Earth Day Green Printing Tips

Earth Day Green Printing Tips

Happy Earth Day 2017!

We know that this is the time of year that a lot of companies begin thinking about ways they can reduce their environmental footprint. Some are installing solar panels, geothermal in-floor radiant heated floors and even low flush toilets. While those efforts are great, they can also be quite expensive. The good news, however, is that you don’t need to spend big to go green. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do right now to optimize your current office equipment, like following a few green printing best practices. Since it’s Earth Day, we figured it would be a good time to share a few of our favorite green printing tips with you. Not only will these best practices make your office more environmentally friendly, but some will even save you money!

Paper

We’ll start with paper since it’s usually one of the first things that people think about when considering the environmental impact of printing. When you print, you’re going to use paper; that’s something that won’t change anytime soon. However, there are still some steps you can take to alleviate the impact your paper usage has on the environment. One of the easiest ways to do this is to switch to recycled or sustainably sourced paper. For example, Metro Sales uses paper sourced from sustainably managed eucalyptus forests. For every tree cut down to make our printing paper, another is planted in its place.

Duplex printing (double-sided printing) is another great way to reduce your paper usage. If you’re in a small office, this can be as easy as educating your staff on duplex printing and how to enable it. In a larger organization, you can actually set up duplex printing as the default for all of your employees. Doing so will cut down on paper usage and thereby reduce your printing costs.

Toner

Another common concern with printing is toner usage; what becomes of the toner cartridges when you’re finished with them? Recycling your used toner cartridges is an excellent way to go green without disrupting your office’s workflow. The easiest way to do this is to work with a print vendor that provides a toner recycling program. In some cases, your vendor may even pick up your cartridges directly from your office.

Printing Procedures

Have you ever walked by your office’s printer and noticed a document just sitting in the output tray? How many times have you circled back at the end of the day and watched as that document was thrown away or recycled? Not only is this environmentally wasteful, but it’s also costly and just plain annoying for the person in-charge of ensuring these orphaned print jobs get removed.

Luckily, there are a few green printing solutions to this problem. First, you can simply turn those leftover documents into scrap paper. This works especially well if these print jobs are one-sided. In fact, you can even have a document services provider bind your scrap paper into scratch notepads for your staff to use.

Another option is to install follow-me printing. Follow-me printing works by holding your print jobs at a device until you’ve arrived at the printer. To retrieve your job, you either enter an authorization code or swipe a keycard. So what’s the benefit? In order for their document to print, an employee has to actually be present at the device, meaning there is less chance of a job getting forgotten in the output tray. Additionally, by enabling users to cancel print jobs at the point of print, follow-me printing eliminates accidental duplicate prints. Follow-me printing also has the added benefit of allowing employees to retrieve their documents from any device connected to the same network. Thus, you can print from your upstairs office and pick up your documents from the printer in the meeting room downstairs.

Energy Use

What happens to your printer when you leave the office for the night or weekend? In many offices, printers and copiers are left on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not only is this environmentally harmful, but it’s also costing your company money if you’re paying for energy consumption. The solution to this problem is to use your device’s timer setting to automatically shut off your device or send it into a deep sleep mode when your office is empty. Most people know that try can have their printer go to sleep after a specified span of inactivity. However, on advanced devices, like a Ricoh MFP, you can actually go a step further. These devices allow you to configure your device to automatically shut off or go into a deep sleep mode on the weekends and at night. This is achieved by using both device timer settings and ambient light sensors. By setting these features up, you’ll be able to cut down on energy usage and your electric bill.

Summary

Here’s a summary of our seven green printing tips:

  1. Use sustainably sourced or recycled paper.
  2. Enable duplex printing
  3. Recycle used toner cartridges.
  4. Turn unwanted print jobs into scrap paper
  5. Install follow-me printing to avoid forgotten print jobs.
  6. Use timer settings to turn your printer off when not in use.
  7. Make sure your next device is Energy Star certified.

Ready to put some of these tips into practice? Our office technology experts are here to help. We can help you set up these features, find an Energy Star printer/copier or answer any questions that you may have about green printing. Contact us at 612-861-4000 or via our online form.

Ricoh MIF Aquisition

Pursuant to our agreement with Ricoh, Metro Sales will begin supporting a number of Minnesota Ricoh direct customers beginning on May 1, 2017. If you’ve received a notice from Ricoh indicating that you are one of the affected customers, we’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Metro Sales! In the letter below, you will find some information about Metro Sales and the transition process.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. We look forward to serving you!

