help them capture documents in a digital format, giving them future access to the documents and driving the print volume down
  • Access to equipment from any manufacturer
  • A single-source supplier
  • A single invoice for everything

In short, customers wanted a product that was designed for their needs, and ARC came through.

Exploring Alternatives

Selling service over product is not an idea that equipment manufacturers find easy to embrace. Manufacturers make copy machines, which dealers sell and service. For such firms, the idea is to sell more goods and services, not fewer.

But companies are tired of doing things this way. They want to avoid the penalties that accompany non-cancellable leases, to stop buying out unused payments, to quit paying for “early upgrades,” and to avoid the drudgery involved with the barrage of invoices from multiple vendors.

They want to be treated fairly. They want a real MPS solution.

To provide the type of services and contracts that equipment suppliers could not, ARC Document Solutions redefined MPS to meet the needs its customers had outlined so clearly. How? ARC started with the contracts. Unlike copier contracts of the past, ARC’s approach offers a flexible contract, one designed for the customer. Next, ARC advanced the technology designed to track and change printing habits. Now, customers can access printed documents with the technology and service that large and small companies expect from the modern world. As a result, companies who use a true MPS provider like ARC are free to evolve and earn significant savings, sometimes as high as 30% of their overall print spend.

Today’s virtual workplace promises that tasks will be done faster and more accurately at a lower cost. But how many MPS providers actually deliver on this promise? ARC will provide better service, modern equipment, and more flexible contracts that take into account the fast-changing nature of today’s business world.

Curious about a contemporary approach to print as a service? Sign up at http://solutions.e-arc.com/MPSROI for a free ROI assessment of your current print setup.

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