Is Paper Becoming Obsolete?

  • By Digital Solutions
  • 08 May, 2017

Or could you actually increase revenue by using paper wisely?

Social media and other newer marketing technologies get a lot of attention in the marketing world these days. We’re often told online marketing is the way to go, and the most important part of a modern marketing plan.

The fact is, not all businesses run just online.

Most of us still have storefronts or bricks-and-mortar locations where we actually interact with customers. And that means printed materials still have a tremendous impact on what our customers do.

Take, for example, a study by Canada Post that showed the probability a customer will come into your business increases by 37 per cent when they receive printed material targeted to them.

When I say “printed material,” I’m referring to just about anything printed on paper, so long as it’s appropriate to the customer you’re targeting.
“Appropriate” means describing the value your customers receive from doing business with you, not simply stating how wonderful you are.

Do you have printed material at your location so waiting customers can read about the value of the additional products/ services you provide?

If they’re making a big-ticket purchase, do you have customized brochures you can print on demand for them to take home with them?

If you’re a restaurant, does your takeaway menu have a coupon that gives your customer a special price on an item the next time they come in to eat?

Do you send paper invoices? Why not include a prominent marketing message?

Any time you have an opportunity to give somebody a piece of paper, whatever it is, that piece of paper should include some sort of marketing message.

It doesn’t have to be blatant. Sometimes a simple customer testimonial is all you need.

And remember, colour is more effective than black and white. It catches people’s eye and helps connect with their feelings and emotions. Research has shown that colour improves brand recognition by over 75 per cent, helps sell up to 80 per cent more and makes people more likely to pick up the piece.

Does having high-quality printed material mean you should scrap your social media marketing strategy? Definitely not. It just means you can still benefit, and even grow your customer base, by using well-planned printed materials.

It’s worth considering.

AGS Business Systems has been providing office technology to Vancouver Island customers since 1976.

Don Linder can be reached at (250) 756-5611 or don.linder@agscanada.com.

AGS Business Systems Inc

By Digital Solutions 08 May, 2017
Social media and other newer marketing technologies get a lot of attention in the marketing world these days. We’re often told online marketing is the way to go, and the most important part of a modern marketing plan.

The fact is, not all businesses run just online.

Most of us still have storefronts or bricks-and-mortar locations where we actually interact with customers. And that means printed materials still have a tremendous impact on what our customers do.

Take, for example, a study by Canada Post that showed the probability a customer will come into your business increases by 37 per cent when they receive printed material targeted to them.

When I say “printed material,” I’m referring to just about anything printed on paper, so long as it’s appropriate to the customer you’re targeting.
“Appropriate” means describing the value your customers receive from doing business with you, not simply stating how wonderful you are.

Do you have printed material at your location so waiting customers can read about the value of the additional products/ services you provide?

If they’re making a big-ticket purchase, do you have customized brochures you can print on demand for them to take home with them?

If you’re a restaurant, does your takeaway menu have a coupon that gives your customer a special price on an item the next time they come in to eat?

Do you send paper invoices? Why not include a prominent marketing message?

Any time you have an opportunity to give somebody a piece of paper, whatever it is, that piece of paper should include some sort of marketing message.

It doesn’t have to be blatant. Sometimes a simple customer testimonial is all you need.

And remember, colour is more effective than black and white. It catches people’s eye and helps connect with their feelings and emotions. Research has shown that colour improves brand recognition by over 75 per cent, helps sell up to 80 per cent more and makes people more likely to pick up the piece.

Does having high-quality printed material mean you should scrap your social media marketing strategy? Definitely not. It just means you can still benefit, and even grow your customer base, by using well-planned printed materials.

It’s worth considering.

AGS Business Systems has been providing office technology to Vancouver Island customers since 1976.

Don Linder can be reached at (250) 756-5611 or don.linder@agscanada.com.
By Digital Solutions 09 Feb, 2017
Say the word “accounts payable” to a business owner, and don’t be surprised if you’re regaled with nightmarish tales of paperwork gone wrong.
  