 

Three Levels of Print Software

Three Levels of Print Software

Whether it’s a simple analysis of current waste or improved document security, every organization can benefit from print software in some manner. However, with so many software solutions on the market, it’s often difficult to decipher which one is the best for your office.

We find that when you divide software solutions into three general categories based on functionality, it becomes much easier to narrow down your options. When you think of print software in this way, you’ll be in a better position to gauge whether or not a proposed solution will meet your needs.

Level One: Analysis

The first level of print management is all about measuring your current costs and production needs. No matter what your end goal, this is an important first step for any organization. While everyone wants to cut printing costs, a surprising number of businesses don’t even know how much of their budget is currently going towards print expenditures. Investing in print software solves this problem by providing the tools necessary to measure your current production and usage. With these analysis tools, you’ll be able to determine your overall print volume, optimize in-office device placement and even discern how many machines your building requires. How do you know if you’re ready for a level one software option? Consider the following three questions:

  1. Do you know how much you’re spending on printing?
  2. What’s your print volume?
  3. Are your printers being overworked or overused?

Level Two: Basic Tracking and Automation

An initial audit is a great place to start, but you’ll want to track your printing long-term if you’re really serious about slashing costs. Additional software features can be used to improve client billing procedures, restrict color printing permissions and even enforce duplex printing. In doing so, these solutions create a culture of continuous improvement and cost reduction.

Another useful facet of this level is process automation. Print software can help streamline your workflows by providing automated meter readings, service call notifications, supply alerts and remote adjustments. These capabilities save you time, prevent inopportune supply outages and keep your office running at peak efficiency. To determine if you require level two features, consider the following questions:

  1. Does your office spend a lot printing unneeded color documents?
  2. Are your employees using duplex printing or other cost-saving options whenever possible?
  3. Are you having trouble tracking your printing costs or maintaining supplies?
  4. How much print downtime can you afford?

Level Three: Advanced Features

The solutions outlined above provide a lot of general functionality that any business can benefit from. However, certain institutions have unique workflow needs that require specialized solutions. For example, healthcare facilities and human resource departments deal extensively in confidential documents. As a result, they require a software solution that will keep their documents secure. Law firms, meanwhile, need e-discovery functionality to manage evidence and court files. Here are some common advanced elements to consider when shopping for print software.

Improved Security

Confidential information is increasingly under siege. Organizations today have to strike a delicate balance between increasing digital workflows and maintaining document security. If you’re handling confidential employee files or patient charts, then you also have an obligation to keep those files secure. One way this can be achieved is through secure print release functionality. This feature allows you to print your document and then pick it up at any office device by authenticating your user credentials. Requiring you to be at the machine before your job prints ensures your confidential information won’t end up in the wrong hands.

Document Management

From lost files to mishandled documents, paper files can really drag down your business productivity. Print management software alleviates this problem by adding digital document management to your arsenal. Tools like optical character recognition will allow you to convert old files into secure digital documents. These editable files can help improve workplace collaboration, streamline the document search process and keep your information secure.

Cloud & Mobile Print

Today’s workforce is constantly on the move. How well is your print fleet keeping up? With employees increasingly working from mobile devices like tablets, phones and laptops, it’s imperative that companies have the ability to print from any device. Mobile print is a simple solution that allows users to print from their devices without complex network setups and workarounds.

Cloud print, meanwhile, enables printing from a number of Cloud-based applications, such as Office 365, Google Drive, or DropBox. It also comes with standard Cloud scanning, which allows your employees or students to quickly scan your paper files directly into Cloud applications. This function is especially beneficial for educational institutions looking to integrate learning tools like Blackboard into their daily processes.

Some questions to consider:

  1. Are you consistently printing lots of confidential documents like employee files?
  2. Do you have physical documents you’d like to store digitally?
  3. Is mobile printing important to your business?
  4. Do you create a lot of editable PDFs?
  5. Are you intensively using Cloud applications like DropBox, Blackboard or Office 365?
  6. Are you in the legal, healthcare, education fields?
  7. Do you currently have a way for employees to print from mobile devices?

Conclusion

Picking the right software package for your business doesn’t have to be a confusing endeavor. When you know what you need to achieve with your software, the process will suddenly become a lot less complex.

