Finding a reliable partner isn’t easy. It can take years of searching and heartache to find someone you can trust with your business needs because – essentially – your business and your team are going to rely on an outsider to be there when important deadlines are looming.

If you and your team use printers regularly, you may have been thinking about the benefits of switching over to a managed print service (MPS). A great MPS can help you save money, increase productivity and give your team access to better quality hardware. But, to gain those benefits, you need a service you can trust.

In other words, you need to find the best-managed print service for your company. Someone who’ll be there to give you the help and information you need, when you need it. Someone who won’t leave you stranded if one of your machines malfunctions or if your printing needs change suddenly.

So how do you find a managed print service you can trust? Well, it’s pretty simple: you have to ask the right questions. That’s why we put together a handy list of tips for finding the best-managed print service and the right questions to ask when you’ve narrowed down your list to find your perfect partner.

1. What businesses is this MPS partnering with?

They say you can judge a person based on the company they keep…  This is true in business as well. There are several powerful reasons to look at your prospective managed print service partner and examine who they’ve partnered with. Here are some additional questions to ask yourself:

What manufacturers does this service use?

Printer companies are protective of their brand image, so seeing the likes of HP or Canon in their list of partners typically means that this company offers a quality service.

Getting to know the brands your potential MPS works with is also an opportunity to weed out any manufacturers you don’t like working with. If you can’t stand using a Brother printer, you may want to ask your future partner if this is the only option available. While you won’t be responsible for maintenance in most cases, if you have a particular aversion to one printer over another, now is an excellent time discuss alternatives.

Who do they use for refills and resupplies?

The chances are that your MPS will purchase supplies like ink and paper from a third party. Who they use can tell you a lot about the turnaround time for large projects or emergencies. It also tells you a bit about the quality of service you’ll receive and the pricing you can expect.

2. Does the MPS partner you’re considering focus on selling or informing?

Examining a managed print services’ homepage or blog can tell you a lot about the company. This can definitely help your business in the future. Do you see a lot of sales jargon and banner ads? Or is there more of an educational theme to what the company puts on their site?

We can’t tell you which option is best for you, but we think the right partner should be focused on helping you make sense of complex ideas and sparking innovation instead of pushing the latest model or service plan.

Look for someone who does more than just offer the lowest rates because real partners offer more than just the minimum viable service. Cost is essential and should be a factor in your decision. After all, it’s one of the leading reasons companies switch to a managed print service in the first place. But choosing a printing partner is about more than the price per page and managing service requests.

The best-managed print service should help you improve your company’s inefficient print practices, not just make them more affordable. This saves you money long term. That’s why it’s smart to look for an MPS that puts employee education and print assessments at the forefront of their business model. They should be trying to save you the time you’d lose from improper printing practices.

3. What types of businesses use this service?

Who are your future partners’ current clients? What kind of businesses do they work with? Are they solely providers to government agencies? While this may be good for cost controls, services that prioritize government work may not be the fastest innovators. If you’re a private company, this could be a terrible fit in terms of scale and speed.

Do they work with educational institutes? Colleges and universities are cost-conscious but usually have larger budgets for printing than most small businesses. Unless the printers are predominantly used in an art class or precision lab, they’ll tend toward low-quality bulk printing, which might not be suitable for high polish presentations to investors.

The key here is to examine the breadth of a managed print service providers portfolio of clients to make sure they have the experience to back up any claims they make and support your team in the way you need it.

How to know when you’ve got it right

Choosing a partner is never easy. While you have to consider crucial bottom-line costs like cost-per-page and cost-per-unit, you also need to find someone you can trust. You need a service that’s going to show up if half your printers jam the night before annual reports are due. A service that’s going to spend time with your team, going over printing efficiency and help you increase productivity and decrease your paper footprint.

Working through the three questions above will help you find a managed print service that’s right for your needs, supports your team and keeps expenses reasonable.