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.

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.

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!

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.

What is managed print services?

what is managed print services?

This is part one of our new managed print services blog series. Stay tuned as we answer questions about MPS, its benefits and some common MPS software solutions.

Whether you’ve heard of managed print services (MPS) before or are just learning about it for the first time, we promise our new MPS series will have something for you. In this introductory article we’ll define what managed print services are, their benefits and how you can get started with one.

What is managed print services?

Managed print services is a program designed to monitor and optimize your office’s printing environment. It accomplishes this through analysis of your current equipment, gathering information about your company’s needs and providing comprehensive strategies to improve overall efficiency.

Managed print services take a long-term approach by continuously monitoring your devices and their use. In doing so, your MPS provider maximizes productivity by taking control of your printing environment. They accomplish this by performing tasks like automatically delivering toner, providing routine maintenance and studying usage data. In short, having a managed print service means you’ll spend less time worrying about your printers and more time focused on your on core business.

Managed print services generally include:

  • Conducting an assessment of your current printing environment.
  • Monitoring and optimizing your devices.
  • Delivering supplies — like paper and toner — as needed.
  • Streamlining printer access.
  • Alerting you of potential issues and offering solutions.
  • Providing advanced data about equipment.
  • Training employees on equipment use.

To learn more about managed print, visit our MPS page.

Do I need a managed print service?

So now that you know what a managed print service is, how do you determine if you need one?
While almost every organization can benefit from print management, whether or not you need MPS is largely dependent on three factors:

1. Number of employees
2. Size of printer fleet
3. Document dependence

Organizations with a large number of employees and/or printers are most likely to see immediate substantial benefits from an MPS program. This is due to the difficulties these organizations often face trying to manage a large fleet and/or ensuring that their equipment is adequate enough to meet their staff’s needs. Both tasks are time-consuming and difficult to perform without imaging equipment expertise.

Additionally, organizations that work in document intensive fields, such as law firms and healthcare groups, are also more likely to benefit financially from MPS solutions. These organizations have extensive printing needs and downtime means lost profit. If you can’t afford downtime, managing your own equipment and supplies can be an unneeded headache that really could cost your business down the road.

At the very least, every institution can benefit from a managed print consultation. Most MPS providers will conduct one free of charge and it’s a great way to gain insight into your current printing environment. At the conclusion of a managed print study, the provider will present you with device usage data and strategies to reduce your printing expenses. Therefore, regardless of your industry, an MPS study is always worthwhile.

How much will a managed print service save me?

While the answer to this question depends on your organization’s unique situation, there are some general statistics that serve as a good baseline. A recent InfoTrends study found that organizations in the legal, healthcare and financial sectors slashed their printing costs by close to one-third. Here’s the breakdown by industry:

Legal – 41 percent.
Financial – 33 percent
Healthcare – 27 percent

How can I get started with MPS?

Alright, so you’ve decided to take the next step and start shopping for print management partner; what steps should you take to get started? The first step is to contact an MPS company to gain additional insight into your printing needs. If you were to contact Metro Sales, for example, we would perform a comprehensive print study of your organization. We would do so by installing non-invasive software to monitor your device usage and gain a better understanding of where your inefficiencies lie. From there, we’d recommend devices and strategies to help reduce printing costs and improve office productivity.

What should I look for when choosing a managed print services provider?

While cost is obviously important, you should also consider many other factors when choosing an MPS solutions provider. Remember, managed print is really a partnership between two organizations; you’re trusting the MPS company to monitor usage and keep your equipment running smoothly. As such, it’s paramount that you truly feel comfortable with your MPS partner.

To that effect, we recommend that you learn as much about the MPS company as possible. Ask for their relevant industry experience and industry specific references. In this way, you can get an accurate read on how well suited they are to deal with your sector’s unique demands.

Finally, consider any additional solutions you may wish to enact. Government organizations, for example, often desire secure printing solutions. Print quotas, meanwhile, are very popular among educators. Take some time to study some of the more common software options and make a list of the features you’d like to implement. This will definitely help streamline the shopping process.

Curious about what managed print services could do for your organization? We’re offering a free office technology consultation to help you find out. Request one today by calling us at 612-861-4000 or filling out our consultation form. Thanks for reading and we’re looking forward to helping you improve your office!

