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Large Format Printer Buying vs Leasing Considerations: A Large Format Printer Buying Guide

One of the many decisions facing business owners is the question whether to buy or lease their office equipment.

When it comes to buying or leasing a wide format printer, each option has its own list of pros and cons. In addition, the needs of the business itself vary. Business size and age, liquidity, a recent change in product or service offerings, available credit, and more all influence your decision whether to lease or buy.

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Purchasing a Wide Format Printer: The Pros

Buying equipment outright, whether through cash-on-hand or credit, carries a few advantages. The first is that, though it costs more out the gate, over time you pay substantially less for equipment that you purchase outright versus over the life of a lease. Ownership also gives you the opportunity to recoup some of your costs, since you can sell the printer when the time to upgrade arrives.

Another benefit of ownership is that you are responsible for the unit's maintenance and upkeep. At first glance, this sounds like it belongs on the con list, but for many business owners, this is a huge plus. If the printer requires maintenance or repair, you don't have to wait for the leasing company or follow its guidelines.

Ownership also usually comes with tax benefits for the purchase, depreciation, and maintenance costs. If you take out a loan, you may also be able to claim interest payments as tax deductions. Of course, only your accountant knows for sure what you can and can't claim, so talk to whoever does your taxes.

Purchasing a Wide Format Printer: The Cons

There are two main drawbacks to ownership: depleted cash reserves and inability to upgrade.

The most obvious issue is, of course, the bite ownership takes out of your available capital. Or, if you choose to go the loan route, your available credit. This can be especially painful for startups or businesses going through a growth spurt, when available capital is at a premium.

Beyond this, the main "con" is the cost of upgrading. It surprises exactly zero people to hear that technology evolves quickly. Beyond that, though, is that, if your business needs change and the printer you purchase is no longer capable of handling them, the cost of upgrading is prohibitive. This is true even with the ability to sell the original machine, which won't be enough to recoup the full cost.

Finally, the responsibility for upkeep, while a pro to some, is a con to others. These companies appreciate the ability to delegate regular maintenance and repairs to the leasing company.

Leasing a Wide Format Printer: The Pros

Many organizations, even those with ample cash reserves, prefer leasing office equipment over owning it for a variety of reasons. Of course, the top leasing benefit is the fact that it requires substantially less capital and doesn't tie up your credit.

Moving beyond the initial costs, lessees appreciate the ease of budgeting for lease payments. They also like the tax advantages, since you can usually write off the entire lease payment (talk to your accountant to know for sure). Many leasing companies offer the chance to purchase the printer at the end of the lease contract, as well. Or, if your needs change, you can upgrade to a newer model, or one with greater capabilities.

Finally, most leases include provisions for regular maintenance and repairs. Some even include replacements for toner or ink. Check your lease carefully to determine exactly what it includes.

Leasing a Wide Format Printer: The Cons

Basically, the main cons of leasing are the pros to ownership. You cannot sell the unit to recoup some of your costs and you pay more for the lease in the long run than if you'd bought the unit outright.

Once you sign a lease, you are responsible for the payment for the duration of the lease agreement. If your business needs change and you no longer need the printer, that makes no difference.

How Do I Know Whether to Lease or Purchase?

There is no hard and fast answer as to which option is better for your business. However, there are a few guidelines.

Give more points to purchasing a wide format printer if you have the available funds and plan to use the machine for at least a few years, with no plans to upgrade.

Give more points to leasing if you do not have ready capital, do not know how long you'll use the printer, or think you may want to upgrade frequently.

In other words, the three questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • 1.What is my financial situation?
  • 2.How long do I want to use this printer?
  • 3.How often do I want to upgrade my equipment?

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