Have you met the Rae twins from Highland Copiers? They are not actually twins. They are not even brothers. But they are seemingly inseparable and work as a close knit team.
I first met Mike Rae 6 years ago when we both joined the newly launched BNI in Inverness. We would chat over the obligatory bacon roll and discuss our future plans for our respective businesses. At that time Mike had only just launched Highland Copiers and was still finding his feet. He had about 100 printers out with customers. He was joined by Chris Rae and the team, based in Inverness has continued to grow. They now have over 800 machines located at customer premises from Orkney to Englandshire. We have 5 of them, including one at home. Not bad growth in just 6 years.
Now, anyone who knows Mike, and I know that many of you do, will know that he is a salesman but that only goes so far, particularly when the thing that makes Highland Copiers unique in this part of the world is that you are not tied in to a 5-year service contract. You can cancel your service contract at any time. So, the salesman might get you to buy initially but if the company fails to deliver on the salesman’s service promises, you are going to move. You are not tied in by any contract after all is said and done.
So, this is where Mike’s twin comes in. Chris looks after the servicing. A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of a busy Saturday (yes, I do work on Saturdays) the printer in my home office decided it was not going to print anything else. Initially I thought it had developed some objection to weekend working but quickly reasoned that as it was a machine, it did not realise it was a Saturday. So, phoned Highland Copiers. Chris logs into my computer and checks the link to the printer. He then talked me through how to make the necessary changes to the printer set up to get it working again. All fixed remotely and within an hour of my original call.
Now, to me that is why they can afford to allow customers to cancel their service contracts. Why would we cancel with service like this.
When we first introduced our Fixed Price Agreements around 14 years ago, we did something similar. Our fixed Price Agreements have some unique features.
The first is in the name. The price is fixed in advance and there will only be any extra charge if we have given you a price for that extra work in advance. The price is paid by monthly direct debit so it is also easy on the cash flow.
Second, just like Highland Copiers, you can cancel at any time, so if it is not working for you, we stop it.
Then there is our satisfaction guarantee set out in writing on page 2 of our General Terms of Business and this means that if you are unhappy with what we have done for you, you don’t need to pay us. Somebody said to me a few years ago that this was very American. It might be, but it is also very “us”. I have also been asked a few times whether any clients have tried to take unfair advantage of this guarantee. The answer is “yes” but, as you would imagine, they are no longer clients.
The other thing that we provide at no extra cost is fee protection insurance which means that if you get any enquiries from HMRC, our fees for dealing with that work should be paid by an insurer and not by you.
So, we provide a fixed price, no extras unless agreed and priced in advance, a comfortable monthly payment plan, insurance against HMRC enquiries, and our satisfaction guarantee. In addition, like Highland Copiers, you are not tied in and can stop your Fixed Price Agreement and direct debit at any time.
We are also quite friendly and approachable!
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Alan E Long
The Long Partnership