Complete guide to choosing the right copier for your small business
In this guide we will go through:
- What a modern photocopier can do for your business
- Choosing the most suitable photocopier supplier
What a modern photocopier can do for your business:
Photocopiers have come a long way over the decades and now do much more than just copying. The modern business photocopier now has many functions of a computer, combining:
– Laser photocopying and printing
There are also features, such as high speed photocopying, sorting, hole punching and stapling, that can help bring to the office environment a noticeable increase in efficiency and productivity.
Analogue vs. digital:
Very few manufacturers still produce analogue copiers because there is little price difference between an analogue and digital photocopier and digital photocopiers have so many more advantages including that they:
Are multi-functional as a copier, scanner, network printer and fax machine,
Have less moving parts meaning fewer mechanical breakdowns,
Are quieter, and therefore more suitable for the office and
Produce far higher print quality.
A concern of some about digital photocopiers is how to use the technology. However, digital photocopiers are designed to be user friendly and with minimal training and easy to understand user guides, your staff will quickly get used to operating them.
What I need my office copier to do:
Almost all modern digital photocopiers are multifunctional as they can print, fax, and scan. Additional functions are normally sold as add-ons so that you can buy added functionality as and when you decide you need them and the durability of the modern photocopier means it can handle the added functionality without compromising performance. Also, by connecting the photocopier to your internal network your staff can copy, scan and even staple documents from the comfort of their desk, making for a more efficient and productive office team. Here are some other features of a modern multifunctional photocopier:
Feeders – Automatic document feeders (ADF) can photocopy a stack of originals by automatically pulling each page through itself, without the need to lift and lower the cover for every sheet you copy. Also, for those offices that copy a lot of double sided originals, re-circulating automatic document feeders do double sided copying.
Sorting – When a multifunctional photocopier is given multi tasks, at the end of each task the photocopies are placed in a single tray or offset against copies from other tasks, so that you can easily see where one set of copies end and another set begin.
Finishing – If you are going to be using a multifunctional photocopier for various tasks you may want to consider finishing features such as automatic stapling, hole punching, binding, folding and more.
Paper supply – If you copy and print in high volumes or want to copy onto different sorts of paper, such as letterhead, colour paper and paper of varying sizes without reloading the machine, then you need a multi-tray, high volume photocopier that will hold a variety of paper sorts simultaneously. The problem of paper jamming is unavoidable, but generally photocopiers of a higher quality are less likely to jam.
Image editing – As your documents are being copied, printed or scanned the machine can edit your documents. The photocopier is able to automatically number pages, add watermarks such as “confidential” or “copy,” or add date stamps. They can increase, decrease, rotate and combine originals, so for example you could put a four page document onto one page, or rotate scanned images to match the orientation of the available paper supply, saving on wasted time and paper from unanticipated errors.
Automatic sizing – This feature notes the dimensions of your original document and using reduction and enlargement setting allows you to copy, print or scan documents on a small or larger scale, while retaining its original dimensions.
Automatic shut-off – Almost all photocopiers now shut-off when they are not in use, saving money on your energy bills and reducing wear to prolong the life of the photocopier.
Security – Most modern photocopiers can be set up to require a user code before they can use the copier. This stops unauthorised usage and allows you to monitor the photocopier activities of each department. An additional function is for the photocopier to hold confidential documents in its memory until the correct code is entered, then print them. This prevents such documents being viewed by other copier users.
Wired and wireless connection options – You can also ask for a copier that has a wireless or USB interface so that you can set up a wireless network for your photocopier and connect laptops and storage devices.
Coloured copying – There are essentially 2 options here. A colour photocopier or a hybrid photocopier. The hybrid offers coloured printing when required, but uses black and white ink for documents where colour is not needed. Coloured ink is more expensive that black ink, so with a hybrid photocopier a business can save on the use and expense of coloured ink when it is not necessary. For these reasons, the office is the ideal place for a hybrid photocopier. However, for those that need high quality, high definition coloured copying, a colour photocopier is for you. Hybrid and Colour photocopiers that use high end technology will obviously be more expensive, but you will be paying for greater print speed and high print quality. Standard colour photocopiers come with additional editing features such as border erasing, image centering, colour adjustment and colour balancing.
