Magazine Article | January 25, 2007

Boost Staff Productivity With MFPs

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

An interior design firm streamlines its sales process with multifunctional peripherals (MFPs).

Integrated Solutions, February 2007

Vivid. Brilliant. Precise. In the world of interior design, it's all about presentation. That's particularly true for Fort Myers, FL-based home furnisher and interior designer Robb & Stucky, which relies on the Internet and e-mail for a considerable amount of its sales. With the entrance of two MFPs into its world, the art of selling has changed dramatically since 1915 when Robb & Stucky opened its first storefront.

Every day the sales force at Robb & Stucky scans samples of flooring, fabric, wood, tile, wallpaper, metal, and paint with its new MFPs, creating perfect-match color prints and electronic images to share with prospective or current clients. The MFPs, which are networked and accessible to all staff, serve as printers, photocopiers, fax machines, and scanners, and have the capability to retrieve images from secure digital (SD) camera memory cards and e-mail images. 

With this technology, sales cycles at Robb & Stucky have shortened by as much as 50%, according to Roxy Barber, resource librarian for the furnisher's Fort Myers showroom, which is just one of its 10 major showrooms and 7 patio stores across the country.

The Panasonic C3 Series DP-C262 color copier printer was Robb & Stucky's MFP of choice, and it has dramatically fast-tracked the entire sales process. Every day the MFP is involved in the creation of product presentations — a display of a customer's selections, such as furniture and fabrics, in one cohesive package, complete with product samples. These packages are sent home with customers who visit the store and e-mailed to clients.

"Our sales consultants used to work with photocopiers, cutting and pasting, and mailing a package to a client," Barber says. "Today, it's done electronically. Consultants can instantly take a picture of a piece of furniture, insert the digital camera card directly into the C3, and print out the piece next to a swatch of the client's window treatment," Barber says. "A designer can scan items from catalogs, photos, and fabrics. At their computer they can put it all together into an electronic presentation using Photoshop and PowerPoint."

The consistent results and ease of use of the MFP have won over the sales team at Robb & Stucky since the machines were acquired in September 2005. Previous printers and copiers in the office required valuable time adjusting the color to get an accurate copy. Today, when Robb & Stucky employees place a piece of wallpaper on the glass, they know they can rely on the C3 to give them a perfect match.

The Panasonic C3 Series includes various models of multifunctional peripherals that offer varying capabilities of printing, copying, faxing, and scanning. The C3 gets its name from its ability to "Connect, Converge, and Communicate."

The two DP-C262 color copier printers purchased by Robb & Stucky offer copying at 21 color copies per minute, high resolution images, four paper trays, network capability, and a scanner that can create TIFF, PDF, and JPEG files. These units also can scan to and print directly from SD camera memory cards. Anywhere in the showroom, the machines are accessible through computers and personal laptops. An address book on the MFP allows sales consultants and interior designers to e-mail scanned items to themselves or anyone else on staff.

These features have been particularly useful for Robb & Stucky, whose clientele Barber describes as "seasonal." Many of the furnisher's customers visit its Fort Myers location for a short time and then go back up north to their homes, so communicating with them electronically is often the most efficient.

The machine's multiple paper trays means savings for Robb & Stucky, giving users the option to print on less expensive paper for nonpresentation print jobs, thus reducing costs. The cost per print is lower than any equipment Robb & Stucky has used, Barber attests.

And for a staff that's "not-too-techie," Barber says staff members caught on with minimal training. Setup required the installation of drivers on each PC in the showroom. Software installed on Barber's computer allows her to monitor the MFPs' paper trays and errors and set up e-mails for both machines directly from her desk. "There's so much we can do with this tool to make our work more efficient and to make richer presentations," Barber concludes.