The Multifunction Device (MFD): Worth it for Small Businesses?


The Multifunction Device (MFD): Worth it for Small Businesses?

While the dream of the paperless office is getting closer every day, the fact is, most businesses still rely on paper processes daily. Even companies who are dedicated to creating a paperless environment and using document management systems or workflow software still have hard copy documents that need to be scanned into their database or occasionally printed. 

Multifunction printers, also called MFDs (multifunction devices) not only print and scan but have copying and faxing capabilities. Today, MFDs are available at many different price points. While some have a low cost of entry, when considering an MFD, it’s essential to look beyond the initial price and understand the total lifetime cost of ownership.

Understanding the Total Costs of Ownership (TCO)

Calculating the total cost of ownership can help you to accurately budget for the price while choosing the model that best fits your business needs. There are several factors to consider when determining TCO. Here are some things to consider when doing your due diligence.

Make Sure It Meets Your Needs

This should be your first consideration. Investing in an MFD that can’t handle the workload is an investment not worth making. Be sure to define your needs first. Consider:

  • Do you need to print, scan and fax from the device?
  • Do you need colour output?
  • Do you use various paper sizes or just letter?
  • Does the equipment meet your current needs, and is there room to grow?

MFDs are designed with a recommended volume range. If the device you choose has a volume range significantly below your actual usage, while it may cost less upfront, it may need replacement sooner or experience problems needing repair, increasing the TCO.

Should You Lease or Purchase?

When comparing models and manufacturers, make sure that all devices are outfitted with the same capabilities, software and accessories. Prices can vary widely depending on how a device is configured.

Once you’ve narrowed your choices, the question becomes should you lease or buy? Most businesses choose to lease with a three to five-year term rather than purchasing outright.

Technology changes rapidly, and the MFD you choose today may be outdated in just a few years. Leasing allows upgrades as new technology is released. The lower upfront costs also reduce cash requirements. While you may pay more interest on a lease, you have no capital tied up in the investment and leased equipment can be treated as an operating expense.

Download The Guide to Controlling Printing Costs

Consumables Costs

The next consideration is the cost of consumables. As a general rule, colour output costs more than black and white, and smaller units (consumer models, or small business models) usually have higher toner and ink costs per page of output than larger printers.

For smaller units, often the only action is to purchase new consumables from a retailer or vendor. With larger devices that run on toner, you have more options such as new compatible cartridges, and remanufactured cartridges. This will often reduce your costs over the life of the device.

Service and Replacement Parts

Just like your car, your MFD will need regular service, including parts, to keep it operating correctly. As an MFD ages, the frequency and cost of maintenance will tend to increase.

If you have a warranty, how long does it last and what is covered? Do you have to bring the device back to the manufacturer for service?

If possible, try to get a cost per copy agreement that covers onsite labour, parts and toner. This is an effective way to budget costs, and for your service provider, is an incentive to keep your machine at peak efficiency to minimize calls and expenses.

Paper Costs

Finally, you will need to purchase paper. Paper comes in a variety of paper sizes, weights and quality, and the cost can vary widely. Be sure to invest in a quality paper.

Poor quality paper (or paper stored improperly) can cause problems with your equipment, decreasing efficiency and increasing costs. Choosing the right paper can save you over the long term.

Should a Small Business Invest in a Multifunction Device?

As you can see, there is much to consider when buying or leasing a multifunction device for your office. While off-the-shelf retail units may look attractive due to their lower price of entry, they can actually cost you more over the long-term. Lower-Priced box store units typically have a much higher TCO due to issues like downtime, more frequent maintenance, and higher consumables costs.

Leasing or buying a commercial grade MFD with a cost-per-copy agreement can deliver a lower cost-per-page and a much lower TCO over the life of the device. In the end, a small business could save time, frustration, and money by buying or leasing a commercial-grade MFD.

Let Office Interiors Help!

If you’re considering an MFD for your office, give us a call! Our team can help you choose the device that best fits the unique needs of your business. We carry a complete line of multifunction devices from the industry’s top manufacturers

Already own an MFD and looking to control your business’ printing costs, download our “Guide To Controlling Printing Costs.”

Cory Porteous
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development
Office Interiors

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