COMMERCIAL COPIERS | 5 MIN READ
Are you trying to decide if you should purchase a commercial copier or settle for the cheaper upfront cost of a small office multi-function copier (MFC)? If so, then you should read this article, first, before making an investment. By doing so, you might be saving yourself a great deal of headache, and of course, money!
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I entered the office technology industry 26 years ago, immediately after graduating college. 26 years ago, it was more commonly referred to as the copier industry, but as office copiers and technology in the workplace has evolved over the decades, they truly provide so much more than copying.
Now, we refer to copiers as multifunction printers.
Today's copiers are connected to our networks with special security features, high definition printing capabilities, and can even email, create attachments, print from our mobile devices, and edit documents right from the display screen (yes, you can open a Word document on some machines and make edits)!
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One of the questions I have been asked repeatedly over the years is “Why shouldn’t I just save the money and get the ones I see at Staples, Office Depot, etc.?”
Back when I first began in this industry, the 5 areas that I identified as customers' main buying points were:
5. Ease of Use
Nearly three decades later these are still the top five buying concerns people have. But did you know that manufacturers are putting many of the same features and capabilities in small office/home office multi-function printers that previously were only seen in commercial copiers ?
Small business copiers typically won't offer features like stapling or hole punch, but will offer copy, print, scan and fax. If you've decided those features are all you need, then the biggest concern is most likely, price!
Over the years, I have seen many clever campaigns from different vendors. I think the best one I saw was from one of the major manufacturers which offered 3 years of free, onsite service for anyone that purchased a commercial copier from their business.
The only catch was you that had to buy Genuine [Manufacturer's] Toner or the warranty would be voided. Customers repeatedly were lured by this great strategy. Their toner ran $250/bottle and had a yield of 10,000 copies.
This would put the cost per copy at $0.025 per page (2.5 cents). The rest of the copier industry refused to give free service, but still only charged $0.015 per page (1.5 cents).
DEALERS WERE 40% LESS!!! Yet, this manufacturer was kicking everyone's butts. It took dealers and customers, alike, a while to figure out what was going on, but eventually we were able to help customers understand the difference.
As the old saying going “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!!”
In the long run, that manufacturer appears to have lost the battle as we continue to see market share for them drop.
Back to answering the original question: “Why should a company spend more for a commercial copier vs. small business copier?
Interestingly enough, the marketing campaign mentioned above happens to be the answer. To be clear, I don’t think today’s copier manufacturers are trying to fool their customers as much as trying to give them a low cost alternative on equipment. All of this with the ultimate goal of staying competitive and gaining market share.
A lot of the value in buying commercial copiers lies within the cost per copy. The least expensive MFP’s available today (from an equipment cost perspective) are ink jets. These devices can copy, print, scan and fax, and you can pick them up for around $50-100!
As long as you plan to use these devices for outgoing faxes and scanning to your computer, then they're a good buy. But if you plan to print or copy on these devices then plan to spend around $0.10 per black and white print, and if it's a color PowerPoint presentation, you would probably be better to just go to a UPS Store and pay $0.89 per image.
The reality is that if you are operating an inkjet printer in an effort to save money, then you need to ensure you have extremely low volume to see that value. As an unbiased party (we sell inkjet and toner products), this is the reality of inkjet printers.
Next in line from a cost perspective are the laser technology products. Retail outlets have these devices priced between $500-1,000 (or more), while the almost exact same commercial copier is twice as expensive.
So why should anyone pay twice as much if the products are almost the exact same? While the features and capabilities are the same the difference is in the toner that each device takes.
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Just this morning our manufacturer's rep came in to introduce a new product; a smaller desktop device with rich features and a great price for the capabilities it offers.
After the meeting I decided to look and see if this model was available in the retail distribution channel, as well.
Guess what? It was and half the price!!
It did have a few differences, like the display screen size and overall machine speed being slightly slower, but not much.
So, then I decided to take a look at the toner cartridges.
While it was much harder to find the small office model's toner cost and yield, I finally discovered it. It’s cartridge was $220 and had a yield of 10,000 images/cartridge.
The commercial model our company also sells was $260 and had a yield of 51,500 images per cartridge (at 5% page yield). While the price for the cartridge was close to the same, the commercial model had 5 times the yield!!!
If your company copies or prints over 2 reams of paper/month (1,000 sheets), then I recommend you consider the more expensive commercial model because you are going to pay for it anyway in supplies if you don't.
If you choose a commercial model with a service agreement, then the installing service provider will supply nearly everything needed to run your copier.
This includes everything except the paper that goes in the device. All parts, labor and supplies. Plus, they will deliver it to your door and install it so that you are able to copy, print, and scan to network folders, scan to email, and set up fax forwarding to email.
Print jobs are then only printed if you choose (which is a great benefit if you've ever hit the print button on your computer too soon - a feature that saves your company money).
RELATED: How Much Does a Copier Cost?
The closest analogy I could make is if this were a car.
You could get the car for half-price, but you may have to pay 5 times as much in gas. If the car breaks down, you'll have to pay for all the parts and labor.
So, if you know you only drive the car to church and to the grocery store, then it would probably make sense to get the car based simply on the lowest sticker price.
But if you have to drive it to work every day and you need to be able to depend on it for much more use, then it would save you money and headaches by paying more for upfront vs paying for it many times over during the lifetime that you own the car.
The similarities are there. The truth: smaller machines are less efficient, but that doesn't mean everyone should choose the largest and most expensive model available.
Consulting with an expert at your local copier dealer is the best path forward so that you can be informed of the actual volume each machine is designed to handle. Choosing a machine that fits your needs is the best long-term cost solution.
If you need a second opinion or just have a simple question about your next office machine, we're here to help!
Posted by Scott Sinkler
Scott Sinkler is a Standard Office Systems Strategic Account Manager and has been helping businesses with their office technology needs from over 20 years.