Don’t Fall into the Copier Commodity Trap!

Copier Commodity Trap

Beware the Copier Commodity Trap

So often we hear about businesses that discuss their new copier as a commodity. Once the sale is completed, they think, the relationship with the copier vendor ends. This is what we call the Copier Commodity Trap. Buying a copier is often only the beginning of your office technology needs. What happens when that copier needs service, or your office needs additional capabilities to deal with a business expansion?

Organizations that avoid the Copier Commodity Trap have a forward-thinking mindset that gives them an edge over their competition. These successful companies see the office technology buying process as an opportunity to build a relationship with an industry-expert and plan for their long-term needs. Below you will find some suggestions that will help you avoid the Copier Commodity Trap.

Consider the Experience of the Office Technology Company

First, consider how long your office technology partner has been in business. The more experience the office technology company has with diverse solutions, the better positioned they are to appreciate emerging office technology trends. In our 50 years of experience, we’ve developed unique solutions with cutting-edge technology in five different decades. As a result, our office technology representatives have years of solutions to rely on when developing your unique office technology program. But experience alone isn’t enough. Valuable office technology partners also have a track record of innovation. At Metro Sales, we are continuously looking to improve our company and services through our Six Sigma efforts.

Technicians

No matter how reliable your copier is, it will have a problem at some point. When that happens, it’s important to have a top-notch technical staff on call. For example, we provide our customers with 120 award-winning technicians. Businesses avoiding the Copier Commodity Trap realize that a low-priced copier isn’t any good if it’s always out of order.

Reputation of the Product Manufacturer

Third, it’s also important to consider the reputation of the copier manufacturer. Metro Sales, for example, works exclusively with Ricoh due to their commitment to reliability, innovation, and customer service. Subpar copier vendors often gravitate to subpar copiers. While the price will be low, so will the reliability and quality.

Conclusion

Avoiding the Copier Commodity Trap is important to maintaining your edge in a competitive industry. While price is an important consideration when purchasing a new office device, we have found that a low price does always result in high customer satisfaction. All too often a new customer tells us their own Copier Commodity Trap horror story. This story usually begins with the promise of a budget copier. However, these stories always end with the customer choosing a new office technology partner when the first copier vendor isn’t available when that budget copier breaks down during crunch time.

Avoid the Copier Commodity Trap. Contact Metro Sales for more information about our full-service office technology solutions.

5 Signs That It’s Time for a Print Assessment

Print Assessment

Print assessment benefits

Most organizations already understand that print assessments are extremely beneficial when shopping for a new office technology vendor; print assessments provide insights into your current workflows and help optimize your print fleet. Unfortunately, many organizations only perform a print assessment when they are considering changing print vendors. This misses one of the greatest print assessment opportunities: continued optimization and cost savings. So, when should you revisit your office technology with a print assessment? Here are five signs that it’s time for a print assessment.

You haven’t been tracking device usage

If you’re in this boat, you will want to conduct a print assessment soon. If you don’t know how much you’re spending on printing, then you don’t know if you’re spending too much.

You have been with the same office technology for longer than you can remember

Even if you aren’t looking to change vendors, a fresh set of eyes can also offer additional perspectives and insights into new printing trends or cost-saving ideas. Even if you’re just revisiting strategies with your current vendor, a print assessment can help you strategize for the future.

You are outsourcing print jobs

Plenty of companies outsource large and/or color print jobs because it just isn’t cost-effective for them to invest in a high-quality color printer. We recognized this and developed our overflow copy center for companies that weren’t ready to bring that production in-house. However, what originally prevented you from investing in a high-quality color printer may not be applicable anymore. In fact, it may even be cheaper to bring some of those print jobs in-house now! Color costs have decreased dramatically and if your organization has grown in size or profitability, then an in-house device may make more sense.

Your IT Department has changed

Whether it’s a change in leadership or a department restructure, a change in your IT Department is a good indicator that is time to audit your print fleet. Doing so ensures your revised IT Department is familiar with your fleet and it allows fresh eyes to have an opportunity to examine your fleet for inefficiencies.

Your office is overflowing with paper documents

A print technology assessment isn’t all about the equipment. Our office technology experts also analyze workflows to simplify document storage. We provide solutions like OCR capabilities and document scanning technology to help your office thrive in today’s digital world.

