5 Common Mistakes People Make When Purchasing a Copier

quality checklistWe say it often on this blog: Purchasing a copier or multi-function printer for your business is a big decision. It is a decision most businesses do not make everyday, so you want to make sure you make the right one. In my 20-plus years with Sharp, I have seen customers completely satisfied when they have selected a copier that fulfills all of their needs. I have also helped many clients that made decisions that were less than optimal make better decisions for the future.

What are the most common mistakes I have seen businesses make when purchasing a copier or multi-function printer? I have outlined them below so that you can learn from them and be confident in the decision you make for your business.

1. Not buying color

Many businesses avoid purchasing a copier or multi-function printer because, “Color is too expensive.” When you look at the price of a black-and-white copier and a color copier side-by-side, it may appear that the color copier is more expensive. But, are you outsourcing color? Are you paying extra for short runs? Are you throwing away changed documents? Are you printing color to inkjet or laser desktops? If you answered yes to any of these questions, purchasing a color copier or multi-function printer could pay for itself and save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

2. Not understanding the lease

How often do you read the full terms of service when signing up for online services like Facebook or Gmail? Probably not very often. Most people do not read privacy policies and terms of services. Often all of the legalese looks like Greek to us!

Work with your salesperson to make sure that you understand exactly what is in your lease. Get a copy of anything you sign and understand what it means before signing.

Questions you should ask include:

  • How long is the term?
  • Is it a dollar out lease or a fair market value lease?
  • Can changes be made if your needs change?

3. Not understanding the service contract

Just like the lease on your new copier or multi-function printer, work with your salesperson to make sure you understand all that is included in your service contract. It is an ongoing expense for the next three to five years? Again, make sure you get a copy of anything you sign and understand what it means before signing.

Questions you should ask include:

  • How many copies are included?
  • What is the overage rate?
  • What is NOT covered?
  • Does it cover network or printing issues?
  • Can it be changed annually?

4. Over or underbuying

Over or underbuying is an issue that affects more than just office equipment. Just think of real estate and life insurance—you could get into trouble with both if you over or underbuy. How do you make sure you purchase a copier or multi-function printer that is just right for your needs? Ask these questions:

  • Does it have all of the functions I need?
  • Is the copier the right size?
  • Is it fast enough?
  • Will it handle the number of copies I make?
  • Will it last the length of the lease term?

5. Buying used or “certified pre-owned”

To save money, many businesses will buy a used or “certified pre-owned” multi-function printer or copier. Sure, this can save you money upfront, but how much will it cost your business in the long run? The piece of equipment may only last a few years, and you could end up purchasing two (or more) copiers when you could have purchased just one copier new. It also becomes harder to find parts and supplies as a copier ages (and has more problems).

While purchasing a certified pre-owned piece of equipment gives you some additional guarantees over a non-certified copier, it does not give you the same guarantees as purchasing from an authorized dealer. What happens if the vendor goes out of business? Who will back up those certified pre-owned guarantees? Purchasing a copier or multi-function printer from an authorized dealer such as Copeco gives you the guarantee of the dealer, as well as a manufacturer that will stand behind the product.

I hope these five tips will give you confidence when purchasing your next copier or multi-function printer for your business. If you are located in the the Canton, North Canton, Akron, Toledo areas or elsewhere in Ohio, contact us. We would be happy to walk you through the purchase process and help you pick the right copier for your business.

Copiers and Printers: The Next Generation, Episode I

Business Man in SpaceOffice spaces, the final frontier. These are the voyages of Sharp multi-function printers and copiers. Their continuing mission: to explore strange new corporations, to seek out new life and new technologies, to boldly go where no printer or copier has gone before.

OK, maybe that was a little over the top, but Sharp continues to introduce innovative new printer and copier technology each year. We want to introduce you to the next generation of Sharp multi-function printers (MFPs). Tom Kappele, regional sales manager with Sharp Electronics Corp., shares his opinions below on new trends and features.

New Features You Can Expect in the Next Year

Sharp has recently released products in a few different categories, and I would expect this trend to continue over the next year. Like many of the manufacturers in our industry, we are introducing products in new market segments and also improving and enhancing existing products to meet customer expectations.

