Is your printer a bad employee?


Printers Are Employees

Bad employees cost companies a lot of money. A quick Google search will reveal the cost range of one-third to 5 times the employees' annual salary... crazy!  The fact that we have data on this, verifies a trend in the workforce...

You've seen them, you've talked about them, and for the most part, you've tried to avoid them. The problem is, they've become experts at hiding in plain sight, and no company is immune.

The office printer can be the worst employee you've already hired. And to make matters worse, you didn't even interview it. You found the one willing to work for the lowest salary (indicated by it's "sale" price) and put it in your office with some high expectations. I'm sure I don't have to highlight all the problems associated with printers, but since it's my blog and we are talking about bad printers, I'm going to... you may want to sit down for this (or find something soft to land on).

People don't think of printers as employees, they think of them as expenses. The expectation has already been set, and we understand from the beginning that the printer is going to cost money, both now and later. This, of course, leads to the rushed decision of "get the one that's on sale" or "just buy the cheapest one that can blah, blah, blah". No interview, no skills review, just a glance, and you're hired!

To truly understand the problem, let's look at the root cause... the hiring process.

Harvard business review has written, "as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions". Translation = YOU hired a bad employee. They may have lied or "fluffed" their resume, bought someone's urine to pass a drug test, or smiled their best smile to trick you during the interview. In the end, it is YOU who hired them, and it is YOU who will have to deal with the problem. Companies put safeguards in place to hire the right people. They establish requirements like education level or experience, resumes and references, background checks, and in-person interviews so they can be sure they hire the right person; the one that is a GOOD FIT for the company. (Side note: I once worked for a company that took about 3 months to hire me... most of their employees had been there for many years and had no plans of leaving).

Finding the right person for the job starts with defining what you are looking for in the first place. The office printer/copier is no different. So, what are we looking for? The most logical answer is "a machine that can print/copy/scan/and fax quickly but doesn't cost a fortune". I relate this to hiring someone who can type, then finding out they can only use a typewriter because they aren't proficient or comfortable with computers. They can type 200 words per minute, but if they don't know how to send an email, you've got a bad employee (not a bad person... just not a good employee).

Here is how we fix it...

In a recent survey, Robert Half cited the top 3 reasons employees were let go. The list included:

  • Performance issues
  • Poor skills match
  • Unclear performance objectives

The easy reasons obvious, and you are likely already aware of them, accepted them, and have justified working around them. Slow print speeds slow your day down, broken document feeders require employees to open the lid and place documents one-by-one for copy, scan, or fax jobs, etc. The MAJOR issues are rarely considered, yet they cost THOUSANDS to ignore. Let's wrap all 3 of those bullet points together into one...

You wouldn't hire someone who requires the help of another employee all day; but you buy printers that require constant attention, interrupting your productive employees all day! Every time the printer needs any type of attention, an employee is taken away from a productive and money-making task to babysit a printer.

Common attention items:

  • Small paper trays make employees load paper more often. 30 seconds spent away from that proposal or bid could cost you a customer (worse if it runs out of paper mid-print and nobody realizes it until you need the file for a meeting you're running late for... and it's only on page 2 of a 45-page report).
  • Small ink tanks/toner cartridges need to be replaced often. Refer to the above paragraph, and add to it the additional expense of the cartridge. Someone must stop their workday to go to the store or shop on-line (bonus points if they clipped coupons to "save" money). Ink also has an expiration date, making it impossible to keep inventory for any length of time. Someone will be sent shopping again, soon.
  • Double-sided (duplex) pages on a single-sided printer. Sure, employees can run pages back through... I'd rather pay my employees to make money, not waste time with arts and crafts.
  • Lastly, if it breaks or unexpectedly stops printing, someone is off task to fix it (and everyone else is at a work stoppage if they need to print).

Long story short, selecting a printer for your office should be done with careful consideration. Companies hire recruiters that specialize in finding the right people. Consider bringing in an expert to hire your technology as well. In many cases, you will spend less money than you would by trying to do it on your own. Think of the long term value (time and cost savings) versus saving money on a cheap printer.

Bad employees drain morale. Your copier does the same. Buying a printer at a big box store or online forces you to do all the things previously mentioned. Currently, printers are smart enough to order their own supplies, request service when needed, weed out unwanted faxes, prohibit unauthorized printing/sending, secure sensitive information from "prying eyes", and much more. Many of those features mean nothing if you buy on your own because the back end support is not available.

Picking from what's available at the big box store means choosing an expense. Working with an expert means hiring an asset for your office, and using all the time-saving/cost-saving features you paid for.

Companies work with recruiters to find employees that are the right fit. ProPrinting Systems is a recruiter that finds the right printing technology for you. The bonus is, our prices are the same (or better) than the big box stores.

Why do it yourself when you can pay the same to get an expert?

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About Ron Rodgers

Ron Rodgers is an Imaging Ace & Print Industry Hotshot with a passion for helping people turn print into profit! Aside from being the founder of ProPrinting Systems, he is a marketing machine, funtrepreneur (like entrepreneur but more fun), blogger, YouTuber, podcaster, musician, husband, father, sales expert, and all-around nice guy.

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