Schoolgirl using a Printer

How to buy the best printers and copiers for your school

Printers and photocopiers are expensive, and depending on how much your school uses them and what price plan you are on, costs can soon rack up so it’s good to make sure you have the right contract in place to control your costs.  

Printers and photocopiers are either bought on capital purchase or under a long term lease – meaning it’s really important you make the right decision to ensure you have the right asset for your printing needs, not just for now but for the coming years. 

It is crucial that you get a quality product that is reliable, well-maintained, meets your print requirements over the period of the contract, and is within budget. You may also consider the various green options available in your efforts towards net carbon zero goals. There are lots of factors to consider, including print speed, mono or colour, for instance.

A framework agreement might be your best route to market…

The new Education Buying Framework is a compliant way to access great pricing on multi-functional devices to help you get the right equipment at the best possible price.

For schools, by schools, it was designed by Education Buying specifically for use by educational establishments, supported by a number of leading MATs, including Painsley Catholic Academy, St Ralph Sherwin Catholic MAT, and Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust.  

The framework offers an extensive range of products from our pre-approved and rigorously tested suppliers, including: Automated Systems Group (ASL) Ltd, Ricoh UK Ltd, Toshiba TEC UK Ltd and Vision (Automated Systems) Ltd.   

What do you need before embarking on a Printer & Copier/MFD tender?

The best course of action to take before obtaining quotes is to ask three key questions:

  1. What do you use your current machines for? 
  2. What functions aren’t currently available to you that would enhance what you produce, or do you have functions that you pay for but do not require? 
  3. Are your print requirements likely to change in the foreseeable future? For example, hybrid working, paperless documentation, change in school staff or even a new building. 

It is important to know how much your print costs are, as well as what you print. We recommend you get a full breakdown of charges from your existing supplier, as this may well give you an easy way of working out what you print. You should calculate your printing over a twelve-month period to take into account any peak printing times, such as Christmas, exams or reports.

It is also beneficial to remember that the monthly costs of some print solution contracts are not fixed for the entirety of their length. Therefore, you will need to calculate any annual increase into the total cost over the three to five year contract when making a comparison.  

On the Education Buying’s Printer and Copier framework, pricing is fixed charges for the duration of the contract – meaning no surprises. With four leading suppliers on the agreement, you’ll be sure to get at least four, quotes to demonstrate best value options.

When searching for quotes, suppliers can often quote you for more than one machine to give you “choice”. Realistically, all potential choices should meet your needs from the offset. If you go for the cheapest quote and they question if it will meet your needs, ask them why they quoted it in the first place.  

Each one of the Education Buying suppliers on the framework have been thoroughly vetted so that this practice does not happen.  

Avoid contract confusion

Ensure the contract does not expose you to unnecessary costs. (Some suppliers will offer an initial low price, but will then try and make their money with “hidden costs, such as charges for delivery, scanning, high costs for staples, setting minimum contract charges or excess copy charges if you go over certain thresholds.) These charges – hidden in the fine print – are binding and can leave you out of pocket.    

All suppliers approved under our framework agreement include all delivery and installation costs, training, consumables, maintenance, hard drive replacement and removal at the end of the contract in the click charge as standard. 

Social Value & SECR Reporting

Every school and MAT will have their own drivers and targets for social value, environmental initiatives, and local sourcing. It is important that you can rely on suppliers that will understand and aide you in that journey. Our suppliers have strong social value programmes underpinned by measurable and meaningful targets.    

Suppliers should be able to help you with your reporting requirements on carbon reductions, energy efficiencies, environmental impact of products purchased and how your expenditure is helping to boost the national and local economy

Working with a supplier is a partnership at the end of the day, you should be able to trust and rely on them to work with you on every aspect of your contract.  

Plan ahead

Your school or trust should plan ahead – especially in the current climate. We are currently seeing global shortages on computer chips means that lead times are currently at 8-12 weeks for A3 printers and even longer for A4 printers. Ask potential suppliers important questions to help you understand any difficult areas. 

While you can go it alone and work with suppliers directly, to avoid nasty, hidden charges, we recommend utilising a framework agreement like Education Buying’s Printer and Copier framework – it’s completely self-serve and free to use. It gives you the benefits of pre-vetted, trusted suppliers that will ensure you get the best price possible. Click here to find out more.