Out of all the tasks that make up the day-to-day running of a business, invoicing has certainly earned its reputation as tedious, error prone and labour intensive. Yet it’s often one of the most important parts of ensuring your business runs smoothly.

New software developments are providing increasingly sophisticated ways to streamline the receipt and payment of invoices, freeing up employees for more productive work and increasing customer satisfaction.

It all starts with intelligent scanning software. This software uses optical character and intelligent document recognition to convert paper (or electronic) invoices into searchable electronic files, recognizing supplier names and other key fields like item, cost and payment date.

Once that electronic file is created, it can be routed via email or other means to the appropriate individual for payment authorization, or the software can match the file with purchase orders or other documentation.

The strength of intelligent scanning software is that it virtually eliminates data entry. Instead of entering supplier names and product prices month after month, employees can search electronic invoicing files for purchasing trends, track payment dates that take advantage of early payment discounts or make purchasing recommendations that smooth out your supply chain.

Obviously, an electronic document management system is something best implemented in a business dealing with a large volume of paper documents on a regular basis. Consulting firms, manufacturers and other similar businesses can benefit greatly from the efficiencies such a system provides.

Also any business in which key employees travel; invoices can be routed to smartphones and tablets on the road instead of waiting until the employee is back in the office. Electronic document management systems need to be flexible to suit the business, and an accounts payable system is no different.

It’s important to implement the correct software with the features and functions you need. The pay-off, though, is when your paperwork is done right — and with very little effort!

AGS Business Systems has been providing office technology to Vancouver Island customers since 1976 and prides itself on being 100% locally Island owned and operated.

Don Linder can be reached at (250) 756-5611 or don.linder@agscanada.com.
By Digital Solutions 11 Jan, 2017

Does your moody old scanner have you mad as hell and reliving the scene from Office Space as you plot its demise? Perhaps you dream of smashing your old copier with a hammer. Whatever the frustration, in this age of multitasking, a new commercial-grade multifunction printer (MFP) makes sense for many organizations.

A business might buy a higher grade of MFP for many reasons, including efficiency, increased productivity, better reliability, competent support and, of course, cost savings. But before you head out with credit card in hand, here are a few things to consider:

1. Understand your needs. Take a good look at the volume and type of printing you're doing. Will consumer-grade equipment (low initial cost, high operating cost) cut it or should you move up to commercial grade? Are you using several small printers around the office? Are you outsourcing any printing? Do you print different types of materials, such as brochures and manuals? The potential for cost savings could be tremendous.

2. Examine your workflow. Is time being wasted by over-handling documents and hopping around between equipment? Could you benefit from an MFP with special organizing software?

3. Ensure you can support a commercial- grade printer. Printing is essential in most offices, but it can be frustrating if things go wrong. Does your business have IT people on hand if there's a hiccup? If not, make sure your supplier has local IT capability and can help if there's a problem.

4. Investigate suppliers. If you have a question, will you be stuck making your way through a phone tree or will you talk to a real, live person? Does the supplier have enough technicians to respond quickly? Do they offer continuous training as your staff changes and your work processes change? Do they regularly  perform preventative maintenance to correct problems before they occur?

5. Think about the future. What happens if your needs or the technology changes? Is the supplier willing and able to upgrade your equipment for you? Is the supplier growing in your local market or are they shrinking?

Buying any new piece of equipment takes careful consideration. Both the product and the supplier need to be reliable, so take the time to do your research. Like all new ventures, expect a learning curve; with the proper equipment from the right people, it's some short-term pain for long-term gain.

AGS Business Systems has been providing office technology to Vancouver Island customers since 1976 and prides itself on being 100% locally Island owned and operated.

Don Linder can be reached at (250) 756-5611 or don.linder@agscanada.com.

By Digital Solutions 03 Jan, 2017
The paperless office — does it really exist? Or, like Sasquatch and Ogopogo, is it just a legend, built upon the fanciful dreams of idealistic office managers? While not yet a reality for most businesses, it is a worthwhile pursuit. Aside from the obvious benefits to the environment, there are a number of scenarios in which “paperless” is the best option for increased productivity and reduced costs and clutter.