It’s also important to note that a lot of print solutions, such as PaperCut and Ricoh’s Integrated Cloud Environment, provide capabilities that straddles all three of the levels mentioned above. These software packages will allow you to monitor your fleet and access some of the advanced features outlined above without investing in multiple solutions. If, however, you are looking for specialized features like Bates stamping, a more narrow solution, like Nuance eCopy, might be a better match for what you’re trying to achieve.

In the end, these three categories provide a good baseline to start your search. Once you have considered what sort of features you’ll need, we recommend discussing what available solutions will best help you achieve your goals. As always, our office technology experts are ready to help you find the ideal solution and can be reached at 612-861-4000 or by filling our contact form.

 

2017 Production Print Spring Open House

Spring Production Print Open House - Website

You’re Invited: 2017 Production Print Spring Open House

Metro Sales invites you to our 2017 Production Print Spring Open House on February 21 & 22!

Hosted at our corporate equipment showroom, the spring open house will examine how the latest innovations in production print are altering the industry. We’ll discuss how advances in technology, like the Ricoh C7100 5th Color System, can provide improved image quality and advanced features at an affordable price.

Learn how to leverage this new technology to add more value to your print operations and stand out from competitors.

Contact your sales representative to schedule a one-on-one session.

Location:
1640 E 78th St
Richfield, MN
55423

Contact Information:
(612) 861-4000
secretary@metrosales.com
www.metrosales.com/contact/

Effortless Education Cloud Printing with Ricoh MFPs

Education Cloud Solutions Made Easy

Most education institutions will readily admit they need to integrate Cloud solutions to keep up with changing student and staff demands, but many have avoided doing so anyway. Why? In many cases, education organizations conclude that Cloud solutions are just too messy and difficult to enact.

In some cases, these institutions are correct. Vendors often make Cloud printing more difficult than it needs to be, especially within the education sector. However, Cloud printing doesn’t have to be complicated. Cloud enabled Ricoh multifunction printers make adding Cloud abilities to your current print environment easy. And when you combine these Cloud enabled devices with Ricoh’s Integrated Cloud Environment software, you’ll have access to numerous powerful Cloud capabilities. Best of it all? Ricoh’s Cloud for Education solutions are painless to install and simple to use.

Cloud Solutions for Education Empower Your Organization By Providing:

  • Scan to email
  • Scan to Dropbox
  • Printing to any connected cloud device
  • Scan directly into Blackboard Learn
  • Mobile printing
  • Simplified user privilege management
  • Vibrant intuitive touch interface
  • Zero data loss over 6 years

Watch the video below to learn more about the power of Ricoh education Cloud solutions


Are you ready to harness the power of the Cloud for your institution? Our education consultants are here to help! Visit our education page to see an overview of our education solutions. When you’re ready to get started, call us at 612-861-4000 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to helping your organization succeed!

Metro Sales Partners with Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program

community involvement

Why Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program?

As a company, Metro Sales has always prided itself on community involvement and employee development. It’s those two beliefs that immediately drew Metro Sales towards the Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP).

The CWSP is an innovative educational initiative administered by Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program helps students develop their professional skills by partnering with local businesses and organizations to give students the chance to earn part of their education.

How does CWSP Work?

So how exactly does it work? Employers contract through CWSP to fill entry-level jobs. Four students are then assigned to the organization. Each student works one day every week and one Friday each month. Together, students work the same number of hours as one full-time employee.

According to Cristo Rey, the program is “An opportunity for students to gain business experience, build technical skills, and develop lifelong learning behaviors.” This in turn helps students “Acquire professional work skills, while building an impressive resume and learning about different careers.” In turn, these professional skills can then be put to use in a potential career down the road.

However, students aren’t the only ones who profit from the program. Employers also benefit by gaining a valuable pipeline of potential future employees to fill full-time, entry level jobs. And since employers contract directly with CWSP, they don’t need to worry about traditional paperwork such as payroll or W-4 forms.

“It just felt like such a natural fit and a great opportunity,” recalls Metro Sales President and CEO Jerry Mathwig. “The program took our organization’s passion for developing our own employees and applied it to helping Twin Cities’ youth.” And how is the program going thus far? “It’s been great,” replies Mathwig. “In fact, we’re considering extending our participation in the near future.”