Ready for your free print assessment? Fill out our office technology assessment form or call us at (612) 861-4000.

5 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Color Print Quality

improve color print quality

Can I Improve Color Print Quality Without Buying a New Printer?

Customers commonly ask if we have any low-cost tips to improve color print quality. While investing in a new multifunction printer is the quickest way to improve color print quality, there are some other low-cost measures you can institute today to increase color quality. Here our five tips you can use right away to get more consistent color production from your current office printer.

Print Resolution

This technique one is pretty simple. Most print jobs you create on your computer default to a standard print dpi, which may not be the highest quality your printer has available. To fix this, increase the print resolution to the maximum dpi option in the print dialog screen.

Software

Software can also make a huge difference in improving color print quality. Certain print software packages feature settings designed to maximum color production quality. Ask your office technology dealer what software and print drivers they recommend to increase color print quality.

Color Mode

Furthermore, when printing documents on CMYK printers, it is important to ensure that you are creating your documents in CMYK color mode. How you change this setting depends on the software program you are using to create the document, but you can usual find directions online using a simple Google search.

Monitors

This tip may not directly improve the quality of your document, but it can help you get more consistent color results. Often the differences between the colors you see on your computer screen and the final printed document are caused by inaccurate color production on the monitor itself. This is especially true for older monitors. One cost-effective solution to this problem is to calibrate your monitor color settings to match the colors on a printed test document. Doing so ensures that the colors you see on your screen are the similar to those on your color prints.

Paper Type

Don’t overlook paper quality; substandard paper leads to substandard color print quality. Often, excessive color bleeding or dullness can be attributed to poor quality paper. Regular copier paper, for example, is ill-suited to production-quality color documents. Talk to your paper supplier about the paper options that are available.

Additional Strategies to Improve Color Print Quality

Looking for additional strategies to improve color production? Contact our office product specialist to learn more about our printing software and color devices. Fill out our contact form or call us at (612) 861-4000.

Benefits of a Wide Format Printer

benefits of wide format printer

The State of Wide Format Printing

Almost every business today has at least one printer capable of producing standard sized documents. But today’s documents come in all shapes or sizes. From construction plans to school banners, modern workplace document needs often transcend traditional print sizes.

Historically, this has meant sending these specialized wide format projects to a print shop and paying them a premium. While this may make sense for smaller organizations, many businesses can benefit by investing in their own wide format printer. And with the continued decrease in wide format costs, it is now more affordable than ever to do so!

Do I need a wide format printer?

In deciding whether to you need a wide format printer, you should consider your current wide format projects. For example, how often do you send specialty projects such as banners, blueprints, large photographs, or marketing posters to an outside print shop? If you are doing so more than a couple times a year, then you will likely benefit by bringing that production in-house with a wide format device.

What industry are you in?

The second aspect you will want to examine are the needs of your industry. While most businesses can benefit from a wide format device, there are four main industries that will see the greatest return on their investment.

Construction/Architecture

Those in construction or architecture use large format printers to create large format documents like blueprints or construction models. These large format documents make it easier to communicate plans internally and with potential clients.

Education

If you are in education, a wide format device is the perfect way to print banners for special events or activities. A wide format printer makes it easy to show support for your local team or communicate your next big school event.

Advertising

In advertising, a wide format printer gives you the ability to print mock-ups of advertisements. Having a draft ready will add clarity to your presentations and sales pitches.

Photographers

A wide format printer can give you a way to share your work with others if you are a photographer or artist.

Where to buy a wide format printer?

Want to learn more about our expansive selection of wide format printers? Check out our wide format print catalog or contact one of our office technology experts.

Still on the fence? If you are printing wide format documents, but are not ready to invest in your own wide format device, consider partnering with our commercial printing services center. We will take care of your projects for you at a competitive price.

2 Crucial Reasons Why Color Management Matters

Why Color Management Matters

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up late and rush to work, only to arrive wearing two different socks? Once you notice the mismatched socks, it’s difficult to ignore them. Color consistency functions the same way; once your customers notice color inconsistency, they won’t be able to forget it.

What is color consistency?

“Color consistency” has been a staple of marketing lingo for years and means two things. First, that you’re using the same exact color shade across all documents of the same type, no matter where or on what device they are printed. Second, it means using the same shade of your corporate color across all documents. These two goals are achieved by using a color management solution, either on your computer or printer.

Why does color management matter?