It’s simple, if you are going to be using the photocopier to copy, print and scan high volume documents then you need a photocopier with enough memory to support these features and ensure that these features run effectively. Most photocopiers have a single cache of memory shared between all the function, while advanced photocopiers have individual caches for each function. If, for example, you do a lot of copying, but not so much printing or scanning, make sure the photocopier has a single cache memory or a high individual cache memory specifically for saving documents that have been photocopied. You can purchase more memory as your business requires it. But, make sure you chose industry standard memory because otherwise purchasing additional memory may be more difficult. If you are unsure how much memory you require, the best thing to do is talk to several photocopier suppliers, tell them what you use the photocopier for and how much you use it, and let them recommend what size memory you need. Photocopier memory is measured in RAM, so you will know what photocopier suppliers are talking about when they use this term to describe how much memory a photocopier has.
It is important to figure out your monthly copying output in order to find a photocopier that will not be overworked and therefore will last for longer and perform more efficiently on a daily basis. If you know how much you spend or will be spending on paper then you can have a clearer idea of your photocopier budget. To work this out look at your paper counter, normally found under the glass of your photocopier or look at your receipts for paper purchases. Also remember to consider your businesses future growth when assessing your photocopier’s volume requirements.
If you tend to make fewer than 1000 copies each month, then purchasing a small office copier will be fine for your needs and will be less expensive. However, if you do more copying than this then you will need a high volume photocopier. A floor standing photocopier costing upwards of £2,000 and will be able to produce 100,000 to 150,000 copies per month.
If you are in a fast pace business environment then you may wish to consider a high speed photocopier that will copy large volumes of documents quickly. Floor standing photocopiers costing £2,000 – £5,000 will have a have an output of 36 – 50 copies per minute (CPM), while high performance photocopiers priced at £5,000 – £10,000 boast output of 60 CPM and above. Also, if you print a lot of 1 time single copies, choose a photocopier with a high first copy speed.
The main consumables of a photocopier are toner, paper, drum kit and fuser kit. Standard toner cartridges cost between £65 and £85. Paper cost £2 to £3 for 500 sheets. Drum kits can be between £125 and £175, and fuser kits cost between £100 and £200. None are cheap, so we recommend that you buy toner and paper in bulk to make a healthy saving.
Most photocopiers run standard networking protocols, but we recommend that you consult your IT department to ensure the model you wish to buy is compatible with your network. Doing this now could save you a lot of problems in the long run.
Buy, rent or lease:
Most businesses rent their photocopiers. This is to avoid the significant capital outlay required to purchase one outright. If you only want a photocopier for temporary use then you must look for a copier without minimum terms regarding length of use, otherwise the lease will not allow your business to be as flexible as you may wish to be. Also check that you are entitled to free upgrades over time.
On the other hand, buying is cheaper in the long run, you have no monthly outgoings to worry about, apart from the running costs, and you have outright ownership of the machine immediately. However, there will be no free upgrades available when the photocopier goes out of date. This can be important because photocopier technology changes very quickly.
There is even the option of a Lease Purchase, so that you do not have to suffer a large initial capital outlay and after a number of monthly payments you own the photocopier. Nevertheless, the disadvantages remain that it is an inflexible payment option and you do not own the photocopier until your final payment.
Choosing a photocopier supplier:
There are many photocopier dealers, all offering deals at different prices on different terms, so getting a number of quotes in order to find the best deal is a good move. Once you have finished reading this guide let us save you time and money by finding you custom quotes from qualified photocopier companies near you. Once you are in touch with these suppliers you should compare them by considering the following:
Price & Service – The most important considerations when buying a photocopier are price and service and striking a good balance between the two. If your photocopier malfunctions, a cheap photocopier and service plan with little technical support may end up costing you more due to logistically problems and lost productivity in the long run. A reasonably priced photocopier of between £120 and £200 per month from a photocopier supplier that provides excellent technical assistance and a plan that allows for such support is what you should look for. Here are some questions you should ask these photocopier suppliers:
• How long have they been trading?
• Do they sell multiple brands?
• Which other companies do they supply?
• How long have their employees been working for them?
• What photocopiers are their best sellers and how long have they been selling them? (If the photocopier you are interested in is not a good seller, consider looking elsewhere because other photocopier suppliers will offer greater expertise.)
• What is their servicing, maintenance and repair policy and what is their repair response time limit.
• How many in-house technicians are available for this model in the local area?
Ask for references – Any reputable photocopier company will provide you with references. Also ask the contact on the reference whether the photocopier company has been reliable, prompt and most importantly, able to fix any problems as and when they have arisen.
