Mark Bamford, General Manager, Hollis Office Solutions
Q: What are your customers most interested in?
A: Our customers want to ensure that suppliers provide them with the reassurance that they will be supported at all times. This allows them to focus wholly on achieving their ongoing business strategies without unwelcome distractions that can be cost-effectively outsourced to a ‘trusted partner’. This partnership approach enables customers to receive best advice on possible solutions such as managed print solutions to ensure that back-end systems work seamlessly and transparently without causing a disruption to operations whilst delivering greater operational control and significant cost savings.
Q: Do clients have the same understanding of industry terms, such as BYOD, MPS or MDS, as we do?
A: In a word – no! It is the industry’s marketing gurus that dream up such acronyms and the media that perpetuate their use. Customers are looking for solutions to business problems not devices, so acronyms are almost irrelevant to them. For example, they don’t want MFPs but need print and scan facilities and they don’t want MPS but need greater control over their printing.
Q: Where are you seeing most traction at the moment, are there any verticals that are particularly strong?
A: On the IT side of our business we are seeing a significant upturn in demand for Office 365 as it can be delivered as a hassle-free turnkey solution that eliminates the need to own, install, manage or upgrade software on each computer across an organisation. It also significantly reduces ongoing support costs. On the print side of the business, there has been a huge surge in demand for solutions to control the spiralling print costs being experienced by every organisation, particularly relating to the wholesale adoption of colour printing. These costs typically remain buried until organisations realise how expensive it can be to over use colour print devices.
Q: When selling MFPs, what are the most popular software solutions you provide and why?
A: Whilst manufacturers have been pushing forward their software over the last few years, customers are currently asking us for solutions that deliver the highest value to their organisations. In particular, we receive many requests for print management solutions such as PaperCut, which provides print users with improved tracking, monitoring and control of their print devices. Another hot application is Develop’s convert+share, a scanning process management solution which streamlines document processing, distribution and archiving.
Q: Where do you get information on the latest products and solutions, and do you feel that the OEMs are doing enough to educate their channel partners?
A: Yes, all the OEMs we work with, including Develop and Sharp, are very pro-active about keeping us up to date on the latest technologies and trends in the market. Of particular importance is the ready availability of high quality support materials that are vital for increasingly complex products and solutions.
Q: Is your patch particularly competitive – is it national or local competition that you face?
A: In common with most independent resellers across the UK, Hollis is increasingly in competition with national suppliers as a result of the ongoing consolidation that has been occurring across the industry. What we are experiencing is that some market sectors are more competitive than others. For example, whilst the education sector is particularly competitive, the fact that we were an early adopter of as-a-servicebased solutions provides us a significant competitive differentiator as we establish our position as a trusted and responsive local partner that is focused on meeting customer needs.
Q: How do you spend your week – time on phone, face to face meetings with customers etc.?
A: It is sometimes easy to wish that there were more available hours each day in order to handle customer-focused activities and back-offce tasks that add value to the business. My overriding responsibility is to support our sales, service, administration and warehouse teams to ensure they have everything they need to get their jobs done. I also seem to be spending more time with existing and potential suppliers to ensure we are fully aware of the latest technologies that will keep Hollis one step ahead of competitors and deliver added benefts to customers. For example, we have recently launched some innovative solutions from Sharp including Skywell, which generates clean drinking water from fresh air helping to reduce staff reliance on plastic bottles. Also, we have just added Sharp’s range of display solutions including BIG PAD, an innovative interactive whiteboard range that offers a natural writing experience in both meeting rooms and classrooms.
Q: What would make your job easier?
A: I love what I do and think that an easier job might be a duller job. Far better to have constant and changing challenges that focus the mind and deliver even greater job satisfaction.