Have a question you’d like us to answer about MPS? Leave a comment below and we’ll gladly provide an answer.

10 Tips to Reduce Printing Costs (and your Environmental Footprint) Today

reduce printing costs

You don’t need to invest in new office equipment to reduce your printing costs. While this is one of the easiest ways to cut your printing expenses, it is by no means the only way. In fact, there are plenty of less expensive strategies that you can implement on your own to tamp down costs. As an added bonus, all of these tricks will decrease your environmental footprint as well. Here are ten of our ten favorite tips to get you started.

1. Switch to a narrower font

Yes, the type of font you use really does impact your bottom line! This is due to the fact that some fonts, especially those known as “broad” fonts, use more ink than others. Switching to a narrow font, such as Times New Roman or Garamond, reduces ink consumption and puts a little bit of money back into your pocket. Check out this article for more information on the most ink-efficient fronts.

2. Enable shrink to fit

While this option isn’t always available — most browsers don’t support it anymore– it’s still an underutilized word processing trick. Say you have a 4 ½ page document that you want to print. Normally, this would mean you would print off five pieces of paper to accommodate the final half page. Shrink to fit solves this problem by condensing your document so that all printed materials print on four pages instead of five. Think about how much paper that could save you over the long-run! Follow these detailed instructions to enable shrink to fit in your version of Microsoft Word.

3. Install EcoFont

EcoFont is a software solution that, when installed on a workstation, places tiny holes in the font of a print job. Experiments have found that users, on average, enjoy roughly a 25 percent decrease in ink costs when using the software. EcoFont itself claims users can experience up to a 50 percent reduction in ink usage.

You can learn more about Ecofont on their official website.

4. Turn on duplex printing

It’s amazing how many organizations are still not taking advantage of duplex printing on a regular basis, despite the fact that it is now a standard feature on most modern machines. The good news, however, is that it’s easy to turn it on. All you have to do is change your default print settings to “two-sided” or “print on both sides” in your browser or word processor and you’re ready to go. With the click of a button you’ve effectively slashed your paper utilization in half.

5. Default to fast draft printing

Printing a text-heavy Word document or a physical version of a document for review? If so, fast draft printing is an excellent option. Fast draft saves ink by omitting images and printing in lower quality black and white. Thus, it’s an ideal solution for temporary or low-use documents such as directions, lists or project drafts. To enable fast draft, go to print options and select fast print, sample print or a lower dpi setting.

6. Use the handout printing feature

Chances are that you’ve used handout printing before for PowerPoint presentations. Did you know that you can use handout printing for documents as well? The easiest way to do this is to set your page to landscape orientation in print preview and select the option that allows you to print two pages per sheet.

7. Cut and Paste

Before printing, consider whether or not you need the whole document, or only a few parts. If you’re printing a long document or multiple files for a few sections, try copying and pasting them into a shorter document to eliminate waste. Doing so will allow you to avoid printing necessary pages that you’re not going to use anyway.

8. Use a managed print service

Alright, this isn’t really an option you can implement on your own, but it definitely will help you reduce costs. Managed print services allow you to track usage, encourage responsible printing behaviors and reduce equipment inefficiencies. It’s a simple software solution that’ll make your life easier. Contact our managed print department or visit our managed print services page to learn more.

9. Outsource color printing to a professional printer

If you’re printing a big project, like an annual report or marketing mailer, you could save some money by sending the job to a printing company. Often these companies offer rates that are more affordable than the cost you’d pay for your machine’s color ink, especially when it comes to big projects. Plus, you’ll usually get higher quality results as well! If you’re interested, our document services department offers a variety of printing services. View the full list of offered services here.

10. Print in black and white

Yes, it’s old-fashioned, but it’s on the list because it works. Black ink is simply cheaper than its color counterpart. If you don’t need presentation quality, you’re just printing a word document or a draft of a project you’re working on, black and white is the way to go. You should also make sure you select black and white when printing a text document as well. Often, printers will mix together colored ink to recreate black ink when “print in color” is selected in the settings. When this occurs, you’re unnecessarily draining your colored ink reserves.

Have more questions about reducing printing costs? Our cost reduction experts are ready to be of service. With more than forty years of experience in the office technology industry, Metro Sales has developed a reputation for helping organizations slash their costs through innovative imaging software and equipment.

Reach out at 612-861-4000 or by filling out our quick contact form.