5 Factors in (Strategically) Minimizing Your Printing Fleet

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strategic printer managementIt’s one of the most common situations at businesses today: as they grow and add employees, many companies buy printers and copiers as needed and add them to their printing fleet. The result can be unintentionally expensive; a fleet of ad hoc printers and office equipment that costs more to run than a strategically planned set of office equipment.

To achieve the latter, a budget-friendly printing fleet, takes a set of consistent and strategic efforts that are, honestly, not always achieved in-house. Whether you choose to contact the experts, or strategically downsize your printing fleet within your company, use these factors as you decide how to minimize your fleet for the sake of your productivity and bottom line.

Productivity
One of the first steps in this process is evaluating your current and future needs. Determine the needs of your employees in each department, and the right number of machines that meet those needs. Your company may be able to consolidate machines or replace several printers with a multifunction printer.

Current Expenses
Tracking your current expenses is the first step to evaluating your current machines. We’ve written about a few of the printing fleet numbers that should be tracked before, and printing fleet software can deliver those numbers. Your numbers can help you determine operational costs for each machine, such as the amount of pages and price-per-copy.

Total Cost
To figure out which printers should be kept and replaced from your current printing fleet, look at more than the original printer purchase price or the cost of the new machine. Add in factors like printer supplies, cost of cartridges, service and maintenance call costs, and other costs incurred over the lifespan of the machine to determine the annual cost of each copier or printer, and costs for the future.

Security
If protecting data is a part of your daily operations, evaluate the security of your current machines and the protocols used by your employees. Data is a powerful asset in today’s society, and an asset that every business should take measures to protect. Do your employees have to enter pass codes to print confidential material? Do you have a shredder to destroy data that is conveniently located? We’ve written about other tips for a secure print environment; when determining the future of your printing fleet, now is the time to determine if you have the machines and SOPs in place to execute them.

Network
Maintaining a fleet of network-compatible printers is vital for long-term productivity, mobile printing, cloud printing, and other potential future uses. Discuss your experts for network-compatible machines with your IT staff and the experts, especially if you need to establish a secure print environment or mobile printing capabilities.

There are other factors specific to your situation that need to be considered as well, which is why it makes sense to do a full audit of your machines. For additional expertise and an outside view of your situation, consult the experts to transition your adhoc fleet to a productive and efficient printing fleet.

Keep Your Printer Going Until the Next Fiscal Year

cash money tracked by company for fiscal year‘Tis the time of year when companies start to prepare for the upcoming fiscal year—and tracking and managing their Q3 assets and expenses with an eye on the bottom line.  One of those line items, printing fleet expenses, in particular can be minimized until the new fiscal year—with a printer that keeps functioning at peak efficiency until the new year.

Be selective about the printer cartridges purchased for your printer.

If you want a printer to keep functioning at high capacity, use quality printer cartridges that won’t damage your printer and still print high-quality copies.  To keep your expenses low, consider purchasing budget-friendly, quality remanufactured printer cartridges.  There are many options for remanufactured cartridges on the market; to avoid a low-quality cartridge that can damage your printer because of leaving, only purchase cartridges with Standard Test Methods Committee (STMC) certification. This certification guarantees the cartridge will work at the same specifications as the original manufacturer.  Laser Tech Systems sells STMC Certified remanufactured toner with less than 1% defect rate, and offers discounts for volume purchases.

Keep up on your printer preventative maintenance schedule.

Regular preventative maintenance has two benefits: 1) maintains optimum print quality for business documents and marketing materials; and 2) prevents break downs because printer parts are cleaned and maintained regularly. Even if your business has only one large multi-function printer, a service contract can make sense both for fiscal and scheduling reasons. A service contract ensures your printers receive regular preventative maintenance and a supply of printer supplies (if included in your contract), reducing downtime due to breakdowns and trips for the correct supplies.

Schedule a service call when printer issues (even minor ones) arise.

Minor printer issues can become major issue that disrupt office productivity and cause a random printer breakdown. Set up a system at your company with one office contact (i.e. manager, owner, etc.) to discuss any minor issues with your technician, so all problems are addressed at one office call.  This minimizes the amount of service calls and expenses, and keeps your printer running (well) for as long as possible.

