"How Much Does a Color Copier Cost?” Is the Wrong Question

How much your copier costs is important...but it shouldn't be the only thing on your mind.

I don't know about you, but one of the first questions I ask (or at least think about) when buying something is “How much is this going to cost me?”

When you're looking for a color copier (or laser printer or production printer), I'm sure it's probably one of the first questions you ask.

It's the wrong question.

How much your color copier costs is important.

However, do you even need a color copier? Would a black and white copier actually be a better fit for your needs? Maybe you even need a laser printer and scanner and don't even need a multifunction copier at all!

In my experience, fixating on costs when it comes to the hardware and software that runs your business puts the cart before the horse.

Budget is important. That's obvious.

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But you need to look at your actual needs and the value of the equipment to your business too.

You don't want to underspend on a color copier that isn't robust enough to meet your needs , breaks down frequently from overuse, and doesn't have the functionality you need so your productivity decreases. That's not saving money or being fiscally prudent, that's just false economy.

What ARE the right questions? Here are a few better ones to start with than cost.

How many people will use the copier?

Single user? Small (2 to 5 people) workgroup? The entire department or even company? There's a fine line of productivity between having a single device for all employees versus multiple, lower capability devices spread throughout the office. I wrote about this earlier this year in Copier Feng Shui.

How much do I need to print?

How many pages do you print each month/each year? One quick way to calculate this is to count how many reams of paper you go through each month. Each ream of paper is 500 pages. Some basic arithmatic will give you a good estimate from there. Alternately, most copiers have print tracking software. Turn tracking on and you'll know exactly how much you're currently printing and copying if you're looking to invest in a new copier.

Do I need color?

If you're producing customer-facing documents, you probably need color capability. If you're printing and copying needs are entirely internal, do you REALLY need color? Color is nice. It's also more expensive – even at pennies a copy, Benjamin Franklin was right, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

How often will I scan and how many documents do I need to scan?

If you need to scan lots of documents and/or a variety of paper types, a dedicated scanner might be a better fit for your business. Copier scanning functionality is excellent, but using the scanning functionality daily for hours at a time would prevent any other use of the device. 

Network Connectivitity

Nearly every copier on the market today can be connected to your company network with an ethernet cable. Do you have remote workers who need to print but aren't always in the office (or even in the office with their laptops?). You might need wireless connectivity (standard on some models, optional on others) to allow these workers to print from their laptops or even smart phones and tablets. That's better than tracking down a co-worker, emailing the document you want to print to them, and having them open it and print your document!


Finisher Options

Do you need to hole-punch documents? Do you need more output capacity? Stapling? Folding or booklet creation?


Will the software onboard the copier work with your existing IT infrastructure? For the most part, the answer will be “yes.” It's still worth a quick check with your IT department before purchase though.

There's no such thing as a 'best copier'. But there is a best copier for you. Talk to an office equipment expert today and find the perfect copier for your office.


Of course, price! Just because focusing on the price of a copier at first is the wrong way around, you still have a budget.

Buy, Lease, or Managed Print Services?

Depending on price and your budget, does it make the most sense to buy the copier outright? Is leasing the equipment to spread out the cost a better way to go? Or would it be more cost-effective to consider a managed print services contract and have someone manage your copiers and printers for you (essentially means you pay a set cost for each copy, for more on this, read Managed Print Services Versus Cost Per Copy: There Is a Difference)?

Like anything, the more capability you need, the more your copier will cost. But ask yourself these questions BEFORE you overspend  on a copier with more features and functionality than you really need or underspend and hurt your office's productivity.

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About The Author

Dave Quint, president and CEO of Advanced Systems Inc. and past president of BTA Mid-America. Dave has worked with copiers, MFPs, scanners, and document workflow software since joining Advanced Systems as a sales associate in 1989. His favorite part of the job -- “there is no greater joy than to see the positive impact these solutions have in our client’s businesses.’ You press print, we take care of the rest. Contact us for more information >>