Xerox offers makeovers for smaller firms

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Two years ago, Xerox Corp. launched a nationwide promotion called Office Makeover, offering small businesses a complete office redo, with new equipment, furniture and interior design consulting.

The goal was to raise awareness of the Xerox brand among the small-business segment, which is becoming an increasingly important target market for the document management company.

The program is now in its third year and has garnered hundreds of responses from small businesses across the country.

"Through Office Makeover, we are bringing small businesses a combination of our products, as well as products from a renowned office furniture manufacturer, to solve a much bigger problem of how the worker actually works in the office," said Paul Gleason, VP-marketing of SMB (small and midsize business) at Xerox.

"We are trying to use the makeover as a way to demonstrate that with the Xerox brand, you can make small changes and investments in technology and get big results."

The first year of the contest, Xerox partnered with HON Co. (to provide office furniture) and interior designer Thom Filicia.

The theme was "most obsolete office makeover," and businesses with between five and 15 full-time employees were eligible to enter. To enter, businesses had to show how obsolete their office equipment was and explain why they needed a makeover. They could enter online or through mail-in entries.

Xerox also partnered with Entrepreneur magazine, which provided ads, e-mail blasts and media outreach for the promotion.

More than 450 small businesses participated the first year. The winning business was Mad Science, a Scottsdale, Ariz., children's science education franchise.

Since the makeover, Mad Science has bought a second franchise and has doubled its territory. It credits the makeover in large part for its success, said Shelly Dates, a Xerox spokeswoman. "They told us their office furniture was so old, they used to have to meet clients in coffee shops," she said. "Now, they can have clients in their office, and they are also more productive."

The second year of the contest, the theme was "most deserving small-business office makeover." Xerox was looking for small businesses that were really making a difference in their communities.

It partnered once again with Entrepreneur, HON and Filicia, and received about 150 entries.

"We didn't get as many entries, but we made it more difficult to enter," Dates said. "We were talking about corporate responsibility, and the stakes were higher."

The winner was Milwaukee's Sprecher Brewery, which last year participated in more than 25 local fund-raising events. The contest received so much media attention that "Today" ran a segment on it.

Xerox continued its theme of social responsibility with this year's contest. It decided to focus on nonprofit organizations, and selected four markets in which to run the contest: Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; Indianapolis; and Rochester, N.Y.

"We looked at places that had seen some decreases in funding, and were rich with nonprofits and were also important markets to Xerox," Dates said.

This year, Xerox worked with designer Brice Cooper, host of HGTV's "Design on a Dime," as well as HON. It used local media to promote the contest.

The contest winners, announced last month, were: Hickok Center for Brain Injury, Rochester, N.Y.; the Indiana Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Indianapolis; Latin American Coalition, Charlotte, N.C.; and OpenWorld Learning, Denver.

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