So how about other staff members? How have other employees at Metro Sales been affected by the program? To answer some of these questions, we sat down with four staff members who have been heavily involved in the program at Metro Sales. The participants in our conversation are Don Wimer, General Service Manager; Heidi Myers, Accounting Manager; and Dave Anderson, Facilities Management and Document Services Manager.

Q: What has your experience with the Cristo Rey Work Study Program and its students been like thus far?

Heidi: “This program has worked well for us and our student-worker is excellent! She works hard and is very productive. The task of scanning is not very exciting and not a job that everyone wants to do; however, she continues to show up every week ready to work, completes the tasks and keeps everything up to date. She is also very versatile and can do other tasks as we need her to and does them very well.”

Don: “The student I have is helping out in the Parts Department on Tuesdays and Fridays once a month and everything has gone well so far — the school has really done an excellent job of communication.”

Dave: “I think it has been great. The student they assigned to me is excellent and hardworking.”

Q: Why do you feel this program is valuable?

Don: “I think it’s valuable because it’s a chance for Metro to help develop a solid work ethic in students and expose them to a real life work environment.”

Heidi: “I agree. This program is valuable to the students because it provides a look into the ‘real world’ of adult work life. It prepares the students for the eventual transition and shows them the types of expectations that having a job brings.”

“From Metro’s perspective, this program is a great opportunity to provide outreach to the community and afford the students a learning experience in a real work environment. In addition, it provides an outlet for repetitive tasks to be completed by students in a consistent manner and because the repetitive tasks are being completed, it allows other employees to be afforded opportunities to develop and grow in other duties as well.”

Dave: “Well, we get some additional help one day a week, which is helpful of course. Plus, the program could lead to a hiring opportunity in the future, which would be nice since both parties had a chance to get to know each other well, which should help determine if the candidate is a good fit for Metro Sales, and they in turn will have a good feel for the corporate culture of Metro Sales prior to accepting an offer of employment.”

“Having the responsibility of helping pay for part of their education is also very valuable in my opinion as it helps them take their education more seriously, helps them manage their time more carefully, and helps them understand that an education is an ‘investment’ of time and resources from many people, all to help them have a better future.”

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of the program for you personally?

Heidi: “For me, seeing the growth in the student over time has been the most rewarding. Our student-worker has learned other tasks besides just scanning and does very well with them. She has brought a sense of accomplishment and pride in the department for the success she has achieved in her role. When she graduates and starts looking for work, if Metro has an open position that she qualifies for, I would definitely recommend her to be hired.”

Dave: “For me, the most rewarding aspect is seeing that there are some great young people out there that are hard-working with good attitudes and pleasant personalities. To see that the student appreciates the opportunity and is willing to take on additional duties and hours as those things become available.”

Don: “Personally, I feel that the most rewarding aspect is being able to help out with the development of a student’s growth.”

Q: Any final or concluding thoughts?

Heidi: “This program seems to work very well for these students and I think other schools should provide the same opportunities for students as Cristo Rey does for their students. Mentorship is one of the key elements to success in anyone’s career and there needs to be more of it in my opinion.”

Don: “I think the program is a great one for the growth and development of the students and makes us feel good in the process. It’s the definition of a win-win”


If you’re curious about the Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program and how your organization can get involved, you can visit their information page here. To learn more about Metro Sales or our local involvement, check out our community involvement page.

What are toner pirates?

toner pirates

What are toner pirates?

While the name sounds silly, toner pirates are a serious problem. Toner pirates are scam artists who cheat companies by posing as toner vendors. They use high-pressure sales tactics to convince unsuspecting companies to pay them for supplies they don’t need or didn’t order.

This also often involves pretending to be an authorized service dealer or simply dropping off toner and then demanding payment. Organizations that pay toner pirates usually either do not receive any toner or pay exorbitant prices for supplies they don’t need.

How to identify toner pirates

While toner schemes are constantly evolving, there are some common tells you can look for.

  1. The caller uses high-pressure sales tactics to force you into an immediate decision.
  2. The person on the phone says that this is a special offer that expires today.
  3. They insist on in-person or cash payments.
  4. When you ask what organization the caller is with, they provide a company name similar to your service provider or that of a government agency.
  5. They pretend that you’ve done business in the past, even if you don’t know them.
  6. The person on the phone refuses to give you any business references.
  7. The seller isn’t able to provide an exact address or office location.

