In this photo: Frank Canatta, Susan Niemes, Debra Dennis, Ingrid Beard, James Foxall, Tawnya Stone, West McDonald, Kevin Hoverman, Christophe Roy, Amy Weiss, Kate Kingston, Patricia Ames, Jose Lopez, Mallory Lopez, Rory.
I’m back in the home office after an incredible gathering in Chicago! I’m talking about the BTA (Business Technology Association)’s National Conference that took place June 8th and 9th in the Windy City. Brent Hoskins, Executive Director, BTA, and Valerie Briseno, Marketing Director, BTA, did a phenomenal job, yet again, of marrying powerful networking with incredible education. Without further ado, here are my top 10 take-aways from the event (in no particular order):
Takeaway #10: Hiring and Retention is still a HUGE issue.
Chip Miceli, CEO at Pulse Technology, presented on hiring and retention. After 50 years of running a successful independent dealership, he knows a thing or two about doing things right. The room was abuzz with just how difficult it is to get talent right now and Chip had the best advice: If you want to hire more people, you first need to get better at retaining more people. The people you keep are the best source of referrals. Treat your people right and they’ll help you get more and better talent than any head-hunter or LinkedIn ad ever could.
Takeaway #9: It’s a Culture thing.
If you want to grow your business, you need to take a good look at your culture and ask some hard questions: Do we keep the same core vales that got us to where we are today Or do we need to adjust them to meet the challenges and changes that the age of COVID forced us all to live in? Chris Taylor, president & CEO at Fisher’s Technology, shared how their company’s core values have evolved to meet the needs of a changing workforce.
Takeaway #8: Top 100 Members are Top Shelf!
Just about a year ago, Tigerpaw Software released a list of the Top 100 most influential people in the office equipment channel. They serve as volunteers with organizations like the BTA and the MPSA and are often seen speaking at events to share their vision and expertise. Three Top 100 members spoke at the BTA this year – Laura Blackmer, Chip Miceli, and Todd Lee. One of the primary reasons they are on the list? Freely sharing knowledge and expertise! It was super fun to be able to get a picture with many of them together for the first time.
Takeaway #7: Keep it in the family.
The OED channel is aging, and so are its leaders. They are left with deciding whether to sell the business or to hand over the reigns to a family member who is as hungry to grow the business as they were. Todd Lee, VP of Sales at Amur Equipment Finance and a Top 100 member, led a panel of dealers who have successfully passed the torch to a family member. It was a master class in the considerations necessary to keep the family business going strong. As fewer than 50% of transitions are successful, the insights were so very important for the dealers in the room. The panel session featured Jose Lopez, Mallory Lopez, Bill MacDonald, Ashley Whisonant, Dale Fowler and Brantly Fowler.
Takeaway #6: Three-hour tours don’t always end on deserted islands.
Forget what the skipper and Gilligan say, boat tours can be pretty fun! Sharp was kind enough to sponsor the event’s dinner cruise, and it was an architectural tour of some of the most iconic buildings in the world. Chicago is known for its buildings, both old and new, and we got to see them all! Great dinner, great crowd, and great way to spend an evening mingling and networking!
Takeaway #5: Mike Stramaglio is everywhere!
I always love spending time with Mike Stramaglio, and if you’re at an event, odds are you’re going to run into him. Once upon a time, he said he was retiring but I guess he changed his mind. Nobody loves the office equipment channel like Mike, so I’m glad he continues to work hard helping dealers and their partners to continually improve. There is a reason he earned a spot on the Tigerpaw Top 100 list: His influence and genuine care for this channel are unquestionable. I always enjoy it when TWO of my favorite people get together, and James Foxall is literally one of the best you’ll ever meet. Glad I got a picture of them together!
Takeaway #4: Flat Rate models for managed print are a thing now.
Anybody who knows me knows I love me some flat rate for managed print! It was great to see Earl Everson, President at Elite Document Solutions, in his hometown of Chicago! I call him “the Flat Rate King” because he has taken it upon himself to lead the model as an independent dealer. He is also a Tigerpaw Top 100 Influencer and if you haven’t seen him on LinkedIn, you don’t use LinkedIn! I had a few other dealer conversations about flat rate on this trip as well, and it is great to see some true innovation on how we deliver managed print finally taking root. Cost per page, look out! Earl Everson is comin’ for ya! And, yeah, Tigerpaw’s version 22.1 of it’s award-winning business management platform supports flat rate models out of the box.
Takeaway #3: The Good, the bad, the ugly: OEMs bare all.
It’s not every day you get to ask questions of the top executives of the printer/copier brands that are the cornerstone of everything we make money on, especially when times are as challenging as they are today! The execs were all transparent about challenges including delivery challenges and when they think things will get back to normal. They also shared some cool things that their organizations are investing in that have nothing to do with print and everything to do with helping dealers to make money on doing MORE than print. I’m looking forward to seeing how augmented reality will play a part in service calls! It was also really cool to hear how they are investing time and money in their dealer base to do more than print. No mere lip service which is cool. Oh, don’t hold your breath on getting everything you want for your customers for awhile longer: Supply chain issues are as ugly, if not uglier, than ever.
Takeaway #2: You have a choice.
With the recent release of v22.1 of Tigerpaw Software’s business management platform, the office equipment channel has a solid choice on how they run their businesses. As more and more dealers become “converged” services providers doing a lot more than print, having a single choice to manage multiple lines of business is critical. James Foxall, CEO at Tigerpaw Software, talked about some of the new features developed specifically for OEDs, as well as the need for competition if we really want to grow our businesses as much as we deserve. James spoke to the fact that the convergence our channel is now experiencing isn’t much different from what he saw with the Telcos years ago, and other tech services channels along the way. Experience matters and marrying it with a spirit of innovation is beyond powerful.
Takeaway #1: Membership has its privileges.
Events like these are priceless when it comes to the health of our channel, and you get to have a great time too! As you can see from the previous 9 takeaways, there was a ton of value as we continue to evolve and adapt to being “more than print” providers. Education and peers sharing wisdom and ideas with peers is so very important. If you’re not a member of the BTA, why not? If you aren’t with the MPSA, why not? Tigerpaw Software is proud to support and sponsor both organizations because we get back as much (and MORE!) as we give. Please take the time to reach out to me to learn more about the benefits of both, I promise you’ll be glad you did. Great events like these, the education and peer bonding that occur, none of it would be possible without members.
What were some of your favorite moments at the National Conference? Did my Top 10 list hit the mark or are there some things I should have listed? Please let us know about your own top 10 moments in the comments section below!