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Independent Maintenance Services from Bell & Howell

(The following is from an article on


Bell and Howell has been evolving at a fast pace since its acquisition by Versa capital.
The “New Bell and Howell” is succeeding at what many enterprises would love to do: Reinvent the company to be highly relevant in today’s marketplace by identifying and leveraging their base skill-sets.

By strengthening their mailing offerings and now adding new services and products this “New Bell and Howell” is an entirely different company than the Bell and Howell of just a few years ago.

In this article, Jim Feely, Bell and Howell’s vice president of service, discusses the company’s expanding focus as an independent service provider with Andy & Julie Plata, Co-CEOs of the OutputLinks Communications Group.

Julie: Greeting Jim. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Jim: As the vice president of service, I have management responsibility for Bell and Howell’s service organization. Over my twenty seven years in business, I spent about twenty two of them in service and five in sales.

I originally served at Bell and Howell in a senior sales capacity. I left the company five years ago to serve as Fire Chief of the Durham Highway Fire Department and to run my own printing business. Then I rejoined the company two years ago to be part of the “New Bell and Howell” and expand the service organization’s offerings to a wider market.

Andy: That’s quite a background – sales, firefighting, print shop owner and now equipment service. It will be interesting to see how those experiences can apply to your new objective of expanding Bell and Howell’s service offerings. Tell us about what you are doing now and where you are going with this services expansion.

Jim: We have reinvented Bell and Howell service as an independent services business that is no longer tied just to the mailing and parcel industry. We are now servicing a variety of different products from cash dispensing machines to wide format printers and even robotics.

We are working hard to expand our service brand by proving ourselves as an excellent independent, single-source service resource.

Julie: What do you mean by reference of single-source provider?

Jim: Many companies have an objective to reduce the cost, administration and data-loss risk by consolidating services with a single vendor whenever possible. Since our proven team operates on a 24/7 basis and our technicians have a wide range of service experiences, contracting Bell and Howell to service much or all of their equipment is the perfect solution to the stated objective.

Julie: What are Bell and Howell’s primary value propositions that would help a company choose you for their important service functions?

Jim: Good question and we have a great answer.

Bell and Howell has one of the largest dedicated service organizations in the industry with a large geographic national footprint in the US and Canada. So multi-location companies with equipment spread across the country (even in rural areas) would be under a single Bell and Howell service agreement.

We have a dedicated customer call center that’s available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Customers love that they have only one number to call, any time of day or night for service

We offer a variety of very flexible service plans to meet our customers’ needs. In some cases customers want us to be resident, onsite, to be able to respond immediately. Since many of our customers require non-conventional hours for service, they can feel comfortable to call us at any time to be there.

Customers can order parts and supplies online through our website, anything the customer needs for the equipment we service can be ordered through our website.

Julie: What tools do you use to ensure the high level of services that companies require?

Jim: Bell and Howell is an SAP user as well as an SAP partner. So we understand the product well and put it to work benefitting our customers. Our SAP system tracks every call that comes in, the response times and problem resolution.

We use customer surveys and our call center data to monitor the level of service customers receive to insure we meet our promise of excellence to the customer.

The goal is to continually enhance the quality of our service by accessing immediate feedback from our customers and our technicians.

Julie: What do your customers see as the benefits?

Jim: As the executive in charge, I consistently monitor our response times. We commit to 4 hour response, and we’re averaging less than 2 hours.

Customers recognize downtime is expensive. So the high level of service we provide to enhance uptime at a lower cost is what our high demand customers require and appreciate.

Andy: Will the refurbishment center you are opening in Wisconsin benefit your non-Bell and Howell maintenance customers?

Jim: The answer is, yes. We will refurbish Bell and Howell and non-Bell and Howell at the center or even in the customer’s location.

Customers who are looking to minimize capital expenditures costs and increase the productive life of their machines by years are the perfect fit for our refurbishment services.

We will make their equipment look and run like new plus provide ongoing maintenance for a considerably lower cost than their other alternatives. Our goal is to extend the life of the customer’s equipment which is of great appeal to customers who want to conserve capital.

Julie: As we close, please share with us the primary questions you and your sales team use to qualify a prospect for independent maintenance?

