How to Write a Copier RFP [Complete Guide]

Submitted by Bernie Schom on Wed, 07/ 29/ 20 - 10: 50 AM

Copier RFP


One thing we know for sure is that crafting a quality Request for Proposal (RFP) is not an easy task and can take significant time to get it right. As a leader in the copier and printer industry, Standard Office Systems is here to offer this blog to help you, especially if you are writing one for a copier or multifunction device.

As a Vice President of Sales for an industry-leading copier and office technology dealer in the United States and winner of multiple RFP's, I will give examples on how to put together the best RFP for your organization that is specific to office technology, but the lessons learned are directly transferable to anyone drafting an RFP.

You may be new to your role or perhaps you haven't written a Request for Proposal (RFP) in a while and need a refresher. As a company who receives these requests from organizations often, we have the unique pleasure of seeing a variety of styles and levels of detail in the RFP's we receive.

Sometimes, the RFP's we receive leave out important considerations that should be requested to ensure organizations are getting the best value possible for the product or service they are requesting. This causes RFP's to be dramatically different and can create an "apples to oranges" scenario that creates an impossible decision.

This blog will help you understand what an RFP are as well as what to consider when writing one, and most importantly, how to write one. There's nothing worse than going through all of the trouble to create an RFP that gives plenty of detail in making sure you will get related and comparable bids, only to have pieces missing here and there from each Respondent.

If you've ever experienced the above scenario, let me encourage you to look inward. Sometimes, it's because the Respondent is not paying close enough attention. Other times, it is because the RFP wasn't clear or was missing valuable details that would have led to better bids.

Not a lot of time? Skip to what you need:

What is an RFP?

A Note About Copier Service

How to Write a Great Copier RFP 

Choosing the Right Respondent

What is an RFP?

An RFP [Request for Proposal] is used by businesses and organizations to request products or services from vendors in a uniform manner to ensure that an equal comparison can be evaluated.

These requests are popular within larger companies and government organizations - ex: school systems and county agencies - in the form of bid requests.

The intent of an RFP is to ensure that the organization has the opportunity to receive the best value for a service or product, while protecting them from variations in the proposal that could create extreme differences between Respondents, making it difficult (if not impossible) to choose.

Unfortunately, many companies and organizations forget important requests in their RFP's that allow for extreme variants from Respondents that muddies the bidding process.

A Note About Copier Service

Business Phone System Service

The basic functions of a copier (copy, print, scan, fax) are similar in quality from machine to machine compared to where they were when Xerox first came on the scene. So, if you're only looking for a machine with basic functions, how do you decide?

Well, price is one way to do it, but as you will discover, the price can even vary between multiple vendors offering the same brand. What causes this price fluctuation?


That's right, a great machine with poor service becomes a mediocre machine fairly quickly. It doesn't matter how reliable your machine is if during the time that it does break down you're waiting for over a week to get it serviced by your vendor.

"Well, I'll just cut out the middle man because a manufacturer should be able to offer the best service! After all, they built the machine, so they must know how to fix it the best?" (Customer thought process)

That makes sense, but what many people forget about is that manufacturers train their service technicians in the same programs as that of the independent dealers. And it goes much deeper than that, but I won't sidetrack in this article. You can read all about it in our blog about the differences between copier dealers and manufacturers.

If you're ready to purchase a copier, but you aren't sure what questions you should ask your dealer, take a look at our blog about the questions you should ask a copier dealer and check out the video. You'll be ready to go in no time!

"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." - Benjamin Franklin


RELATED: How Much Does It Cost to Lease a Copier in 2020?

How to Write a Great Copier RFP

By following the examples of a strong RFP outlined below, you can eliminate the back-and-forth that is often associated with an RFP that does not include everything that needs to be listed and most importantly choose the right Respondent with the greatest value.

Consider the following to ensure a strong RFP:

1. Introduction

2. Minimum Qualifications

3. Calendar of Events

4. Standard Terms and Conditions

5. Insurance Requirements

6. Proposal Procedures and Guidelines

7. Proposal Submittal Requirements

8. Evaluation of Proposals

9. Presentation/Demonstration

11. Exhibits

Exhibit A: Specific Requirements

Exhibit B: Current Copiers and Locations

Reference Sheet


The introduction should be a one-page company profile requesting proposals that also illustrates an overview of what is needed within the Respondent's proposal. This should be enough information to allow vendors to know if the proposal is something they should explore further.

It can also include how many copies should be sent with the original (sealed or otherwise), late submission penalties, or other stipulations that should be stated in advance (including the right to reject all submissions).

Minimum Qualifications

It is preferred that each Respondent be registered in your state of business and should provide evidence of their registration in the state. Respondents need to submit evidence of a minimum of 5 years’ experience with similar projects.

Respondents should also submit completed E-Verify Documents, Security and Immigration Compliance Act forms and Contractor Affidavit and Agreement forms, all supplied by you.

Calendar of Events

The Calendar of Events should include an Action and a Deadline. This section of the RFP is important because it clearly lays out a timeline of deadlines that must be met so that you can complete your project on time.

