Text by Pat Gerbrandt
When considering the type of office equipment that will fill your business needs, evaluate your print requirements wisely, or you’ll have the money sucked right out of your jeans from the price of toner, and other consumables needed for printing and copying.
Print and copy technology, combined with computer capabilities, has revolutionized business communication. Gone are messy carbons and typewriter ribbons. Today, correspondence and records are easily generated. Electronic filing helps to reduce the amount of space required for storage, but hard copy is still essential for many aspects of business dealings.
If you use specialty paper or custom designed stationery, you will want your letters to be printed directly onto your letterhead. If however, you produce multiple copies of basic forms, a copier will suffice.
Don’t be misled by the costs quoted by many sales personnel. Industry data is based on 4% area coverage, so you may be told that you will be able to print 3,000 sheets before changing toner cartridges but that 4% is an unrealistically low estimate of ink usage. A very small, bold face logo alone could easily account for 10% of ink coverage. The more colorful the document, the higher the ink coverage required. Using CMYK could even increase the ink coverage to 400% if all four colors are needed.
The cost of using a printer rises if, as in the case of a very small business or for home use, it is not used regularly and the print heads dry out. Thus, additional expenditures are required to fix the problem or replace the printer. Cost effectiveness may vary from one brand of printer to another, as toner cartridges are not created equal or priced equal.
The actual cost per page of prints vary, depending on the amount of ink coverage required, but a very general comparison has a desktop printer costing you 7¢ per page, whereas a multifunctional copier/printer can provide that page at approximately 1.25¢. If a color photo is being printed, the cost per page can easily rise to 75¢ or more, as photos require very high ink coverage.
If you are choosing a printer, you need to know that while a laser printer is cheaper to operate than an inkjet model, the inkjet produces higher quality jobs. If speed is a significant factor, ask your supplier about the pages per minute capability of the machine you need. Although some companies will offer a printer at amazingly low prices with the purchase of a computer, the cost of using those printers may not fit your budget. Companies will even give away printers, because they know they will make the dollars back on supplies.
It is believed that right now, about 15% of businesses use color printers, but projections are that it will rise to 50% within just a couple of years. Many still choose costly outsourcing for color documents. Color cartridges increase the cost of printing considerably, but there is a realistic alternative.
For cost effectiveness and guaranteed service, consider leasing a printer/copier/fax machine from a local vendor. Ask them about their maintenance agreements. A maintenance agreement offers a flat rate, 1.5 cents for example, and this 1.5 cents includes toner, drums, parts, and on-site servicing. The company bills you based on how many prints and copies are made. Most companies will offer service within one business day.
Let’s say you spend $75.00 per cartridge and you use 1 approximately every month. You may consider leasing a desktop printer/copier/fax/scanner with a maintenance agreement. A desktop unit can be leased for around $40.00 a month, plus $7.50 maintenance. (500 prints @ 1.5 cents) The total cost is now $47.50, compared to $75.00 for the cartridge.
Approximately 80% of businesses are choosing to lease their copiers/printers. In addition to the per-page cost effectiveness is the advantage of being able to use the lease payments as a tax write-off. Also, it’s easier to upgrade to newer technology when leasing.
Your business communication will be enhanced by good quality print. You can copy me on that.