Many companies are using this unprecedented time we are working through to examine expenditures and processes that may have been overlooked in previous months or years. One area that can often fly under the radar and be misunderstood is the copier contract. As with most hardware, the price of a copier depends on several factors. Copiers have come a long way since the days of opening up the platen cover to place a document on the glass to make a copy, though that option is still available. Now, you can scan documents directly to a subfolder within your cloud storage platform or print in pantone matching color, all with a commercial copier. There are many elements to consider in the cost equation as you will see moving forward.
An office with three employees periodically needing to print throughout the day will require different capabilities than say a 20-person office sharing a common copy room copier. Some situations call for multiple devices or a blend of copiers and printers. It is very important to understand the layout of your office and what kind of printing initiatives you are wanting to implement before investing in a copier.
Ledger or Legal?
Do you know the difference in ledger and legal paper? Ledger sized paper is 11x17 inches, while legal is 8.5x14 inches. Ledger paper has phased out in popularity over the years but still serves a purpose and is ideal for excel spreadsheets that may need to be printed or creating workbooks. The reasoning behind why knowing whether you need ledger or legal is important is because it can shift the type of device you require. A3 devices allow you the capability to print up to 12x18 sized paper while newer devices termed A4, scale down the paper output capability to legal size and achieve a smaller footprint in size and usually cost.
Paper Output & Speed
Much like before with the comparison of the three-person office to the 20-person, knowing the amount of prints/copies your office does in a day or month helps identify which device is right for you. Say you are a 10-person office and on average each person prints to the copier between 100-200 times a month. With this volume, the speed of the device is lesser of an issue though it would be a question worth asking by the vendor. Suppose you printed 20% of your volume each month in casual one or two-page jobs but the other 80% were large jobs of 30 or more pages. It would then make sense to at least consider a device that could get the jobs done quicker so employees were not spending prolonged time periods waiting for their jobs to finish.
The copier is useless without parts like the paper tray, paper feeder and even the stand it sits on (if not a desktop model). Usually a base model copier consists of at least one paper tray, either a reversing paper feeder or automatic paper feeder (scans 2-sided documents in a single pass), and a stand. These features alone may give you all you need, but it is important to address the needs of your user group and not just take the word of the salesperson selling you a particular device. Do you need faxing capabilities? Would having multiple paper trays be beneficial so you don’t have to load proposal paper or checks into the tray each time you need to print them? Would you like to have stapling, hole punching or booklet making capabilities? Knowing the finishing options available and what you need or desire, is a key factor in determining the cost of your copier because it is additional equipment that must be attached and properly setup therefore adding more cost.
Software & Applications
Copiers these days are for all intents and purposes, computers that print. Being connected and integrated with technology is more important than ever before. The ability to scan directly into your ERM or CRM, or the ability to sign into Microsoft SharePoint at the device with a pin code or ID badge are just a few of the options copiers in today’s age afford you. But every good thing comes with a cost and often times these are hard to know without understanding the scope of your organization. Implementing tailored software solutions is a level of professional services that should be considered outside of the “equipment” cost of the contract but should still be considered in the totality of your investment.
Service & Supplies
This price is probably the most important, or at least we think it is. Ensuring that you have a device that works for your needs is great, until it starts not working. Making sure you are covered by a reputable and qualified company to keep your equipment operational provides an insurance of sorts to make sure you are not liable for expenses such as drum replacements, preventative maintenance, board repair or replacements, fusers or any other expensive unforeseen problem that may come up due to no fault of your users.
In addition, most service contracts will cover the consumables such as toner and waste toner in their costs. That means that you no longer have to spend time or money ordering ink or toner on Amazon, it’s already taken care of. Many dealers will also monitor your devices remotely and know whether the toner is getting low or if other problems may be on the horizon. It is not uncommon for us to send toner directly to a customer prior to them being alerted by their copier because of the monitoring and reporting available through our service plans.
Color vs. B/W
Color printing is very popular and for some, a necessity. Though it comes at a steeper cost both on the equipment cost and service side. With a color copier there are more moving parts and consumables that have to be accounted for. With the addition of cyan, magenta and yellow toner cartridges the color devices will have exponentially higher ink costs than that of a pure black & white device. While color copiers are more expensive, there are ways to utilize economical printing practices to help offset some of the maintenance and supply costs of the devices. Before diving into a device, it is important you decipher what your office needs are in relation to color output.
Most service agreements are structured with a contracted amount of volume for a set period (monthly, quarterly, etc.). If you go over these set amounts, you are billed for overage. These rates vary and are based on per copy pricing for the machine you have. Color overage is more expensive in the same way that it is more expensive when you run a color copy versus a black and white copy. While overages are something to consider, they are not necessarily a bad thing. If you over contract yourself in terms of allowances and end up not using nearly what your contract was based on, that is a sunk cost. But if you end up paying overages, at least you are paying for something you actually used. Either way, when considering the investment required, spend time on how much, or little, you want to contract in terms of allowances.
If you have already invested in a commercial copier before, there may be obligations you must adhere to that will affect your costs. Leasing is a very popular avenue for companies investing in copiers. It provides a monthly payment and the flexibility to stay more up to date with technology by allowing to upgrade to a newer model without an upfront lump sum. Buyouts occur when you are ending your current lease agreement and offer different avenues you can take. If you are leaving your current vendor, the buyout will be more expensive although it can be rolled into a new lease with your new vendor. If you choose to stay with your vendor, you can utilize the upgrade option with the same leasing company, which will allow you to have a lesser amount due for cutting your obligation short since you are staying with the same leasing company. While buyouts can get confusing and have contractual language and timelines you must be aware of, the most important thing to note is that they will increase the cost of your investment until you completely pay it off.
At Copiers Plus we prioritize your organization’s goals and work alongside you to put an office solution strategy in place that can help propel your productivity while maintaining harmony with your budget. If you would like to further examine your current copier contract or investigate next steps towards what it could look like for your organization, we would love to help you. Reach out to us at 800-648-7081 or via our website.
Drew Smith currently serves as Director of Communications for Copiers Plus. The company specializes in modernizing office equipment and increasing efficiencies in workplace communications throughout the state of North Carolina. To learn more about how Copiers Plus is providing their customers with innovative document solutions and enhanced printing transparency, visit www.copiers-plus.com. Drew would love to hear from you at [email protected].
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