You’ve probably heard all about how today’s businesses are going paperless. But even with all the high tech document storing and sharing options available, the average office worker prints about 34 pages per day.
In all likelihood, your small business needs a printer, whether you print the occasional documents or a high volume of marketing materials. But the printer you need will vary depending on those habits.
So what exactly should you look for when choosing a printer for your small business? There isn’t one right answer for every business. But there are some clear things to look at, from budget to features and output. So it’s important to shop carefully.
How to Choose a Printer
If you’re not sure where to begin on your search, here are some expert tips for businesses looking to figure out how to choose a printer.
Estimate Your Printing Volume
Before you invest in a printer, it’s important to look at your current printing habits or what you expect to print on a daily basis in your office. If you just need occasional hard copies of documents for your records, your needs are going to be a lot different than a business that constantly sends out printed direct mail materials.
Not only should you look at actual volume of documents, but also the quality that you require. Is black and white printing good enough? Do you need a variety of finishes? What about mobile printing? Make a list of your must have features and those that would be nice to have before even starting your search.
Jason Harrison of Harrison Technology Consulting LLC said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “Really give thought to how you plan to use the printer. What kind of quality do you really need? What do you expect your print volume to be (pages per month, etc.)? Some printers do far better on print speed and ink or toner consumption.”
Avoid the Lowest Cost Models
Even though it’s always nice to save money, hardware purchases for your business shouldn’t usually fall into the bargain basement category. These cheap devices often require extra repairs or need to be replaced quickly, and they don’t offer you the quality you can get by paying just a bit more.
Harrison says, “Just like computing devices, you often get what you pay for with printers as well. Don’t buy the cheapest inkjet model you spot on the local office supply store shelf.”
Calculate All Costs
In fact, when setting your budget, it’s important to take all costs into account — not just the upfront purchase. Find out about ink, toner, repairs, power requirements and anything else that might impact your overall costs before settling on a model.
Harrison explains, “Cheaper printers tend to have short life spans and higher ink / toner costs. In some cases these can be more costly than a mid-ranged priced device, that may have cost more up front, but it’s cost of ownership is lower. Really do your research.”
Stick With Mid-Range Models Unless You Have Specific Needs
If you print a high volume of documents or if you print high quality marketing materials on a recurring basis, then you very well may need to invest in a high priced, professional office printer. However, many of today’s small businesses print sparingly.
With an increasingly paperless world and tons of document sharing and cloud storage options available online, you probably don’t print enough to warrant a huge investment. And many of today’s mid-range models offer all the features that most home offices or small teams need. However, businesses that print high volumes or those that require specialized features may need to invest a bit more.
Harrison says, “Go with a solid, well rated, mid-priced printer and if you have special print needs usually, the higher the price the faster and more efficient a printer will be.”
Get Input From a Professional
If wading through the options and learning about printer specs just doesn’t appeal to you, or if you’re overwhelmed by the options and aren’t sure where to turn, consider outsourcing this part of the process. An IT consulting firm can help you determine your company’s specific needs and match you with the printer and other hardware and software devices you need to meet those needs.
Harrison adds, “If you are really serious about investing wisely and you don’t mind hiring an expert to evaluate your needs and then make a non-biased recommendation, try to find a local IT Consulting firm that does not resell hardware or software.”