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Five tips to reduce your printing costs

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Matthew Coad of Upstream Print Solutions explains five key steps that SME business owners can take to get their business printing less and saving on their bottom line.

I recently visited the supermarket on a weekday evening instead of the weekend for the first time in a long time, and found the experience surprisingly enjoyable – no queues at the checkouts, no hoards of people blocking aisles and no congested car park. The experience reminded me just how easy it is to get stuck in a rut doing the same thing again and again, even if you know it’s not particularly effective. For me that was visiting the supermarket at the weekend. I knew it was a busy time to shop and I knew that’s why I got frustrated waiting in the queues. But I still did it, week in, week out.

It’s the same in business, where it’s all too easy to slip into bad habits, doing things the same way because ‘that’s the way they’ve always been done’. That’s certainly true when it comes to printing. In many instances, business owners know they’re printing too much (it’s easy to spot on the books) but lack clarity on what steps to take to reduce it.PrinterLG

But as the saying goes, recognising you have a problem is half the battle. So if you know you’re printing too much, here are five tips you can implement to help you cut down on what you print.

1. Audit what you print
While you might know you’re printing too much, what you might not know is what you’re printing. That insight can be extremely telling. For instance, your printing costs may be escalating because employees are printing more documents in colour. Or your paper bill may be high because employees are printing every document single-sided.

2. Tackle the low hanging fruit
A print-less strategy can be pretty comprehensive, but to get started tackle the easy stuff first. For example, if employees are needlessly printing document single-sided, set printing to double-sided as default. It’s simple but effective. You’ll be surprised how few employees switch back to single sided printing once the default’s been set.

3. Agree on some policies
While most businesses strive to do their bit for the environment, few take action on printing, which plays a part in contributing to carbon emissions. With that in mind, set some policies with employees on what’s acceptable and what’s not. They don’t need to be over-complicated, but could include basic guidelines such as ‘if you print something, collect it from the printer within 30 minutes.’

4. Select efficient devices
If you’ve got a printer in your office that seems to spend most of its life broken then you’re probably long overdue a replacement. That replacement could be a multi-function device that looks after printing, copying and scanning in one place – in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.

5. Get employees on board
While the vision of a ‘paperless office’ is likely to be some years off, taking the journey toward printing less isn’t a solo one. Although there’s a need for an individual or individuals within a business to lead the charge, if you don’t have the buy-in of the whole workforce then you’re likely to hit some stumbling blocks. To get everyone on board, keep them informed about what you’re trying to do, and why it’s important for the wider business.

Matthew Coad is Solution Services Manager of managed print and document solutions provider Upstream Print Solutions.

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