Big Copiers: Do you really need them?

Thirty years ago it was inconceivable to most of us that mainframe and mini computers would  be supplanted by the lowly PC.  And who would have expected that the tiny iPhone would have the computing power of PC workstation of only a few years ago.  Smaller, faster, better has been the norm.  So why is it that purchasing and facilities managers think that they absolutely must replace their large aging copiers with one of equal or larger size?

Is it because they’re printing and copying more?  Most recent data suggests that hard copy volume is flat at best but more likely declining slightly over the next several years. A recent Morgan Stanley report suggests that tablet (aka the iPad) use is expected to force a drop in corporate printing and copying by as much as 15%.

Do organizations really copy that much any more?  We are a field service company in the area of copiers and printers for over 400 LA area firms.  We’ve found that the vast majority of large stand alone copiers are seriously UNDER utilized.  Less than 5% actually copy more than 15,000 pages per month.  Not only are the copiers underutilized we are continually amazed at how many copiers organizations typically have.  This is definitely a case of the “inertia of the status quo”.  Even though printing and copying trends have changed radically over the last 10 years, copier hardware buying trends have not.

So your copier lease is coming up.  What should you do?

1. GET DATA ON HOW YOU’RE USING YOUR CURRENT COPIER!!!!  This is singularly important.  Find out how much volume per month you are running through the copier and in what sizes: 8×10, tabloid (11×17) and Legal.  Get a life count from each of your copiers at least two weeks part and calculate your monthly usage.

2.  Determine your current cost per page.  Get your current lease payment plus click charges.  Divide your current lease payment by the number of pages per month you copy/print.  Add this number to your click charge.    You may think you’ve got a hot deal since you’re paying less than a penny a page on your click charge but when you add in your per page lease cost you might find that you’re actually in the 5-10 cents per page range.  Reason being: under utilization.

3.  How much tabloid output?  Your users may be insistent that they absolutely must have a big copier because they occasionally print/copy tabloid.  Check the counter on tabloid printing and figure out your monthly tabloid volume.  Why?  Because tabloid capable devices cost 2-3 times more to buy and supply than those devices that can only do letter/legal.   What we often find is that clients are only using tabloid very occasionally, say to prepare their annual budget spreadsheets.  If this is the case then may we suggest Kinko’s or instead of having 1 tabloid capable device for every 10-15 letter/legal size copiers.

4.  Compare options.  Once you have all your current copier data together it is now time to compare your options.  What other option is there other than an equipment refresh with another 3-4 year lease?

4345MPF - Top selling copier in its class.

Consider buying your next copier outright or leasing with a $1 buyout at the end.  We would recommend that you consider the HP line of MFPs, specifically the Laserjet 4555MFP, the Laserjet M9050MFP, and the Laserjet M3035MFP.   The Laserjet 4555MFP for example is a 55 page per minute device with a base price of only about $2600.  Nicely equipped it can be had for $3500.  It takes the same all in one cartridge as the laser printers, it is extremely reliable, and compatible cartridges are available to make your operating costs even lower.

We serve clients that have Laserjet MFPs that are 6-7 years old and still running great.  They own them outright, make no lease payments, and are running reliably at relatively little cost.   We service and supply these devices on a cost per click basis of about 1 cent per page typically.

So what if your copier salesman is offering 1/2 a cent per page?  Is that a good deal?  In the example below you would need to be printing/copying over 42,000 pages monthly before the lower click charges would justify the cost of leasing the machine.  Note: very, very few office copiers come even close to this amount of copying.

Remember when it comes to copier math, it is not just the price of the machine or how much per page.  One of the single most important variables in copier economics is how many prints/copies per month.  Get this number and do the math!

Monthly Clicks           15,000
HP Laserjet 4555MFP
Price  $     2,700.00
MPS Click Charge  $       0.0110
Copier Lease
Lease Amount  $       300.00
Number of clicks included in lease           10,000
Lease Term 60
Click Charge  $       0.0050
Results
MFP Monthly Cost  $       210.00
Copier Lease Monthly Cost  $       325.00
Difference  $      (115.00)
Total Breakeven Clicks       2,541,667
Per Month Breakeven           42,361
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