RFPs & Getting Bids from Vendors
When you’re ready to price your new equipment, it might pay to develop and send a request for proposal (RFP) to the dealers you’d like to have bid on your business.
The RFP— spelling out your needs, budget and requirements — should cover all the specifics of what you’ll require from your copier, printer or MFP vendor, including:
- Preventive Maintenance
- Response Times
In addition, the RFP should describe the recourse you expect if the product doesn’t perform to your expectations. If you have a rubric on how you’ll decide, don’t keep it a secret—let the bidders know what is most and least important in your decision.
In addition to requesting purchasing information, make sure that you ask for specifics on the service agreement and available lease options. And be sure the responses come back in a way that allows you to compare “apples to apples.”
If your monthly volume varies from one month to another, you’re probably better off asking for a “no-minimum” contract. This is a separate service and supply agreement from your lease or purchase agreement, and has no minimum monthly volume requirements — you just pay for the copies that you make. With this type of contract, your price includes all service and all consumables (with the exception of paper in most cases). If you have a stapler finisher, staples are often not included, though that point can usually be negotiated.
Ask for a replacement guarantee in the proposal and contract stating that if the equipment is not performing to your satisfaction, it will be replaced with a comparably equipped unit. Usually the vendor will be given a set period of time in the contract to address the problem, and if they can’t get it resolved, you want to have the option to replace it. Replacement procedures vary widely from one manufacturer to another, so be as detailed as you can be in the service and supply agreement instead of in the lease agreement. That way, even if the manufacturer has lengthy or arduous return processes, they won’t be your problem.
While some companies offer only a standard 90-day warranty, some offer extended warranties, usually called customer satisfaction guarantees. Customer satisfaction guarantees are usually in addition to the company’s standard warranty, cover a period of at least three years from the date of purchase and require that the customer not only obtain a maintenance agreement but also use the manufacturer’s parts and supplies. Oftentimes a manufacturer’s extended warranty also applies to a unit’s accessories, whether standard or optional, such as document feeders, sorters, paper cassettes and duplex units. Under a customer satisfaction guarantee, a vendor will provide a replacement if the customer is not satisfied with the device (this does not include extended warranties that are purchased by the customer). Although the guarantees generally cover a set period, they may limit the number of copies or prints that customers can make.