Talk to the experts – Now you have asked questions to potential photocopier suppliers, as to speak to the technicians and ask them questions on how to prevent breakdowns. This is useful information to know and the technician’s response will give you an idea of his expertise.
Few photocopiers are sold at list price. Photocopier dealers are used to knocking between 10% and 20% off of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, so once you have found a couple of quotes that you like those dealers should be happy to negotiate.
Testing the copier before you buy:
Ask these photocopier dealers to bring the photocopiers you are interested in to your place of work and connect them to your network to ensure they work as you want them to. If the photocopier dealer cannot do this for you then visit the dealer and test the photocopier there and then. When you test the photocopier(s) assess how it / they handle the tasks that you do every day.
Low end photocopiers are sold by the large retail and online stores, but we suggest you avoid using them. The emphasis should be on ‘service’ when buying a copier and these retailers do not offer comprehensive preventative maintenance and ongoing support which is essential to ensure a fully functional photocopier that will allow for efficiency and high productivity in the work place.
There are several costs to consider when purchasing or leasing a photocopier including the cost of the service agreement and the running costs such as toner and paper.
Lease or purchase – If you purchase a photocopier then it is cheaper in the long run and you have no ongoing payment on top of the running costs. However, if you lease a photocopier then you free up money to invest elsewhere in the business.
You can purchase a basic photocopier for as little as £100, but if you are looking for a high copy resolution and work rate then expect to pay £2,000 and above. For a floor standing photocopier that produces 30 – 50 copies per minute (CPM) you may look to pay between £2,000 and £5,000. If you are buying a photocopier for office use then chances are you should be looking to pay between £2,000 and £10,000. If it is a multifunctional photocopier or high performance photocopier that you want then you should look to pay between £5,000 and £12,000. Beyond this there are photocopiers that can roll out 100 CPM that have professional printing hubs and take up 3 to 4 metres of space. These sorts of photocopiers can cost anywhere between £20,000 and £100,000.
To lease a standard performance photocopier producing between 35 CPM and 100 CPM then you can look to pay between £100 and £300 each month. These prices are based on a 5 year lease, however if the contract is shorter these prices will be higher.
Cost of servicing agreement – The cost of the servicing agreement depends on the below factors:
• Copy volume estimates – Part of the monthly cost will be based on your estimated copy volume. When it comes to leasing (including a lease purchase) and renting, be sure to read the small print. Many leases charge on a monthly pay per copy basis and the per copy rate gets cheaper the more copying you tell the supplier you will do. However, do not be tempted to overestimate this figure because in times of the year that you do not make as many copies as you have estimated, such as summer months when staff are on holiday, you do not get reimbursed the difference. If your copying requirements fluctuate from month to month, try to arrange a service plan that charges you only for the copies you make (pay as you go) or one based on your estimated annual, not monthly, number of copies. A fair dealer should agree to these terms.
• Coverage – All plans tend to cover costs of parts and labour for repairing and maintaining the photocopier. However, what parts are included in the plan differs from one photocopier dealer to another. Get a comprehensive list of what is and is not covered from a number of photocopier dealers so that you can compare plans and ensure you obtain adequate coverage.
• Emergency repairs – Find out whether the costs of emergency repairs are covered by your contract or whether you pay as and when you need repairs. In either case get written confirmation of response times, and if you are paying on an as-needed basis then check the cost of this service. Also find out if they will provide you with a replacement photocopier if your photocopier needs serious repairs that cannot be done on the spot.
• Future costs – The contract will state how future service costs are priced. Ideally they should not go up more than 8% per annum.
Consumables – As discussed above, the main consumables of a photocopier are toner, paper, drum kit and fuser kit. Standard toner cartridges cost between £65 and £85. Paper cost £2 to £3 for 500 sheets. Drum kits can be between £125 and £175, and fuser kits cost between £100 and £200. None are cheap, so we recommend that you buy toner and paper in bulk to make savings.
Generally, consumables such as toner are not included in the service contract. You can opt for a contract where the photocopier dealer also supplies the consumables. The benefit is that it is easier on the accounting, however it is about 20% more expensive than if you bought consumables from another source. If the convenience of the all-inclusive contract appeals to you, but the high price of consumables is an issue, a good tip is to let the photocopier dealers know that you are thinking of buying your consumables from an independent source and see if they can come up with a deal for you – after all they are used to negotiating.
We hope that this guide has been helpful and happy photocopying.
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