Invest your time and efforts into creating a back-up system.

This may sound contradictory in an article focused on preventing printer breakdowns, but it’s smart to have a contingency plan in place for emergency situations (like printer breakdowns). Create a back-up system for your company so you can still fill customer orders and provide service. If you need assistance with analyzing and creating a systematic printing fleet, contact a company to keep your fleet functioning and make strategic changes that make cents for the future.

Buying or Leasing: Which option is right for your new office equipment?

Portrait of two young businesswomen working with calculators to determine whether buying or purchasing printer is rightBuying or leasing your tech equipment may sound like a simple decision, but the ramifications of buying or leasing your company printer has a big impact on your budget. A great deal of thought should be put into your company’s decision to buy or lease your next printer, and a few key factors should be considered:

In short, here are the pros and cons of buying versus leasing a printer for your business:

Buying pros:

  • Annual costs typically lower than lease
  • Ideal for long-term use
  • Less complicated (no lease fine print)
  • Cost is usually deductible (check before purchase)

Buying cons:

  • Capital needs to be available for purchase
  • Costs are not set

Leasing Pros:

  • Minimal up-front investment
  • Updated equipment
  • Set monthly cost

Leasing cons:

  • Cost for long-term lease adds up
  • Leasing terms should be reviewed carefully; may require insurance, not allow buy out, lease termination may not be feasible, etc.
  • Not all leased equipment is deductible (review lease fine print for specifics)

The first step of any decision is to determine your company needs and select the right machine that checks all the boxes (or consult with a company tracking these strategic statistics). Once you have selected the ideal printer, the decision to purchase or lease should be based on the numbers: the amount of available capital for purchase, option for monthly payments, and long-term business priorities. For instance, if you plan on upgrading to another printer in the short-term, or want to allocate your capital to another purchase, a lease may make more sense for your business.

When considering a lease, review the fine print carefully: a leasing agreement often includes a service agreement and supplies, you may need to purchase insurance on the equipment, the costs may or may not be deductible, etc.   If your lease is extremely short-term, also determine what happens when you don’t need the printer; you don’t want to keep paying on equipment you are not using.

Purchasing makes sense for businesses with available capital, and when buying a printer or copier for the long-term. Many managers and owners believe you cannot purchase a service agreement for your printer or copier if you purchase the machine. The truth is that a service agreement can be purchased for the life of your machine, and for your entire printing fleet if needed. A service agreement gives your business benefits in the way of supply purchases, preferred service during emergencies and a set preventative maintenance schedule that can extend the life of your machines.

If you want assistance with evaluating your printing needs (with reason-based on these statistics), and determining whether a printer lease or purchase is best for your company, contact the professionals.  They can make recommendations that help you decide whether buying or leasing your office equipment is the right move.

All Your Remanufactured Printer Cartridges Questions Answered

printer cartridgesWhat are remanufactured printer cartridges?

Remanufactured cartridges are printer cartridges manufactured by an individual entity based on the original manufacturer’s design.  Using remanufactured printer cartridges in your office printer does not void your machine warranty.

Are remanufactured printer cartridges lower in quality?

The quality of your remanufactured printer cartridges depends on how selective you are about the printer cartridges you purchase. To be competitive, some entities sacrifice the quality of both the cartridge and toner used when remanufacturing the product.  The cheapest remanufactured printer cartridge option is not always the right option and can damage your machine.

How can I avoid low-quality remanufactured printer cartridges? What should I look for when purchasing remanufactured printer cartridges?

To avoid lower-quality remanufactured printer cartridges that can cost you more in the long run, look for STMC (Standard Test Methods Committee) certification when buying remanufactured printer cartridges.  This certification guarantees the cartridge will work at the same specifications as the original manufacturer.  These cartridges are 100% remanufactured each and every time.  This means that every component in the cartridge with the exception of the outer shell is replaced.

