PartsNow!

PartsNow! mediasites training to attract technicians and generate new business opportunities.

PartsNow! mediasites training to attract technicians and generate new business opportunities. PartsNow! is the leading supplier of replacement parts to companies specializing in the repair of computer printers. The company offered in-person training courses for service technicians with the goal of lessening returns of parts sold by the company but feared online or multimedia distribution would result in piracy and profit loss. PartsNow! turned to Mediasite to produce secure and simplified online courses for its globally dispersed customer base. The interactive presentations are available anytime on the web, so technicians can access training just an hour at a time amid their busy schedules instead of blocking out entire days traveling to attend in-person courses. With Mediasite, PartsNow! online courses have broadened enrollment to increase profits, while more highly skilled technicians have reduced the company’s overhead costs.

At a glance

  • Piracy concerns lead company to avoid online distribution of training content

  • Mediasite enables password-protected, streamlined education customized for the web

  • Training recreates in-class, hands-on experiences for convenient on-demand viewing

  • Product returns decrease as trained technicians diagnose problems with greater accuracy, reducing overhead costs

  • Company generates new revenue and partnership opportunities while expanding awareness of training courses to attract a wider circle of students

Challenge

Fixing computer printers is no easy task. Training a technician to detect and repair problems that are typically found in a single printer model can take up to a day. Multiply those training requirements by the evolving set of printer models on today’s market, and one faces a substantial challenge in keeping repair technicians fully trained to handle the variety of issues they are likely to face when dealing with broken printers in the field.

In an effort to expand its partnership with the service companies that purchase its replacement parts, PartsNow! offers a series of daylong classes throughout the year that educate technicians about how specific printer models work and what techniques should be used to address common repair issues.

Typically, the company holds training sessions at its Middleton, Wisconsin headquarters, drawing hundreds of students – some coming from as far away as Argentina – to attend the classes.

“We always have been leery of recording these sessions and distributing them on videotape or DVD because of the fear that the pre-recorded training sessions would be copied and distributed widely within the service industry,” said Steve Geishirt, PartsNow! director of training. “That type of piracy would significantly cut into our profits, resulting in an increase for those who pay to attend the basic development training courses.”

Solution

PartsNow! purchased Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite to simplify the process of creating online training. Rather than simply recording and re-packaging a live classroom session, the company develops custom content for viewing over the web. With Mediasite, PartsNow! blends video content with computer applications like PowerPoint slides and electronic quizzes into a single online training presentation.

“We showcase multiple pictures and diagrams of printer parts being discussed by the instructor during the training session,” said Geishirt. “These images are prepared and posted via PowerPoint slides during the presentation. Likewise, on-screen presenters attempt to recreate the in-class, hands-on experiences by encouraging online viewers to take apart and reassemble the printers being discussed in the training sessions. With Mediasite, online students have access to the printer being discussed in the training session, and they are encouraged to pause and restart the presentation if they fall behind the presenter’s instructions while working with the printers.”

Result

Technicians who enroll in the online classes receive two weeks of access to course materials on a password-protected site. The students can fit training into their daily schedules by taking a couple of hours of online training at a time rather than blocking out an entire day to participate in a single session.

In a little more than a year, PartsNow! has produced eight online training sessions. These sessions typically last between five and eight hours, depending on the complexity of the printer being discussed. With little marketing support for the new online classes in its first full year of programming, PartsNow! sold access to online classes to 159 students, who each paid $350 to access a daylong online seminar. That same year, the company trained more than 200 technicians in its traditional in-person sessions.

PartsNow! is on pace to produce one new daylong online training session per quarter, which will steadily expand the library of training content made available on a paid basis. The company is also preparing a marketing push to reach new audiences that would benefit from the training sessions it produces. The online training makes it more feasible for companies on the periphery of the printer sector to explore opportunities in
printer repair. For instance, companies that specialize in repairing office copiers could expand their repertoire by learning how to repair computer printers as well.

“The availability of the online courses is not cannibalizing demand for PartsNow!’s traditional sessions,” said Geishirt. “Instead, it is expanding awareness of the company’s training courses and drawing a wider circle of students for the sessions.”

If PartsNow! can successfully increase the awareness of its training sessions among these groups, the company not only will generate additional revenue from training, but also will have a leg up on building a partnership with service companies that could buy PartsNow! replacement parts.

Beyond the potential for generating new revenue, the expanded availability of training in the online venue generates other benefits as well. Most importantly, technicians with training are more effective at what they do, diagnosing printer problems with far greater accuracy. Better recognition of problems up front helps them to order the proper repair parts at the outset. This decreases the number of unused replacement parts that are returned to PartsNow!, reducing the company’s overhead costs.

The PartsNow! training team is employing online multimedia in a way that allows it to reshape the fundamental economics that support its departmental budget. Rather than simply charging fees for on-site classes that only allowed their department to break even from a budget perspective, PartsNow! executives are using Mediasite to expand the reach and accessibility of the expertise they have to offer. In the process, they are creating revenue streams and new business opportunities that lay the foundation for future expansion of the company’s training activities.

About PartsNow!

Parts Now! LLC keeps business printing. The largest distributor of laser printer parts, PartsNow! is proud to be an authorized distributor for Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, Toshiba and Canon U.S.A. Inc. In addition, Parts Now! acts as a printer repair knowledge base, both with world-class technical support and an in-house publication, Service Today.