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Small Business Guide To Copy Machines

Small businesses are usually too strapped for cash to acquire things like printers, scanners and copiers. As a result, many businesses choose combination machines that can handle many of their needs in one machine. However, deciding which is best for you is still a decision that requires some thought. Here we take a look at ways to ensure that you get the best copier for your business, taking into account the things that a small business needs.

Types of Copy Machines for Small Businesses

Simple Copy machines are still available, although the world market is leaning towards combination systems. You can still purchase one of the old copy machines for an office, although it may not be the best option for your money. Far more often, businesses aim to buy all-in-one copy machines that print, fax and copy. The downside of this technology is the associated cost. Simple copy machines are much more cost effective when compared with their all-in-one counterparts. They are also able to copy more formats of documents for a better price than the printer-scanner-copiers. Combination machines have the benefit of being able to copy color documents for a fraction of the cost that traditional copy machines do. Depending on the needs of your company, the cost of a combination printer-scanner-copier may be justified.

Leasing vs Buying Copy Machines

Buying a copier can be a very costly expense, especially for a small business. Leasing a copier may be a much better solution for a company that doesn't have the same resources as other corporate entities. Leasing allows a company to afford a copier on terms, getting the benefit of using the copier while at the same time not having to worry too much about maintenance costs or firmware upgrades. It also allows for the company to dispense with the associated cost of disposing of the copier at the end of the lease. The downside of leasing copiers is that it usually costs more over the long term to lease than to buy a copier.

Top Brands of Copy Machines

  • Lexmark: Ranging from $250 to $1,500 dollars, combination systems from Lexmark are usually dependable and only have a minimal maintenance cost. However, as the unit ages, it may require more and more maintenance. For a short term solution, Lexmark combination machines are the best, but in the long term they tend to fall short.
  • Epson: Epson Printer-Scanner-Copiers have been among the world's best for a long time. With an affordable price tag of between $300 to $350 dollars, Epson combination systems have shown that they can stand up to daily use and have the ability to be a very useful machine in the long run. Maintenance costs can be quite high, however.
  • Kodak: not a name usually associated with copiers, combination machines from Kodak have been making waves with their ability to scan and copy high color images with a great deal of fidelity. Relatively affordable ($250 - $300 dollars), Kodak combination machines are definitely useful in a small business environment.
  • Hewlett-Packard: HP has been present in the copier market from the beginning and their stand-alone systems are remarkable. However, their versatility extends to combination machines that can be affordable ($350 dollars) or expensive ($900 dollars) depending on the needs of your business. There is usually an HP machine to fill every niche.
  • Canon: As far as dependability goes, Canon has shown that it can stand among the most reliable brands out there. Relatively inexpensive ($250 - $500 dollars), these make for great additions to any small business office. The maintenance costs can be rather high, however, as the ink cartridges tend to drain quickly.

Copier Cost Considerations

When it comes to determining the needs of a business based on the costs associated with the acquisition of a copier, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Chief among them are the costs associated with owning a copier. As has been shown before, operating a copier can be very costly, especially if there is a large amount of business that requires using the copier. Wear and tear on copiers can mean that within the first three years of owning a copier, the maintenance costs can quickly become untenable. In situations like these it is far more cost effective to consider leasing as an option to keep the operating costs of copying down. In a small business, keeping costs down is important and for a business of less than twenty employees, it may be preferred to lease rather than purchase a copier simply because of how cost effective leasing is.

Choosing a Copy Machine Based On Your Needs

What does your company need from a copier? Is it more cost effective to buy a combination machine or simply spring for a stand-alone copier? How necessary is it for documents to be copied quickly? Will it be used extensively or not? These are all things that need to be addressed when deciding if a combination copier is better or if it makes more sense to simply pay for a standalone copier or lease one. Needs that should be addressed are:

  • Speed of Copying
  • Frequency
  • Cost of maintenance
  • Number of Paper Trays
  • Types of Documents that need to be copied
  • Automatic Feed (especially for large jobs)
  • Maximum amount of paper that can be held per tray
  • Ability to duplex and collate
  • Speed and Functionality

As the speed of operation of copiers rise, so does the one technical problem that plagues copiers: the dreaded paper jam. Many companies prefer to sacrifice functionality, going instead for speed. The results can be disastrous, especially in the case of a company that only operates one printer. In the case of a stall when a large document is being copied, the flaws of choosing speed over functionality are obvious. The end result is far more time may be taken to fix the jam than would be spent if the slower, more reliable copier was chosen. In a business environment, it is true that speed is of the essence, since time is money. But there are times when functionality trumps speed, and in the case of a copier, faster might not always be better. Always make sure to remember this when choosing a copier, since in times of dire need, the worst thing that can befall a company is a stuck copier.