Laser Tech Systems remanufactured toner cartridges come with 100% satisfaction guarantee until the cartridge is empty within 1 year of purchase.  If there is any defect with the cartridge, we will repair it or replace it at no charge.  If the cartridge leaks in your printer, there is no charge for us to come and clean your printer. If you have any other questions about remanufactured cartridges for your business, contact us.

What are the advantages of remanufactured printer cartridges?

Multi-Function Printers: What Features to Look For

multifunction printersMulti-function printers have evolved over the years into lean, productive office machines with a host of built-in features.  To decide whether a multi-function printer is right for you—or what multi-function printer would be a good fit for your company, here’s a list of what to look for as you research your options for new and refurbished multi-function printers.

Paper Size

Determine the maximum size paper you need for your print jobs.  If you are anticipating printing out 11×17 posters for your business, or routinely need legal size documents, some multi-function printer models efficiently handle larger paper sizes.

Connectivity

A printer is not an isolated machine but rather a valuable part of your IT network.  Determine if your potential new multi-function is compatible with your company network.

Memory

Printers with a higher memory can typically process many jobs efficiently, especially if your printer handles high quality print jobs on a regular basis.

Print Quality

If your employees need to print high-quality color print jobs, look for a multi-function printer with high quality resolution capabilities.

Functions

Today’s multi-function printers come with a variety of built-in features: faxing, emailing, scanning, collating, stapling, etc.

Price per copy

Depending on the model of multi-function printer, your printer service company representative should be able to give you the price-per-copy for color and black-and-white copies.

Total Cost of Ownership

When considering a multi-function printer, look at the total cost of ownership.  Though the initial cost of the hardware may be low, the total cost of ownership (TCO) may push you over budget if you don’t consider the complete cost, such as the high cost of printer cartridges. If this is the case, you do have a few options to lower the TCO.  Compatible cartridges are manufactured by a separate entity based on the original manufacturer’s design.  If you choose this budget-friendly feature, look for STMC (Standard Test Methods Committee) certification.  This certification guarantees the cartridge will work at the same specifications as the original manufacturer.

Security

Data is a powerful asset in today’s society, and an asset that every business should take measures to protect.  Whether motivated by HIPAA, competitor theft, or another factor, your new office printer is a powerful protector of accounting, customer, product, and vendor data.  Discuss your security needs with your printing company representative or research printers with security options.

Mobile Printing Capability

If you need the current or future option to print from your tablet or other mobile device, research printers with this option—and the mobile printing solution and its compatibility with your company IT hardware.

Once you’ve chosen the right multi-function printer, ask about the warranty and guarantee terms of your printer in case of future issues—as well as the terms of the printer cartridges. For example, Laser Tech Systems remanufactured cartridges come with 100% satisfaction guarantee for up to one year of purchase until empty.  If you don’t have the time or expertise to locate multi-function printers with the right options, contact a printing company that can sift through the options for multi-function printers.

In House vs. Outsource: Should You In-House Print Your Next Print Job?

numbers business managers review at meeting spread out on desk including printer statisticsWith all the advances in printer technology (high quality printers, multi-function printers), companies are asking the question more and more frequently: should we print our flyers, forms, and marketing pieces on our office printer?

The answer for your company is dependent on a number of factors, and the resolution is most likely a hybrid of the two options: certain pieces or forms printed in house, and others sent out to the printers.  Here are factors to consider when deciding which pieces to send out and which documents should be printed on your high-quality, multi-function printer.

Price per page

Price-per-page is the cost to print each page, with a different cost for color and black-and-white printed pages.  All the costs of the printer (i.e. cartridges, service, etc.) are included in this number, and should be tracked on a regular basis to make decisions about managing your printers. 

Printer downtime

If your printer is being used by multiple departments or employees, you would be remiss if you didn’t factor in the amount of time other employees do not have access to the printer while printing large runs of documents.  One way to alleviate employees’ lost time—and decreased productivity—at the printer is by printing mass runs during off-hours.  Another option is to purchase a printer specifically for the project if it becomes a regular necessity (here’s how to choose the right printer for the job).

Labor

If there is more involved than just printing (such as compiling, stapling, assembly, etc.), factor that into your decision whether to print in-house or to send the printing job out to a professional printer.  If you want to keep the job in-house because of frequent changes or regular customizations, consider a multi-function printer that prints and can collate, staple, and do any other essential parts of your project.  To keep costs low, contact a printing company that can give you your options, such as a refurbished machine.

Printer Numbers Every Company Should Track

numbers business managers review at meeting spread out on desk including printer statisticsBusiness managers and owners view numbers every day: income projections, estimates, expenses.  Of all the numbers that business managers and owners track, 90% of companies fail to track printing costs which can make up a significant portion of the budget.  Why is this important?  The first step in minimizing the dent your printing fleet makes in your budget is to determine what specific costs your company is occurring.  Here are a list of costs to track, and why you should be so vigilant about your printer record keeping.

Amount of copies made per month & year

While a few sheets of paper bought at the minimal cost of cents per page seems insignificant, the average employee can cost your company more than $700 per year.  Dependent upon the amount of employees you have, this can add up into the thousands per year. Add to that the cost of unlimited color copies (if your employees’ default print setting is color) and the expense to your company adds up to an expense that no manager of owner would consider insignificant.

Why you should track this: While paper copies are a necessity, tracking copies can give you the numbers you need to consider when deciding cost-effective areas where you can establish paper-free processes.  This number is also an important factor when deciding whether a new machine with paperless capabilities (i.e. scanning, emailing from the machine, etc.) is worth the investment.

Amount of cartridges used

You run out of ink, you grab a new ink or toner cartridge, you install a new cartridge, and you move on with your day, right?  In essence, yes.  For tracking your printer costs, no.

Why you should track this: Without tracking how many ink cartridges and the total cost, you’ll never know if you can find a more cost-effective cartridge that can reduce your overall costs, such as a remanufactured cartridge. When buying remanufactured products, look for STMC (Standard Test Methods Committee) certification.  This certification guarantees the cartridge will work at the same specifications as the original manufacturer.  These cartridges are 100% remanufactured each and every time.  This means that every component in the cartridge with the exception of the outer shell is replaced. Laser Tech Systems sells STMC Certified remanufactured toner with less than 1% defect rate.  This number also comes in handy when deciding whether a new printer is more cost-effective over the life of the machine.

Service call costs

Especially with an older machine, those printer service call costs can add up.  Make sure that you track this cost separately from your printer supplies so you can determine the specific costs of maintaining and repairing your machine.

Why you should track this: Tracking your current expenses makes it easier for you to determine whether a printing service plan is right for your company.  A printing service plan offers a leasing option for a new machine and predictable set monthly cost, allowing you to project expenses over the long-term range of your business.  You may also be able to negotiate a plan with toner cartridges and printer supplies, which minimizes the time you pay for your employees to drive for printer supplies and for downtime incurred when cartridges are not available.

Where to start: When you decide to start tracking your printer costs—and minimizing those costs—contact a local printing company that can capture your printer fleet information and use it to give you recommendations on how to use your printers to boost your productivity while minimizing expenses.

Why does my printer need regular maintenance?

meeting scheduling regular printer maintenanceMaintaining your office printer is not usually at the top of anyone’s ‘to do’ list, but it’s an essential part of printer ownership—a necessary evil, if you will.  Printer maintenance also takes your printer out of commission for a short time during the work day, but we promise it’s for good reasons that you and your printer will appreciate:

Maintains quality printing

Regular preventative maintenance maintains the optimum print quality you expect—and need—for business documents and marketing materials.  This is valuable as your printer gets more hours of printing, and parts can wear down and become misaligned.  Often, you don’t realize your printing quality has decreased over time; if you don’t want to deal with this at all, schedule regular printer maintenance appointments.

Prevents break downs

Printer breakdowns decrease the productivity of your business and can become a major interruption in the workday.  Printer maintenance can decrease the amount of annoying printer break downs because your parts are cleaned and inspected regularly.  If any parts are worn or in need of replacement, printer maintenance ensures that any issues are spotted and repairs are made before they turn into breakdown or damages other parts.

