Office printing specialist Lexmark International announced results from a survey, which identified popular printing problems facing small to medium-sized businesses. The survey was conducted by MarketTools in the United States on behalf of Lexmark and was fielded in June and November of 2009 and surveyed business users.
Small businesses reported that buying expensive printer ink could often cause headaches. Lexmark recommended a way to avoid those headaches by switching to a printer that offers more economical ink cartridges. The company said another great way to avert the pain is to look for rewards or loyalty programs that can earn you free consumables. Lexmark noted it offers a Rewards Program that provides users with free Lexmark ink, toner and imaging kits. Companies such as HP and Canon offer similar programs that also include options for extended warrantees and 24/7 customer service lines.
The survey also revealed the cost of print media is a headache - SMBs complain about the increasing cost of paper. One way to reduce paper consumption is to convert and move paper documents digitally, whenever possible. For example, many printer companies' inkjet and laser devices offer user-friendly scanning solutions, such as Scan-to-Email and Scan-to-Folder, that help reduce the amount of paper used, streamline processes and bring greater productivity to the user or workgroup. Also, using two-sided printing and Eco-Mode can help reduce paper usage. There are several ways for SMBs to help reduce the amount of paper (and energy) they use-HP offers a number of Energy Star-rated products that reduce energy consumption, paper usage and are made of recycled materials.
Midmarket companies also noted paper jams as a challenge. The Lexmark survey revealed paper jams were the No. 3 concern of SMBs. Maximizing ink and toner use was another high priority for cost-conscious businesses. A device will likely start giving the users signals that ink or toner is running low in advance of it needing replacement. As the ink or toner runs low, printer quality may start to diminish but may be sufficient for draft or proofing of jobs. Lexmark said it recommends judging the print quality by reviewing the printout carefully, in conjunction with the signals the printer is giving users. Also, look for devices with individual color cartridges and have backup supplies on hand to cover any big jobs.
Another concern the Lexmark survey uncovered was replenishment frequency of printing supplies. "Frequent trips to the store and searching for a cartridge to replenish supplies is another pet peeve on the minds of SMBs," the report noted. Therefore, several print specialists offer high-yield options for most of its inkjet and laser devices, reducing the number of times cartridges have to be replaced. And for those navigationally challenged SMBs, most printing firms offer a cartridge finder solution to help companies locate a nearby retailer that carries specific supplies.