26 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

The Evolution of the Laser Printer Industry

evolution-of-manand computerWhen I started in this industry over 20 years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that it would mature into the industry that it is today.  One of the things that I remember most was picking up empty cartridges from customers for remanufacturing before returning them.  We marked the cartridges so that they would not be recycled too many times and we reused the boxes they came in over and over again. Another interesting aspect of the business was that it was always very busy in the first four months of the year. During the rest of the year there was business to be done, but the bulk of our yearly business was done by springtime. I always thought that, since most of our customers were accountants, this was due to tax season.

Now though, everybody has laser printers, as well as fax machines and copiers.  From the computer you’re reading this on, there are probably several machines you can print to.  In fact from where I sit, I can print to four different machines depending on what and how I want to print. With all of the technological changes, there was also a change in the way we did business, especially in terms of printer maintenance and repair.

In the early days, we charged businesses for the cartridges that we supplied and for the repairs that we did on a time and materials basis.  As time passed though, businesses wanted to fix their cost for repair, so we began to offer maintenance contracts. For a given price, we would take care of all of the service issues for their printers.  These would be annual contracts that would be billed monthly, quarterly or sometimes annually.  Each year we would renew the contracts, adding or subtracting printers depending on the needs of the business.

Then along came “Managed Print Services” or MPS.  With this new business model, customers are charged per page printed.  For that charge, all the customer has to supply is paper.  All other expenses for operating the printer are covered, including cartridges, consumable parts as well as any repairs needed.  The billing is accomplished with a small program on the network that reports the page counts to the supplier and the customer receives one monthly bill for the pages printed.  There are a few drawbacks to be concerned with like minimum charges and so forth, but this seems to be a very popular way to handle printer maintenance.

Then, just recently, we started a new program that is a hybrid between the standard maintenance contracts and MPS.  With this program, the customer pays a small monthly fee in addition to the purchase of whatever consumable supplies are needed and all necessary repairs are covered at no extra charge.  It’s like having a lease but you still own your machine and only pay for what you use. And since this is not a long term contract, you choose when to end the agreement.

Any reputable supplier should be able to provide you service for your printers at any one of these levels.  When it’s time to consider your printer needs, don’t hesitate to ask questions because there are usually many options available and choosing the one that is best for your situation will not only save you money but plenty of headaches as well.

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