When it comes to pricing out a copier for your office, you need to consider what features you need. Though most MFCs function the same, there are many product lines with varying degrees of functionality. That level of stratification within the copier market means that prices can vary wildly from one machine to another. It's also important to keep in mind other, ongoing costs, including extended service and warranty plans.
Through our information-gathering efforts, we found models that cost as low as $300 for the more budget offerings, while the more high-end machines ran as high as $50,000. While the machines on the higher end had significantly more complex feature sets with a focus on serving niche businesses, many manufacturers offer a lease option to ease the sticker shock.
Ink, Toner and Paper Will Add to Operating Costs
It makes sense that the initial cost of a copier is what commands your attention, but you also need to consider the overall operating costs. As a business owner, you will need to maintain paper and ink supplies regardless of whether the device uses inkjet cartridges or toner.
Replacement ink cartridges come with high price tags, so replacing them on a scale will cost you. Toner tends to last longer but is largely used for monochrome printing only. Some copiers have built-in ink reservoirs that manufacturers say reduce ink costs, since you only need to buy bottles of ink rather than replacement cartridges, and the ink lasts longer. Whether that's a feature you need will depend largely on how often you and your employees rely on the machine.
Remember the Additional Costs
Along with traditional operating costs associated with MFCs, consider the extra costs that come with operating such a machine. Sunk costs that come from poorly constructed or prohibitively slow machines take a toll on a business. It's for that reason that you want to avoid purchasing the cheapest machine; rather, go for the one that fits your budget and can provide the best functionality.
Low-cost machines that seem inexpensive and appear like a benefit can cause problems later. Similarly, factors like copy speed can help or hinder worker productivity and collaboration from an operational perspective. Memory capacity is another factor, since higher memory means the machine will be faster at processing each job.
It's just practical business sense to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before committing to a specific copier. For a copier that will serve as the workhorse for many employees, speed may be the top deciding factor. For design-centric businesses, such as ad agencies or architectural firms, ink cost and image quality are more important. Or perhaps a color copier won't fulfill your needs, in which case, you might need a wide-format printer.
Contracts and Customer Service
While you can buy a copier for your business outright, some models have rather large price tags. In those instances, it may be best to lease the machine and add its monthly cost as an operating expense. Known as "managed print" in the printing world, leasing has become a more popular option, since newer models with more advanced features frequently enter the market, pushing even modern machines closer to obsolescence.
Capital leases allow you to claim the machine a business asset, and operating leases permit you to mark the machine as an operating expense. Managed print services generally bundle things like ink or toner, paper and maintenance, into a monthly cost. Most leasing agreements last between three and five years, which is just enough time to consider upgrading to a new machine if you need to.
While leasing may be an attractive option, it comes with some downsides. You may not need to make a large down payment on the copier, but you will pay interest on it, which increases your overall costs.
Conversely, you can keep the copier for as long as you want if you buy it outright, potentially resulting in an overall savings, if you own it for a long time and don't feel the need to upgrade every few years. Buying outright also means you're not tied down to a multiyear contract, allowing you some more flexibility in your decision-making.
The decision to purchase or lease a copier depends on your cash flow situation and which option benefits you the most in terms of maintenance and service, features, accessories, and supplies.
Depending on how you obtain the machine, you may not have to worry about repair and maintenance costs at all. Most leases include some regular maintenance within their terms. In some cases, however, an additional extended warranty or service agreement will be offered for an added cost. What's covered under those plans can vary from one manufacturer to another, so you may be left holding the bag for any repair costs that fall outside of the agreement's terms.