Negotiating with School Photocopier Suppliers

School Photocopier suppliers are somewhat notorious for their forceful selling tactics, over complicating the procurement process and hidden costs.

Often their aim is to bamboozle the school with a dominant and imposing sales pitch, often convincing schools to purchase unnecessary ‘features and benefits’ at great cost to the school.  Schools are lumbered with a long term, overpriced and sometimes non-compliant contract which does not meet the current and/or future needs of the school.  My first experience with a copier supplier went, as I have since learnt, a typical interaction might go.   I rang a supplier for a quote, he immediately invited himself on site and proceeded to spend a good half an hour talking of his and his company’s credentials and how he was not the cheapest supplier but by golly did he offer the best in market service!  My questions around contracts and rates were met with confusing spiel which left me no more clued up.  I left the meeting with a large wad of references and a number of leaflets he had thrust upon me, and feeling rather dumbfounded to say the least!

Suffice to say, further research and work with other schools has shown that the ‘best in market service’ that said supplier so vehemently ensured was the reasons for the extortionate rates were not specific to his company, with other suppliers offering similar or improved service levels for far cheaper rates.

So what can you do to equip yourself with the knowledge required to negotiate successfully with Photocopier suppliers?

Communicate with other schools.  It is incredibly important to share information and experiences with other schools.  Find out the rates, services and types of copiers used by other schools in your area, as well as schools’ experience with suppliers.  Educate analysis found that schools within the same regional area, procuring the same service from the same supplier were paying vastly different rates.

Understand the current and future needs and requirements of your school.  Entering into a long term contract with a copier supplier is not necessarily a bad idea as it can often mean reduced rates for the school.  However if you do not fully appreciate the current and future needs and requirements of your school, you may enter into a contract that is not flexible and by default be stuck with a copier no longer fit for purpose.  Are you planning to take on a new form entry?  Or are your pupil numbers declining?  Where there are potential plans which could affect usage and required features of your copier, any contract you sign should allow for flexibility.

Research the market.  The more you research the market, the more fully you can appreciate the colossal difference in rates and identify which suppliers offer better value for money including better service levels.  You will also be able to establish a standard base rate so that you can ensure that you aren’t getting ripped off during negotiations.  Additionally, speak to the teachers and find out their requirements, do you really need to purchase a booklet stapler?

Read the small print!  As inconceivable as it seems, Educate Services have frequently come across schools who have signed contracts they have not read or understood in full.  We have even come across schools who have signed blank contracts, where the supplier advises the rates will be filled in at a later date.  Remember that suppliers will be trained to apply pressure on you to ‘seal the deal’, and will have a whole host of techniques to do so.

Being equipped to deal with a copier (or for that matter any other) supplier can be an incredibly useful weapon and having good market knowledge will deter suppliers from attempting to ‘pull the wool over your eyes’.

This sounds great in theory, but finding the time to dedicate to extensive market research can be an almost impossible task in itself.  Educate Services have a wealth of experience and success in our procurement work for schools from photocopiers and stationary to catering and staff supply.  We have worked with schools to create thousands of pounds worth of savings and vastly improve their service provision.

If you believe that we can help with either your photocopier or any other service where you believe savings and improvements can be made then please email me lydiagoodwin@educateservices.co.uk or call our offices on the number provided at the top of this page to discuss this further.