A Tool for Productivity, Not Just Printing
What is a multifunction printer (MFP) or copier?
Modern multifunction printers (MFPs), also known as copiers, are devices that can copy, print, scan and (usually) fax, though they are used most often for the printing of office documents.
MFPs are a critical tool for every office, not just to print digital files into physical documents, but as the gateway to turn physical images and texts (think invoices, proposals, diagrams, etc.) into digital data that can be stored in the cloud and accessed by your team where and when they need it.
But when there are many major copier manufacturers, each touting dozens of different copier models that can range in price from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, how on earth do you decide which is right for your business?
Keep reading to learn from our experiences (and occasional mistakes) selling thousands of MFPs to businesses all across the Maritimes so that by the time you reach the end of this page, you know everything you need to be confident in your next purchase of a copier.
How to choose the right MFP for your business
Deciding to buy (or lease) a new MFP is a big decision. Not only is it a significant capital investment, but your team will be relying on this equipment for the next three to five years.
If you don’t buy the right device, you could either end up spending thousands more than you needed or leave your team struggling with a malfunctioning or inefficient device, negatively substantially impacting productivity.
To make sure you choose the right MFP, you must first consider these five points:
- How Much Will You Be Printing?
Determining your monthly printing volume is one of the most critical steps in deciding which device is right for you. A device that is not built to handle your volume will be prone to breakdowns, and a copier that is built for much larger volumes than you expect will come with a much higher sticker price as well.
- What is Your Budget for a Copier?
We all know that what we want, what we need, and what our budget will allow does not always match. Finding the right balance between the three is key to making a purchase you will enjoy for years to come.
- The Cost of Supplies
Over time toner cartridges can add up to a significant expense and are an essential factor in determining your MFP’s total cost of ownership. Another factor to consider is whether the vendor you are buying your MFP from has a simple and expedient process for ordering replacement cartridges.
- Choosing a Reputable Brand
Seven brands have been building the copiers that keep the business world running for decades, and ultimately, they all have reasonably comparable reputations for reliability and manufacturing quality. Make sure to buy your next device from one of these significant manufacturers.
- Will it Work with Your Existing Equipment?
Are you a Mac office or a PC office? Does it even matter when choosing a copier? (Hint… It does). Ensuring compatibility with the existing equipment in your office is essential. Ask your vendor to answer this question and don’t sign on the dotted line until you have an answer.
Should I buy a smart device?
New “smart” multifunction printers are now engineered with hardware that can support periodic software updates to upgrade the functionality and enhancements over the life of the device.
This allows more complex document workflows such as scanning documents into a cloud document management system to be implemented. But smart devices don’t just stop there. They can also be configured to have their Antivirus capabilities, further protecting your business from cyber threats.
While these features sound great to have, should they matter to your business?
You should consider a Smart MFP if your business ticks any of the following boxes:
- Uses integrated cloud-based applications (for example, Office 365).
- Requires more advanced IT security.
- Or is trying to give your employees the benefit of working remotely.
Colour or black & white? Which copier is right for you?
Ultimately, the decision to buy a colour or a monochrome (black & white) multifunction printer is a trade-off between capabilities (the ability to print in colour) and cost (colour devices cost much more).
If you want to get into the weeds about why a colour copier is so much more expensive than a comparable monochrome copier, we thoroughly explore that question in another article, but for this article, let’s all assume we understand that colour devices are noticeably higher in price.
Before committing to either a monochrome or colour MFP, you should ask yourself two key questions:
- What is the primary purpose of this device? Is it to print internal, text-based documents or to produce externally facing visuals, graphics, proposals and reports?
- When you do currently print in colour, is colour necessary to the function of your business (colour documents are required to land new business or service existing customers) or is it merely used out of convenience?
If you determine that your colour printing is primarily for convenience purposes, but you do not want to give up the ability to print in colour completely, you can save money by purchasing a monochrome copier and supplementing the ability to print in colour with a small desktop dedicated colour printer.
Desktop printers require less service, are much less expensive to purchase and are more than suitable for small volume, convenience printing.
How much does a multifunction printer cost?
In the broadest sense, a commercial-grade MFP could cost anywhere from $4000 to $16,000, but a range that vast doesn’t exactly help you budget how much you need to buy your business a new device.
There are a variety of factors that can influence how much a copier is going to cost; however, the primary factor that most impacts your final price is how many pages you intend to print every month (your monthly printing “volume”).
Your volume is used to determine the “size” of the device that will best fit your business’s needs. Buy an MFP that is too small, and it will quickly become prone to breakdowns and require hefty maintenance bills, buy one that is too large, and you will end up paying for a device that you can’t get the most out of.
Copier manufacturers use print speed, or ppm (pages per minute), to roughly categorize the “size” of a device. Let’s examine how much you should budget for each MFP category as well as the monthly volume each device is designed to handle.
- 25 ppm MFP – $4000 to $7000. A 25 ppm device is designed to handle volumes of 4000 to 7000 pages per month.
- 30 ppm MFP – $6000 to $10,000. A 30 ppm copier is suitable for volumes between 7000 and 9000 pages per month.
- 40 ppm MFP – $9500 to $13,000. You want a 40 ppm MFP is your monthly volume is 9000 to 12,000 pages per month.
