Things to Consider Before Buying

The copy needs of each business are different.  Before you speak with a vendor about purchasing a copiers, you should consider the following:

Copy Volume
Most vendors prefer to use CPC, or cost-per-copy programs. These arrangements charge for equipment, consumables (things like toner, ink, and paper), and services as one monthly fee, calculated as the cost of each copy.  The more copies you make, the higher the charge.  You can also pay for items individually, using separate vendors for consumables and purchasing a service contract separately.  Many businesses that buy refurbished equipment go this route. 

Machine life span is also calculated per-unit, so buying a used machine is a bit like buying a used car.  You’ll need to make sure the existing mileage is low enough to justify the cost savings.  It helps to know how much the machine will be used.  If you have a copy machine already, it should be fairly easy to determine your average use.  If not, consider how many copies you’ll be making on a monthly basis.  If you’ll be choosing an multi-functional copier, make sure you account for these costs, also.

This concern is related to copy volume.  If your business needs to produce a large amount of copies monthly, you’ll need a faster machine.  Machine speed is measured in “CPM” or copies-per-minute, or PPM (pages-per-minute).  Copiers can range from 15 to 100 pages per minute.  Higher speeds usually cost more and require more maintenance.  Most offices choose machines toward the middle of this range, with 20-25 CPM.  Remember, you should ask about speeds for black and white, color, and high-resolution copies, depending on the types of copies you will be making. 

Copy Needs
Different businesses have different copy needs.  If you’ll be producing brochures or marketing materials, such as letters to customers or fliers, consider whether you’ll need a color printer copier.  If so, what level of image quality are you comfortable with?  “Business Color” is the most basic level of color printing, where colors are not an exact match to document production program or Pantone colors.  This is fine for most businesses.  Many businesses, such as interior design firms and graphic designers, need colors to be an exact match.  Consider things like copying photos, mixed media (such as fabric or painted surfaces) and whether this will be necessary for your business.  Higher color density and document integrity are usually more expensive.

Many businesses keep track of copies made by different departments for billing reasons.  For example, most law firms will allocate copy and paper charges to clients.  Most copy machines provide “tracking” features, where a code can be assigned to a department, employee, or client matter.  If your business requires this type of document assignment, make sure you invest in a copier that provides this feature.  Frequently businesses also find that tracking copies by employee or department helps cut down on unnecessary copies.

Other Features
Consider whether a multi-function device, such as an all in one printer fax scanner copier, would be a good investment.  How do you currently print documents and receive faxes?  If employees each have a desktop printer or fax machine, this requires the purchase of multiple different ink cartridges, creating large amounts of plastic waste if they are not recycled.  The cost of printer/copier ink for one large machine is also far less, and “solid ink” or recycled and refillable toner cartridges are easier to purchase in bulk.  Make sure you consider other office printing needs, not just photocopies.

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