So why should you care about color consistency? Simple, it speaks to both your professionalism and your brand.

Professionalism

The number one reason that color management matters is professionalism. Mismatched colors on documents of the same type look sloppy. If you’re meeting with two potential clients and each one of their supposedly identical documents has a different shade of blue, it makes your organization look unprofessional and unprepared. You could be a Fortune 500 company, but for all they care it looks like your work out of your basement.

Consistent color creates an aura of professionalism. It communicates to your clients that you pay attention to details, even ones as small as color. As a result, customers will be much more comfortable trusting you with their business.

Brand recognition

Branding is another obvious example of the impact color consistency and color management can have on your business. Most major brands have a specific color that they’ve chosen to make their own. Just ask Coca Cola, Pepsi or Android. When you see these colors, your mind instantly goes to the brands they represent. And if you think these colors were chosen haphazardly, then think again. Coca Cola spent consider time and effort choosing their distinctive color and ensuring that it was consistently used over the years.

Still not convinced? Take a look at this interactive graphic to see what when these recognizable corporate colors are switched. Something just feels inherently wrong when these notable brand colors are swapped.

Having different shades of your corporate color contradicts the brand message you are attempting to convey. That’s what color management is so important. It conveys a unified branding message and helps customers immediately identify your brand across all mediums.

Color management made easy

Alright, so you’re convinced that color management matters. Now what can you do about it? If you’re a commercial printer, our color specialists can work with you to find a production device or color management software package for your specific needs and budget.

If you’re a business or nonprofit that does a lot of in-house printing, we have solutions for you too. We can show you affordable color management software options that will help you manage your print jobs across your entire print fleet. To learn more, contact an office technology specialist today at (612) 861-4000.

We also have a full-service overflow print center that can alleviate your printing burden by handling your print jobs for you. To find out more information about our copy center, fill out our information request form.

Two huge benefits of printing in-house

benefits of printing in-house

Are you worried you’re spending more than you need to on printing? Tired of the logistical headaches associated with outsourcing your print jobs? Do you feel like you lack control over the finished product? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to consider bringing printing in-house with an office device.

Yes, but…

At this point you’re likely thinking “Being able to print my projects off in-office would be amazing, but I won’t receive nearly the same quality and it’ll cost me way more!” While this may be true for larger print jobs, in most cases, a production printer or even MFP can deliver comparable quality for less.

We’ll explore the cost benefits of moving away from outsourcing in-depth in a later article, but the savings associated with increased control shouldn’t be overlooked. Read on to learn more about two benefits of printing in-house — control and flexibility.

Out of control outsourcing

A major reason companies often choose to fill their printing needs through in-house office equipment is control. When you send jobs off to a printer, you’re forced to order a pre-set number of prints. While this method is great for large projects that rely on lower per-unit cost, it can easily backfire.

For example, companies that send print jobs to outside vendors usually end up ordering significantly more copies than they need. This, of course, is due to the fact that they don’t want to risk running out of whatever it is that they’ve printed.

Unfortunately, these excess copies usually end up getting tossed. Not only does this waste money, but it also increases your environmental footprint. As more companies realize the benefits of going green, most are beginning to see this as truly a no-win situation.

How flexible is an outsourced print strategy?

Now let’s take the above issue a step further. Imagine you’ve just ordered five hundred copies of a marketing flier from a commercial printing company. After using only three hundred of these fliers, however, something changes and the information on the leaflet is no longer relevant.

You’re now left with two options; either you continue to use the outdated flier or you can cut your losses and throw them away. In either case your business loses — customers either receive obsolete information or you’re flushing money down the drain.

Encountering this problem once is bad enough, but organizations that rely on outside printing often experience this over and over again. To make matters worse, this problem is completely avoidable.

What is print on demand?

When you possess an office printer, you’re empowered by something called print on demand (POD). Essentially, this means that you have the ability to print what you want, whenever you want. Instead of ordering five hundred fliers, you’re now free to print off your documents as you need them. In doing so, you minimize the risk of unneeded extras or dated information.

Print-on-demand allows you to avoid trashing excess or outdated copies by giving you complete control of your printing environment. Find a typo on a brochure? Change it. Need to update the details of a promotion? Not a problem. When you print in your office, you ultimately save money just by having more control and flexibility.