- 50 ppm MFP – $12,000 to $16,000. The beast of commercial copiers, a 50 ppm device can handle volumes as large as 15,000 or 20,000 pages per month.
Should you buy or lease your new MFP?
So, you have decided that a new multifunction printer is a good investment for your business. The next decision you face is determining whether you should lease this new equipment or buy it outright.
There is no correct one-size-fits-all decision; the right call depends on your business’s financial structure and objectives. However, there are a few typical pros and cons to each option to help guide your decision.
Pros and cons of buying a copier outright
The primary benefit of buying your new MFP is that you now own the asset. When or if you decide to upgrade your device, you are free to sell it and recoup some of the investment.
Another potential benefit of buying your copier is that, since it is now an owned asset, you can usually depreciate the purchase price (always check with an accountant to verify this for your specific locale).
The obvious downside to buying the device is that you need to come up with the cash to purchase it upfront. Do you have enough cash on hand to cover such a considerable one-time expense, or will you finance the purchase? If you decide to finance the purchase, how does the interest rate of your loan compare with the interest rate of leasing the device?
Pros and cons of leasing a copier
Electing to lease a new multifunction printer has a few benefits over purchasing it. The advantage that draws most businesses attention is the ability to spread the purchase out over the life of the device into small, predictable monthly payments.
Since each of the payments is much smaller, some businesses find that they can afford a device that is larger or contains more advanced features than they may otherwise.
The other notable benefit of leasing over buying your MFP is the ability to treat your monthly lease payments as an expense for tax purposes.
On the flip side, however, a lease does include an interest charge bundled into the monthly payment. This means that the total cost of leasing a device (throughout the lease) is typically higher than had you bought the device upfront with cash.
A lease agreement will typically also require you to purchase a service contract for your new equipment. Since the leasing company will own the MFP at the end of the lease, they want to ensure that the device is appropriately cared for and is not devalued by improper maintenance.
Is it better to purchase through a local dealer or direct from the manufacturer?
Almost every major copier brand can be bought either directly from the manufacturer or through a local reseller or dealership. Is there a reason to buy from one over the other?
First, let’s compare prices. Typically, the manufacturer will offer a slightly lower sticker price than a local dealership. After all, the dealership does need to include a margin for themselves.
Where a dealership makes its argument for your business is by providing additional value beyond just the lowest possible purchase price.
The manufacturer is in business to do one thing, build and sell as many devices as possible. A quality dealership stays in business by ensuring that they only sell their customers the right equipment. The dealership has a local presence that allows it to get to know the unique needs of your business.
Another important consideration is the ability to provide service support for your device. Does the manufacturer have localized dispatch support and service technicians, or is it all done through remote or third-party providers? Local dealers, on the other hand, have a local service team and a generally able to provide much more timely and accurate service support.
While we have nothing against any of the manufacturers, they all make robust equipment, at Office Interiors, we believe that their globalized nature does not make them the best bet for a local SME. We recommend that any business that is not a big government or multinational corporation purchase their office equipment from local dealers that will be able to provide local service support.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of why we feel this way, check out our article, Where to Buy Your Next Copier: Dealers vs Manufacturers (How to Choose).
Do you really need to buy a service contract?
The short answer? Almost always, yes. The long answer? Well, let’s take a look…
What is a service contract?
A service contract is simply a contract you purchase from your vendor that will protect your device beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. The typical comprehensive service contract includes:
- Break/fix repairs
- Preventative maintenance
- Replacement parts
- Standard consumables such as toner cartridges
When is it a good idea to buy a service contract?
While the service contract will be an additional expense you need to account for when buying your new MFP, there are a few situations where they can add a lot of value and protect your investment.
- You lease your copier – Most leasing companies will require you to protect their assets by purchasing a service contract to ensure the device is maintained correctly.
- Your copier is essential to the daily functioning of your office – If your device were to malfunction and require repair, how disruptive to your business would that downtime be? Customers with a service contract typically receive priority repair service.
- You prefer a predictable billing model – Your service contract will be billed at a consistent interval based on the pre-negotiated rates rather than invoiced ad-hoc after a service technician has worked on your device.
When can you get away without buying a service contract?
While here at Office Interiors, we can undoubtedly be considered proponents of the benefits of a service contract, we also recognize that they are not the right fit for every situation. Here are a few of the cases where we most often suggest you do not bother with a service contract.
- Your MFP is a convenience printer – These devices usually sit on someone’s desk and is only used to save a trip to primary office MFP when printing documents.
- You have very low print volumes – If you use your copier only infrequently, an extended breakdown may not cause much frustration.
- Your device is easy/inexpensive to replace – A small MFP or printer that can easily be replaced at a big box store for almost the same price as a new ink or toner cartridge likely is not worth covering with a service contract.
Want some help with selecting your new MFP?
Have you read through all this information and still feel nervous about pulling the trigger on a new copier? No worries, one of our experts can guide you through the process from start to finish.
Just request your free office technology consultation, and one of our tech experts will sit down with you to estimate your monthly printing volumes, assist in determining which device is the best fit for that volume, select the optional features and configurations best suited to your business’ needs and provide a price for it all. All you need to do is ask!
Alternatively, if you already know what you want and only want to know how to order, we can help with that too!