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How Do You Buy a Multi-Function Copier? The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

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So you want a new multi-function office copier, huh? Maybe your current one’s giving you problems, or you’re angling for a hot new piece of tech? Whatever your reason may be, it’s safe to say that no matter who you are, you and your organization want the same things out of your next multi-function copier (MFC): good hardware at a good price. In short, you want value. Don’t we all?

Here’s your organization’s multi-function copier ultimate buyer’s guide to getting the best possible deal on its next MFC.

Where should I start?

Industry specialist Matt Lane said that choosing an MFC begins and ends with familiarity with your organization’s processes, which eventually leaves you with two choices: buying one from a retailer (like Best Buy) or leasing with a service agreement from a private vendor like, say, ClearView Business Solutions.

With the former, you buy the equipment, and that’s that. You’re on your own for service, support, ink, toner, replacement parts, etc.

“If your organization’s needs are home office or very light commercial type of use, then perhaps you should buy a printer off the shelf at the local retailer and then buy ink and toner as needed,” Lane said. “And then you could replace that machine when it breaks.”

With a private vendor, you typically lease the equipment with a service agreement, which provides service, support, as well as replacement supplies and parts for the entire length of the lease.

Whether you’re looking at equipment from a retailer or a vendor, you’ll definitely have this on your mind: price.

How do I get a good price on an MFC?

No one wants to overpay for an MFC. However, like with a lot of things in life, you can get what you pay for.

As previously discussed, while inkjets may appear to be cheaper than their laserjet counterparts, they’re really not. Although the hardware’s initially cheaper, in the long run, the cost of ink and other supplies will bleed you dry.

Inkjet MFCs are only cheaper at low volumes of printing, not at medium to high volumes in commercial environments. So, organizations with any volume greater than a low volume of printing would be much better off financially if they bought a laserjet MFC, because of a lower cost per copy. That’s because ink typically costs more and yields fewer pages than the same amount of toner (in a laserjet printer).

Know your TCO

For any volume greater than a low volume of printing, your organization should calculate then compare the monthly total cost of ownership (TCO) for laserjet and inkjet printers. Choose the machine with a lower TCO.  

It’s not just the price that matters

Other factors matter too.

If you’re evaluating a copier lease from a vendor, here are some relevant factors:

  • Is there escalation?

Escalation is a sudden rise in the price of the lease or service agreement, which is obviously undesirable.

  • Extra fees

Needless to say, avoid these.

  • Service agreement details

Evaluate a vendor’s response time and how long it takes a vendor to fix inoperable equipment. You should also judge a vendor by the rate at which it fixes equipment the first time. Finally, consider the cost of the lease and service portions, and make sure that if they’re included in one payment, you understand the breakdown of each.

How to negotiate your copier lease

Ever read The Art of the Deal? Well, just call this section “the art of the lease.” As you make a deal, keep the following in mind:

  • Choose your vendor wisely

Some vendors have a better track record than others. Seek those out by performing a Google search of a vendor to find reviews, and avoid companies with negative feedback. Look for an authorized dealer and ask for two to three references from satisfied customers. 

  • Make accurate comparisons

Compare machines with the same speed and configuration from multiple vendors, then choose the best lease and service agreements for your organization’s needs. 

  • Understand the terms and conditions

Read, understand and compare service agreement allowances, rates, escalation, etc.

What are some signs that my organization is getting a good deal on its multi-function copier?

Well, if your organization is buying from a retailer like Best Buy, then you should calculate your monthly total cost of ownership (with equipment from a retailer) and compare it to the cost of partnering with a private vendor. Determine the best solution first, then look for the lowest price for that solution. 

Lane recommended that organizations try to find models in transition to newer models, as they are often discounted, and have the same or similar features and functions. 

As to organizations partnering with a private vendor, Lane suggested that they do three things.

“The first thing would be to know and have a really good written detail of what their needs are, and what their current and anticipated volumes are,” he said. “That way they can make sure to compare at least two to three local sources and give them all the same information. They would need to have a list of their exact numbers that they’ve calculated themselves, not the ones that came from the vendor’s sales representative.”

Second, they should choose what make and model they want. Third, they should compare multiple vendors’ prices for the same machine by completing and submitting a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for a quotation (RFQ). Organizations should send RFQs to get an exact quote on their desired machines. In the future, we’ll have an in-depth article about RFPs and even an RFP generator on our website. 

Go forth and get a great deal

Now that you know how to swing a sweet deal on your office’s next multi-function copier, go out and get yourself a deal! With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, there’s perhaps no better time to score a quality MFC for your organization (from a retailer). And if you’ve made your list of organizational needs and processes and have decided that you’d be better off partnering with a private vendor, then why not give ClearView a call?  

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