You may know you want to lease copier machines in your office (if you don’t check out our article on Leasing vs. Buying a Copier), but do you know what comes next? A lot of businesses and professionals looking to lease really have no idea what to expect (or where to start) when they’re leasing a new business machine. These easiest way we know how to prepare you is to help you navigate through a series of preparatory steps in order to ready yourself for your lease—and avoid looking like a newbie in the process. The first step involves understanding the general process of leasing a copier machine or multifunction printer (we covered most of this in our article titled Basics of Purchasing or Leasing a Copier). The second is knowing what questions you’re likely to be asked. The third step largely deals with understanding the details of the proposed lease, once you get it, and the associated costs and conditions of that lease agreement.
Step 1: Lease Copier Machines Like a Pro—Know the Process
Your Copier/Printer Output Requirements
The first thing you’ll need encounter with a lease is determining the machine requirements for your office (see our article on Basics of Purchasing or Leasing a Copier). This sets the pace and scope for everything after that. Most dealers will help you with this, but you want to do as much research into your company’s needs as you can. After all, you know more about your company than they do. Be ready to tell them how much you print each month on average and what types of materials (paper stock) and colors you use on a regular basis.
Knowing the equipment you need for copying is one thing, but what about stapling and binding. You’ll be asked about these tasks and it’s important to understand how they affect your business. Time is money—but only up to a point. Know where you can truly benefit from extra features and then go for those—but also know where you’re simply paying for “nice to have” features you’ll rarely use.
Maintenance and Service Contract Options
Before you sign a lease for your equipment, you’ll likely be presented with options for servicing the leased printer. This could also include limitations on how much you print (until cost adders are kicked in). Know what you need in advance so you don’t over- or under-estimate too significantly here.
Get It on Paper
Once you’ve discussed everything with your dealer, be sure to get it all in writing. Request a contract/proposal that includes the products and services you need and then have it read by someone who’s used to these types of contracts. This can save you tons of headaches down the road.
Sign/Initiate the Contract/Proposal
There’s no time like the present! Once everything looks good, you’ll sign the contract and you’ll be on your way.
Step 2: Understanding Your Copying/Printing Needs
To better prepare for your lease, it’s good to get down and detailed with what you need to understand.
Know What Features You Need
Understand how your office uses printing and copying machines so you understand the capabilities you require to get your work done. In some cases, looking at your workflow can help identify “slowdown” areas in your business that could be improved with some extra features for your document printing solution(s).
How Much Do You Really Print?
You really want to evaluate your current and expected print needs before entering into any lease agreement. While you can negotiate overage charges, it’s always best to try and get as close as possible without leaving a ton of “clicks” (printed images) on the table each month. What worse is that most companies don’t believe in “rollover clicks” so you either use them or lose them.
How Much Color Do I Use?
You not only have to ask yourself how much color you use, you need to understand how you get billed for it. One client we know had a small bit of color in their logo. If they printed the color logo on an otherwise monochrome print, it counted as a color click (and was thus billed at a higher rate). Many copier and printer dealers will cut you a break on these types of color requirements, but you need to know up front so you’re not surprised later.
Do You Need Training or Document Management Solutions?
While basic copying is straightforward enough on most machines, getting into fancier configurations like document management integrations and setting up SMTP servers for emailing copies might take a bit more time. It’s up to you to define your needs and figure out what is possible from your dealer or service provide in these areas. If you require a document management solution, your dealer is a great resource for those as well.
Step 3: Understanding Your Actual Lease/Service Agreement
If you have someone in your company who is familiar with reading contracts, great. If not, you’ll want someone you trust who can help you go over it. In many cases these are becoming more and more easy to understand, but you don’t want to be surprised later.
Know Your Payment Terms
The payment terms for a lease agreement can be monthly or quarterly, but in either case you want to be aware of how and when the charges will be made. You also want to know what the penalties are for making late payments or in the event that you need to exit the lease for any reason. You don’t want to plan on doing any of these things, but it’s always good to understand the consequences for these actions in advance.
Understand Any Limitations
Does your lease agreement cover accidental damage? What repairs does it cover? What happens in the event of accidental damage and what are the repair rates (if any)? Make sure you know what you’re in for should you incur an hourly repair rate in something that is not covered by your normal lease and/or service agreement.
What is My Cost Per Click? (Service agreements only)
You definitely want to understand the cost per click. This is what you will get charged for each copy you make on a machine. A two-sided copy is, in most cases, two clicks, and color copies are charged a different rate than black and white. Knowing what happens when you go under and over your allocated monthly click amount is crucial, so pay particular attention to that part of your contract or service agreement.
What Happens at the End of the Lease?
Most people are so thankful to get through the process of leasing a printer or copier, they forget to ensure they understand what happens when that lease is up. Knowing whether you intend to buy the copier at the end of the lease, upgrade, or simply trade it in for another products will help you negotiate your terms a bit so you understand what you’re in for 3-5 years down the line. The last thing you want is to be surprised by a return shipping or freight bill when your lease is up!
What Response Time Do You Need?
With your lease or service agreement you want to understand what happens when something breaks. DO you have to wait a day for service? Two days? What happens if they can’t fix it immediately? Are there “loaner” copiers or MFPs available? Who will configure them for your office? In most cases the dealer or service provider will repair the unit on-site fairly quickly, but you should know how long they will take to do so on average, and what recourse you have if they don’t meet their obligations.
There is a lot to learn about leasing a copier machine, but you can pick it up quickly and lease like a pro in no time. Your goal is to negotiate a favorable agreement for both you and the dealer—providing adequate service for the length of the lease so you can get your work done. Taking the time to understand your needs, and to understand what’s being offered, is essential to navigating a copier lease like a pro.