How to avoid becoming a victim

Now that you know how to identify them, how can you avoid becoming their victim? Here are a few tips that will help.

  • Designate one person to be in charge of all supply orders and standardize your ordering process.
  • Train your staff on how to respond to telemarketers and where to direct all purchasing decisions.
  • Know who your point of contact is at your service company. If this isn’t the person calling, it’s probably a scam. To be sure, call your vendor contact and ask.
  • Have a conversation with your dealer about the details of your agreement. Toner is often included in your maintenance agreement and thus there is no need to buy from an outside source.
  • Clarify how your current supply vendor will contact you. Metro Sales, for example, will never call and “sell” you toner. Instead, we’ll call asking if you need any more toner delivered.
  • Ask for specifics like company name, address, phone number, account number or maintenance agreement number.
  • Never give out equipment models and numbers over the phone. This will reduce future risk.
  • If you receive supplies or bills for things you didn’t order, don’t pay.

Do you have additional questions or are you worried that you’ve already fallen prey to a toner scheme? Call our customer service hotline at 612-861-4000.

Metro Sales Earns 2017 Ricoh RFG Circle of Excellence Award

2017 Ricoh RFG Circle of Excellence

Metro Sales is proud to announce that it has once again received the RFG Circle of Excellence award from Ricoh USA, a global office technology company well known for their extraordinary imaging products.

The award, which Metro Sales also won in 2016, recognizes Ricoh Family Group dealers who have demonstrated a commitment to exceptional equipment support and exceeded Ricoh’s rigorous service excellence standards. Ricoh specifically commended Metro Sales for their technician skill and commitment to measuring customer feedback.

Metro Sales has always emphasized service as demonstrated by their operating mottoes of Service. Service. Service.® and The Right Part, In the Right Place, At the Right Time, With the Properly Trained Technician®.

“Excellence in service has always been central to our business philosophy,” said Metro Sales President and CEO Jerry Mathwig. “We strive to provide our customers with the best experience imaginable and to us that meant building an outstanding service department. Ricoh’s recent recognition reflects the tremendous effort Don Wimer and our entire service staff have put forth in achieving this objective.”

RFG Circle of Excellence 2017

 

About Metro Sales

For over forty years Metro Sales has been partnering with Midwest organizations to reduce printing costs and streamline workflows through innovative office technology solutions. These custom strategies are developed using best-in-class imaging equipment, document scanning services and comprehensive managed print software solutions. To learn more about Metro Sales call 612-861-4000 or reach out via email at secretary@metrosales.com.

What is optical character recognition?

optical character recognition

Chances are that at some point you’ve had to make a document electronically accessible. Whether you were looking to enable digital editing or just make the document obtainable for multiple employees, you probably had to do one of the following; either you manually typed the information into a new Word document or you simply scanned that document into a PDF.

While these options can work, they’re both severely limited. Creating a new Word document is time consuming and runs the risk of typing errors. And if your materials have images you want to add? Well, those would have to be scanned, cropped and inserted manually.

Scanning to PDF, on the other hand, renders a document that has limited editing options. In either case, you end up losing important functionality and time. The good news? The printing industry has developed an easy solution to convert documents, something called optical character recognition (OCR).

What is optical character recognition?

Optical character recognition is an innovative technology solution that allows users to convert physical materials into editable Word files and PDFs. OCR’s unique approach has numerous practical purposes across a broad range of industries.

Before diving into the technical details, however, it’s beneficial to actually define optical character recognition. According to Wikipedia, OCR is “the mechanical or electronic conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text, whether from a scanned document, a photo of a document, a scene-photo or from subtitle text superimposed on an image.”

For our purposes, optical character recognition technology can be understood as software that converts physical text and images so that they can be stored and edited electronically. Additionally, while OCR can be used for imaging, our primary focus in this article will be OCR text conversion.

How does optical character recognition work?

Without getting bogged down in too much terminology, there are two aspects you should understand about the OCR conversion process.

The first is pre-processing. This phase includes any initiatives undertaken to improve transcription success. These efforts can be either manual or software based. Manually, for example, you may make a copy of the document first to improve the contrast between the text and its background.

Often times, OCR software itself also includes extensive pre-processing protocols. Programs might take steps to remove blemishes, tilt the document so that it’s straight and convert the document into a black-and-white format. The goal in every case is to streamline the transcription process and improve accuracy.

