Preamble to PROs Elite 100 Certification
For the past 20 years the office imaging industry has gone through enormous changes in its structure that, for the most part, have adversely affected the customer. Once filled with options, the independent dealer network was significantly depleted by the acquisition efforts of consolidator companies like Danka, Ikon and Global Imaging Systems. Initially these organizations pledged to offer the same or better local support and flexibility to the acquired dealers’ customers with enhanced cost structuring from volume purchasing capability.
The volume purchasing capability never came to be in these consolidator organizations and in a very short time, the earnings pressure faced by all of these publically held companies forced them to centralize some or all of their customer sensitive organizations such as dispatch, billing, warehousing and supply fulfillment to meet earnings demands. As these acquirers / consolidators continued to feel earnings pressure they continued to exert pressure on their Japanese suppliers, with threats of change of product if their demands were not met. When all else failed to deliver desired results, all three of these organizations were purchased by even larger manufacture organizations and the degradation of services accelerated.
The Japanese suppliers entered the market with direct sales and marketing organizations to protect their market share from the never ending threats of supplier change from the consolidators. This action on the part of the Japanese manufacturers spurned a new level of cuts in services to offset increased price competition. The Tsunami of instability struck in May of 2007 when the Xerox Corporation purchased Global Imaging Systems. The largest Japanese suppliers to Global Imaging Systems immediately cut off all supply of new product and began the process of eliminating the source of spare parts and supplies to Global company’s customers beginning at the end of 2010. All of this activity led to increased customer dissatisfaction with these larger organizations and a shift of the market back to the independent dealer.
A number of fiercely independent dealers like GFI Digital resisted the urge to take the money and run during the acquisition era. They held firm to their core beliefs and actually made investments in core localized services to enhance their value to their customers in anticipation of the inevitable customer revolt. A very elite group of dealers invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in training their organizations to provide services that benchmarked well beyond that of manufacturers and mega dealers. These dealers invited third party experts to audit their results and train their leadership in the customer and technology skills of the new millennium.
In 2008, the office imaging industry benchmarking co-authors and execution experts, PROs Elite, began the process of identifying the top independent dealers in the 100 major market segments in the United States based on their elite services benchmarking model. The Independent Dealer, who in the opinion of these industry experts, benchmarked best in any market was extended the offer to be selected for certification to the PROs Elite 100. The PROs Elite 100 certification process demanded that the selected dealer, participate in rigorous training, execute specific action plans, achieve the PROs benchmarks, and allow themselves to be audited on an ongoing basis for performance against over 100 critical benchmarks. Certification would have to be earned every year. Dealers who achieved this certification, in the opinion of PROs, are the best servicing dealers in the United States.
How is this different from other awards like manufacturer awards, JD Powers, and Elite Dealer magazine awards?
All of the other awards are either based on initial satisfaction, or offered based on sales growth or purchases made from the manufacturer. Every dealer is eligible for those awards and in some cases those awards can be purchased.
The PROs Elite 100 award is based on ongoing demonstrated servicing excellence. After considering other dealerships, our dealership was selected because we possessed all of the initial criteria of an Independent dealer and at the same time, allowed PROs , the Industry benchmarking experts to assess our performance against the elite servicing benchmarks. We then had specific action plans developed to close the gaps in any areas where we did not benchmark against the elite. We then agreed to have our ongoing performance monitored and audited to continuously earn the right to be a member of this Elite 100 organization.
How many other dealers were considered?
Typically 3-5 dealers in any market were considered by the PROs Executive team. The Pros Executive team has been in and out of hundreds of dealerships throughout the United States. Their vast Industry experience has positioned them to have a thorough understanding of the Office Imaging Dealer network. Some dealers, after being made aware of the Certification Process and investment required to achieve it, simply chose not to participate. Others simply were not considered as the PROs Executive team was not able to solicit strong input on the dealership.
All Mega dealers and manufacturer did not meet all of the initial criteria of having local warehousing, local and flexible product decision making authority , local dispatch, local billing and local ownership.
Who are the PROs Executive team and what credentials do they have to become the certifying organization?
The Pros Executive team is made up of former Independent Dealer executives who formerly were Vice Presidents of Service or Company Presidents at Xerox, Global Imaging Systems and Ikon Office Solutions companies. One of the Executives is the co author of the Service Benchmarking model with Tom Johnson the founder of Global Imaging Systems. The PROs executive team has been inside of over 200 Independent dealers raising the productivity and execution capabilities of those Dealerships. They are considered the Experts in Service Management training and execution.
Didn’t you pay to get this certification?
Among the many considerations we had to make as we entered into the selection process was the investments we would need to make in the training of our Executive Team, and our Sales, Service and Administrative employees. Much like any formal education, we made a significant financial investment in the education process.
We also made a significant financial investment in having the PROs executive team conduct a thorough on site analysis of our procedures, processes and policies that led to our results. We then made further investments to have the PROs executive team help us execute the action plans they developed for us.
The most difficult consideration we agreed to was to allow the PROs Executive team ongoing access to our servicing performance data and their audit procedure.
How long will you be certified as PROs Elite 100?
We have to earn certification every year. The PROs audit process allows them to monitor our performance and continuously coach us if we should drift from their benchmarks. We have committed internally to retain this certification.
Can the certification be lost?
Yes it can. We have a requirement to insure that our service results are always at or consistently trending to the PROs benchmarks. As a result, we must always remain in their audit process. In addition, we most always retain the initial criteria of an Independent dealer to retain our PROs Elite 100 certification.