Below is an example:


Standard Terms and Conditions

How strict your terms and conditions are in your RFP will depend on how available quality vendors are in your market. The more plentiful, the more strict you can be with your terms and conditions.

In other words, more strict terms and conditions will thin out the number of vendors who will attempt to place a bid for your business. If you want to ensure you have a variety to choose from and are more willing to accept alternative solutions/terms, then consider leaving terms and conditions more open-ended.

Below is an example of terms and conditions that could be placed in a copier RFP. However, the actual terms and conditions you place will be based on the needs of your business:


Insurance Requirements

All RFP's require insurance. This protects your company in case something were to happen beyond your company's control. For instance:

  • A vendor's employee injures themselves on your property during installation
  • A vendor damages your business' building (like a wall) or equipment during the installation

It's important to ensure that your organization is covered in these situations so that you are not potentially held responsible financially for something that happens on your property that is beyond your control.

Below is an example of what you could be asking for based on your organization’s needs:

Proposal Procedures and Guidelines

It is important to be very clear as to how you wish for deliverables to be presented to you. This also ensures that each vendor is getting a fair timeline and equal treatment. 

This makes it much easier for a business to make a decision because it ensures vendors are playing by the same rules, thus making it easier to compare "apples to apples" so to speak.

Below is an example to use for the submission of RFP's, keeping in mind that some of the statements in the sample below may not be required for every RFP or for every industry:


Proposal Submittal Requirements

The more information you give the Respondents, the more accurate each RFP received will be to your organization's needs, making it easier to evaluate. See the below example:


Evaluation of Proposals

For your own sanity (to avoid having to answer this question later) and the fairness of all involved, it is good to include information on how proposals will be evaluated. This manages expectations and keeps the RFP process as objective as possible

The example below demonstrates how a written statement regarding the evaluation process might look:



In most cases (particularly with office technology), you want to leave yourself open for the opportunity of an actual presentation with vendors who have satisfied the initial requirements of the proposal.

This is important because it allows for more organic dialogue and gives the vendor and yourself opportunities to ask more detailed questions so that adjustments in the proposal can be made where appropriate.

For example:


Exhibit A: Specific Requirements

If you want the highest quality responses possible with the best options and pricing it is very important to give as much information as possible about your current fleet. You want to list all the minimum requirements.

Additionally, it is very important to identify all the equipment you have by model, quantity, location and monthly or annual volumes in both black & white and color.

It is also very important to list the accessories per device. It is a good idea to ask for some accessories to be priced separately so you can compare pricing accurately, as not every vendor is going to list the same accessories, creating wildly different overall pricing when combined.

Respondents will try to price the least expensive version of the device they are proposing so it is extremely important to include everything you want in the RFP so you can compare fairly. An example would be stating that all copiers must be able to print 11” x 17”. Now all Respondents know they must quote A3 equipment and all Respondents will be on the same page.

It is now very standard to include solutions (hardware, software, and accessories) in the copier RFP's. Be very specific about the solution you are looking for.

An example might include the following:


Exhibit B: Current Copiers and Locations

This is one of the most important aspects of receiving the best value. If at all possible, you should include a list of all your current models, quantities and monthly or annual volumes.

By doing this you are ensuring the right models are being proposed based on your volumes. It is a good idea to ask for two options:

  • A "like for like" replacement
    • This is great when you feel the models you currently lease meet the needs of your organization (including uptime) 
  • Replacements based on volumes
    • Gives your vendor the freedom to analyze your output and make machine recommendations based on your actual needs (which may create cost savings down the road)

Reference Sheet

Copier Dealer References

You should ask for a minimum of 3-5 references of whom the Respondent has provided a similar scope of work.

The references should include the company, address, contact, title, phone number and e-mail. It should also list how long they have been a customer and the scope of work performed.

Choosing the Right Respondent

Choosing a Respondent

Ok - price should be high on the list, but is getting the lowest price really the most important thing? Consider two scenarios:

Company A chose a copier and vendor based on the lowest RFP price. On the surface, it appeared the machine met the operational needs of the proposal, but in reality, the RFP did not include enough specific information about the needs of the company for vendors to offer them a tailored solution. Ultimately, Company A ended up spending more money per month due to reduced efficiency and opportunity costs.

Company B chose a copier and vendor after a very clearly outlined RFP, making it easier for them to choose between comparable solutions that met their organization's needs. The vendor that was chosen may not have been the cheapest option, but the overall cost was still within the budget. Their copiers are operating 98.9% of the time without issue, and when there is an issue, a technician is on-site within 24 hours to get the machine back up and running. They may include additional costs within their RFP for software solutions that make the total cost higher, but create greater efficiency with your users.

Which company would you choose?

My guess is that you would choose Company B's scenario, but so many companies fall into the trap of Company A.

The most important take away from the scenarios above is that a clear RFP is the only way you can easily make a decision. Vague requests often lead to wildly different proposals, making your decision that much more challenging.

If you have further questions on how to construct a great RFP that will help meet your needs and assist in meeting company goals:

Get Your Questions Answered Now


Posted by Bernie Schom


Copier Leasing