While these factors are beneficial to any organization, they’re especially valued by retailers and marketing firms. These organizations are constantly printing off promotional materials, so being able to make changes on demand is a must. However, flexibility is a competitive advantage regardless of industry. Thus, most organizations stand to gain by bringing their production in-house.

Take control of your costs

Are you ready to get control over your printing costs and enhance your office’s flexibility? Our experienced technology consultants can help. We’ll conduct a thorough needs assessment and provide best-fit device recommendations. We’ll then work with you to provide a solution that meets your unique demands and keeps your costs in check.

With ten Midwest locations, we’re always nearby. Call us today at 612-861-4000 or fill out our office assessment form to get started.

6 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a New Copier

new copier shopping guide

Choosing a new copier can be intimidating and dealers don’t always make the process easier. With a litany of technical terms and the overemphasis some dealers place on selling certain models, it’s no wonder that organizations dread shopping for copiers and printers.

However, choosing a new copier doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it’s actually a breeze if you know the right questions to ask. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of six questions to consider when shopping for a new machine. Answering these queries ahead of time will help remove a lot of the unnecessary stress from the shopping process.

How many copies will I make?

While obvious, the first question you should ask is how many copies you’ll be making per month. If you think your organization will have very light usage, then you can probably get by with a personal machine. If, however, you plan on making thousands of copies monthly, you’re going to need something a little more powerful. Below are some general recommendations from Office Depot based on your average number of monthly copies:

2,000: personal copier
2,000-25,000: business model
25,000-75,000: commercial copier

While these guidelines aren’t perfect, they do provide a good baseline to start the conversation.

Do I need a color copier?

Next, you should ask yourself if you really need a color copier. Black and white copiers can be significantly less expensive than their color counterparts and could save you some money. If you make little to no color copies, a black and white machine will save you from paying for an unneeded feature.

Alternatively, if you do have some color copying needs, consider whether these jobs could be outsourced. For example, customers who perform one or two big color jobs a year, like an annual report, could easily send these projects to a dedicated document services provider. Some dealers, like Metro Sales, even have their own document services division to make this option more convenient for customers.

Do I need managed print?

While technical specifications are commonly the focal point of discussion, you shouldn’t forget about software. Print management software is a powerful tool that can be used across industries to achieve a multitude of goals. For example, print management is often employed in the education sector to track usage and assign print quotas by department. Government groups, meanwhile, rely on user restriction features to keep sensitive documents secure.

Make sure to let your consultant or sales representative know if you’re looking for advanced managed print capabilities. Doing so could save you from having to backtrack down the road. While most modern commercial copiers are compatible with standard print management software, there are some limitations. PaperCut, case in point, works better with certain print languages.

Even if you aren’t considering managed print software at this point, it’s still worth bringing it up. Discussing your options when buying your copier puts you in a better position in the future should you decide to add print management. This is due to the fact that some machines are better suited for certain software solutions and not all dealers offer the same options. Make sure your copier and vendor can handle the software solution you would choose if you added a managed print service. Otherwise, you could end up disappointed when you realize your dealer doesn’t offer your preferred solution.

What graphic capabilities does my machine need?

If you’re going to be doing a lot of color printing and need precise color reproduction, then the graphic capabilities of your printer are going to play a crucial role in your decision. In this case, you should make sure you ask your vendor about maximum print resolution and color control. Production printers generally offer the greatest graphic capabilities and five-color management. Drivers can also influence quality, so ask your consultant about these as well.

How fast should my copier print?

While not important to every organization, print speed can be a major factor within certain industries. If you’re making copies for customers, for example, you’re going to want a copier that’s quick and easy to use. If, on the other hand, you’re getting a copier primarily for office use, an average speed copier will likely do the job just fine.

As always, however, the right solution depends on your individual situation. If you’d like additional help or simply want to gather more information, contact our team of knowledgeable office technology consultants. We’ll happily answer any queries and will even perform an equipment consultation at no charge!

Call us today at 612-861-4000 or contact your local copier dealer.

Why Buy from a Dedicated Copier Dealer?

copier dealer

When choosing a new copier or printer, where you buy is just as important as any productivity metric. And while there are plenty of companies out there that sell copiers and printers, there are very few that actually choose to make office equipment their core business.

In most cases, retailers sell managed IT, network services and cloud services with a copier division tacked on as an afterthought. Imaging equipment isn’t their main focus, but rather another way of adding to their revenue stream. As a result, their imaging equipment division, and its customers, often become neglected as the company attempts to maximize profit. For customers, this means subpar equipment, service and support.

