Before you make a major office equipment purchase, you should do a feasibility study to determine whether or not such a purchase is practical from a financial and logistical standpoint.
Many companies don’t have the necessary funds, especially when they’re just starting out, to make major office equipment purchases. So instead they opt to lease, sometimes with the opportunity to buy the equipment later at reduced cost. Leasing is often a better option because it’s completely tax deductible, provided you use the leased asset for business purposes. Leasing instead of buying also helps you maintain cash flow while still having the latest equipment.
Leasing typically involves a very low down payment (if any at all), and payments are usually lower than if you were to finance a purchase. That said, if you lease for a long period of time, you’ll eventually pay more than if you were to purchase the items outright, and because you don’t have ownership status you won’t be able to claim a depreciation deduction on your taxes. Also read Office Supplies You Need to Keep On Hand for some advice.
If you decide to purchase office equipment, first determine which features coincide most with your needs. Business owners frequently purchase the latest in technology, only to realize that their business utilizes less than 50 percent of the available features. For this reason, it’s often a better idea to purchase previous product generations. Provided they’re still available and meet your business needs, you’ll usually be able to get them at a discount.
For specific equipment that only plays a minor role in your business’s daily activities, you might consider buying it used. Look for businesses that are moving, or check online at eBay and other auction sites. Inspect and test any used equipment prior to purchase, because it probably doesn’t come with a warranty or tech support. And be sure to check out Office Resources for Home-Based Businesses for more tips on finding low-priced office supplies.
The Internet makes comparison shopping easy. Surf the net and look for good deals, but beware of those that appear too good to be true. If you’ll be financing the purchase, compare interest rates closely and scrutinize the fine print. Prior to purchase, you also want to read the warranty. Most warranties by major technology manufacturers cover one or three years for parts and labor. Within this time period the company will repair or replace defective products. If you’ll be purchasing high-ticket, high-use equipment, it might be worth your while to purchase additional warranty years.
Two other key factors to consider before purchasing major equipment are tech support and customer service. If your small business lacks a dedicated IT person, tech support should be a strong consideration in all technological equipment purchases. Make sure it’s readily available and part of the sales agreement, and not an additional fee. Major manufacturers usually offer 24-hour support — both online and by telephone. A good question to ask is: What kind of support will I receive? To find the answer, do some networking to learn about other buyers’ experiences. Also read product reviews, and even go into chat rooms and visit online groups that discuss tech support.
Other considerations include energy saving features and logistics. Equipment that saves on energy can help you skim money off your electric bills. Logistical concerns include fitting the right size machines (such as copiers) into your office, and making sure that your electrical wiring can handle the equipment. Determine ahead of time how each piece of equipment will fit into your overall office plan.