When I talk to people about leasing a copier or MFP it doesn’t take long to get to the bottom line: How much is it going to cost to lease a copier for my business? The “How much does it cost?” question is a sensible one, but it’s a lot like asking: “How much will my mortgage cost?” You need to supply some additional information. How long is the loan? How big is the house? Where is it located? You get the idea. Understanding the costs associated with leasing a copier or multifunction printer invokes some significant associated questions. Here are just a few:
- Is it black and white or color?
- How fast does it need to be? (What is the desired print/copy speed?)
- Do you need finishing options like a sorter, hole-punch, an automatic stapler or the ability to saddle-stitch documents like small pamphlets?
- How much paper do you need to load? Do you require additional trays and paper capacity?
- What is the lease term?
Deciding the Lease Term
Lease terms are typically 36 or 60 months (3- or 5-year terms), but I’ve seen less typical terms such as 48 months. Like a car loan, this is the duration for which the value of the lease (often the retail value) is amortized. Unlike a car loan (but very much like a car lease), you typically do not own the copier when the lease is up. You will need to either send the unit back (often at your expense) or buy it at the then-current value as determined by your lease paperwork.
The reason there are different lease terms is because the payments go down with longer terms, but the fees as well as the interest associated with those leases go up (compensating for the depreciation of the item and the decreased amount of capital being paid down). In general, shorter lease terms have higher payments, but include less fees and interest.
The Calculated Lease Amount
There’s no magic in calculating your lease amount, you simply need to know all of the variables. Your lease company will include all of the options you desire as part of the copier (or copiers) you are leasing (finishing units, paper trays, fax options, software upgrades, etc). This, along with the amortization table and the associated fees, makes up your lease payment.
A typical lease amount can be estimated somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 for every $1000 in the price of the copier or MFP for a five-year lease. That means a device costing $12,000 will run you, roughly, $300 per month. I say “roughly”, because this number is a ballpark estimate (and a very large ballpark at that!), but it gives you an idea of what I’ve observed to be the average range for a leased copier or MFP in the last few years. Despite this caveat, if you have data to the contrary (or you just want to call me names) please feel free to leave a comment in the space provided below—I can take it! Also keep in mind that your lease payment will go up the shorter the lease term.
Given that leasing a copier is a great way to hold on to your business capital, you’ll see leases starting as low as $100 per month all the way up to over $600 or more—and that’s not counting those expensive production-level machines that can handle a much higher workload at much greater speeds.
Trouble-free Service Contracts or Maintenance Agreements
While we’ve given some helpful information on lease rates and terms, there’s another factor you’ll need to add into the equation (but which typically exists separately from the lease), and that is the service contract. This is kind of like buying a plan to keep your car in new tires and oil for the life of the lease. And, like a vehicle service contract, it also covers any required maintenance—and does so in-house. That means you’re never sending the unit out for repair. As you can imagine, for larger offices (and indeed even smaller offices) this peace of mind is why service contracts are so popular. About the only thing a service contract doesn’t cover is paper and electricity.
The way a service contract works is on a “per click” basis. A “click” is a single one-sided print or a copy. You’ll need to talk with your service provide as to how that is calculated—particularly with respect to two-sided copies and color vs. black and white print jobs on color machines. In any case, the service contract is an estimated amount of copies or prints you will make monthly and typically runs between $0.01 and $0.02 per click for black and white and between $0.05 and $0.09 per page for color. This can vary a lot depending upon the amount of pages you print each month. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Try to negotiate so that if you go over your expected monthly clicks you don’t pay a higher rate, but you simply pay for each additional click
- Understand what you will be charged (in clicks) for tabloid (11×17) prints as opposed to 8.5×11
- Ask how black and white prints with very small color logos will be billed. For example, do you get charged a color click for a very small amount, or is there a minimum coverage amount for that cost is incurred? This could be critical if you have a small amount of color in your letterhead and print those frequently on your machine.
Hopefully, this gave you some helpful guidelines in how you might calculate the cost of your printer or copier lease and understand the associated fees and methodologies used in arriving at those numbers. As always, we want to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us with any feedback or questions you may have, or leave a comment below.