Recent introductions have included:

  • Production Color Models: 65- and 75-page-per-minute models with advanced job management tools and color processing capabilities using a Fiery print server. These models open new doors for Sharp and our dealers allowing us to sell color into high-volume production environments. These are our most advanced color MFPs ever.
  • Advanced Digital Display Products: Sharp’s line of Aquos Board Interactive Displays (60-, 70- and 80-inch models) give our dealers an opportunity to help customers in new markets—conference rooms, training facilities, etc. These products are state-of-the-art, high-definition LCD displays that can replace old technology such as projectors, white boards and flip charts in classrooms, conference rooms and more.
  • Mid-Volume Color MFP Products with New/Enhanced Functionality, including:
    • Standard wireless capability
    • Standard mobile printing
    • Standard Adobe postscript printing
    • Cloud-based document management and document storage capability
    • Standard Pantone color matching
    • Faster processors, more standard memory and larger hard drives for improved job completion
    • Enhanced, customizable user interfaces to simplify end user experience
    • Longer supply yields and reduced total cost of ownership

In the next year I would expect Sharp to release black-and-white models that incorporate some of these same enhancements that our color line-up has seen in the past 6-12 months. Sharp is a leading technology company that is constantly looking to improve existing products, and end users expect us to bring improvements and enhancements to our products.

How These Features Help Boost Productivity

The MFP market has been mature for years, so it’s not seeing growth from year to year in overall unit sales. Our industry is all about improving current technology. Improved productivity using the features mentioned above is part of the overall improvement of technology. These new capabilities are designed to simplify complex printing, copying and scanning jobs and shorten turnaround time.

Document management solutions, as mentioned above, will continue to be a focus for Sharp. All current and future products have the ability, using Sharp’s Open System Architecture (OSA), to integrate with third-party software solutions to easily scan and archive electronic documents, automate workflows to improve document processing within an organization, or track MFP usage and seamlessly bill by department using third-party accounting systems.

Cloud services are quickly becoming attractive for MFPs, just as they are for day-to-day software solutions in the office environment. End users have the option to pay monthly subscription fees for software rather than purchasing and installing it on their own server. I expect that trend to continue, so we’ll see even greater focus from Sharp on additional cloud services over the next year.

Share with us your feedback and the features you would like to see in new Sharp multi-function printers.

In Copiers and Printers: The Next Generation, Episode II, we will look further into the future of copiers and printers with Tom Kappele.

Take Your Printer or Copier for a Test Drive Before Purchasing

Test Drive Printers and CopiersSo many choices, so little time! With a wide variety of choices available in printer and copier equipment, you want to choose the best option for your organization or business. Do you need document scanning abilities for electronic filing or sending? Do you only need to print in black-and-white or does your sales team need high-quality color copying for full-color presentations? Or maybe your biggest concern is ease of use for your employees. Whatever your needs and concerns, a hands-on demonstration can easily answer those questions and help you make a great decision.

Having led several equipment demos during my sales career at Copeco, I know how beneficial they can be. Think of on-site demonstrations like test driving a car: Would you really buy a vehicle without taking it for a spin first? Probably not. First, you want to make sure the car has all of the amenities you are looking for. Next, you want to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Switch out PPM (pages per minute) for RPM (revolutions per minute), and cars and copiers are actually similar—though I suggest keeping your copier in the office and not on the road! Read more

When It Comes to Copier Leasing, Is Your Dealer on Your Side?

Copier and printer leasing in Canton, Akron, Youngstown and OhioThese days, you can lease just about anything in the realm of office machines and equipment, from all-in-one printers to the software that controls them.

Because technology is changing rapidly, you may be thinking about getting a new copy machine or replacing an out-of-date laser printer. And, if you aren’t currently in an equipment lease, you might be weighing the pros and cons of buying and leasing. Of course, both options have their advantages.

When you buy a printer outright, it’s yours. No monthly payments. No financing hassles. However, the purchase of a high-dollar, all-in-one printer can certainly put a dent in your available business capital. That’s one of the top reasons most of my customers choose to lease copiers and printers. Other advantages include:

  • Structured payments to match your business cash flow, cycles or budget.
  • Longer leases with fixed payments on the equipment – sometimes up to 60 months or more.
  • Tax deductions, as lease payments are an operating expense.
  • Access to equipment upgrades that will keep you productive and competitive.
  • Improved balance sheet ratios because lease obligations are’t capitalized.
  • Options for purchase or lease renewal at the end of your term.

You’re probably already familiar with all these positives. Virtually every company that specializes in printer and copier sales and service will be happy to discuss this list with you. However, beyond that basic decision between buying and leasing, there’s a deeper question I encourage people to ask.

How do you know if your dealer is on your side?

A Good Copier Dealer Should Be a Customer Advocate

In the 14 years I’ve been handling copier and printer leases, I’ve come to recognize the importance of being a customer’s advocate and chief negotiator. That responsibility starts on day one when I or someone on my team reviews leasing vendor options for a local business in Canton, Akron, Youngstown or elsewhere in Ohio. It continues right up through the final payment and all those important (but often forgotten) end-of-lease obligations.

It’s important to recognize that you, the customer, don’t have much leverage with or access to the leasing company a dealer chooses. For the most part, you are dependent on the dealer throughout the entire process.

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Copier Lease

So, even though you may know the ins and outs of office equipment leasing, how well do you know the copier/printer dealer that you’re working with? Before you sign on the proverbial dotted line, I encourage you to ask your dealer’s leasing manager these questions because, at some point, it will save you time, money and stress.

  1. How long have you worked with the leasing companies you use?
  2. How well do your leasing companies understand the office equipment industry?
  3. I need special terms with my lease. To what level can you negotiate with the leasing company?
  4. What type of equipment upgrades do you normally offer and when?
  5. How will you handle this lease for my business if someone else is in charge of our copier leasing at the end of the term?
  6. How far in advance will you notify my business when the lease is nearing its end?
  7. What kind of options will I have at the end of my lease?

Before you enter into a leasing agreement with a printer and copier supplier, make sure that company is an expert not only in the equipment it sells, but also in the leasing services it offers. Breaking a lease is a big decision, so it’s better to be satisfied right from the start.

 

Achieving Goals: It’s All About the Steps You Take Every Day

Making New Year's Resolutions Last All YearI ran across an article today that says 35 percent of Americans break their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. That’s unfortunate, but not surprising.

As a long-time salesperson and now VP of sales with Copeco, one of Northeast Ohio’s leading providers of Sharp copiers and printers, I believe the steps you take every day toward your goal are more important than the goal itself. Without a clearly defined plan of action, goals end up being a fog or a glittering generality. And, I’m sure, that’s a major reason why people give up on New Year’s resolutions so quickly.

When it’s time to plan goals for the New Year (or any time of the year), here’s the method I like to follow. Not only does it work when applied consistently, but it also can be adapted to fit every part of your life, including career, personal, family and more.

It’s not hard to do, but throughout the process, you must WRITE everything down. If you don’t, all your ideas are little more than – you guessed it – glittering generalities.

  1. Write down these six main categories: financial, career, education, spiritual, family and physical.
  2. Put the categories in order of most important to least important for you. Those last two words are critical because goal planning encompasses every aspect of your life and should be a very personalized process.
  3. Identify a goal for each category. Be specific and, yes, write it down.
  4. Carefully and strategically plan your steps to get to that goal, in writing.

For example, if you place your career at the top of your list and say your goal is to earn $100,000 per year, you have to decide if you’re willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal. And, you must place that goal within the context of your history. To make $100,000 a year, you might need to sell 1,000 widgets. But, in the past, you’ve normally sold only 500 widgets. Is your goal one of those glittering generalities?

Each goal you create must also include these important items:

  • Time frame. A goal without a time frame is a day dream.
  • Obstacles. What stands in your way? How do you overcome the obstacle?
  • People. Identify the people that can help you attain your goal. Also, determine whom you will share your goal with so that you will stay accountable.
  • Knowledge. Identify the knowledge you must have to attain your goal.
  • WIIFM. What’s in it for me? Why are you setting this goal?

