Printing for Less: Cut Outsourcing Costs Without Sacrificing Quality

By: Dan Larkin
July 10, 2019

Small, day-to-day printing is the norm for most offices, even if they rely on print shops or other outside companies for larger, higher-quality projects like brochures, letter campaigns, pre-addressed envelopes and photos. While this is typically done to increase efficiency and reduce costs, printing outside the office is oftentimes more expensive than printing in-house. After all, the printing company you hire establishes pricing to cover upkeep costs, equipment depreciation, supplies, employee salaries and their profit margin.

Printing can take up a significant portion of many office budgets, so anything you can do to reduce costs is a good idea. Investing in the right equipment and/or partnering with a managed print provider can be a good start to this process.

The quality of today's printers enables them to produce greater quantities at greater speeds—even with expanded finishing qualities. This has reduced the need for offices to outsource printing projects. With the right equipment in-house, you can complete more printing projects than ever before.

Determine Your Printing Needs and Goals

Start down the path to keeping your print jobs in-house by identifying your needs and goals. First, ask yourself the following questions, and work with the outsourced printer to determine the answers:

  • How large are the print jobs I normally outsource?
  • How often do I have large print jobs?
  • What resources would I have to inventory (paper, extra toner, etc.) to bring these jobs in-house?
  • Does my printing equipment have the speed to handle project demand?
  • Does my printer have the finishing capabilities needed, such as stapling, folding and paper size handling?
  • Would staff training be necessary for efficient equipment operation?
  • Would I need to schedule projects so that day-to-day printing operations aren't affected?

If you regularly have large printing jobs that your current printer can't handle, upgrading to a model with greater capabilities may prove very cost effective. This is an especially good choice if your current printer requires frequent maintenance or is at the end of its life.

If bringing your larger print jobs in-house would interfere with your daily printing needs, you may need to consider adding equipment to your fleet. A multifunction printer designed to specifically handle these large-volume projects may be a good option.

Consider Quality 

While it's true that today’s print technology enables us to perform a wide variety of tasks and projects for a relatively low cost, we must ensure those benefits don't compromise quality. One of the perks of outsourcing print jobs is having someone responsible for quality assurance.

Throughout our time as a managed print service provider, we’ve learned a handful of tricks that allow you to print for less—without sacrificing quality—right in your own office. Here are four areas to focus on:

1. Using and Buying Toner Effectively

There are endless purchasing options available for toner. You can buy it from a provider, order it online or pick it up in an office supply store. Each printer manufacturer has branded cartridges, but there are also off-brand options. Or maybe you are trying to save some money upfront and choose to purchase remanufactured cartridges or refill kits.

With all these options, it's easy to see that toner is pretty big business. Big enough that it's important to watch out for toner scammers — also known as toner pirates. Toner pirates target businesses by selling them fake, outdated or nonexistent toner cartridges and invoicing businesses for payment. What they're banking on is that whoever receives the invoice will simply pay it without another thought, leaving your business to deal with the losses. You can learn more about toner scams here. We recommend purchasing toner through a managed print services program or, at minimum, getting it through an authorized supplier. These tend to be the most cost-effective and efficient routes to supplying toner for printers.

One last piece of toner advice: set your default print preferences to black and white. Color toner cartridges are generally more expensive, and it is much less expensive to replace one black and white cartridge more often than replacing multiple color cartridges at that rate.

2. Saving Paper

The average office worker uses a staggering 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, according to statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That's 20 reams of paper per employee, per year. If we just estimate the cost of one ream of paper at $5.00 (which is a low estimate), each employee costs you at least $100.00 a year in paper alone. That doesn’t even take toner costs into consideration, which vary between 2 and 15 cents per page!

An easy way to start printing for less is to try and cut back on paper usage. Setting your default print preferences to 2-sided will immediately cut this paper cost in half for most jobs. Additionally, you can set up individual user boxes that require giving the printer permission to print the job when the user arrives at the printer, so that no one is printing something and forgetting about it. This can help eliminate the stack of prints that never get picked up.

3. Controlling the Print Environment 

Choosing the proper equipment and location in your office can also save you money. Providing efficient equipment that can handle the print projects your business requires will allow you to eliminate inefficient department machines as well as personal printers—both of which are generally more costly. This will help you save on supplies and maintenance while creating control and accountability within your print environment.

Combining these changes with a Managed Print Services (MPS) program can enhance these benefits. An MPS provider can install software that can track usage, which can help you identify additional cost-saving opportunities.

4. Eliminating the Need to Outsource Print Jobs

Finally, the advanced printers often used in businesses have many of the same abilities a print shop provides. Many multifunction devices can:

  • Handle a wide variety of paper sizes and weights
  • Produce high quality color
  • Utilize advanced finishing capabilities such as stapling, punching, sorting and more

Although they won’t completely replace print shops, because their state-of-the-art equipment is designed to produce many unique projects, multifunction printers will allow you to bring some of your print projects in-house. If you currently outsource projects, you can expect to cut costs by making the switch to in-house printing. Working with a print provider can simplify this process because they have the expertise and experience of providing the right equipment for specific business printing needs.

The Importance of a Managed Print Services Program

If you will be relying on your printer for projects you have outsourced in the past, then a managed print services program can help maximize the lifespan of your printer fleet by ensuring that your equipment is used as intended for maximum effectiveness.

A managed print services program will provide the proper equipment for your printing needs and ensure that your devices stay in good working condition while performing as efficiently as possible. Key features of a good managed print services program include:

  • Monitoring and reporting printer usage and volumes
  • Remote, live help desk support
  • Efficient on-site maintenance  
  • Printer replacement, if maintenance becomes impossible or cost-prohibitive
  • Automatic supply ordering and shipment
  • Recurring business reviews to stay informed of your printing processes and make adjustments as necessary

These features will reduce administrative costs, extend the life of your printers and ensure uninterrupted printing for all employees. Effective Managed Print Services (MPS) programs are also designed to change with you. As your business printing needs change, so should your MPS program.

Today’s printing technology enables us to perform a wide variety of tasks and projects for a relatively low cost. In our experience providing managed print services, we’ve learned some tricks that allow you to print for less, without sacrificing quality—right in your own office.

Printing for less can be accomplished if you have the right equipment and control of your print environment. Talk to a Copier & Print Specialist to set up a free print technology assessment to determine what changes your business could implement to save money.

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Topics: Managed Print Services