Enter the dedicated copier dealer. A copier dealer has chosen to focus on office copiers, printers and managed print software. They operate under the belief that the best way to serve customers is to do one thing and to do it well. It’s an approach that has served both businesses and customers well for decades.

So what exactly are these customer benefits? Below we’ve listed four of the ways you’ll profit from working with a copier dealer.

More Resources to Address Concerns

When a company tries to branch out too much, it often ends up spreading itself too thin. Consequently, customers are left with inadequate resources to address their concerns. In office imaging — often the first division neglected — this means little support for equipment malfunctions, technology questions or service requests. Sharing a communication center, service staff and occasionally sales representatives all lead to inefficiencies that end up hurting you in the end.

A dedicated copier vendor, however, resolves this problem by focusing solely on office imaging equipment. Metro Sales, for example, has an exclusive copier hotline, an enormous service fleet dedicated solely to office equipment service calls and even our own toner warehouse. Honing in on imaging equipment and service allows us to better provide you with responsive service and supply deliveries.

Knowledgeable Staff

Dealing exclusively in copiers and printers also contributes to building a more knowledgeable sales force. Due to our dedication to imaging technology, everyone within our organization, from the executive team to accounting, has an in-depth knowledge of the office imaging industry.

Importantly, this serves customers in two different ways. First, it creates a better learning culture for new staff members. Our management team knows exactly what our new consultants need to know to provide you with the best experience. In addition, staff members are also surrounded by well-informed peers who are ready to help them with any questions they may have along the way. The result? You receive service from a knowledgeable consultant whose training has put them in a position to understand your needs and all the options available to fulfill them.

Second, this in-depth knowledge means that our company leadership has first-hand knowledge that has better equipped them to make strategic decisions. At a larger multi-service company, the executive team often doesn’t have direct experience in the office equipment sector. Thus, they don’t have an adequate knowledge base from which to make decisions that are best for copy/print customer. Management at these companies make decisions based on numbers without understanding the what customers in the industry really need. In the end, this leads to undertrained staff, unwanted services or inadequate support.

Personalized Solutions

A dedicated dealer’s knowledgeable staff also leads to more personalized solutions for you. Every one of our clients works one-on-one with a dedicated office technology consultant. Due to their unique blend of extensive experience, knowledge and commitment to personalized service, these consultants are able to make customized suggestions based on your distinct circumstances.

However, our personal touch doesn’t stop there. When you work with an office technology consultant, buying a copier or printer becomes more than a transaction, it becomes a partnership. At Metro Sales our individual reps make quarterly calls to their customers to make sure the equipment is still living up to expectations, check on device usage and make recommendations for further cost reduction. This personal attention is something overstretched or undertrained copier divisions simply can’t offer.

While our consultants work personally with their clients to design a plan that works well for them, this doesn’t happen in a multi-faceted organization. Often, due to the fact that their staff lacks in-depth knowledge needed to offer these individualized suggestions, these companies rely on pre-designed plans and have a take it or leave it mentality. This disposition forces you to choose between a few rigid plans that ultimately don’t match your needs.

Authorized Service

The final benefit of working with a copier dealer is the level of service you’ll come to expect. At Metro Sales, we’ve chosen to partner exclusively with Ricoh to become an authorized Ricoh dealer. This commitment has had a significant positive impact on our service department. Our partnership with Ricoh has ensured that our technicians have intricate knowledge of and practical experience with Ricoh equipment. Due to this knowledge — as well as our our success in meeting Ricoh’s rigorous standards — Metro Sales has been certified as an authorized Ricoh service center. This recognition signifies that Ricoh believes that our service staff provides exceptional service to Ricoh machines and will continue to do so in the future.

It’s this level of service that has really benefited customers. Our exclusive partnership has created a more consistent service culture whereby all of our technicians have advanced Ricoh proficiency. Thus, no matter who responds to your service call, you’ll receive the same exceptional service each and every time. It’s this consistency that gives a dedicated copier dealer a distinct advantage when it comes to serving customers.

Purchasing a new copier doesn’t have to be difficult. Our office technology consultants make the process easy by performing a comprehensive needs assessment and providing a customized print strategy — all free of charge. Contact us today to get started!