Jim: Here they are:
• Has your service environment evolved as fast as your operations have evolved?
• Has your equipment service been getting a better, more flexible, all inclusive, and less expensive?
• Are there too many service providers having access to your facility?
• If a trusted, single service company could bring your company lower costs with greater security and uptime, would you be interested in discussing the opportunities?


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Eight Reasons to Learn More about Plain Paper Factories

Pete Jones

Plain Paper Factories are quickly becoming the next evolution of print and mail operations. There are several reasons that print and postal environments benefit from this automated approach to mailpiece creation.

The majority of direct marketers use some level of personalization in their campaigns, but
InfoTrends research shows that fewer than 10 percent of them use data-driven messaging on the outside of the envelope. The days of multiple forms and envelopes that sit on a shelf until needed is quickly receding. Instead, fully automated print-to-finished mailpiece technology is taking the place of stored inventory and adding full color variable data printing on the fly.

Here are eight reasons to take a closer look at Plain Paper Factories:

1. Reduce inventory and storage costs – A Plain Paper Factory allows you to eliminate storing preprinted envelopes and forms. With Bell and Howell’s Inveloper system, these are created on the fly using rolls of paper. View a video here.

2. Enhanced color options – Quickly add inkjet color to the outside of the envelope for increased transpromotional opportunities and cross-selling/up-selling.

3. Flexible consumer envelope styles – Plain Paper Factory systems support multiple mailpiece styles for maximum flexibility (tear off, zipper, traditional, etc.). This includes the capability to create windows with glassine and custom flap shapes.

4. Efficient processing – When compared with traditional web presses, changeover time is extremely efficient, measured in minutes rather than hours, or even days for some operations.

5. Faster time to finished piece – Because there are no envelopes to fill, Plain Paper Factory systems run more efficiently by practically eliminating jams. The paper elements are joined together smoothly, running inline with no machine or module stoppage.

6. One machine supports many applications – No need to invest in more capital to meet the service level agreements (SLAs) and mailpiece size variations of multiple customers. One machine can run the full range of envelope sizes as well as new sizes and styles.

7. Sorting to ZIP density on-the-fly – Printing to 5-digit accuracy allows for both postage savings and inline commingling.

8. High-impact marketing – These systems allow for virtually limitless color composition options for each mailpiece. You can get multivariate testing rather than being restricted to stock envelope A/B testing.

In summary, Plain Paper Factory solutions can save time, costs and space, increase efficiency, provide enhanced flexibility, and deliver more impactful and personalized messaging. It’s imperative that your marketing messages are highly effective and generate the highest response rates at the lowest cost possible. Plain Paper Factories can help you achieve those objectives.

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Unlocking the Value of Customer Communications


Many organizations in mature industries such as telecom, insurance, finance, banking and print-for-pay service bureaus often don’t recognize the value inherent in their communications with customers. Mature industries expand via mergers and acquisitions, resulting in bolted-on business applications that complicate the communication and marketing processes. These bolt-ons exist within business silos and have disparate communication infrastructure and approaches, none of which are harmonized to give customers a sense that their business is important to the organization. Now, organizations can use enterprise output management (EOM) solutions to unlock the once-hidden value in consistent, personalized communications to help retain customers and increase customer lifetime value.

For the past 20 years or so, organizations looked to enterprise asset management (EAM) tools, like SAP, to account for and manage physical assets. This approach centered on design, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance and replacement of plant, equipment and facility assets. EAM solutions reduced labor, cost and time to market for global changes; decreased redundant processes; and brought visibility and agility to asset management.

Next, organizations looked to enterprise content management (ECM) tools to centrally organize and store data, documents and other content, which helped support customer communications and customer relationship management. ECM solutions unified access to content previously stored in disparate systems and reduced labor costs while allowing organizations to quickly implement global changes. They could then also access and leverage data formerly unavailable — providing visibility to their customers, and increased awareness of their needs and the services they receive.

Today, due to increasing competitive pressures, organizations must centrally manage customer communications to effectively deliver messages to multiple channels such as Web, email and mobile devices. The solution is to use enterprise output management tools to manage the creation and distribution of both physical and electronic communications. EOM solutions maximize the value and content of each communication, ensure delivery to the desired channel, and enable faster time to market. It also is the most cost-effective way to implement global communication changes across the organization. Done correctly, organizations gain a single view and control point for all outbound communications while significantly reducing labor, cost and time to market for marketing, personalization and migration to digital presentment alternatives. More importantly, organizations satisfy customers by engaging with them wherever and whenever they choose.