The Accounts Payable Pickle — Difficulty in managing invoice paper trails can often lead to late or even missed payments. This situation is particularly problematic when a business is quite large, has multiple locations or people are in the field and communication is intermittent. Appropriate document software can eliminate the need for physical invoices, and payments can be approved or recorded quickly and remotely via mobile devices. We’ve helped companies as diverse as professional services firms and contractors streamline their A/P process.

The Fax Fix — Print it out, get up and fax it off, bring it back and file it away. Believe it or not, faxes are still predominant in some industries — but it can be a frustrating waste of time and paper. Desktop faxing pro¬grams can send and record faxes without paper ever being
used. This is particularly useful for medical offices and notaries.

The Retrieval Conundrum — Many businesses, whether by law or other regulations, are required to keep documents for years. This can use up valuable office space and retrieval can sometimes take hours. Many businesses, such as real estate and medical offices, are turning to management software to electronically store and index their records so that they can be retrieved at a moment’s notice.

The Disaster Dilemm a — As the saying goes, “back it up or pack it up.” Though we all hope nothing will happen to us, in the case of disaster, very few companies have backups of everything they need to restart quickly in case the unthinkable does occur. Like any new approach, going paperless can come with a learning curve, but nothing good comes without some effort.

As an aside, it may seem contradictory that a premium provider of printing solutions takes the time to promote going paperless, but our goal is to help our clients increase productivity and reduce costs wherever they can.  If you’re ready to take the paperless plunge, give us a call.

AGS Business Systems has been providing office technology to Vancouver Island customers since 1976 and prides itself on being 100% locally Island owned and operated. For more information on moving to a paperless office contact us today !

By Digital Solutions 22 Dec, 2016

Most meetings, whether they’re a budget or project review, a brainstorming session or a training course, rely on visual tools like a white board, a PowerPoint presentation or a flip chart.

Imagine being able to project a project plan, an engineering drawing or your PowerPoint presentation on a wall in any office and write down all of the ideas generated by the team on the wall with "digital ink."

Imagine being able to use a pen to capture all the notes on the whiteboard or flipchart and save them to   computer file that can be shared.

Imagine enabling remote team members or long-distance clients to participate in meetings by viewing and writing on the whiteboard.

Think of the benefits. Participation, interest and productivity would all increase.

An innovative projection system called an ultrashort throw projector can make this happen. We demonstrated this projector recently at the Chamber of Commerce Showcase at Crown Isle and people couldn’t stop talking about it.

Similar to the "Smartboard" technology that is used in many classrooms, the projector transforms a whiteboard or an office wall into an interactive surface. Unlike a Smartboard, however, ultra-short throw projectors are compact, lightweight and mobile. (Not to mention less expensive-about a third of the price!)

One of its main advantages is that the lightweight projector fits virtually anywhere, thereby turning any place into a meeting space. Due to its free-form mirror technology, the system can project a high-quality, high-definition 48-inch image onto any flat surface, such as a window or wall, from as close as five inches away.

This means presenters needn’t worry about casting shadows or being blinded like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

Using interactive software, presenters have the option to share screens remotely, use “digital pens” so they can add notes directly to presentations and tailor every presentation, even when presenting to multiple audiences in multiple locations.

Various app and software options allow for remote control, pointer tools and interconnectivity with smartphones and tablets. And once the meeting is over, everyone can have his or her own personalized file of the presentation. Try to do THAT with a flip chart!

Your boring meetings and presentations just got a whole lot more interesting!

AGS Business Systems has been providing office technology to Vancouver Island customers since 1976  and prides itself on being 100% locally Island owned and operated. Don Linder can be reached at 250.871.0116 or don.linder@agscanada.com.

By Shane Lamotte 14 May, 2014

AGS Business Systems Inc. has a new home in Nanaimo

The business system sales and service company, which is now in its 38th year, recently moved into its new location at 1850 Northfield Road. Owners Bill and Jackie Millar and Peter Moss had been searching for a building to purchase for years, and the new site, on one of the busiest streets in Nanaimo, is equally visible as their former office on Bowen Road, where they'd been for the past seven years.