Keeps small printer issues from becoming big issues

Don’t let those “the printer just does that” become a major issue that causes a printer break down. If you have a service contract with a printing company or regular maintenance appointments scheduled, discuss any minor issues with your technician. One note of caution: create a process in your company so that your company is not incurring excessive costs due to a large amount of service calls. Designate an office manager as the contact if you have problems with the printer, so they can determine whether you need to call for assistance and keep a list of printer issues that can be addressed at your next printer technician visit.

If you don’t have the expertise or time to maintain your machines or have too many printers to stay on top of the process, consider purchasing a service contract for your printing fleet. Even one large multi-function printer can be reason enough to have a printer service and maintenance agreement. A service contract has three advantages:

  • ensures that your printers receive regular preventative maintenance;
  • gives your employees a quick connection to a service technician, reducing downtime;
  • if your service contract includes maintaining printing supplies, your employees are not spending their time purchasing and driving to get toner and ink cartridges instead of performing their duties.

What is the total cost of your new printer?

money that adds up to total cost of printer ownershipThe same concept used when buying a new car also applies to purchasing a new printer for your office.  To figure out if your printer is a good buy and fits your company budget, look at more than the printer price tag.   Purchasing one of the most essential pieces of office equipment is a bit more complicated—or simple—if you know what factors to include and determines the total cost (over the life) of your new printer.

Printer cartridges

Toner and ink cartridges are an inevitable cost of business printing, and should be factored into the total cost of the printer.  Often, you’ll find printers with a lower price tag upfront use more expensive print cartridges (or go through the cheap ones quickly). To determine the total cost of toner or ink cartridges for your new printer, know your options:

  • Manufacturer or OEM toner cartridges are made by the original manufacturer for the specific model printer. Though the cartridges are a perfect fit for the printer, manufacturer or OEM toner cartridges cost more per unit, meaning a higher total printing expense over the life of your printer.
  • Compatible cartridges are manufactured by a separate entity based on the original manufacturer’s design. Though priced lower, to be competitive, sometimes the quality of both the cartridge and toner suffers so be selective about the remanufactured cartridge you choose.  The lowest price toner or ink cartridge option is not always the most cost effective.  When buying remanufactured products, look for STMC (Standard Test Methods Committee) certification.  This certification guarantees the cartridge will work at the same specifications as the original manufacturer.  These cartridges are 100% remanufactured each and every time.  This means that every component in the cartridge with the exception of the outer shell is replaced.

Once you’ve decided which cartridge type to pursue, OEM or compatible, research how many pages the printer cartridge can approximately print and estimate the lifespan of the new printer.  Use the current number of printed pages your business produces as a reference for determining the cost of printer cartridges for your new machine, or outsource the tracking of your company printing to a printing company that can give you an accurate number.  Remember that the number provided by the manufacturer may be different than what you get at your business, dependent on your company’s use of the printer, number of pages, and condition of your machine.

Service and maintenance

Just like a car with regular oil changes, a well-maintained printer is going to last longer and perform better throughout its lifespan.  Regular preventative maintenance also maintains the peak print quality you need for business documents and marketing materials. Experienced technicians can clean and maintain your machines on a regular schedule, keeping your printers working and your business running smoothly.  If you want the exact price of printer maintenance for  budgeting, consider a printing service agreement with a set monthly cost.

Print supplies

Paper, staples, other print supplies, and the time to order them are your final factor.  If you want a set price for the latter, include automatic toner restocking in your service agreement with your printing company.  This inclusion gives you a guaranteed price that you can bank on when determining the total cost of your printer—without worrying about increases in price.

Breakdown

If you want to compare the cost of your current printer with a new machine, price-per-page can be an important statistic, which gives you the cost to print each page.  There is a separate price-per-page for color and black-and-white printed pages.  If you want to track your current price-per-page, work with a local print company to track your current machines.

For assistance with tracking and totaling all the factors that play into the total cost of your machine, consult a printing company.  They can give you the numbers you need to decide whether that new printer is the right printer for your company.

