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Office equipment is a huge expense for businesses of all size. The good news is there are now more suppliers and providers than ever before, which means more opportunities to save.

Michael Horrocks, Business Journalist for Photocopier Experts, offers tips to help your business get the best deal on your photocopier.

How much does the copier cost?

<a href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Midnightblueowl" class="extiw" title="w:User:Midnightblueowl">Midnightblueowl</a> at <a href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/" class="extiw" title="w:">English Wikipedia</a> [<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0">CC-BY-SA-3.0</a> or <a href="http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html">GFDL</a>], <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIOA_photocopiers.jpg">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Which Photocopier?

This is obviously the first thing you’ll want to find out. The costs of office equipment always vary dramatically, and photocopiers are no exception.

Two models that look relatively similar on paper can  be hundreds of pounds apart in price on different websites, so you’ll  want to do as much price comparison as possible.

How much are the consumables?

You need to think about more than the cost of the copier though. It’s just like buying a printer for your home. Sure you can pick up ‘bargains’ in supermarkets and discount stores but you’ll pay the price when the ink runs out and it costs twice as much as the printer to replace. Office copier manufactures can catch you out in the same way.

If you’re buying a colour copier for your business the consumables are going to be more expensive. These include colour toner, fuser oil and developer. Even the paper is more expensive than the sheets used in a monochrome copier, as it needs to be heavier and brighter.

The most important cost to look out for is the toner. If your machine is going to be producing a high number of copies make sure you choose a model where the cost of replacing the toner is relatively low.

Can the copier perform multiple functions?

You need to decide whether you want a machine that does more than just copy. Many office models can also scan and print. These machines are often more expensive, but it’s a false economy to go for a cheap option if you end up buying more equipment at a later date.

If your business sends a lot of mail you might want to choose a copier that can fold and staple sheets of paper. Machines like the Xerox WorkCentre 4250 can print double sided, assemble, staple and fold paper as required.

A copier with features like these will be more expensive, but if it saves you time and reduce staff costs it will be worth the investment.

What’s the warranty like?

Many people are sceptical about warranties, and it’s certainly true that there is more value in some than others. When you’re offered a warranty you need to check how long it lasts and exactly what it covers. It sounds obvious but you’ll be surprised at how many people are caught out.

Most photocopiers come with a manufacturer’s warranty as standard, and you should only extend this if you think the value is there.

You should also find out whether you can get the necessary technical support in your local area. Most brands cover the whole of the United Kingdom so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get someone to come out and help you in Hastings, but it’s definitely something you should double check before you purchase.

Should you lease instead?

It’s worth questioning whether buying a photocopier for your business is the right decision at all. If you’re not sure how much use it will get going forward and you want a trial run leasing is a good option for you.

It’s also good for businesses looking to avoid large outlays of capital. Upfront sums are particularly daunting for many start-ups and small businesses. If you can’t justify an initial outlay of between £350 and £1000 you should consider leasing instead.

Midnightblueowl at English Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons