Sunday, December 9, 2007

Print Much?

You hear it over and over; printed pages on laser printers can have twice the volume of conventional copier and MFP's. Use your eyes when walking into accounts and the number of printers can be astounding, especially since manufacturers have the average monochrome laser printer price about $300.

Your mission is to capture these prints either with your MFP's or your laser printers. Lets face it, it's much easier for clients to authorize buying a new laser printer for $300 than buying or leasing a new MFP. What the clients are not aware of is the cost per page on these low end devices. Some of these low end laser printers can a black per page cost of almost .07 cents per page, while most of the low end color laser printers could be as much as .22 per page. Volume is the critical point for recommended a new print solution with and improved work flow.

Mission Possible

Secure an appointment with a "C" level exec, if there is no "C" level exec, the owner of the company will suffice. Your job is to be a consultant or a "Docusultant" (someone who can advise on page costs of hardware and document work flow). You can offer this service for free or you can charge for your services, $150 per hour is not uncommon in the industry. Here's what comes along with being a "Docusultant", you will have to stop selling! Use a consultative approach, explain that you are an expert in the industry and you believe that there may be a better way of doing things, that may increase productivity and lower costs.
Productivity is key when speaking with "C" Level executives.

Then, prior to your meeting, take the time to research the costs that are associated with the costs of laser printers. Most copier manufacturers now have software that will allow you to find the cost per page of most laser printers. Your goal on the first appointment is to secure permission to get meter reads from all of the print devices and permission to interview each user. Interviewing the users in critical, they know the work flow and you don't, just getting meter reads can be a disaster if you do not understand the work flow of the printed pages. Some users will state they have not idea how much they print, and if you can't generate a "meter" or configuration page from the printer you will have to rely on their information. Take the time to answer these few questions:

1. Do you only fill the paper tray when it empties? If yes, ask if they fill the paper tray to the top? If no, ask about how much paper they put in.

2. How many times to you put paper in the paper tray per week? It is much easier for them to remember weekly than monthly.

3. What type of documents do you print? Invoices, Letterhead, Research from Internet, Email, etc.

4. Do you ever print pages and then walk them to the copier to make copies?

5. When printing, do you print from different applications to make a final document? If so, ask them what happens to the final document, is it then copied, faxed or mailed.


For large companies with fleet printers there are devices available that will allow you to gather detailed printing device information, perform print audits, collect meter reads, check supply levels, and troubleshoot devices without installing any software. Once you have gathered all of the desired information, you will need to do the research.

Researching can be fun and exhausting work, make sure your numbers are accurate! Nothing will sour a proposal more that numbers that are not accurate or inflated. Present the client with information on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly page volumes along with the associated cost per day, per week, per month and per year.

Replacement Costs

There's another cost that usually goes unnoticed to the client and this is "Replacement Cost" . Replacement Cost is the cost to replace the laser printer when the device fails or when the derived needs to be replaced. Since most desktop printers are purchased rather leased, you will also have to find the cost that they paid for these printers or give them a guesstimate if they do not have the paper work. Once you have the cost you can do a straight line amortization over "x" amount of months. Under $400, I give the printer a 24 month life cycle or less, if something goes wrong with the printer the customer will most likely throw it out and buy another. Over $400 but less than $800, I would then use a 30-36 month life cycle. Over $800 and less than $1,500, I'll use 48 months and anything higher than $2,000 I would use a 60 month cycle. Take the cost of the printer and divide by the life cycle for the monthly replacement cost. I have never had a client that did not agree to this, because they all agree that the equipment will not
last forever.

Some locations will have larger and faster laser printers, when you are presented with these make sure you ask if they are under a maintenance agreement or not. Remember it's good to have all of the facts and all of the costs associated with every print device. Here too, include a separate line in your spreadsheet for the monthly cost on maintenance agreements. Keep it simple, and informative!

Provide them with the costs for each printer or the cost that is associated with each work group or department. Provide the customer with creative solutions or fixes to their document work flow that can use a mixture of MFP's and Laser Printers that will best meet their needs. Be creative, think of new ways to do things, present options to the customer to reduce printed pages, reduce the costs with printed pages, increase productivity and or improve their work flow.

Remember your mission; it is to capture pages on your devices! Present the customer with an all inclusive proposal that will include hardware, maintenance and supplies.

Most clients have no clue as to what they are spending for printers, supplies, paper and maintenance; your analysis will be a breath of fresh air. If you have done your job well, they will agree with your findings, and then presenting them with cost savings alternatives is usually a slam dunk. One other note, do not leave a copy of the findings with them unless they have signed a confidentiality agreement, these type of agreements agree that the information that you presented is you and your companies intellect property and can't be shared with anyone else.

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