After pre-processing is complete, the actual text conversion process begins. Due to the plethora of available typefaces, this step involves using one of two methods to read the physical text. The first, pattern recognition, essentially programs the OCR programs to recognize a variety of common fonts. The goal being that with this background knowledge, the program can then recognize an A in a lesser known typeface due to shared patterns.

The more common approach, feature recognition, uses rules to train the OCR software to identify letter traits. For example, the program can be taught to know that when it sees two angled lines slanted to a point with a line horizontally between them, that this is a capital A. These sorts of rules, when created for every capital and lowercase letter, then allow the program to identify a multitude of typefaces without much trouble.

What are the benefits of OCR?

OCR provides enormous benefits. For example, while most companies today uses computers to create and share new documents, many still use an old paper filing system or documents that were created by typewriters. Documents stored in this way are only available offline and thus, in order to use them, you need to first locate them.

OCR can be beneficial in this case because it allows companies to digitize these documents. Doing so turns them into editable and collaborative files. It also prevents someone from manually having to type up the information contained in these documents and thus saves time while also minimizing the potential for user error.

Additionally, optical character recognition can be used to help you save office space. Digitally archiving your documents allows you to do away with space eating filing cabinets or stacks of papers. This is especially beneficial when the average filing cabinet takes up nearly 15 square feet.

There’s also the benefit of document security. Converting a document for digital storage allows to you avoid issues related loss, theft or natural disaster. In the end, this is a major cost-saving and productivity advantage.

Who benefits the most from OCR technology?

What’s wonderful about optical character recognition is its adaptability. So while optical character recognition has some definitive benefits in certain industries, it still has a very broad applicability. Two of the more notable examples of its use, however, have been healthcare providers and the legal services industry.

Those in healthcare often use a HIPAA compliant document scanning provider to convert patient records into digital files. This allows them to be easily transferred among healthcare providers and allows doctors to update information in real-time as they meet with patients. Transcribing these documents, of course, has the added benefit of securing these patient records electronically. Records can be stored in a secure server off-site or in the cloud to protect against natural disaster or theft.

OCR is also popular in the legal industry, especially when it comes to eDiscovery services. Firms use OCR conversion to streamline their workflows and remove precious time from the document discovery process. Digitizing files eliminates the need for manual searching and boosts productivity levels.

How to get started with OCR Technology

Alright, so now that you know how OCR works and are aware its benefits, how can you start profiting from it? Generally, we recommend two different options to organizations looking to put OCR technology into use.

Device Software

This is the most obvious solution and the one that works the best if you’re planning on continuously converting materials. The benefits of this method are that it’s convenient and affordable. However, if you’re looking to convert a whole bunch of documents at once, or have a one-time conversion project in-mind, you may want to explore our second option.

Document Scanning Service

If you’re planning on converting an entire filing cabinet, document scanning services are the way to go. This is especially true if you only plan on using OCR capabilities once or twice. The main benefit of doing so is higher conversion accuracy and less work for you; a document scanning service will usually pick up your documents and then convert them. They’ll also process and review the document metadata to ensure it is accurate and searchable.

Using a document scanning service, therefore, sets you up quite nicely if you’re looking to create an electronic document management system. When the project is completed, you’ll receive your files via the electronic method of your choice. Scanning services are hassle free and the preferred choice for companies looking to modernize their old office files.

You can also use day-forward scanning services if you anticipate the continued creation of large numbers of physical files. Day-forwarding essentially converts your documents after specific time intervals. Using day-forwarding allows you to continue to create physical documents and convert them as you go.

Do you have questions about OCR technology or want to explore your technology options? Our office technology consultants are here to help! Contact us today and one of our experts will happily answer your questions and provide personalized recommendations.

Fill out our information request form or call us at 612-861-4000 to learn more.

4 Powerful Solutions to Common Small Business Problems

common small business problems

Running a Small Business Office Isn’t Easy!

When you’re small business, there’s little room for error; every lost second has the potential to negatively impact your bottom line. It’s a lot of pressure and printing issues definitely don’t make things any easier.

As a small local business ourselves, we appreciate the unique challenges that these organizations face. In fact, we’ve used our experience to develop an approach to office technology specifically designed to meet the needs of smaller organizations.