EOM tools, such as Bell and Howell’s software and workflow suites, use a centralized utility that allows multiple business lines, regardless of the legacy system they are created in, to apply channel-specific formatting parameters after the messages are created. This greatly reduces ongoing support and implementation costs, significantly reduces the time to transition business applications to modern distribution channels, and provides a platform to cross-sell and upsell to customers. Most importantly, EOM solutions provide a consolidated view of the end-to-end customer communication process — allowing transaction-level visibility within business lines and customer service organizations.

The primary components of EOM solutions — workflow automation and post-composition tools — enable just-in-time application of common formatting and distribution requirements, which help ensure compliance and consistency across applications and delivery channels. EOM solutions can enhance legacy application documents to insert color, electronic onserts, inserts and forms overlays, as well as marketing messages and personalized information to increase customer satisfaction and retention. Once assembled, the communication can be custom formatted, optimally packaged, and then guided to the appropriate distribution channel. Centralizing the communication distribution process gives organizations an enterprise dashboard, enabling real-time visibility and reporting on all aspects of the physical and electronic distribution processes.

In addition, EOM solutions can catapult mature organizations’ disorganized communication silos into nimble, customer-focused operations that attract new customers, retain customers, and increase their lifetime value. Presenting the right content over the right channel consistently across all business lines will positively impact customers’ overall impression of your organization. As technology continues to evolve and channels of communications expand, EOM tools will position your organization to continue to quickly adapt to these changes.

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Six Points to Consider When Maintaining Your Own Print and Mailing Equipment

It’s bound to happen. In the middle of your print run or mailing, some technical malfunction – whether large or small – interrupts the workflow. Even the highest-quality equipment can experience interruptions in throughput due to operator error or the usual wear and tear of electro-mechanical operation.

In this instance, foresight and preparation can help lessen the downtime and get your equipment back up and running soon. If you monitor and maintain your own equipment, here are six points to consider:

1. Keep standard spare parts on hand for “do-it-yourself” kits. – Under normal use, most systems can run at 24/7 capacity. While many are designed to handle this load, often environmental factors can increase the normal wear and tear on heavily used parts. Keeping a standard set of manufacturer-recommended parts increases your ability to schedule regular maintenance so that your system’s uptime remains high.

2. Know how to quickly access high-quality parts. – Buying and stocking parts is an essential component of any self-maintenance effort, but you don’t want to tie up your cash in parts that just sit on a shelf for a year. That’s when it’s essential to engage a service partner that can deliver consistent quality, availability and accessibility of parts so that you can have the right parts at your fingertips in the fastest time possible.

3. Know your documentation. – Every system comes with manufacturer-recommended maintenance guidelines. Be sure to keep yours on file and make time to log what’s been upgraded, replaced or changed out. Self-maintainers should also know how to reach the manufacturer’s technical assistance center via phone, Skype or other communications channel so they can walk you through most maintenance procedures.

4. Widen your system knowledge base. – It seems each job site has that one person who “knows the equipment like the back of their hand.” As valuable as these people are, they are no substitute for clearly documented work instructions and system notes when it comes to uninterrupted uptime. A single point of failure can wreak havoc on your operations. Be sure that your service managers or technicians are sharing information about how they keep the equipment in top shape. A service log is ideal. Some companies are even making easy-to-follow videos on routine maintenance procedures and filing them to a central, easy-to-access area for reference.

5. Know when and how to access help. – A popular option for many organizations is a hybrid of self-maintenance and periodically scheduled equipment inspections. This lets you maintain equipment based on your day-to-day needs, but also gives you quarterly or biannual full-inspection check-ups that can uncover any larger issues that may affect performance. Get to know your trained local service technicians.

6. Look for a partner that can get the job done when you can’t. – You won’t always be able to dedicate a resource to keeping your equipment in the best shape possible. Get to know your service options when you need to allocated ad-hoc maintenance to an outside resource.

Maintaining your own equipment can definitely save time and money, but you should also explore flexible service arrangements that let you call in expert technicians as needed. You don’t need to lock into large, expensive contracts or tolerate questionable service from local equipment repair shops. Do the research to find the right service partner, and you will be rewarded with confidence and peace of mind.

For more information on Bell and Howell Services, visit

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