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Factors for finding a print provider

PRINT SOLUTIONS PROVIDER | 4 MIN READ

Print solution providers range from big box brands with individual customers who don’t own their own print devices, to local dealers and global manufacturers that manage and service vast printing fleets for large organizations.

If you’re looking for guidance on the latter and tasked with finding a print solutions provider, you’ve come to the right place.

As one of the largest privately owned print management solution provider in the United States, we are often asked what should be considered when selecting a provider? Not every option (including us) will fit every organization’s needs. This article will review important considerations when choosing a print solution provider that’s right for you.

What is a Print Solution Provider?

A print solution provider is a business that offers printing services or print hardware sales and service. As an example, a FedEx Office location is a printing services provider because they can provide print options for customers who don’t own a print device capable of meeting their print needs (like a production printer or large format printer).

Other print solutions providers sell printing hardware (like multifunction copiers and desktop printers), as well as service. This is ideal for organizations that can’t afford to waste time when their print device(s) malfunction, and who also seek to manage the cost of their printing more closely.

Organizations seeking the latter of these two providers are most likely to choose receiving service from a local dealer or print manufacturer to ensure their printing and service needs can be met.

RELATED: Advantages and Disadvantages of Print Management Outsourcing

Top considerations for finding a print provider.

Top Considerations When Choosing a Print Solution Provider

If you are an individual who has forgone the purchase of a print device, then your print solution consideration is likely limited to price and location (which printing store is closest and most affordable).

However, if you’re an organization with a need for a more consistent solution that meets more demanding printing requirements, here are the most important considerations to assist you with determining a print solution provider that will meet your needs:

Printer Brand Selection.

If you are a marketing agency that does a great deal of printing, or a retail or healthcare organization that can’t afford to risk downtime, the brand of your print devices likely matters to you. Often, organizations prefer their desktop printers to be one brand and their copiers to be another.

Copier dealers often offer a few brand varieties to choose from, as being slightly more brand flexible is an advantage they have over a manufacturer; however, if your organization is large enough (perhaps spanning multiple locations across various states), you may feel their ability to serve your organization inadequate. Still, the ability to select your brand of choice may offer the customization you feel is needed within your print fleet and should be considered.

Footprint of Your Organization.

If your business has a handful of locations, a local dealer should be able to serve you with ease and may offer better service than a manufacturer. This is because local dealers are not bound to decisions that impact external stakeholders (like investors) that may influence their ability to make decisions that are best for its customers.

Larger organizations, perhaps with thousands of employees across multiple states, aren’t stuck exclusively working with manufacturers, though. Many local copier dealers are part of larger, national networks that allow them to serve companies that span many locations. Some private copier and print dealers, like Flex Technology group, offer locations throughout the country, without sacrificing the ability to choose your printer brand of choice.

Volume of Printing.

Regardless of the printer brand you choose or size of your organization, the volume of printing you do is possibly the most important consideration. Some manufacturers and dealers have a limit to what print devices they offer. For instance, if your business prints 300,000 – 1,000,000+ documents per month, it may need to consider the support of a production printer – especially if volume demands come in waves.

Many smaller machines are incapable of keeping up with high demands, and by ignoring this fact, you risk the uptime and lifespan of your print devices. If this applies to your organization, ensure you’re covered by the right devices by volume, and don’t allow a provider to offer a solution that will become strained by your print demands to offer you a lower price on hardware.

What Are Managed Print Services?

There are many print solution providers who will tell you they offer managed print services, but true managed print services include four key offerings:

  • A brand-neutral offering that allows you to use whatever print devices fit your organization’s needs.
  • A national network of service and sales branches that can serve you, regardless of size or location.
  • A partner in making informed print decisions through collective data, communicating with any device and brand.
  • A single point of contact for service and billing.

There are very few organizations that come close to being able to meet each of these criteria. Some are more regional, while others are truly national in their scope. 

Managed print services, or MPS, are services provided by a copier/printer dealer or manufacturer to manage an organization’s printing fleet. Technically, any vendor that provides service to your print devices can be considered MPS, but the services offered can range extensively from provider to provider.

Manufacturers can service large enterprise customers with locations across the country, but because they are a manufacturer, only offer one brand of devices to purchase.

Local dealerships often offer more printer and copier brands, giving the consumer more options to select devices that fit their specific needs. The downside to local dealers is that many aren’t large enough to effectively manage the service needs of companies that span nationally.

“So, which is better?” you may ask.

The answer to that question can only be determined by the needs of your organization. If you’re a small enough operation and want the flexibility to choose from more than one brand, a local copier dealer is likely a viable choice. If you need your print provider to easily support nationwide, then a manufacturer or larger dealer may be the best option.

There are alternatives to both scenarios, as there are privately owned print providers that are large enough to service companies with locations throughout the country. But to get the best of both worlds, you must find a provider that can service any brand and have branches throughout the U.S. to service any location. The key here is finding a company that can do this, while still offering you a single point of contact for service and a single bill each month.

Wrapping Up

Managed print solutions providers offer a variety of options for your organization. Budget is always a priority, but it’s important to carefully evaluate your options. As a managed print provider, we often find that many organizations don’t always compare similar offerings.

If you’re interested in learning more about print solutions providers and what they can offer your organization, we can help you with any questions you may still have.

 

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