Key Ingredient: the Plan of Action

Any plan of action for achieving a goal must be implemented on a daily basis. So, dissect your goal into microgoals that are manageable. What can you do each and every day that will move you a little bit closer to your goal? As with the goal itself, your plan of action must be specific.

Avoid getting behind or spending all your time putting out fires. If you do, you’ll get overwhelmed. Then the goal becomes an irritant.

So, write down your microgoals and stick to your daily plan. It’s all about the preparation!

How to Help Others with Goal Planning

If you’re a manager who’s responsible for helping others set goals, you must make sure the person you’re working with develops and takes ownership of their goals. You must be on the same page. If you give people a goal, it’s no longer their goal.

Plus, the result of achieving the goal should be fulfilling, as opposed to giving a negative consequence for failure. Build people up! I believe you’ll get a person to push harder if they feel supported. The process must be motivating, and, of course, everyone has different motivations. As a manager, you have to figure out what motivates each person who works for you.

In the end, you can’t sell yourself or anyone else on goals. Each of us must own our goals and implement a consistent plan of action for achieving them. Hopefully, this encourages you to establish and work toward your New Year’s resolutions differently – and more successfully – in 2012.

Six Tips on Building a Successful Outside Sales Team

If you’re building an outside sales team, hopefully you’re not starting over from scratch.Creating a sales teams It’s so important to be able to rely on your sales leaders, especially during a season of transition. Throughout my lengthy sales career, I’ve been through a number of such transitional periods, and I’d like to share these six tips that I’ve personally used to develop successful outside sales teams.

#1: Introduce New Hires to Your Sales Leaders

If I asked you who your sales leaders are, you could probably name them off the top of your head. These are the people who have been successful over the long haul for your company. They are your role models. When new individuals join your sales team, they should get to know the sales leaders and aspire to be like them.

#2: Provide Step-by-step In-house Sales Training

I recommend a week of in-house sales training for all new outside sales representatives. Before new hires go out on any sales calls, several different staff members should guide them step by step through the inner workings of your products and services, as well as building a call database, conducting a demo, assessing the customer’s needs, closing a deal and more. Online training may be valuable, too. Make sure that after a week of training, they are fully prepared to get on the phone and schedule their own appointments and demos.

#3: Coach Them During Initial Appointments

Once in-house training is complete, you should accompany your new hires on the first few appointments they have made. Coach them but don’t criticize.

One thing I like to do before we get out of the car is to decide what our goals are for a particular appointment. If it’s an introductory meeting, then it’s to get a demo. If we’ve already done a demo, then we want to close the sale. Explain how they can get to the goal. Show them how to walk the customer from point A to point B.

During the appointment, lead by example. Perhaps you do the first demo and then let them know they are responsible the next time. Review processes with them and let them know your expectations. Then, let them take the lead. Let them gain the experience and confidence they need to be successful.

#4. Set Standards and Expectations

You must let your outside sales new hires know what your minimum acceptable standards and behaviors are. Otherwise, they won’t know and they won’t succeed. If you expect 140 phone calls in a week, then let them know that. Then, if they only make 25 calls, you can manage that at a more granular level (perhaps a daily goal) and take steps for correction.

#5. Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Change

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in the past is hanging on too long when new hires aren’t working out. Usually it’s because I think that if I could just help them more or encourage them more, they’d improve. But, when you’re honest with yourself, you know within the first week or so if people are right for the job or not. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, allowing them to remain even though they aren’t going to be successful can create a certain negativity in your department.

Some early signs that place new sales hires on the bubble include:

  • Coming in late on a regular basis.
  • Not taking the initiative to ask questions about their training and your products and services.
  • Making excuses about why they can’t do a demo or make sales calls, especially if you offer them scripts. (Read my earlier post about overcoming call reluctance.)

Anyone can have an off month, but consistent mediocrity won’t work in the long run. Even if you feel like you’ve invested a great deal of time and energy in your new hires, it’s better for them and your company to call it quits sooner rather than later. Then, you can go back to your pool of possible candidates and try again.

#6. Create a Team that has Fun

Bottom line, you want to have an outside sales team that has fun and develops camaraderie. And, when there’s success, people are having fun and building positive relationships. Therefore, do everything you can to surround yourself with salespeople who are capable of being successful.