If you’re searching for a managed print service provider, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that you have a lot of options. The bad? Well, you have a lot of options.

The managed print services market is growing at a rate of more than 5% per year, meaning nearly every organization can find a solution that fits their needs well. At the same time, this does mean you’ll have to invest a lot into researching what it is you need.

Pricing is important for any organization and it’s important you understand what you’re paying for and how. Pricing schemes that work well for some organizations won’t for others.

Including how and what you pay for as part of your selection process could help you greatly cut down costs (although it’s still important to look at total actual costs as well) by ensuring you’re not paying for something you use a lot of. Most MPS providers utilize payment schemes including cost per page, flat rate, and scalable.

Different pricing schemes for MPS providers

Cost Per Page MPS

Many managed print services providers will condense all your costs into a single “cost per page” rate, and then price your contract based on estimated page usage. You then pay for an estimated number of pages used, either rounded up or down, or the exact number of pages used per month.

What does this mean for you? For organizations with lower print needs, reducing rates to cost per page can ensure a lower cost across your entire organization. Here, you will likely see rates of about 0.04 for black and white and 0.11 for color (although rates can go as high as .25 per page) with a “minimum print per month”. So, if your minimum rate is 20,000 pages, of which at least 20% must be color, you’re looking at a bill of $1080 per month for printers, service, and ink or toner.

This may or may not include paper. If you print under this minimum, you pay that rate. If you print over, you simply add the additional pages at the quoted rate. So, if you end up printing 35,000 pages, your bill would likely increase to somewhere between $1680-$2000 depending on how many pages were in color.

Paying per page can get extremely expensive if you pay high rates per page (e.g., if you’re paying 10 cents per page for black and white copy, you’re probably getting a raw deal) or your organization has a very high print volume. For this reason, some industries like finance, payrolling, health, and warehousing typically don’t benefit as much as industries that print less.

What kind of variation can you expect? Some organizations will average out the cost of color and black and white to offer something like 8-10 cents per page. This is a good deal if you print a lot of color, but less so if you primarily use black and white.

Flat Rate MPS

Flat rate managed print services use the same idea as the “cost per page” model, but don’t charge per page. Instead, you get a single, monthly bill that remains the same, no matter what. Here, the MPS provider will likely conduct a thorough evaluation of your print needs, maintenance requirements, print fleet, and print volume. You’ll then receive a quote based on these factors with a single, flat-rate price covering devices, software, management, repairs, maintenance, etc.

This kind of contract will vary considerably depending on what you want, what kind of machines you get, how many you get, and your bargaining power. Normally, flat rate contracts are ideal for organizations with a high print volume, but not necessarily a high printer volume. Your contract will be based on multiple factors including print volume, especially if your MPS covers paper and toner, but this will likely save you over a cost per page rate.

Scalable Pricing MPS

Also known as “no-minimum” pricing, scalable pricing MPS allows organizations to scale contracts up and down and pay for what they use and nothing more. In some cases, this will include monthly service fees, supplies, and management. So, contracts like this might look like “$18 per MFP + 0.02 b&w and 0.09 for color”. This type of contract might include a “free” page count before you’re charged per page, but it might not.

These types of contracts are ideal for organizations that see spikes in print-usage around specific sales or accounting periods. For example, accountants will do most of their printing 5 times a year, during quarterly taxes and yearly taxes and it doesn’t normally make sense to pay for peak-printer usage throughout the year.

Choosing a Pricing Scheme

In most cases, the only way to choose a good pricing scheme for your organization would be to conduct a print needs assessment and choose accordingly. Unfortunately for most organizations, doing so is often difficult. Many rely on an MFP to come in and handle assessments to determine what you’re printing and why.

However, you can request competitive quotes from multiple organizations (consider at least 3), compare the results, and make a decision based on the lowest actual cost over a year of usage. Here, it’s important to look at costs for usage, costs for supplies, maintenance, and what’s actually in your contract. For example, if one supplier charges a slightly higher rate it might be because they offer extras like 4-hour help response time, included paper, or other services. Eventually, it’s important to look at everything you’re getting rather than just at costs.

Managed print services are popular because they often save organizations money, improve the quality of print services, and reduce risks. With more options, it’s easier to find a solution that directly meets your organization’s needs. At the same time, it’s also important to pay attention to ensure solutions and pricing options are a good fit.