Posted by Kirk Studebaker // VP of Sales on Feb 14, 2018 2:34:46 PM

Buying a new copier is confusing. These 9 questions will help your narrow down the best choices for your SMB.It’s easy to get overwhelmed when buying office equipment. That’s why buyers fall into the trap of either buying a device that has too little, or too much, functionality. 

It’s an all too common occurrence, especially when you don’t have the luxury of time to make an informed decision. Or, maybe you really just don’t care, and want someone to help you make the right decision (That’s what the experts are for, right?) 

Whatever kind of buyer you are, asking a few questions lessens the risk of problems down the road. The more questions you ask (and there is no such thing as a dumb question), the more confidant you will be knowing that you got exactly what you needed. 

We’ve put together a list of nine of the key questions every buyer should ask before they buy a copier.

1. Can the machine print in color? 

The ability to print in color is often overlooked until it’s too late. If there is even the slightest chance you want the option of printing in color, ask about a product that gives you both. Color is not always as expensive as you may think, especially if you are outsourcing color (which typically has a 400% markup).

2. Can the machine be enabled for wireless printing?

Most of today’s devices that live on a network can be enabled for wireless printing. The main difference is the user interfaces that are used to actually print. Many manufacturers have dedicated apps you can download and configure to enable this feature and the all differ slightly.
Be sure you check out all the options, and request an actual demo of the process, especially if you are looking for something that is easy for guests to use.

3. What features are considered “standard” and come with the equipment without upgrade?

We often compare office equipment sales to that of the automotive industry and in this example, it couldn’t be more fitting. Copiers, like cars, have makes, models, and upgraded features.

You wouldn’t just walk in and buy the first vehicle you see on the lot because you liked the paint color would you? Buying on appearance alone will get you nowhere. A good place to start is on the back of a product brochure where all of the standard and upgrade options are listed in that teeny, tiny print. Get out your reading glasses, check it out, and ask questions.

4. What upgrades should I consider to enhance office productivity? (i.e., hard drive size, finishing options, added security)

Adding on to #3, your sales representative can be a very valuable resource in recommending upgrades. They know the products they are selling just like you know things that you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to describe how your office functions, what kinds of jobs your users need to do on a daily basis, and even look into the future and talk about things you would like to do moving forward.

Office equipment has all kinds of extra productivity tools that customers rarely use because they didn’t even know they exist.

5. What is the company’s actual response time in your specific area, and what do they consider “reasonable” in terms of equipment downtime?

It’s very easy for a company to say that they have a great reputation for service response time, actually doing it is another thing. In addition to a written service agreement, ask for references from customers in a similar business as you. If they can’t give you a reference, there’s a reason for that.

6. How does the company manage parts for the machine you are considering? Do they keep them in stock, or do they require a special order?

Supply inventory is another important thing to know about. Some companies make the investment and keep real-time stock available to their technicians whereas others wait for their customers to need certain parts and then order them from the manufacturer. Knowing your vendor’s policy is paramount, especially if you are in an industry that can’t afford printing disruptions.

7. Will the company provide a service loaner free of charge if they can’t fix a machine in a “reasonable” amount of time?

This one is pretty cut and dry - will they? If they won’t, what kinds of accommodations will they make if you are in a bind? Will they pay for the work to be outsourced? Can you come to their showroom and use their demo fleet?

8. What kind of purchasing options does the company offer?

Weighing the pros and cons of buying vs. leasing is a good idea. If you are the kind of company that needs to spread out the cost over a long period of time, leasing might be a better way to go. If you do decide to lease, be sure you understand your role in the agreement, especially if you need to make changes, or default in the middle of your contract.

9. Are there any features in a newer version of the model you are considering that might be worth waiting for?

Once you decide on a piece of equipment, be sure to ask about the model’s longevity. Like cars, copiers get face lifts all the time. Significant changes in a product’s features can also be an opportunity to get a better deal, as the dealer might be looking to make room for the new inventory.

Like we said before, there is no such thing as a dumb question. We also have inside information that everyone on our team would love to talk your ear off about all of the amazing features on our products.

We’re just goofy like that. Don’t be afraid, just ask!

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Kirk Studebaker // VP of Sales

Written by Kirk Studebaker // VP of Sales

Kirk has been in the Office Technology sector for 20 years working in the dealer world focused on supporting sales teams. Having worked for Manufacturers and dealers as well as his own entrepreneurial ventures, Kirk is dedicated to the development of people in the sales profession.

Outside of work Kirk has a wife and two children and enjoys being outside whether hunting or horseback riding.

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