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Your Church, September/October 2006

In-House Printing
Make the most of new in-house printing capabilities.
by Chelan David

Even a small church will spend thousands of dollars each year photocopying and printing things like bulletins and newsletters. Larger churches easily spend tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars producing printed materials. With this much money being spent, it pays for churches of any size to carefully create a copying and printing strategy that makes the most of every dollar. And the best way to create an effective copying and printing strategy is to start with an analysis of current and future needs, says Gene Collins, Lanier Copiers' corporate account manager for the religious market.

Collins says the analysis will look at the number and types of copies made. How many are black and white? How many are full color? How many are done in-house and how many are done at print shops? Many other factors are considered, and then a study of projected future needs is completed. The analysis includes an inventory of current office equipment. Because of the many details to consider, and the wide range of equipment available, Collins recommends using an experienced copier sales representative to help with the inventory.

Maria Wooldridge, a senior product manager for Riso, also believes the first step a church should take is to meet with an experienced salesperson from a reputable dealer. "A good copier or duplicator sales rep will look at everything that an organization is printing," she says. "They can then pinpoint savings on printing costs by showing which applications can be moved to the most appropriate device."

Purchase or Lease?
Once the analysis is complete and a copying and printing strategy has been determined, it's time to obtain the needed equipment. With high-end copying and duplicating machines now costing tens of thousands of dollars, leasing is a very popular option. (Go to page 45 for information about leasing programs.) While this arrangement offers advantages, such as built-in service programs that cover repairs and supplies, there can also be unexpected costs. An experienced sales rep can offer advice about avoiding future charges.

"Usually, the service plan that comes with the lease includes a specific amount of prints or copies that can be made either monthly or quarterly," says Collins. "When you go over that there will be a charge for every print."

Just as with automobile leases that have a mileage limit, going slightly over the lease limit won't necessarily break the bank. But a significant overage can be very costly. Ancillary charges related to ink and toner costs should also be considered when making budgeting projections.

When purchasing rather than leasing equipment, the optional service contract is similar to an insurance policy. It can be tempting to push aside this additional expense, but the repercussions of doing so can be huge. If a machine breaks down, notes Wooldridge, the repair costs can be larger than the sum of the service payments. She notes that wear and tear occurs with any device, and sooner or later repairs will be needed.

Copier or Duplicator?
The type of copying equipment your church needs depends on the print volume required. "When jobs of under 25 copies per original are needed, a copier would be preferred," explains Fred Simone, national sales manager for Duplo. "A situation which requires 25 copies or more per original would dictate the use of a duplicator in terms of both cost and speed."

Wooldridge of Riso explains that the cost per copy with a duplicator continues to go down as the copy volume increases. That's because the duplicator makes one master, and the cost of that master is divided by the number of copies made. The only other significant expenses are the ink and the paper, and the duplicating process is very simple and fast.

Because most churches deploy a wide range of printed material, it makes sense for most to have both a copier and a duplicator. For example, if a congregation member requests a copy of a sermon, a copier would be the most cost-effective device. However, for large-scale projects like church-wide newsletters, the duplicator would make more sense.

Time to Add Color?
Over the past several years, new products have hit the market that allow churches to take advantage of color copies. Prohibitively expensive for many religious organizations in the past, fresh technologies have made prices much more manageable.

Collins has noticed the surging popularity of what he calls "B-to-C products"—black and white printers and copiers that also have color printing capabilities. "It's kind of like getting two machines for one—and it's not a great deal more money," he says. "Many times it's difficult for churches to buy a separate color unit because of the costs, but with a B-to-C product they get both with the same unit."

Wooldridge has also noticed the trend of churches moving to color. She believes the combination of lower prices and the desire for the added impact that color provides are the driving factors. "Studies have found that readability, retention, and response dramatically increase when there is color on a page," she says. "What we are finding with churches is that they want to have color in their documents."

Stand-Alone or Network?
Another advancement churches are welcoming with open arms is the ability to network office printers. Simone of Duplo says that there have been major advances in duplicator networking capabilities over the past few years. Some of Duplo's models now come standard with a computer interface that allows users to edit and send print jobs directly from the computer to the duplicator.

During her seven-plus years at Riso, Wooldridge has noticed an increasing number of churches handling their printing and copying needs in-house rather than outsourcing them to print shops. Spurred by lower color printing costs and the emergence of networked office printers, this movement allows church officials much more flexibility in changing content and personalizing messages.

All these new capabilities require a thorough and experienced guide to determine the best possible strategy. The time spent with an experienced sales rep planning a strategy for office documents ultimately results in fewer time-consuming clerical duties for the office staff and long-term savings for the church.
(Click on Office Equipment at for more information about copiers and duplicators.)

Chelan David is a freelance writer in Seattle.
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