When you buy a printer or copier, you often aren’t only making an investment in equipment.
Most likely, you aren’t buying the equipment outright, but are leasing or entering into a managed print services engagement (more on MPS here).
Smart businesses also know that copiers will break or jam and require regular maintenance to operate at peak efficiency.
The right printer is obviously important. Equally important is having a copier dealer capable of giving your business the support it needs.
Most of you reading this are probably nervous about being ripped off by a copier dealer using smoke and mirrors to make the sale.
We understand that. The stereotype of equating copier salespeople with used car dealers exists for a reason -- there are unscrupulous actors out there. We’ve created this list of questions to help you identify the “used copier dealers” of our industry so you can avoid them.
We hope this list helps you choose a copier partner who will be invested in your success.
1. Can I talk to a current customer?
Asking for a reference is always a good idea. You’ll gain insight into any concerns you may have -- billing, level of service, etc. When buying or leasing a large print fleet, it’s also worthwhile to search out their customers on your own -- Google reviews and LinkedIn are two spots to identify companies who have worked with your potential copier partner. When the non-vetted customers say the same thing as the official references, you’ve got an excellent indicator of a company you can trust.
If they can’t provide a few references quickly, run for the hills!
2. Are they helping you or selling to you?
This is more of a gut feeling than a question you can ask. Do they spend more time talking about their product than they do asking you questions about your business goals and challenges? If so, they’re probably more interested in making a sale than helping you. If they don’t hear you over the sound of their own voice, find someone else.
3. Are they official dealers?
Official dealers have a relationship with the manufacturer (Xerox, HP, etc.) which means they have access to training for their service reps (which benefits you because they’ll be able to repair/fix problems faster) and can sometimes pass volume discounts to you.
It’s also wise to stick to the well-known copier manufacturers. While less well-known brands exist, lower price is often matched with lower quality, which leads to higher cost to operate and decrease in equipment availability.
4. Are they locally-owned?
A locally-owned dealer makes their own decisions in the best interests of their customers. Because there isn’t a long decision-making chain, customer response is faster and, often, friendlier to the customer. Manufacturer-owned dealerships often suffer from disconnect between headquarters and the field, meaning slower decision-making that can impact your business -- especially in service-related matters.
5. Do they invest in their service technicians?
Critical components of a dealer’s ability to deliver superior service are the quality and experience of their service technicians. How many years of experience does the average service tech possess? How often do they update their skills with training?
When your copier is down and you have a deadline to meet, the last thing you need is a service tech fumbling around because they don’t have the knowledge or experience to fix your issue.
6. Do they push boxes or offer more well-rounded set of products/services?
What can they do beyond selling a printer? Many smart copier dealers are evolving to sell more complete solutions beyond just “the box.” “The box” is copier market lingo for just pushing equipment regardless of anything else the customer might need. It’s the reality of “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
7. Can they take your print fleet off your hands?
If you don’t have the in-house capacity to manage your printers and copiers, you should consider managed print services as an alternative to buying or leasing. To help you select the best managed print services partner, read How Do You Find the Right Managed Print Services Partner? Ask These 7 Questions.
As you look for new printers and copiers, don’t be shy about asking these questions. Listen closely to the answers and if they can’t hear your questions over the sound of their own voice, look for someone who does.