The Hidden Cost of Printing: Consider Total Cost of Ownership

The Hidden Cost of Printing: Consider Total Cost of Ownership

So you're a small business. You know you have printing needs, but those needs aren't huge. The main people who print in your organization are your two front desk staff, your office manager, and yourself. It seems natural to fill these printing needs by simply grabbing a budget printer from the local big-box store on your way home. In some cases, offices will get two or three of these budget $99 printers and scatter them around the office. After all, they're only $99, so that seems like a no-brainer decision.

What many offices never consider, however, is the total cost of ownership of their printers. In fact, print companies intentionally sell the print devices cheap because they expect to gain additional revenue through replenishment of consumables and replacement parts.

Most offices don't have an accurate perception of how much they actually use their print devices either. Did you know the average office worker prints 10,000 pages per year. Seem like a lot? OK well let's run a scenario and to be conservative we'll assume that the average worker is only printing 7,500 pages per year or 625 pages per month. Let's also assume that you only have four people in your organization who actually use the printers, so your total average print volume per year is 30,000 pages or 2,500 pages per month for your whole organization. We'll also assume only black-and-white printing for simplicity sake and since it is typical half the cost of color printing on a per page basis.

So you go out and buy one of the most popular printers at the big-box tech store, a Wireless Black-and-White All-in-One printer for $160. You also purchase a High-Yield Black Toner cartridge which gives you a 3,000 page capacity for $80. So based on your usage of 2,500 pages/month, you end up buying 10 of these cartridges over the course of the year - a total of $800 or $67/mo.

Not only that, but printers (like all technology) carry certain support costs, whether you are paying the salary/hourly wage of an internal office staff to set-up and troubleshoot the printer when things go wrong, or using an IT provider. For the average IT help desk, nearly 23% of support tickets are print related. If your printer only generates one support incident over the course of the year that could cost more than the printer itself. So let's again be conservative and say this printer will on average generate around $180 in support costs per year or $15/month.

Typically the lost productivity and support costs are the most difficult for businesses to track. These hidden costs tend to be higher for cheap printers which print slowly and break more frequently than higher-quality printers. But let's say you were smart and purchased an extended protection plan ahead of time, $20 for two years of protection.

Let's say you get three years of life out of this printer with minimal issues, so you can spread the initial cost of the device over that period of time. Including the $20 protection you bought, your annual cost over the three years is $60/year or just $5/month.

So here are the total costs in monthly terms:

Printer Device: $5
Consumables: $67
Support & Maintenance: $15

For a total of $87/mo for one of the cheapest black-and-white printers you could get on the market. And that's just for one printer using conservative estimates. If you are like many offices which have two or three budget printers, you may be compounding these costs. Not to mention if you have color printing needs you will be looking at significantly higher costs.

That's why, in many cases, it actually makes sense to go with a Managed Print option. This will give you a significantly higher quality printer with all consumables, support, and installation included for a fixed-monthly fee. Printers are monitored remotely so consumables are shipped to you automatically once levels get low, without any additional intervention from you. Managed Print tends to save offices money, and reduce the amount of staff time spent dealing with printer issues or ordering parts or consumables. Contact us to see if Managed Print may be right for your business.