How To Get The Best Copier Deal For Your Small Business
Sources to Find Vendors
You can click on the links below to start finding out who you can call in your area to get quotes on copiers and service.
In this article I intend to teach you how to get the best deal on your new office copier in three simple steps. It doesn’t matter whether you intend to buy or lease your new machine, I’ll inform you how to figure out what it is that you need, get vendors to compete for your business, and how to use the information they give you to leverage the best deal for your small business. It doesn’t matter whether you currently have a Xerox, Konica Minolta, Canon, Ricoh, or any other brand, the advice I’m about to give you is valuable and will help you save money on the right product. Having spent 8 years selling copiers to small businesses for one of world’s largest manufacturers, I can say I have seen just about every possible customer scenario. I have also, seen different customers pay drastically different amounts of money for the same product. The copier salesmen are well trained to understand that their product is worth whatever the customer is willing to pay, and the profit margins between cost and retail price is often in excess of 65%. However, for most of the companies willing to offer you a copy machine and service contract, any profit at all on the sale is good profit, because service revenues are what keep the lights on and the employees paid. So just follow these copier buying tips and get yourself the right machine at a price you thought might not be possible.
Getting a new office copier for your small business is often compared to getting a root canal or walking up and down the isles of a used car tent sale for hours. The developments in the technology over the last decade have made it even more painful with the machines now being called “MFP’s” or “multifunction peripherals” or “multifunction printers”, and having to figure out how you will connect the machine to your network and utilize its printing, scanning, and many other features. It is time consuming enough that most companies only go through the process of upgrading if there is some really good reason to do so. It could be the old one never works anymore, your current lease is coming to an end, or your business needs have changed and you need something newer, faster, and more feature rich. Whatever the reason is, if you are managing this for your office, you don’t want to overpay. I am going to walk you through the process of how to get the right deal for your company and make you look like a hero.
Step 1: Self Assessment
Understand your current situation so you can make sure you get everything you need.
- Are you in a lease for your current machine?
- If so, how many payments are left and how much time do you have to give notice? What happens if you forget? You can get answers to these questions by calling the customer service number on your lease bill.
- How much are you using your current machine? If you have a maintenance contract on your current machine you can usually look at some old bills and find the monthly or quarterly counts. If you don’t have that information, you can get a rough estimate by asking whoever orders the paper how many cases they buy and how often. Then make an educated guess about how much of that is going into the copier and how much is going elsewhere.
- Are there things you send out to be printed that could be printed in the office if you had a better model? Is it worth the extra effort?
- What do you like about what you have now and what do you dislike? What would you like to see in something new?
- Would you like your new one to have 4 drawers? Staple? Make Booklets? Etc.
Once you have the answers to all of these questions you are ready to move on to step 2
Love or Hate your copier?
What do you think about the copier at your office?
Step 2: Make it Competitive
This can be the most painful part of the process, but it is essential to get the lowest price. At least in this industry, the sales reps will come to you and you don’t have run all over town to try to find the best price. Finding companies to work with should be easy. A quick Google search should help you find a few. Manufacturer websites will frequently list their offices that service your area and also independent dealers that do as well. You can also go to a website called Buyerzone.com fill out the “get a quote” information and they will pass your name and number on to just about every copier company in your area, and I promise there are more than you think…Beware the endless stream of phone calls.
The more companies you decide to get quotes from means more time sitting down with salespeople to go over what you learned in step 1 so they can make a recommendation. You can speed up the process a little by creating an RFQ (request for quote) that asks the potential bidders for specific things, but in my experience very few small businesses do this and most need some education from an expert to even know what to ask for. When you meet with the copier salespeople make sure they know you are getting multiple quotes, and don’t hold back any important data, like the $4000 you have left on your current lease. Also, tell them what you want to see from them to keep the bids comparable. I find the best way to do this is to ask them to quote lease or purchase separate from maintenance (you can always have your winner bundle them before inking the deal) and if you completed step one you should have all bidders coming back with like configurations so you can compare prices of machines that are similar. Don’t forget to ask them for local references that you can call and ask how the company has been to work with. Ask their references questions like, “How long does it take them to come out and fix the machine when it breaks? Do they fix it right the first time? Do they answer the phone when called? If they had it to do over again would they go with the same company?” Once you have received your quotes and called their references it is time to move on to step 3.
Call References to verify what the rep is telling you is true.
Maintenance plan cost per copy
Estimated maintenance cost per month
$200 per month
Big copier manufacturer
$300 per month
Mom and Pop copy
$400 per month
Compare The Quotes
Step 3: Negotiation
Hopefully you have been able to weed out a few of the bidders by this time based on the product, the references, or general gut instincts. Regardless of whom you have decided you would and wouldn’t want to work with, find the lowest prices and begin negotiating. If your lowest price for lease or purchase doesn’t have the lowest price for maintenance ask them to match the lowest maintenance price and then start sharing prices with the companies you would most like to do business with. If you play hard enough you can almost always get some money off of the first quote they came in with and usually you can get your highest quote down to within 10% of your lowest as long as they are offering similar products with similar configurations. Don’t talk about trade in value of your current machine until the very end, the number is almost always smoke and mirrors anyway.
Don’t lose sight of your end goal during your negotiations. The lowest price isn’t always the best deal and the most expensive product doesn’t always cost the most. What I mean by this is; Regardless of what product you get, if the service department of the company you choose to work with is slow, unresponsive, or downright incompetent, even the best machines will work poorly. Because today’s copiers do so much more than copy, even if one product has the lowest total cost of ownership on paper the machine being down can cost your business more in lost productivity or missed opportunities than the difference between your lowest and highest quote ever would.
You did it!
It has been a long and grueling process but you survived it! You have figured out what your needs are, got companies to compete for your business, and negotiated the best possible deal. It is time to get out the pen and sign your contract. You have worked hard for it and I’m sure your company and co-workers will thank you for your efforts every time they use it. Ok so that might be a bit of a stretch –Get the thing installed and don’t look back until the next time around.