COPIER DEALERS | 5 MIN READ
Most people that work in an office environment don’t think about their copier on a day to day basis. There are two main reasons that can cause this to change: the machine is broken down or the time has come for a new one.
Today’s marketplace is saturated with a multitude of vendors that could sell you a copier. In the Atlanta area alone, there are over 30 vendors that want nothing more than to earn your business. So how do you go about choosing which copier dealer near you is best?
Not a lot of time? Jump to what you need:
Copiers All Do the Same Thing... Mostly
Copier Service from Your Dealer is King
Industry Standard Means Average
Tenure in the Copier Industry
Copier Manufacturers: What to Know
Copier Lease Financing Comparison: Third-Party vs In-House
The Take Away
Weather it's a Canon, Konica, Sharp, or Ricoh, nearly all office copiers can perform the same basic functions. They all have the ability to print, scan, copy, and fax. Yes, there are different flavors as far as your speeds and accessories go, but beyond that, the distinguishing differences are quite small.
Granted, there are companies out there that have certain jobs that require unique features. And this may filter out some of the copier brands available.
However, in most cases this eliminates picking a vendor solely based on the brand of equipment they sell. If the majority of copiers are very similar, what differentiates the vendors that sell them?
If you've never worked for a copier company before (and most haven't) then you may not realize that it is a 100% service-based industry. As I mentioned before, there are only 2 real reasons to make someone think about their office copier. The most common reason is when it isn't working.
A downed copier can cause hours of lost production (which translates to company dollars wasted). That’s why the most important part of choosing a copier is the vendor that will be supporting it. Even the best machines in the world break down. It's important there is a reliable company backing the product when it does.
When speaking with a copier vendor, here are some key questions that will quickly help narrow the field when determining if a vendor is right for your business:
- What is your average time to resolution on a network issue?
- What is your average time to resolution on a hardware issue?
- Can you show me the metrics from your service calls over the last 30 days?
- How do you track your service record?
- What's your field tech to customer ration?
- Can my service calls be fixed remotely?
When you speak to potential vendors about their service response you may hear them say the phrase “Industry Standard” in regard to their response time. Industry standard is just another way of saying “our response time is average”.
There are plenty of companies out there that can meet the industry standard. Look for those that go above and beyond to separate themselves from the norm.
The companies that have been doing it the longest are generally some of the best around. The same statement holds true for copier vendors. Copier dealers are constantly popping up and being purchased or sold.
Much like your personal home loan, a company’s service contract can also be sold. Imagine leaving the office under one vendor and when you return a new one is in its place. Therefore, it's important to select a company that is vetted in your marketplace.
In the copier industry, there are two avenues in which manufactures bring their products to market.
One of these ways is known as the direct route. This is a sales team that is hired by the manufacturer to sell and service their product. The other way is through independent licensed dealerships. These dealerships are certified to sell and service specific brands they partner with.
A common question that arises as a result of this distribution model is “Surely the manufacture has the best pricing and service available right?”. The answer is no, not always.
A common list of misconceptions about the Manufacture Direct Branch Model Vs the Dealership Model are as follows:
“The manufacture’s technicians know the machines better.”
· Dealer technicians undergo the same training as technicians trained by the manufacture and receive all of the same certifications.
“Direct selling models are cheaper"
· When a dealer agrees to partner with a manufacturer to sell their product, they guaranteed to receive the same pricing as the direct branches.
“The manufacturer is larger and would better able to handle my account”
· While on a national level this may be true (but not always), it certainly isn't factual in individual marketplaces. There are many dealers that are larger in size than a manufacturer’s direct branch in a particular location.
There are more copier dealer and manufacturer myths, but these are the most common.
Many companies choose a copier leasing company to finance their copier machine purchase.
When you enter into a lease agreement you are signing a contract with a bank that funds the upfront capital for the equipment. For the term of the lease, you are responsible for making payments to the bank.
In most cases, the bank that you entered into an agreement with is not local and can be difficult to contact should you have questions or issues. There's also no flexibility or personal relationship. You are a number.
Some copier vendors have the ability to offer in-house financing. This allows for quicker turn around on issues, greater flexibility, and a sense of local accountability.
If a vendor you are considering has this available, it's an added value.
The vendor that services your copier is the most important thing you are paying for when you buy or lease a machine.
Remember, a great machine with average or below average service becomes a very mediocre machine.
Make sure that you ask plenty of service related questions when speaking to a potential vendor. When a Sales rep states, “we have the best service in town,” be sure to ask them how they keep track of this.
Don’t be satisfied with “Industry Standard”. There are companies out there that are constantly raising the bar and redefining great service. Look for in-house financing options if they are available.
Last, do your research on the company. In many cases, the manufacturer may not be the best option available. Time-in-business matters. The longer the company has been around, the more likely they will be able to provide great service and not be sold to a competitor.
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Posted by Mat Parker
Mat Parker is a Strategic Account Manager at Standard Office Systems of Atlanta and has been a professional in the office technology industry for almost five years. Mat lives with his wife and three fur babies in Georgia.