Independent Copier Dealer Vs. Manufacturer: Which Is Better To Work With?
If your business is in the market for a new office copier or multifunction printer (MFP), it can be confusing navigating which copier dealer to work with.
The printing devices that make up your office environment determine the productivity of your staff and the quality of output. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that the devices you ultimately lease or purchase align with your business’s needs and goals.
To do that, you’ll need to decide whether to acquire your new printing device from an independent copier dealer or directly from a manufacturer.
One of these options may not be the right fit for everyone. Even though we’re an independent dealer, there are some situations where one option may be the better choice.
LDI has worked as an independent copier dealer for over twenty years, assessing clients’ print environments and tailoring solutions to fit their needs. However, over the years, we have seen prospects and clients unsure whether to purchase their equipment directly from a manufacturer or an independent copier dealer like us. The reason?
It can be challenging to know which is better to work with when you don’t have experience with print equipment or know what to look for in new print equipment.
This article will break down what it means to work with an independent copier dealer versus a manufacturer. We will then cover the key differences so that your business can better understand what both entail. By the end of this article, your business will have a good grasp on who to purchase your print equipment from and why.
What Does Working With An Independent Copier Dealer Entail?
Think of an independent copier dealer as a third-party company that offers the latest technology in print equipment from various manufacturers under one roof.
Offers A Range Of Brands
By offering a range of brands, an independent dealer will be able to recommend solutions based on your company’s office technology needs and not just a limited number of available devices.
An independent dealer offers unique expertise seeing as representatives need to be knowledgeable about all the brands and the respective features they offer, along with the strengths and weaknesses of these devices.
An independent dealer can walk you through completing a print job on as many devices as you’d like to test out from an in-person demonstration.
For example, an independent copier dealer’s showroom will showcase various printing devices from well-known brands like Xerox, Canon, HP, Sharp, and more. From an in-person demonstration, you, as the customer, can plug in your USB and execute a print job from beginning to end.
By simply completing a print job, you’ll notice the quality of the output, the speed at which it prints, and the workflow of how many buttons and steps it takes to finish printing.
Additionally, an expert will be there with you, pointing out the differences between each device you test and how various features can have a positive impact on your office productivity.
An independent copier dealer abides by the philosophy that not one brand fits all. After gathering what your business is looking to accomplish, they design a print solution that may involve different brands for the needs of your various departments.
Is incorporating different copier brands in your print environment mandatory? No, not at all!
However, suppose your marketing team requires equipment to meet their color-critical needs. Yet, your sales department mainly requires high-speed devices and prints predominantly in black and white.
In that case, an independent dealer can recommend a brand they feel executes high-res print jobs better than other brands; while recommending another brand for your sales team’s needs. This often results in the best output and productivity while saving you money.
Now that we covered what working with an independent copier dealer entails let’s dive into what working with a manufacturer involves.
What Does Working With A Manufacturer Entail?
Similar to an independent copier dealer, a manufacturer also offers printing devices for business.
A manufacturer provides a range of printing devices that all fall under one brand. That brand is that of the manufacturer.
Offers One Brand
Suppose you’re in the market for a canon device because you’ve used other canon devices in the past, and you love how qualitative and efficient of a device it is.
In that case, you can visit the manufacturer’s direct branch to select your office copier or MFP of choice and speak with a sales representative about the particular features of the devices.
Manufacturer direct branches are shops that manufacturers use to sell their equipment out of.
For example, Canon has a manufacturer direct branch, Canon Solutions America (CSA), in which customers can walk through their showroom and work closely with a representative as they test-drive various devices.
Manufacturers also provide in-person demonstrations so that prospects and returning customers can try out the equipment before purchasing or leasing.
How does this help?
Well, regardless of whether the customer has worked with the same brand before; there are new versions of devices typically introduced every year.
It’s always best to see how one device may work more efficiently for your particular business needs.
Now, let’s jump into the five differences between working with an independent copier dealer versus a manufacturer.
What Are 5 Major Differences?
Both an independent copier dealer and a manufacturer provide different options and products to choose from. This can make it challenging to select the best printing device for your particular business needs.
Here are five differences between them that we feel will help you become a more informed buyer.
1. The Solutions They Offer
If it wasn’t obvious, the primary difference between working with an independent copier dealer versus a manufacturer is the brands of printing devices they offer.
While a manufacturer deals with only one brand of office copiers, printers, and MFPS, an independent dealer usually stocks various brands.