"We're dedicated to Vancouver Island and we're always looking for other opportunities to expand the business into other locations on the Island," said Millar, president of the company which also has locations in Parksville, on Stanford Avenue, and Courtenay, on Cliffe Avenue.

"We've worked hard to make the business what it is today." AGS offers sales and service for Ricoh copiers, printers, faxes, computers and business machines, and covers the Island from the Cowichan Valley to Port Hardy with 20 staff members.

"Our sales and service teams are on the road constantly, meeting with existing and potentially new customers and introducing them to the newest ways of printing, scanning, copying and other office requirements that are currently available in a field where technological advances move quickly," Millar said.

"When customers call us requiring service, they usually need assistance right away in a busy office environment, so we'd be nowhere without our service teams and their hard work." The Millars welcomed Moss as a partner four years ago, and the arrangement has worked wonderfully for the company.

Bill Millar, as President, oversees the office; Jackie looks after several key accounts, and Moss, who joined AGS after a lengthy and successful tenure as a dealer-owner, then Ricoh branch sales manager in Edmonton, is the company's Vice President of Sales Vancouver Island.

"We've been able to grow a solid business on the Island, and we're very glad to have Peter join us and help us keep the momentum going," said Millar, who bought the business on January 1, 1993 with his wife and partner Jackie from Allen Smallenberg, who founded the business.

Jackie first met Peter when they golfed together at a Ricoh golf tournament, and Moss has family on the Island. "I planned to come here anyway," said Moss. "Our plan was to come here, but talking to Bill and Jackie accelerated our plans. We found we had a very similar ideology of doing business, in the way we treat employees and our customer-comes-first attitude."

Joining the Millars at AGS was a perfect fit for Moss. "This is more what I feel comfortable with. I understand how small, medium and large businesses operate, and I know what they need. I understand their cost and cash flow efficiencies - that's what I like to do," Moss said. "That's what we want AGS to market. AGS offers total document management solutions through the implementation of electronic work flows to help reduce our customers' pay per usage, and ultimately reduce their costs. That's the strategy we share when we walk into a customers' office."

Being owner-operators is an advantage, and Millar believes that gives AGS an extra level of understanding that helps them understand their clients.

"We're at the same level of understanding as our customers because we're in business ourselves," he said. "There's a big difference between which side of the cheque you sign. That makes all the difference."

Moss added: "We understand the realities of business, as we've gone through what other business owners have. We're in the trenches, too."

Prior to coming to the Island to buy AGS, Millar had a lengthy, distinguished career in sales and management with 3M in Toronto and Edmonton. The Millars have worked hard and made several key advancements over the years. The first was in 1999, when they moved from Hirst Avenue in Parksville to a location across from the Coastal Community Credit Union next to the Island Highway, which gave them more visibility.

Coastal Community also became one of their best clients, solidifying their customer base, and injecting added confidence into the company.

"That gave us a new lease on life," Millar recalled. "We felt good about ourselves, and we hit $1million in sales for the first time. That was a very big year for us, and it's been all uphill from there." Adding Moss as a partner has enabled AGS to climb to a new level.

"Every day, he's out there with sales people making calls, and he's a first class person. There's not a day goes by that we're not thankful for having Peter come and join us."

Moss added: "I never have to wake up in the morning and say 'I have to go to work', because I love what I do. I like being out there in front of the customers."

Millar believes "the difference between AGS and the multinationals is we're here to stay, and we deal with all the changes in the marketplace. We're a part of Vancouver Island. Working for ourselves, we sign the front of the cheques. But we've also had the experience of working for the corporations where we signed the back of the cheque.

"We'll continue to plough the field we've always ploughed, concentrating 100 per cent on Vancouver Island. There's not an area on the Island that we've not found, or have in our sight," said Millar. "We say that AGS stands for A Great Store, and Always Great Service," stated Millar. "We've outlasted a lot of companies’ in this business that have come and gone, and we'll continue to concentrate 100 per cent on Vancouver Island."

Originally Published in the Vancouver Island Business Examiner

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