The Battle for National Accounts
Geographically, IBSA is fairly well represented, although it seeks to increase affiliates in the Northeast and Central Plains, particularly Boston. Warehousing capabilities are a plus, but not a requirement, and IBSA looks for overall drive and growth when considering an affiliate. “A lot of smaller companies still buy a lot of printing. Just look at the non-acute side of the health-care industry,” noted McKinney. “The smaller guy is often better at calling on the smaller facility, and the big guy is more effective in the 250-bed hospital. Some affiliates are non-acute care monsters, selling everything from business cards to filing products, and others don’t want anything to do with calling on doctors’ offices.”
Affiliates receive special training and certification to work the Novation and Xerox accounts, and post-certification “boot camps” are conducted by suppliers for specialty products, such as advanced filing systems, as well as EMR, where commissions largely come from selling the maintenance programs. “There are hundreds of thousands of physicians’ offices across the country, and roughly 8 percent are using EMR—there is a lot of potential out there,” noted McKinney. For the moment, however, IBSA’s top three products sold into national accounts remain traditional forms, marketing collateral and labels.
“We’re doing great, even in what some describe as an ‘overly mature market,’” offered McKinney. “A supplier recently remarked he never thought the industry would get to a point where his raw costs would be going up, while his prices on goods going out the door were going down.” McKinney reminded one supplier concerned by flattening sales, that in this difficult market, flat sales are actually a sign of growth. Another supplier jokingly reported to McKinney it’s easier than ever to prepare his budget—simply slash 15 percent on everything from the year before. “Also, a distributor was saying he is finding less and less competition out there,” continued McKinney. “In a mature industry, when it starts to bottom out, a lot of players fall out. There will be those who survive, but who’s it going to be?”