Thinking of Starting A Business or Need Help Growing Yours?

OfficeMax Services Center Photo FINAL

 * Click here to enter our drawing for a $100 OfficeMax gift card to use for the new OfficeMax Services Center!

Recently I was invited by OfficeMax to test out their new Services Center for business owners. The Center was launched this past October to help business owners grow by providing them with operational support. I was definitely very curious about this. As a serial entrepreneur who has had my fair share of success and failures, I had a good understanding of what businesses need to get started and most importantly succeed. I had no doubt that OfficeMax could provide the services, but I wanted to know if it was practical and cost-effective. 

The last time I was in an OfficeMax was to buy some office supplies and a couple of desks for our new office space. I had always seen OfficeMax as a store for office supplies, furniture, and some electronics. As brick-and-mortar companies get squeezed out by competition, it made sense for OfficeMax to take this approach. They already had a customer base with their products, now it was a matter of converting them to use their services and attract new customers as well.

They showed me that according to new research from the OfficeMax Small Business Efficiency Index, 75 percent of business owners in Hawaii have serious concerns with their current vendors who assist them with business operations and administrative tasks – nearly 10 percent more than the national average. The same survey also found that small business owners nationwide burn more than 4 billion hours each year on support functions, such as credit card and payroll processing. 

I can attest to this. I started my businesses to pursue what I was passionate about, but I didn’t fully anticipate the administrative and extra support needed to succeed. From my experience in working with other small business owners, lack of business sometimes wasn’t what caused them to fold. It was the extra costs, time and resources needed for operations support. The survey reinforced my thoughts by showing the lost time drained nearly half of business owners’ passion and energy for building their business. For my wealth management firm, I provide a similar service. My clients are good at what they do, but don’t want the extra responsibility of having to manage their finances, retirement accounts, tax planning, and a whole host of other things. We all need support.

I had a scheduled time to meet Ama Lind, a sales specialist with my nearest OfficeMax. She is one of five Service Center specialists and told me that every employee at the store can at least provide basic support. She said that OfficeMax recently introduced its new Services Center within its stores in Hawaii and nationwide to help relieve the administrative burden and provide entrepreneurs and business owners with the operations support they need. Of course I had quite a few follow-up questions. 

The first thing that popped into my mind is the cost, how relevant the services are, and if they are catered to what we actually need, not what they are trying to sell. I was surprised to learn that The Services Center offers more than 40 services, from the standard product and software, to credit card processing and payroll services to IT support and cloud storage solutions.  Their goal is to be a true “one-stop shop” for businesses to supply personalized products and services. 

They had marketing brochures lined up showing everything they now offer. Even though OfficeMax is a big company, I was not sold that they had the expertise to go into website creation, cloud services, or even HR and credit card processing. Companies that stray from their expertise and niche to go into other areas generally don’t fare very well. It is tough to be good and be all things to all people.

But I had noticed that OfficeMax teamed up with GoDaddy for website and domain creation, Carbonite for backup, FedEx for shipping and other big companies that had the respective expertise. Also in most cases, you get a discount by going through OfficeMax. They even teamed up with Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workspaces. High overhead kills businesses (Borders vs Amazon!), one of the biggest mistakes I had made early in one of my startups. Generally rent, utilities, common-area-maintenance, and costs associated with maintaining an office space tend to be one of the biggest budget breakers.

Recognizing that the traditional workplace is changing, they offer through Regus fully equipped offices, conference rooms, communication studios and business lounges to rent only when you need them. They even offer virtual assistants, telephone answering services, and US business addresses without any long-term contracts. Not bad. 99% of all businesses in America are considered small business and account for over half of all the jobs in the U.S. Small businesses have historically led the U.S. out of any recession. So definitely offering services that make any type of businesses more effective and efficient is a big win.

Ama told me that the first thing they do is ask questions to make sure the services and products match your business. There are different plans for packages for each of the services. For example every business needs a website. Depending on the need, they can make it simple, or more in-depth. The costs are dependent on the services required. Some are annual membership fees, some are fees by the hour, and some are one-time fees. She said her goal was to “free up more time for business owners to focus on growth. We have everything a business owner needs to start a business, maintain their business, or expand their business. You can come visit us in the store or even give us a call and we can walk you through the process.”

If you go to the OfficeMax Services Center Website their slogan is “Think of us as your small business partner.” You can use all of their services, or pick and choose ala carte which is a big bonus. Most of us don’t need it all, but definitely some. Of course, now everything is based on execution. If businesses see increased value and savings, it is only a matter of time that this can be a game-changer for businesses. Streamlining support functions and connecting businesses with best solutions and practices is a must in today’s evolving marketplace. 

I for one will definitely be using some of the services they offer. As mentioned above, you can click here to enter into a drawing for $100 OfficeMax gift card to use for the Service Center. The key thing is to always looking at ways of improving and getting better. OfficeMax is definitely on the right track!

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