Printing paper can cost a lot of money for your company. Did you negotiate the best possible deal for your copy and print contract? Probably not, but I can help you get there.

I’ve been in the industry almost 25 years working in various positions—from a Sales Representative for the equipment dealers to a National Account Manager. I always joke that to negotiate a reasonable copy and print contract, you need to be an industry insider, Attorney, Finance Major, IT Manager, and have a degree in equipment architecture.

You see, the copy and print industry has been running out of balance for years for a couple of reasons.

  • Commission-based pay: This system encourages those in sales to drive up the prices, increasing their paycheck and decreasing yours.
  • Lack of transparency: You won’t find a blue book about copier and printer contracts.
  • Complicated contracts: Managing a copy and print contract correctly is incredibly complex and time consuming. Without in-depth industry experience, you’ll likely accept a price much higher than you have to pay.

Although the industry is confusing, there are still plenty of ways to negotiate your copy and print contract and save money. I’ve spent three years auditing contracts for companies large and small in the public and private sector, as well as in government and education. I’ve helped 98% of these companies negotiate better contracts.

Now I’m ready to share a few industry secrets to save money on your copy and print contract.

1. Consider Outsourcing

While you may be a DIY kind of person, a consultant with valuable industry experience has the power to potentially cut your monthly bill in half. Consultants have knowledge and resources to help you save money and time, which may be even more valuable. Your savings will be much higher than the portion that goes to the consultant, so it’s really a service that pays for itself.

2. Allocate Resources

If you decide not to work with a consultant, then you’ll need to assemble a committee with a Project Manager taking the lead. Make sure the committee has support from IT, Finance, and Legal experts. Otherwise, you’ll find your contract under-informed and overpriced.

3. Analyze, Analyze, Analyze!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” To measure your habits and goals, analyze the following details in your current contract:

  • Costs: How much are you spending each month on your copy and print contract and resources?
  • Benefits: What do you like about your current contract?
  • Relationships: How long have you worked with your vendor(s) and who do you want to work with going forward?
  • Challenges: What aspects of your current contract are inconvenient or could be improved?
    You’ll probably have a vendor offer to do an analysis. Keep in mind that this is a sales tactic to help them push their own agenda instead of gathering the data that you need to save money. That’s why a self-analysis is essential.
  • Find way to personally minimize paper printing costs in your organization.

4. Build an Equipment Strategy

Most companies I’ve worked with ask, “An equipment what?” While it might seem unnecessary to build a strategy around your equipment, this is an essential, and often overlooked, step to save money on your copy and print contract. Before starting your project, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my goals for negotiating my contract?
  • How much time do I want to spend on this project?
  • What is my budget?
  • What term of contract works best for my company? Why?
  • How will I finance and depreciate my equipment contract?
  • What equipment do I really need?
  • How many vendors will I work with?

5. Research Your Salesperson

I recently read that the average copy and print salesperson is with their company for a short 14 months. That’s not too impressive when you think about the thousands of dollars they could be saving you over a 3-5 year contract (or more importantly, the money they might cost you if they don’t negotiate correctly). Find out your salesperson’s experience before getting too far into negotiations.

6. Get Promises in Writing

I can’t tell you how many hand-shake negotiations I’ve seen go down the drain. Make sure any promises are specifically written in a contract and signed by someone with authority so you don’t get burned.

7. Check References

Every vendor will send you their favorite client to give a reliable reference. To hear a reference from a different perspective, ask the vendor for the contact information of a few clients they no longer do business with. You’ll quickly find out why they no longer work together and get more insight into the company’s practices.

When you give the clients a call, make sure to really ask what they like and dislike about their vendor. In other words, don’t let them off the hook with “they are the perfect vendor” comments.

Technology is changing fast, and businesses are sprinting just to keep up. Educate yourself on the best copy and print contract options to save money and hours of time, helping you reach your business goals efficiently.

Mark Barrick has over 20 years of experience in the copy and print industry at two major manufacturers and an independent copier dealership. He is passionate about helping clients, which is why he co-founded NuQuo to help negotiate the best possible contracts for each client’s individual circumstances.