Understanding copier contracts is vital if you’re buying or managing a copy or print solution. It doesn’t matter if you’re a purchaser, facility administrator, IT professional, owner, or otherwise.

Nowadays, copier contracts are complex, time consuming, and could leave you questioning if you negotiated the best deal.

The Truth About Copier Contracts

For almost fifty five years we have been involved in the copy/print industry. In addition, we have spent the last eight years auditing contracts for companies of all sizes. Ranging from government and education, to public and private companies. We specialize in all vertical markets who push paper. We have educated over 98% of these organizations to negotiate better copier contracts. However, we have found when it comes to cost save, it doesn’t matter if you’re a small company or a large enterprise. In short, you’re likely not getting the best contract you should. Because of this, we will cover some tips that could give you an edge. But first, let us give you some background.

An Unregulated Industry

For years our owners spent my time as advocates for dealers and manufacturers. They have held positions as sales representatives, account managers, and even dealers.  They can tell you first-hand that the industry as a whole has been running out of balance for years. For a long time we have joked with clients that the copy/print industry is one step above or below the worst form of sales you can find. For instance, why does every company offer a 4-hour response time? Why does every manufacturer have the best product? Why does every manufacturer have a 5 star rating?

Now don’t get us wrong, we have also found lots of professionals in the industry that are honest and truly have the client’s best interest at heart. despite the many honest, there are a lot more wolves in sheep’s clothing in the industry than we would like. Therefore, we have often said that to negotiate good copier contracts you need to be an industry insider. After all, they don’t make a blue book for the copy/print industry.

Knowledge Is Power When It Comes To Copier Contracts

Below are a few pointers that should broaden your vision. In addition, we will continue to publish blog articles that take a deeper. Undoubtedly, we believe that this will help many people make better decisions on copier contracts.

Time

There are sitters and doers. The doers are the ones who seek after knowledge. When it comes to negotiating a copier contract“outsourcing” has become more and more popular over the years. Hiring a copier consultant can unlock a lot of resources and save you a substantial amount of time with learning and negotiating.

Money

If you decide to go it alone without the help of outsourcing some sort of managed print service, then you need to know the downsides. You will need to select a committee or project manager and get assistance from information services or information technology, finance, and legal. Don’t sell yourself short on these groups or you could end up with costly copier contracts. You will have to pay all of these groups for their time and it won’t be cheap.

Knowledge

Have you ever heard that you can’t manage what you can’t measure? The first notable step is to analyze your current copier contracts. Consider current costs, benefits, relationships, and pain points. Many vendors will offer to do a free analysis for you and that great. Just keep in mind that many of them are doing so to promote their product. They will push their own agenda, build relationships with decisions makers, and may not gather all the needed data.

Utilization

When we talk to most companies invariably they say to us, “an equipment what?” At which time we reaffirm “an equipment strategy.” This is one of the most overlooked items we see.  Most people don’t go on a two week road trip without preparation. Before you engage on your project determine what your goals are. How much time are you prepared to spend? What is your budget? What is the best term of contract for you and why? How will you finance and depreciate your equipment contract? What equipment do you really need? How many vendors will you engage?

SLA’s

How long has your sales representative been with their company? An average shelf life for a sales rep in the copier industry is 14 months. That isn’t very good, when you’re generally negotiating contracts for three to five years. If it’s a relationship that’s causing you to stay with a dealer, don’t get too attached.

The speed at which technology is changing today, it’s more important than ever for companies to watch their bottom line.  We suggest that all companies implement sound copier contracts that solve equipment problems, not create more.