These days a lot of business is conducted entirely online, but every office still needs to have a good photocopier on hand. And with business copiers frequently costing several hundred dollars—or even more—it’s essential to make sure you choose the right one.

Ask yourself these questions before choosing a photocopier:

1. What will your photocopier be expected to do?

A lot of modern businesses use their photocopiers for more than just copying. Other common tasks include scanning, faxing, and printing. Some copiers can even be used for stapling and saddle stitching.

Create separate lists for must-have and wanted features. This will help focus your search while still keeping your options open.

2. What type of documents will you be copying?

Do you need to be able to print in colour? Are you working with high quality graphics? If so, you’ll probably need a specialty copier.

If you’re only going to be working with black and white documents, you’ll be able to work with any photocopier.

3. What is your monthly printing/copying volume?

Will thousands of documents pass through your machine every month, or just a few? How many people will be using your machine?

It should go without saying that high end machines are better at dealing with heavy use than low end machines. If the machine will see more than a few documents a day, you’ll want an industrial office photocopier. On the other hand, if you’re only printing a few times a month, you can save money by getting a model designed for home offices.

4. What is your budget?

Up until now we’ve focused entirely on functionality, but most of us also have to seriously consider our finances.

How much money do you have available? What features are you willing to sacrifice if the ideal machine doesn’t fit your budget? Are you willing to lease if you can’t afford the entire machine up front? Can you access special funding for this equipment?

All of these things should be considered before you start looking at specific models, so you can keep the numbers in your head and not be tempted by an over-budget machine.

5. What are the additional costs going to be?

When considering the overall cost of your photocopier it’s important to consider the costs of supplies, such as ink and toner. You should know the pros and cons of toner and ink, including cost differences, before you actually start looking at a machine.

You should also include costs for other copier related materials, such as developer, paper, and other print media.

6. What maintenance services are available?

Once you’ve got a list of features and you’ve started looking for, there’s one other thing you should pay attention to: maintenance service agreements and warranties. These are mostly applicable to medium and high end office copiers, but may also be available for low end machines from certain manufacturers.

Most digital copier service agreements include everything from basic toner and drum changes to parts acquisition, replacement and repairs. This keeps the copier in good condition and allows you (and your employees) to focus on the work that really matters.

7. What company do you want to work with?

It’s important to make sure that your copier comes from a reputable company, offering both a quality machine and excellent customer service. This becomes even more important if you’re leasing, as you’ll have to deal with the company more regularly.