When looking for new office equipment, it’s easy to think of the big national chain names right away. It’s no surprise why. They have the flashy television ad campaigns, flyers on every doorstep every week, and billboards along every major road. These big chains spend a lot of money to be top of mind when it’s time to make a purchase. But does all of that flash and ad spending actually mean anything for the end buyer?

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught everyone a lot throughout 2020. One of the most important lessons many have taken is the importance of local businesses in the community. Whether that’s local restaurants, pharmacies, department stores, or even office supply stores. Local shopping benefits the community in a number of ways through providing jobs, community support for charities and events, or even just personalized service.

So, why is it important to think local when it comes to purchasing office equipment? Here are a few important things to consider:

Personalized Service for the Right Equipment

Every business has unique needs. In Manitoba, lockdowns and other challenges posed during the pandemic have shown just how essential having a local connection can be. It’s a direct line to someone right in the community that knows the individualized needs of the businesses they support. National chains are very good at pushing customers through the sales process. Their sales staff often experience high turnover and they are trained to simply make sales. This is great for those that may hold shares in a major national chain but not so great when it comes to getting personalized service.

Local office equipment suppliers depend on service and repeat business above all for success. Making the right recommendations for businesses buying new equipment and providing exceptional support after the sale to build long lasting relationships is key. National chains often partner with a handful of big brands to provide cookie cutter solutions to their customers rather that custom solutions that will actually provide the best results for each unique scenario. In contrast, local office equipment providers typically offer a more diverse line of product options from all brands to provide a truly comprehensive offering that checks off all the boxes within the required budget.

This difference can be incredibly important for a business that wants to overhaul their office equipment and processes from top to bottom in order to become more productive, more efficient, and more competitive. The sales reps at national chains simply don’t have the kind of flexibility that the staff at local office equipment stores do. Their direction comes from head office, probably in Toronto or Vancouver rather than Manitoba, and those directions are more concerned with the bottom line rather than providing an exceptional experience.

Better Maintenance and Support

One of the main reasons people look to shop local versus at a big box store is because of service. It’s one of the top answers among survey respondents when asked why they prefer supporting local businesses. When it comes to office equipment, support and service after the sale is one of the most important aspects of the entire experience. If a multifunction printer experiences an issue, that can bring operations at many businesses to a grinding halt. Businesses who purchased their equipment from a local provider can reach out directly to their sales rep or technician for support. This is someone based in their community and maybe even the person they have become familiar with from past experiences. In the case of a national chain, getting support often means calling a 1-800 number, speaking to someone in a different time zone, province, or country and trying to coordinate support over the phone.

Between waiting on hold, waiting for a booking with a technician, and establishing a new relationship with someone who has no understanding of the business or community; getting support from a national change can be a frustrating exercise that steals away a lot of valuable time. On the other hand, a local office equipment supplier has already established a relationship. Their technicians are based in the community and can be dispatched quickly. There’s no need to wait for a call centre employee to contact their service team who then reaches out to a local contractor who may not even work for the big box store at all. The final result is faster service and limited downtime.

Supporting Local Business and the Community

Shopping local means money spent stays in the community. Local businesses invest in community events through a variety of means whether that’s volunteer days for local charities, sponsoring local sports teams, or donating to important local causes. In fact, 68% of the money spent at a local business stays right in the community compared with just 43% spent at national chains.

Of course, it’s about more than just cold, hard cash. Local businesses employ local staff who then turn around and shop at other local businesses. This positive feedback loop ultimately means more local choice in the community for all industries from restaurants to clothing stores to gas stations and more. All of these local businesses ultimately help create what’s truly unique about a community.

For a Better Experience, Shop Local

When it’s time to make your next purchase decision about office equipment, take the time to shop local. This offers your business the best selection of products and solutions, the best service after the money has changed hands, and the opportunity to support local business in Manitoba.

When looking for office equipment, talk to the local experts at First Phase Data.