Paperless office of the future? Ha! Truth is, we use paper more than ever, thanks to the proliferation of desktop computers at work. And generating documents almost guarantees a demand for stacks of fresh copies. The copy machine will be an office fixture for a while yet.
But buying a business photocopier can be confusing. Will you need color? How much volume? Printing, faxing, scanning? Do you need new copiers or will used copiers or refurbished copiers do? These are all important questions that will tip your price point up or down by hundreds of dollars. It will determine, too, how much maintenance your small office copy machines could require. Take the common-sense route toward making your office photocopier as productive yet cost-effective as possible.
Watch Out for Home-Office Copiers That Really Are For Home
The office supply superstores are full of desktop printer/fax/copiers that seem to be a good deal but, they are usually designed for occasional, non-professional use. Prepare to buy a professional-grade copy machine that is worth the investment.
Brush Up on Leasing Lingo for Copiers
You will learn quickly that most businesses lease copy machines rather than buy, to protect themselves from upfront costs and changing technology.
Stand Alone or Networked Copiers?
It's a rare small office that can afford to buy two big pieces of capital equipment when one will do. If you office computer system is networked, then a multi-function copier that is part of your PC network is your best bet. You can print to the same machine that copies. A copier that doesn't print is called a stand-alone and is often cheaper, but it's also often less useful.
Consider Bundling Your Costs on Copy Machines
The latest trend in small business is to capture some of the return big companies get by outsourcing tech. In the copier world, that means signing one deal for everything: hardware, installation, maintenance and supplies, like ink and toner for copy machines, then paying one flat monthly rate
Check out Deals on Used Copiers and Refurbished Copiers
Dealers offer deep discounts and warranties on name-brand copy machines. See the dealer directories on Business.com for used copiers and refurbished copiers.
Use copy machines lot at once, then a little for a month?
Copiers – real copiers – cost as much as new cars. If that's out of range, and your business tends to make batches of copies, like restaurant menus, brochures, flyers or stacks of sales presentations, consider buying a cheaper home office printer (practically free if you bundle with a new PC!) and instead use print shops for high-volume photocopier work.
- A needs analysis is vital. You won't be able to intelligently buy copiers if you have no idea how much you use copiers now, nor might in the near future. Do you collate, staple, and print front-and-back?
- Technology changes fast, but there's no need to spend on features you absolutely will not use. For instance, if color copies don't figure into your business, buy black and white. Color ink is expensive, and color copiers can be more temperamental.
- Price ink cartridges before you sign off, as well as any maintenance contract fees. Those two items alone can turn your great deal on copy machines into a stinker.