10 Considerations When Buying a New Office Printer

hand writing in notebook trying to decide on right printer for workplaceIt doesn’t matter the size of your company and budget, purchasing a new office printer is a major decision with a significant impact on daily operations.  It can also be a cumbersome task, with so many options on the market today: laser, inkjet, multi-function, etc.  To narrow down your office printer choices, use this list of factors when buying a new office printer.

Quality

Do you need the machine for high-quality projects, such as marketing materials? Consider whether your employees need to print high-quality color print jobs the majority of the time, or if they can connect to a high-quality printer elsewhere in the building for those few jobs. If not, a standard quality black and white office printer may be your low-cost solution.

Budget

The cost of a printer sounds simple, but there are a few factors that should be included in the purchase decision: total cost of ownership, speed, price-per-copy, and expected life span of the printer should be factored into your decision.  If you need to upgrade your IT equipment, this should be considered into your purchase bottom line as well.

If you have a low budget and high quality needs, consider a refurbished machine. Refurbished printers were a demo unit, a new machine with damage to the unit or packaging, a cancelled order, or a previously leased unit.  Once the unit has been returned to the manufacturer, that machine cannot be sold as new. Once the machine has been returned, refurbished copiers are rebuilt, serviced and sold by the manufacturer or a third party.  Because a refurbished machine cannot be sold as new, the cost is significantly reduced compared to a new machine.

Price-per-copy

Depending on the model of printer, your printer service company representative should be able to give you the price-per-copy for color and black-and-white copies. Use the information to determine savings compared to your current unit, as well as the cost of the new unit over the lifetime of the machine.

Functionality

Do you need a printer that can fax, scan, collate, staple, and print? Do you need speed to create a better flow? Don’t just consider a new office printer, consider the entire process the printer is going to be involved in.  If a machine with collating, emailing, and other options would increase the productivity of your process, select a printer with capabilities that match your company’s present and future needs. With the right multifunction office printer, your company can streamline internal processes with the new capabilities of your multifunction printer.

Total Cost of Ownership

Though the initial cost of the printer may be low, do your research to determine the total cost of ownership in the long run. To know the total cost of toner or ink cartridges for your new printer, know your options:

  • Manufacturer or OEM toner cartridges are made by the original manufacturer for the specific model printer. Though the cartridges are a perfect fit for the printer, manufacturer or OEM toner cartridges cost more per unit, meaning a higher total printing expense over the life of your printer.
  • Compatible cartridges are manufactured by a separate entity based on the original manufacturer’s design. Though priced lower, to be competitive, sometimes the quality of both the cartridge and toner suffers so be selective about the remanufactured cartridge you choose.  The lowest price toner or ink cartridge option is not always the most cost effective.  When buying remanufactured products, look for STMC (Standard Test Methods Committee) certification.  This certification guarantees the cartridge will work at the same specifications as the original manufacturer.  These cartridges are 100% remanufactured each and every time.  This means that every component in the cartridge with the exception of the outer shell is replaced.

IT Compatibility

Purchasing an office printer should not be an isolated decision.  Instead, discuss the purchase with your IT staff and ask your IT administrator for the connectivity requirements of your new office printer.  Use their answer to determine if your potential new machine can wirelessly connect to user machines, servers, and other hardware.

Security

Data is a powerful asset in today’s society, and an asset that every business should take measures to protect.  Whether motivated by HIPAA, competitor theft, or another factor, your new office printer is a powerful protector of accounting, customer, product, and vendor data.  Discuss your security needs with your printing company representative or research printers with security options.

Mobile Printing Capability

If you need the current or future option to print from your tablet or other mobile device, research printers with this option—and the mobile printing solution and its compatibility with your company IT hardware.

Warranty & guarantee terms

Know the warranty and guarantee terms of your printer in case of future issues—as well as the terms of the printer cartridges. For example, Laser Tech Systems remanufactured cartridges come with 100% satisfaction guarantee for up to one year of purchase until empty.  If you don’t have the time or expertise to narrow down your office printer options, contact a printing company that can consider all these factors and recommend an office printer that fits your needs.