6 questions clients forget to ask before purchasing a photocopier

April 04 2019

The task of shopping for a new photocopier is rarely seen as an exciting project. Often seen as a mere commodity, the photocopier has to cost as little as possible. At least, that’s an attitude we’ve frequently witnessed. Buyers use the cost per copy consideration most of the time because it’s easy to understand and it allows them to quickly compare quotes among suppliers. Though it’s true that some suppliers stand out for their highly competitive prices, our 30 years of experience in the industry have shown us that cost is a factor that rarely leads to the best choice of machine for a business.

We asked our sales team what questions clients forget to ask most often when choosing a photocopier supplier. SAQs (should ask questions) are harder to identify than FAQs (frequently asked questions), but in our opinion they’re even more pertinent in making a purchase decision that will affect the everyday life of your employees. Here’s a list of questions to keep in mind for your next request for quotes.

1 – What proportion of your business is dedicated to printing equipment?

Since the photocopier industry is now in decline, an increasing number of suppliers are diversifying their activities and offering other products (e.g. office furniture and supplies). The size of the company can be a misleading indicator. A better method would be to check the number of employees a supplier dedicates to printing products and services, or the percentage of revenues it earns from this division. The stronger an industry player your printing equipment supplier is, the more purchasing power it has with manufacturers. This enables it to negotiate the best prices for its clients. A large retailer benefits from its power and flexibility, which it can then offer its own clients, because it’s well positioned to build partnerships with the brands it distributes.

2 – Do your technicians have easy access to replacement parts?

Photocopiers are without a doubt the type of device that breaks down most frequently in an office. That’s why a supplier’s quality of service must play a major role in your purchase decision. How suppliers provide their technicians with parts is a very good indicator, because it has a direct impact on their maintenance efficiency. Do the technicians have access to a parts warehouse; do they keep an inventory in their vehicle? Does the procurement process take into consideration the number of brands and models that the supplier distributes? Ask how they manage the issue of access to parts, given the multitude of models and generations available in today’s market. The answer will give you a good idea of the robustness of their process. The last thing you want when your machine goes down is to have to wait for a technician to place an order, receive the part and return to your offices to do the repair. An inventory of accessible parts is the key to optimal service.

3 – How do you ensure proper training of your technicians?

The number of technicians a supplier has on the road is another important assessment factor. But having numerous technicians doesn’t mean they’re all competent. Quantity of resources is one thing, but quality is another. Printing equipment technicians who respond to service calls are not simple repairers. Integrated technology in today’s photocopiers is increasingly complex. Technicians need to have the proper IT skills and continually update their knowledge. Ensure that your supplier monitors the skills of its technicians. After all, the continuity of your operations will depend in part on these experts.

4 – How will you monitor our device’s performance and what tools do you have to determine our efficiency ratios?

If a supplier can promise that your equipment will work on average 97% of the time, it’s impressive. However, they need to be able to back up a statement like that with an intelligent data collection tool, otherwise it’s not credible. To make such claims, you need to have the appropriate technology for measuring performance. If your supplier speaks in terms of ratios, ask to see the reports generated by the tools that will be used to monitor your performance.

5 – Have some unavoidable costs been left out of the quoted price? 

Some suppliers exclude from their quoted price costs that the client will have to pay after signing the contract. For example, cartridge delivery costs and fleet management costs have a significant impact on the cost per copy. Since they’re often excluded from the calculations at the time of the proposal, the quoted price can be misleading. Plus, you’ll be comparing quotes on an uneven playing field. In the photocopier industry, costs tend to be similar from one supplier to another. If you notice a significant deviation in one particular supplier, make sure their proposal includes all the costs.

6 – Do you have any client references?

The best way to measure a supplier’s quality of service is to speak with its current clients. Again here, you need to ask the right questions. Try to ascertain the type of experience their clients have had with the supplier’s service. But make sure you speak with the right people – those who manage service calls. Base your assessment on facts and examples instead of on subjective opinions. For example, ask about the steps involved and typical response times when a service call needs to be made to the supplier.

The persons responsible for purchasing or renting photocopiers are often evaluated on how much they manage to save their company. But savings aren’t limited to cost per copy or monthly device rental costs. Substantial savings are hidden in the supplier’s quality of service. The costs arising from loss of productivity due to a device failure are much more significant than a hundred dollars saved after a robust price negotiation at the time of purchase or rental. The less time your devices spend out of order, the more productive your employees will be.



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