So if you were to choose to work with a manufacturer, you have no choice but to buy what they produce. Whereas a dealer can suggest the best office copier from the ones, they sell for your particular business needs.
Additionally, a manufacturer won’t want to discuss mix-matching products from other companies to help you create a customized print solution. Why?
Well, simply put, they’ll want you to buy your print equipment and accessories from the only brand they sell.
Independent copier dealers are typically brand agnostic and will work with you to integrate the accessories and devices that best suit your needs, regardless of whether both are made from different manufacturers.
Similarly, suppose your company requires a particular software solution to optimize your document workflow. In that case, an independent copier dealer can take that into account and recommend the solution that best fits your print environment.
2. Level Of Expertise
Every copier technician receives training to equip them with the skills necessary to fix and maintain printing devices.
However, the primary difference lies in the training an independent dealer technician or engineer receives.
For an independent dealer, a technician is typically trained on more than one manufacturer line, understands all the differences, and is prepared to support your entire office machine environment.
Independent dealer technicians are certified on various software applications for your printing devices to help make your office more efficient.
A technician for a manufacturer such as Canon will only be equipped with the knowledge to service that brand and engineers can only support the limited applications the manufacturer sells. No flexibility is offered.
Ideally, you want support for all your office technology from one company.
3. Financing Options
Most but not all independent copier dealers work with a leasing company to finance the printing equipment you’re interested in leasing.
So in working with a dealer, your business can expect more than one contract after you’ve agreed to work with them.
One contract is a leasing contract which is a binding contract you have with a leasing company that exists for as long as you have the device.
The other contract will cover the terms and conditions, along with the level of service you’ll acquire from the dealer.
Manufacturers on the other hand can offer their financing independently of a leasing company which simplifies the contractual process for customers and makes it so they have fewer parties to work with.
While neither arrangement is bad, it comes down to what your business feels comfortable in doing.
4. Cost & Pricing Associated
Manufacturers distribute their products directly and through dealers, which means that manufacturers provide their direct operations and dealers with the same wholesale price. The same wholesale price is the law.
Many manufacturers rely on sales teams within the branches of their operations to support their manufacturing processes.
Therefore, manufacturers may end up selling their print equipment at a higher price than independent dealers would. Why?
Well, primarily because the manufacturer branches have pre-determined profit margins that must be met.
An independent dealer has more flexibility with equipment pricing and looks for additional revenue from its secondary offerings such as service, supplies, and related software applications. In the case of progressive independent dealers, they over networking, phone, and A/V sales, and support as well.
With dealers, you’ll have some flexibility to play with different pricing options and bring your end cost to a lower price.
5. Working With Large Global Operations
While both independent copier dealers and manufacturers can work with small to large organizations for their printing needs and goals, large global corporations may be better off working with a manufacturer.
Well, certain manufacturers have the necessary administration to support global environments. You may have limited choices in applications and solutions, but some manufacturers are prepared to deal with the logistics, currency exchanges, time zones, and unexpected challenges that come with a large, global customer.
For large corporations that manage national and global printer fleets; manufacturers can provide uniformity at a predictable price.
Additionally, while several independent dealers can provide products and services all across the U.S, most independent copier dealers in the U.S do not ship large orders out of the country.
Copier Dealer or Manufacturer: Which Is Better For Your Business?
The truth is, no matter who you choose to work with, there’s a great chance you’ll walk away with a perfectly operational printing device.
But when considering your options, it’s wise to look beyond just the purchase and understand which level of support is suitable for your business moving forward.
Remember, your business isn’t just buying a device. Once you decide who to obtain your printing device from, you’ll want to ensure the support you receive is first class.
So if your business is searching for a customized solution where you can integrate a few different brands such as Canon, Sharpe, and Xerox, then an independent copier dealer may be a better choice for your business needs.
Now, suppose your business has its eyes set on only purchasing Canon to make up your print environment. In that case, your business could probably work with either.
All in all, it all comes down to a few things:
- The work your business is trying to accomplish.
- Whether you want to choose from more than one brand.
- The personal touch of the third-party organization you want to work with.
Keep those points in mind, and your business will be sure to make the right choice.
At LDI, we love when our customers feel solid in their decisions to make their print environment exactly how they want it. We want you to feel confident that the printing devices you acquire match your business requirements and align with your long-term goals.
If your business feels that working with an independent copier dealer is right, then you can learn more about the benefits of working with one in this article.