After forty years of selling copiers, printers and managed print services, we noticed that many of our small business customers were experiencing some common issues. It’s this realization that prompted us to compile the following list of four common small business obstacles and their innovative office technology solutions.


Problem: Overwhelmed by Paper Files

If you’re in a small office, then you know that storage space is at a premium. Thus, as your business expands, and you accumulate more files/documents, you’ll quickly realize how restrictive cabinets full of records can become.

Furthermore, what happens if you lose an important client file or record? In an instant your stress level could skyrocket through the roof. Whether it’s a lack of space for new files, the cost of filing cabinets or the difficulties of working collaboratively, we can all agree that paper filing systems are a mess.

The Solution: Document Scanning

There is, however, a solution to your filing cabinet woes. A document scanning service makes your life easier by converting your old paper files into responsive digital documents through OCR technology. By using metadata to make these newly editable electronic files easy to search, this quickly turns into a competitive advantage.

But what happens if you need to continue to create new paper documents? Won’t your files just pile up again? Well, there’s a solution to this problem as well!

Many local document scanning companies also offer day-forward scanning. Basically, this is a long-term partnership between you and your document scanning service provider. Together you’ll specify periods of time after which the scanning partner will digitize your newly created physical records. Thus, you can keep creating your physical document and just add them to your electronic archive as you go. To learn more, visit our document scanning page.


Problem: Prying Eyes

Using a networked office printer can be a real hassle if you work in an organization that requires you print confidential or sensitive information. In healthcare and government, for example, keeping information secure isn’t merely optional, it’s usually the law.

Furthermore, company HR specialists worry about printing employee information to shared network devices. So what do you do if you want to secure your sensitive print jobs?

The Solution: Secure Print Solutions

These concerns can be mitigated through a variety of secure printing options. For example, software solutions, such as Streamline, can be outfitted to include keycard or pin authorization.

Your office technology dealer can also augment your print fleet with a number of small local office printers. Strategically placing these devices near employees with secure printing needs is an easy way to keep that important information safe.


Problem: Equipment Downtime

Eliminating equipment downtime is of tremendous importance for small businesses. Often these organizations rely on one copier/printer and if it goes down, they lose all of their print capabilities.

Unfortunately, some of the larger equipment service companies don’t understand the dire consequences of this occurrence. As a result, they take their time servicing this equipment or don’t perform adequate preventative maintenance. This results in small business customers finding themselves stuck without their devices at the most inopportune moments.

The Solution: Single-line Service Provider

The good news, however, is that you can avoid this problem by carefully choosing your service company. The key is to really emphasize quality equipment service when choosing to lease a new copier or printer.

Your first point of comparison should be the guaranteed response time. The industry standard service call response time is four hours, but companies with excellent service keep that time down to three business hours.

Also take the time to research what sort of preventative service your company provides. Many companies will service your machine when it breaks, but fail to perform any preventative maintenance. While this solves the immediate problem, it does doesn’t prevent future problems from occurring.

When comparing service departments, ask about the company’s commitment to preventative maintenance. At Metro Sales, for example, our technicians clean our customer’s machines and perform a thorough device audit with every major service call. We call this our Total Call Guarantee. If the company selling you a copier maintenance contract is worth their salt, they’ll have something similar.


Problem: Printing Costs are too High

This issue is especially problematic because most companies don’t even realize that they’re spending too much on printing. Whether it’s unnecessary project outsourcing, the wrong fleet size or just wasteful practices, there’s probably something eating away at your bottom line.

The Solution: Free Cost Analysis

So how do you discover where you’re losing money? After all, you’re already strapped for time and monitoring who’s printing what takes more time away from your core business.

The solution is a free office assessment from an experienced technology expert. These comprehensive evaluations look at your entire print strategy from top to bottom. The expert will monitor your current device usage, workflows and current outsourcing costs.

With this data in hand, they’ll be able to develop a customized proposal to meet your printing needs and minimize excess expenses. Often this includes upgrading your devices, adding additional machines or reducing your need to outsource to commercial printers.

You can even install managed print software to track your long-term costs and device usage, making budgeting your future expenses even easier.


Are you a small business looking to increase your office productivity and profitability? We’d love to hear from you! Contact our team and let us know about your unique printing needs. You can reach our technology consultants at 612-861-4000 or by filling out our information form. We look forward to hearing from you!