COPIER LEASE | 6.5 MIN READ
We've all been there. You need a copier and you need to find the best deal. So, like most people, you start getting quotes from a few vendors in your area so you can compare their offers and choose the best one. It sounds simple enough but you quickly realize that the prices vary more than you thought. How do you choose? Should you just go with the cheapest option or should you try to negotiate your copier lease with the higher bids to see if you can get a better deal?
Not a lot of time? Jump to what you need:
Before I go into how you should negotiate your lease, let's address a couple of common errors that consumers fail to notice when they're seeking copier lease quotes:
It is easy to glance at the bottom line number and assume that the lowest price is the best for your business. After all, copiers can't be that different from one machine to the other, right?
Yes, there are advantages to choosing one copier brand over the other, but that should be based on your business' overall goals. For instance, you may have high volume but don't need super high quality graphic printing. If you're a print shop, being able to print quality graphics is a must -- a CPA, not so much.
We go into greater detail about the best copier brands in another blog.
But if you are just focusing on the lease/contract itself, you may be shocked to find that the bottom line isn't always what it seems.
It can become easy to lose track of all the ideas a copier salesperson will suggest. They aren't all bad, either:
- 48 month contracts or 60 month contracts?
- 35 or 50 pages per minute?
- Quotes for color or black and white, only?
- Limits on the number of service calls per month or unlimited?
- A new machine that's discontinued or this year's model?
These are just a few things to look for in your copier lease proposal, and they all have a major impact on the bottom line. The truth is that there is a problem in the copier industry, today, and it starts with copier lease contracts. Too many companies will try to manipulate their contracts to make theirs look like the least costly option. Unfortunately, this means the customer loses.
The best approach is deciding which copier dealer you'd like to work with based on their reputation, infrastructure, and your overall enjoyment of interacting with them.
Most can often get to the price of competitors, if needed, but so often the difference in the monthly service price amounts to the cost of a single fast food meal.
Let me tell you a story.
We once competed for a bid and the customer told us we were much higher than the other company in the bid. We asked if we could see their proposal and they obliged (side note: let them see the proposal so they can better understand how to help you get where you want to be, financially).
To our shock (and eventually the customer's) the other vendor hadn't included color copies in their proposal (something that makes printing far more expensive), but the company needed color printing!
Needless to say, we won the bid, but it's important to look at your lease very carefully to ensure that you are truly comparing apples to apples.
RELATED: How Much Does a Copier Cost?
Keep in mind, the reason behind a copier dealer proposing a higher service price may be a valid one. They may pay their employees (aka the people servicing your machine) more. When dealers do this, they attract the best and brightest in their industry and their customers benefit.
Remember, your machine may be the cheapest deal out there, but if it's always down, you really aren't getting your money's worth.
One more story.
We find, often, that vendors will quote a new machine to a customer and be the lowest bid price because they are trying to sell a discontinued machine. Yes, technically it is still "in the box," but you're essentially purchasing a clearance item.
And that's OK, but only as long as you know that's what you're doing.
How do you know if you're doing this? Check and compare the model numbers with a simple online search. You can find out fairly easily how long the machine you were quoted has been sitting.
One quick note about used copiers.
They can be a great value! But they also make things a bit more complicated to compare. For instance, it is difficult to place a specific value on a used copier.
Why? Because used means out-of-box, but it may not actually be used. When a copier has been delivered and installed, it's officially used. Sometimes, companies get a machine delivered only to realize that a newer model has a feature that better meets their needs.
This results in a nearly brand new machine being sent back to the dealer, resulting in a very similar affect as driving a new car off the lot and immediately turning around to resell it. It simply isn't worth as much.
We have a much more detailed article discussing what to look for when purchasing a used copier, however, the main thing to consider when reviewing your lease is whether the machines are comparable.
Everything can be negotiated in a copier lease, but there is a limit to how low any company is willing to lower their price to earn your business. The most important thing to take away from this blog is that most vendors can get close to their competitors' numbers if they are comparing comparable models and service.
Service will often have the largest and most subjective range. Before asking a dealer to come down on their service price, however, ask yourself if their reputation with customers justifies that price.
As Ben Franklin once said, "the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
First, understand that in the copier industry, there are two types of sales people/companies: ethical and honest companies, and dishonest and sleazy companies. You want to do business with the former.
Remember what I said about first picking the company with whom you'd like to do business? When you begin your negotiating discussions, it's really easy to sense which company is out to win at all costs -- even if it means promising you the world (that they will never deliver).
Approach your negotiation in a respectful manner and be upfront and honest about your intentions. If a dealer believes you are just trying to drive the price as low as possible, they will be less eager to help you get where you want to go.
KNOW WHAT YOU NEED!
If your contract is being inflated because of special add-on's (to the machine or service), let the sales rep know that you aren't interested in those options, but also hear them out. Remember, they have worked with hundreds of other companies and may know of some cost saving options for you based on your situation.
Finally, understand the terms of your lease. Most service contracts can be canceled with 30-60 days notice unless the lease and service are lumped into one bill together.
Note that most service terminations must be hand written and received to become official. Copier leases (the agreement for the machine) cannot be canceled. Just like a car lease, you have to pay off the balance, even if you stop using it.
If you still aren't comfortable with negotiating your copier contract, feel free to reach out to us. We help businesses like yours get the most value out of their office technology every day and would be happy to offer some advice.
Posted by Daniel Gray
Daniel has a passion for educating and helping people and has spent over a decade in the education and office technology industries. He has a Bachelor's in Education from the University of West Georgia and an MBA from the University of Georgia. Daniel has been the lead blogger at SOS since 2017 and specializes in managed IT services, copiers and printers, and business phone systems. He lives in Atlanta and has a goofy greyhound named Ticker.