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How to Select the Best Wide Format Printer Dealer: Questions to Ask - A Large Format Printer Buying Guide

Finding the right dealer can be a challenge. A wide format printer is a major purchase; you want to make a smart choice. How do you know who's the best dealer until you enter into a purchasing agreement? Online reviews are important, but they don't tell the whole story.

This type of research is a great start. Keep reading to learn what to look for and what questions to ask.

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What to Look for in a Dealer

The first thing to remember is that, no matter how enticing an offer is, it's always a good idea to obtain multiple quotes. When making a major purchase like a large format printer, you really want at least five or six quotes from different dealers. The interaction does not end with the quote; you want to talk to these dealers, as well. Personal interaction is how you to develop an understanding of how each dealer works. What's more, it's how you ensure the dealer understands your needs to help you choose the right printer.

Personal interaction also gives you a good idea what you can expect in the way of service. A good dealer offers a variety of contact methods and lets you know when you can reach someone with questions. (Is there someone on-call weekends? Overnight?) Preferably, the dealer shares this information without you requesting it.

If you can't get personal interaction for whatever reason, take advantage of technology beyond YouTube product demonstrations. Skype and similar programs allow you to conduct video calls anywhere in the world, free of charge.

One of the questions you want to ask is how many wide format printers have they sold in your field. While the printers themselves remain the same no matter what industry uses them, the wear and tear they receive varies. If the dealer has sold printers to other companies in your industry, request a couple of referrals.

Whether from your industry or not, you want some client references. While it's true that most companies won't offer references they don't feel fairly confident will provide stellar reviews, you still glean valuable information from these calls, so make them. Questions to ask include responsiveness to issues, resolution after experiencing issues, and how they'd rate the dealer's service techs.

Other Considerations

There are a variety of miscellaneous considerations when choosing a dealer. In no particular order:

  • Always request a sample from each machine you're considering, it's the only way to accurately compare brands. The dealer should allow you to email your sample file and then print it on your chosen medium and send to you.
  • If entering into a lease-to-purchase agreement, do not bundle with your service agreement; you don't want to tie yourself to using the same vendor to service the machine once you purchase.
  • If leasing your wide format printer, do not bundle it with other office equipment, such as a copier. If you must bundle items, choose machines with a similar lifespan.
  • If possible, look for a dealer that specializes in wide format printers.
  • If your purchase includes a service plan, request price protection for at least three years.
  • When choosing a dealer, longevity is more important than size. You want a company that will still be around in a year. Smaller companies may provide more customized service, whereas larger dealers typically offer more variety.

What Should a Dealer Tell You?

You should have your own list of questions, but a good dealer imparts some information without being asked. Be prepared to answer some questions, and be wary if the dealer's representative offers little more than a sales pitch.

The dealer should:

  • Ask a few questions about your business. What products do you sell? What's your budget? Who is your typical customer?
  • Offer product information that helps you make an informed decision based on your unique business needs.
  • Offer experience-backed information (either the dealer's or its customers') on recommended products.
  • Offer references to other customers in your industry or who bought the printer you're considering (or both).

While the price of a printer is an important factor in your decision, it should not be the only factor. Your ultimate goal is finding a dealer who helps you realize the full value of your investment.

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