Buying vs. Leasing Multi-Function Printers - Which is better?

Buying versus leasing — it can be tough choice. Especially when it’s about an integral piece of your office infrastructure like a multi-function printer (MFP). Unfortunately, like most everything in this world, there isn’t one true answer for everyone — but there is a right answer for you.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MAKING YOUR DECISION

Before you decide whether to lease or purchase your MFP, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • - How often do I want to update my MFP?
  • - Do I want a lower upfront cost, or a lower total cost?
  • - How often will I use my MFP?
  • - Does my company have the credit available to lease a MFP?

These questions will help you lay the groundwork for making your decision. If you want to update and upgrade frequently, you’ll want to lease — this helps to reduce your overall cost as a two or three year lease will ultimately be lower than the total cost of a MFP. Conversely, if you want a lower total cost, and you’re planning on using your MFP until the end of its lifecycle, you’ll want to buy your MFP.

Let’s get into the pros and cons of leasing and buying:

LEASING PROS

Reduction of Upfront Costs. By leasing equipment there is typically no security deposit or upfront cost, making it easy to access equipment without significantly affecting cash flow or using capital on hand.

Tax Deductions. Many times lease payments can be deducted as a business expense on your company’s tax returns, which will lower the overall cost of any leases.

Always Get The Latest Equipment. With your MFPs under a lease, you can easily upgrade to the latest technology every time you reach the end of your 36, 48, or 60 month lease. Through leasing, you’ll always have the ability to keep your equipment in tip-top shape, along with being able to capitalize on any new features or improvements made available via new equipment released on the market.

Other leasing pros:

  • - Highly flexible — easy to add configurations
  • - Simple to add or decrease the amount of devices in your infrastructure
  • - Good for high volume usage
  • - Reduce sunken costs
  • - Increase efficiency through continual upgrades
  • - Stay up-to-date on latest security measures
  • - Reduce lifetime maintenance costs

LEASING CONS

Higher Long-Term Cost. Leasing equipment is nearly always more expensive in the long run over purchasing the equipment outright. The lease will have a small amount of interest, in order to protect the leasing company from risks on their end. This — over a matter of years — will end up adding some cost to your over all equipment expense.

The Equipment is Not Yours. If at the end of the lease you decide you want to keep the equipment, you will need to purchase it at Fair Market Value ($1 buyout leases are an option, but tend to cost more overall than when compared to a fair market value lease, due to the higher monthly payment). Or, if you decided you do not want to lease from that company anymore, you will be responsible for the return of the equipment to the leasing company based on directions that they will provide.

Obligation to the Lease Company. In most circumstances, if you choose you no longer want to lease equipment before the lease termination date, you will need to buyout the lease which typically is the total amount of all remaining payments and a small termination fee.

PURCHASING PROS

The Equipment Is Yours. The biggest advantage of purchasing your equipment is that the machines are now your own. You can choose to use the machines for as long as you’d like, except of course if parts come to yield; and with age, it becomes more likely that the needed parts for repairs will no longer be available. And when you do decide the equipment needs to be replaced, owning the machine allows you to keep the hard drive for security reasons, or you can donate your unit to a charity if you would like.

Depreciation. Typically equipment can be depreciated which will give your organization tax deductions were applicable.

Other purchasing pros:

  • -Good for small companies with low volume
  • -Potentially extended lifespan
  • -Less expensive over time
  • -Good for simple devices that are low cost to begin with
  • -Good option for small companies with not enough credit

PURCHASING CONS

High Up Front Expense. This is the big disadvantage to purchasing equipment. Without spreading the cost over several years, the units you purchase will need to be paid for up front, which can be a huge capital expense depending on the machines and features you need.  Some companies may not be able to handle such a large up front capital expense — but are able to afford a monthly operational expense instead.

Being Stuck with Old & Underperforming Equipment. When equipment is purchased, organizations usually run the copiers and printers for as long as they possibly can. Over time servicing the equipment will become much more expensive as parts are harder to find, and machines will typically begin to have many more issues, which can slow down the efficiency of employees that need to print frequently. Sometimes, if equipment is old enough, it will fall out of compatiblity with new software, security measures, or compliance regulations. However, since your company owns the equipment, it can be hard to reinvest into more MFPs.

BUYING VS. LEASING — THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Depending on your business’ needs, buying could be the best option, or leasing could provide a better fit. If you want to ensure your MFPs are up-to-date, at 100% efficiency, and provide the highest level of security, it's recommended to lease. If you plan on using your MFP until the end of its lifespan, and want to save some money in the long run, purchasing a MFP may be the right answer for you.

Tim Groat
Tim Groat is a Business Improvement Specialist who has worked with Cobb and within the office solutions industry for seven years. Tim helps offices find the right equipment and document workflow solutions, based on their individual needs. When Tim isn't finding the perfect office solution, he's fishing, golfing, or watching his favorite team.