a portrait of Don Linder

Don Linder, AGS Business Systems

Printing is a necessity for almost all businesses. It can also be a powerful marketing tool to increase revenue. But what kind of printer is ideal for your business? That depends on a few factors. How frustrated are you with your present equipment? How much people time are you wasting? What is your present printing volume? How much will your volume increase in the future? What is the volume of black & white vs. colour? And what kind of prints are you producing? Depending on the answers here are three different approaches to take.

Consumer Grade Printers: You can buy a consumer-oriented printer at a typical Big Box store. As long as your volume is quite low and you’re not going to work it too hard, it’s a good choice. The definition of low volume depends on whether you do colour or B&W and the amount printed on a typical page. Anything under a thousand prints a month is considered low volume.

Also consider whether you’ll be doing a lot of scanning. Some offices do a lot of ‘scan-to-email’ and some of the lower-end All-in-One copiers could prove frustrating and time consuming.

The big advantage to consumer printers is your initial cost is low and for lower volumes you will get adequate performance from either a laser or ink-jet printer. A drawback is if you do print high volume the cost of operation can really take off on you. Especially if you’re printing in colour.

Many times, I’ve seen people spend hundreds of dollars a month on ink cartridges. And these printers break down quickly and add to landfills because they aren’t worth investing in repairs. Don’t forget to include the people cost of getting the correct ink cartridges and trying to fix the inevitable technical problems.

Printing Services: This is a great choice for a lot of people if you’re looking for exceptionally good quality or need a large volume of a document that doesn’t change very often. Business cards and rack cards are common examples. Otherwise, we’ve all had the fun of recycling brochures and pamphlets from the back office because changes have been made and they are no longer current. One of our customers upgraded to a colour printer even though the small amount of colour printing they needed wasn’t justified — until they realized the staff time cost to get colour printing done outside.

Commercial Grade Printers: These provide much superior quality over consumer printers, but not quite at the quality of a Printing Service for certain things, like rack cards, glossy brochures, etc. Close, but not quite.

A big surprise about Commercial grade printers is how inexpensive they are to operate. As example, we have a client who was spending upwards of $300-$350 a month on ink cartridges using a consumer grade printer. Leasing a Commercial grade printer reduced their monthly cost by almost 50% (to under $200 per month) including full onsite service on the printer with consumables included. Frequently, a Commercial grade printer can pay for itself in a year.

To make an informed decision you want to take an accurate count of how much volume you print now. If you have a consumer-grade printer, what is your total capital outlay on consumables? Plus, how valuable is your time for trips to the store, or trying to fix the printer yourself using those always frustrating help lines?

Another point to consider has to do with the green/sustainability issue. A Commercial grade printer can easily last seven years while a consumer-grade printer will end up in the landfill every couple of years.


AGS Business Systems has been providing office technology to Vancouver Island customers for over 40 years. Don Linder can be reached at 250.871.0116 or don.linder@agscanada.com

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