If you work in an office, you’re going to go through paper. So, of course, you want to make sure that you’re using the most cost-effective and efficient printing solutions for all that paper. Are you overwhelmed by the sheer amount of printer options out there? Do you find yourself wondering just how to determine the best office printer for your business? No need to fear! We’ve put together a little guide for those who need a printer, but just aren’t quite sure where to start in the process. Here are 4 things to consider when buying a printer for the office:
Step 1: Consider How You’ll Use Your PrinterAs a printer specialist, I often have clients ask me about the best printer they can buy. And my response is always the same: “Well… what do you use your printer for?” I know, I know: you use it to print. But it’s important to consider what you’re printing, and what functions you may need associated with your device. Because the best printer for some may not be a great solution for others. There are a few factors you’ll want to consider when you’re thinking about your printer’s functions:
- Color Vs. Black & White: Are you printing charts, graphs, and promotional materials from your desk that require full color? Or are you mostly producing contracts, spreadsheets, and generic paperwork? Don’t pay extra for color ink/toner unless you’re sure you need it.
- Paper Size: Not every printer is created equal when it comes to the paper they support. Do you produce legal size documents, or is all of your printing done on 8.5”x11” letter sheets? Do you need to print on envelopes? Or do you use 11”x17” paper as well? You’ll want to make sure your printer can support what you need.
- Copy/Scan Functionality: Do you need to copy or scan from that desktop device? If you are trying to function as an office with a single desktop printer, or if your copier is a prohibitive distance away from the necessary workstation, you may need those features available on your desktop unit. If they aren’t necessary, you could save on some costs by choosing a single-function printer.
- Wireless Capacity: Do you have to print from laptops or mobile devices? If so, you’ll want to be sure to choose a desktop printer that can function wirelessly. Once you’ve narrowed down precisely what you need your printer to do, you’ve narrowed down the field considerable when it comes time to make a buying decision on your next device.
Step 2: Consider How Often You’ll Use Your PrinterMost people make the mistake of skipping this step entirely. They think about what they need the printer to do, and how much they’re willing to pay for it… but they don’t take the time to consider just how much work they’ll ask it to do. And that’s a shame, because many times service issues that arise with desktop devices in the workplace stem from having a device that’s being worked too hard. On the other hand, sometimes a company will purchase an expensive, high-volume printer that they will never use to its full potential. So it’s crucial at this stage to think about how much your organization will realistically be printing on a day-to-day basis. To do this, it helps to find hard numbers. Many organizations think they print “a lot” of pages every month… but what constitutes “a lot?” 10,000 pages? 250 pages? Keep track of how many reams of paper you go through on a month to month basis. That will provide a good baseline for how many pages (or impressions,) you require per month. Every ream of paper is 500 sheets, so it should be easy to get a ballpark figure if you’re keeping track. When you’re considering printers, check the brochure for their recommended monthly volume range. You’ll want to make sure that your average monthly paper use falls within that range, and preferably not too close to the high end. If you pick the right size printer for your average monthly volume, you’ll ensure you have the best longevity for your desktop devices.
Step 3: Consider The Cost & Quality Of The Printer HardwareThe next thing to consider is the printer hardware itself. There are a few factors that you’ll want to consider when buying any product, and they also apply to buying a printer. You’ll want to think about:
- Price: Obviously, price matters. You want to make sure that you’re familiar with the market value of the printer you’re considering so you can make and educated decision.
- Brand: Not all printers are created equal. Do your homework on the major players (like Canon, HP, Brother, Dell and Lexmark) and research reviews & features to learn which is right for your office.
- Ink vs Toner: Inkjet printers are ubiquitous and cheap, easy to grab at any big box store. They’re also mostly designed for home use, and as an office printer can be prohibitively expensive to repair and maintain. Laser printers are usually better for high-volume office applications, so make sure you’re keeping that in mind during the buying process.
- Supplier: Where you buy matters. Buying something dirt cheap on the internet? Make sure that it’s from a reliable seller/reseller or you may end up with a knock-off or poorly refurbished unit. So keep in mind where your printer comes from!The other thing you’ll want to take into account when deciding on the right hardware is the composition of the rest of your printer fleet. Are you buying a fleet of printers from the ground up? Have you accumulated a collection of desktop printers of many different makes and models over the years, spread across your office?The more you’re able to consolidate your fleet, the easier it is to maintain. Having myriad makes & models means a higher probability of wasted toners, inefficient devices, and hard-to-find parts. The more you’re able to keep your desktop printers consistent, the easier your fleet will be to maintain down the road.
Step 4: Consider Your Printer’s Total Costs Of OperationWell, you’ve determined what you need with buying a printer. You know how much volume you plan on printing. You’ve nailed down what brand and maybe even what model of printer is best for your application. You’ve even found a good place to buy it, and the right price. Job well done, right? Not so fast. Here’s where most organizations go awry: they don’t think about what happens after they buy the printer. Ink & Toner is expensive. And it doesn’t take long at all before the cost of the cartridges your printer needs outstrips the cost of the device itself. So it’s even more important to consider what the long-term costs of your new desktop printer will be, or your “great deal” might end up costing you down the line. Consider:
- Toner: some printers are more efficient to run long-term than others. Do they accept a high-yield cartridge? How expensive are cartridges? Make sure you aren’t buying a printer that will leave you paying top dollar to run.
- Repairs: how easy is the printer to fix? Do you have someone who can replace a part if the unit breaks? How much are parts like fusers?
- Replacement: what are your costs if you are forced to replace the device? Are you factoring that cost every 10 years? 5? Depending on how hard you work your machines, it may be even more frequent. Buying a more expensive printer that you won’t have to replace as often may be a smarter decision.