“The bottom line”, “at the end of the day” and “the nitty-gritty” is a huge determining factor for why people do what they do, at least in the business world. It may not always be the only deciding factor; there are a lot of benefits of a product or solution that may sway you to them, but as Bob Barker has taught us all – the price has to be right… and to always spay and neuter your pets.
The cost of a copier contract, also known as a managed print service (MPS) agreement, is a complicated thing to give a simple answer to. You know this, probably why you’re reading this right now. There are different factors and variables that go into these details that make it impossible for me to tell you exactly what your MPS cost will be. I can, however, let you know about what you can expect to see, which you can then apply to your own office situation and get a rough estimate. Let’s begin…
The External Cost
The reason you are reaching out to a company to help you with your printers and copiers makes the external cost pretty important. The simplest way I can break this down for you is to split it up into two categories, hardware and cost-per-page.
At the heart of it all, there are printers and there are copiers. There are also label printers and thermal printers and many others, but for the sake of this post, let’s keep it to the “meat and potatoes”. Now keep in mind, there are some outliers that will fall out of this range, this will be the case for this whole post; work with me though, I’m dealing with the 90% of the time stuff here.
For an office level printer, something that can handle more than a college student’s or household’s workload, you can expect to pay anywhere between $400 to $1,000.
An office copier can range anywhere between $1,000 to $15,000, depending on your needs. With the large variety of devices out there, make sure you get a copier that is a good fit for your needs. A device that is too large is just as bad as a device that is too small.
Don’t get tricked by a ‘reputable’ business that is telling you that you need a giant machine. Always get a second opinion. Most copier company sales reps drive fancy cars because of “your print needs”.
Copier contracts run on a cost-per-page agreement. It is how you, as the client, pay for toner, labor and parts to maintain your device. The typical costs you can expect for printing pages is as follows:
Monochrome (black-and-white) pages - $0.01 to $0.05 per page
Color pages - $0.07 to $0.15 per page
This range is wide, but there is a reason for that. What would make you have such a high cost on one device but a low cost on another? It boils down to the device you buy and the toner you use. I have some points for that:
- The size of the device. If you buy a little printer, the toner cartridge is going to be smaller. The manufacturers still have a cost to make the cartridge (the production machine that makes it, the plastic, computer chips in the cartridge and more) and that is reflected in your cost-per-page. Normally, the cheaper the device you buy, the higher the cost-per-page.
- On the same theme as point one, the larger devices are meant for printing large volumes. The toner hoppers in these cartridges are much larger and are meant to be run. They have components that are tested for high print volume and longer life spans. There is a Costco ‘buying in bulk’ aspect in play and the more volume you use, the more that is reflected.
- The type of toner you are supplied with. Remanufactured (reman) toner has a lower cost but also a lower quality while with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) toner you get brighter and richer detail, quality and less maintenance issues on your hardware. You may think all toner is toner and there shouldn’t be a difference; - however, gas is 87 octane but I bet a Porsche that’s meant to take only 91 premium won’t run to its full potential on it.
- The cost of color is higher than mono. If you have a color copier, you would see that even the monochrome cost is higher than a strictly black-and-white printer. That is because there are four cartridges in the machine. Duh, but in order to make that rich orange tone that is in your company’s logo, it has to use a lot of yellow, some green, a little blue, and even some of the black to get that earthy tone. So, while the page output is the same (one page), you are using 4 times the toner supply to get it. There are a lot of benefits to printing in color though, so it may be worth the extra pennies.
That’s a lot of information, but what does that all sum up to?
Putting it All Together
To figure out your monthly cost you have to think about, and work with an MPS partner to figure out, what your total print volume is and what kind of devices you will need.
If you’re a small company that only needs one desktop mono copier because you print 200 pages a month, you can expect somewhere around $600 for a good, reliable copier with a cost of about $.02 per page, or $4.00 a month. (These are examples, if you really print this little, maybe MPS isn’t for you).
If you are a large organization with many branches and a lot of employees that prints one million pages a month, you could see $20,000-50,000 in hardware and a monthly mono cost-per-page payment of $20,000 at the same $0.02 per page.
Should you lease the hardware, your monthly payment will include that as well. Think about if you want to pay for the hardware all at once or if you want to pay a little more overall but spread out the payments in a lease.
Surely, there aren’t any hidden costs?
The Internal Cost
What if you want to keep printer and copier support, maintenance and supplies within your own organization? You want to just dedicate an I.T., or have your help desk handle calls. That is your choice, but have you completely thought it through? Studies have shown that 23% of help desk calls are on print related issues and that those calls take up 15% of the support staff’s time. Is there anything else that these employees could be doing to drive your business forward instead of fooling with paper jams? You know how much you pay them; a paper jam at their salary level becomes an expensive wad of paper. These are not your grandfather’s copy machines; your employees would most likely need some training, adding even more to the cost.
Have you brainstormed the best method for toner fulfillment? Who is going to be in charge of this? Often we see that purchasing buys copiers, I.T. is responsible for maintenance, and finance somehow gets stuck with ordering toner when a user says they’re low. This now is dragging three departments into something that none of your employees need to be worrying about. What if a user tells you their department is out of toner and there is no spare? That department is now unable to print. These may seem a little silly, but all are real-life situations that we run into every day and all costyour business in money and productivity.
Does it have to be THAT expensive to print?
Ways to Reduce Printer and Copier Costs
As you saw above, $20,000 a month is a large contract to sign. You may be asking, “Neville, are there any ways to try to reduce that cost a bit?”, and I would have to say “Of course.
Print rules are a sure-fire way to reduce costs. You can set up policies that only let emails be printed on the lowest cost, black-and-white, machine in the office; you can allow only marketing to print in color on 11x17” paper and so much more.
I wrote a blog on how MPS can save your budget. I recommend you give it a once or twice if this is a topic that concerns you.
If You Say “Yes” to MPS
There is a lot of moving parts to working with an MPS partner to create a copier contract and strategy. This last section won’t contain any new content if you’re an avid reader of our blog, but it will be new for first time visitors. Having it all in one spot is a bonus as well.
Before you sign the copier contract, the partner you’re working with will do a print assessment. Find out the details of that process and what to expect here.
You will want to make sure you fully understand the contract and the invoice process. I will leave you with some additional links to help with this:
- How to Read Your Managed Print Service (MPS) Print Invoice.
- Why Does The Summary Amount Not Equal The Invoice Balance Amount On My Invoice?
- Guide to Managed Print Services Contracts, Invoices and Billing
- One Bill to Rule Them All
If you have any questions on this, please feel free to ask away!