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At first, this may seem to make sense for reasons like you'll get direct access to the technology developer; you'll get better pricing; OEM's will always be on the cutting edge of service and support, and so on. However, while these all sound like logical reasons to purchase direct, upon closer inspection they are not actually true, and in fact, purchasing directly from an OEM is not in your best interest. That's why independent dealers exist. Here are our top 4 reasons for purchasing from an independent dealer, and not an OEM.
To support their case, the OEM sales agent has the benefit of holding a business card from what is usually a global technology company. He's also backed by a marketing engine that presents the manufacturer as a thought and technology leader. However, are these things really true, or even beneficial to you the consumer?
We've identified at least four critical reasons why every customer (large or small) should purchase from an independent dealer rather than directly from an OEM.
The needs of each customer are unique and only independent dealers can accommodate this.
For instance, customers have certain ways they want to be billed and if you've ever dealt with a giant company before, then you know that you're forced to live with how they do business, they do not adapt to how you want to do business.
In our example of billing, OEM's have billing systems that are often too old or restrictive to accommodate nuances in customer billing preferences. Whereas the independent dealer can help clients acquire their office technology, support, and supplies in a way that fits their desired billing method.
Not only that, but the independent dealer can often offer flexible finance or lease options, and even extend unique terms for service or supplies. Try that with an OEM!
The local sales office of an OEM reports to a regional office, which then reports to a national office, which are all part of a global machine; a machine that does not react well to requests outside of established "business systems." The OEM sets the terms of how the relationship will work, not you, the customer.
In other words, OEM's can't make decisions at the local level, your level -- there is no flexibility!
There will simply be times when you need help, and the fact is that OEM's are not suited to provide the help you need in a timely manner.
When office technology goes down, business processes come to a grinding halt and so to do your profits. It is at these critical moments that you need help, and you need it today!
OEM's can’t respond with service at the speed that you will need. Why? Because frankly, fast service is not very profitable for OEM's. OEM's answer to shareholders which means their primary objective is to cut costs to meet shareholder revenue expectations. What does that mean to you? Simply put, OEM's don’t have the service infrastructure required to respond in a timely fashion that an independent dealers have.
OEM's talk about service response times in terms of days, while independent dealers talk about service response times in terms of hours!
Independent dealers will often (not always, so check) have a fleet of field service technicians ready to jump into action. Moreover, most independent dealers will have in-house service personnel who have been on staff and in the industry for years -- OEM's are constantly trying to poach service technicians from independent dealers. These technicians are trained on every machine they sell, including yours, so they know the mechanical, electrical, and computerized aspects of the systems sitting in your office. They're ready should they go down.
By comparison, most OEM’s are relatively new to local markets, or they might not even have a presence there at all! They also don’t have nearly as deep a bench of experts in their service departments which means when they do finally arrive on site to fix a problem, they may not have the expertise to get it done on site. Once again, you're left with critical business technology, revenue generating support technology, out-of-order and no recourse but to sit back and hope to hear from the OEM soon.
Independent dealers excel at service!
Every client has unique needs when it comes to the print technology and print solutions they require. Do you really want to be dealing with someone who can only offer one option? Probably not.
OEM's can only offer one solution for your office, and that's their solution. But what if it's not a good fit? This leads to customers getting shoe-horned into systems and solutions that don’t fit their specific needs. Sure, the OEM might offer you a small price cut because their solution doesn't meet all of your needs, but is that really the trade-off you want to make. Again, probably not.
By contrast, independent dealers can provide multiple technology options, across many OEM's. And guess what, they're experts on all of them.
Independent dealers have a variety of brands and technologies to offer their customers which means they aren't blinded by any particular solution. They don't have an axe to grind one way or the other. The only concern for an independent dealer is to ensure the customer gets the right technology at the right price.
Lastly, don't forget that independent dealers often offer re-manufactured equipment which may make sense for some customers. You don't always need the latest and greatest when last years model is still perfectly good, and comes at a fraction of the cost.
In the end, when dealing with an independent dealer you can be secure in the knowledge that you're getting a solution that truely fits the your needs, and not one that an OEM is trying to make you take because that's all they have.
Independent dealers have personal blood, sweat, and tears invested in their company, not to mention their own money!
In some cases the employees of an independent dealer may have been with the company for years, decades even, which means they have something very personal on the line should the consumer not be satisfied.
The ownership and staff are often personally invested and even integrated in the same community that you are. This makes for a very strong motivator with respect to ensuring the customer is the top priority, and therefore the reputation of the dealer is not damaged in any way.
Long after the OEM consolidates their sales offices, or worse, closes them so they can open a cheaper operation in Mexico, the independent dealer is still involved in the local community; shopping at the same stores you do; playing in the same softball leagues as you do; and so on.
The independent dealer cares about his reputation, which makes your happiness as a customer a very personal endevour.
We hope that we've opened your eyes to some of the huge benefits that come with dealing with an independent dealer, and perhaps cautioned you about the pitfalls of dealing with an OEM.
In the end though, do your research and make sure that each of the four reasons we've discussed in this article are a core part the culture of the independent dealer you ultimately are looking at dealing with.
There are probably many more reasons that you should buy from an independent dealer. If you can think of one, share it in the comments section below.
This article adapted from Darrell Amy's original article posted on Dealermarketing.
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