Tips on how to shop for a machine at Drupa?

This is the Drupa year. With more than 4,000 sheetfed units (of which 3500 are expected to be secondhand units) expected to be purchased in 2012, PrintWeek India compiles a guide of getting the best deal

04 May 2012 | By Noel D'Cunha

With the exception
of a few high-demand models and super customised systems, the price is just a starting point for negotiations. Haggling brings some buyers out in a cold sweat, but don’t be intimidated. Remember, salespeople want your business at least as much as you want that press. It’s your money…

Do you homework
When you’re buying from an authorised dealer, it pays to hunt around and check out prices of the model (especially if its a refurbished model or unusual configuration) of your choice at other dealers. Examine the best quotes you get. If the dealer knows you can buy the same model for a lesser amount somewhere else, he will be more likely to cut you a deal.

Don't be intimidated
Sales staff cut deals for their living and have a number of tactics to sell to you at a price that suits them. Know the games before you enter into the deal and you’ll be a step ahead. Ever heard the ‘I can give you a special price, but only today’ line? Don’t believe it. Tomorrow’s deal is usually just as good. Be wary of sales staff who tell you they need to ask their boss before giving you a discount. It might look as if they’re working terribly hard on your behalf, but this can just be a ruse to stall haggling.

Discount on finance
Don’t be taken in by smooth-talking salesmen offering mouth-watering discounts on the financed amount of the deal. Remember the bigger the financed amount, the more you pay in terms of interest. So your short-term gain may actually be a long-term loss.

Remember depreciation
A saving on the price looks great, but approach hugely discounted machines with care. Depreciation is the main reason — big discounts are often a sign that machines have plummeted in value.

Don't give up a discount for a special offer
Finance or insurance deals often tempt buyers. Some dealers then use such offers to resist discounting, saying the special deal has eaten into their margin for negotiation. To the inexperienced buyer this sounds like a valid reason, but in most cases these offers are paid for by the manufacturers.
Take time to shop around
If the salesman doesn’t deliver the saving you want, don’t panic. Don’t ever think your local dealer is your only option, maybe there is a better deal available some distance away. Refer to pressXchange the buyer-seller website which is maintained by the PrintWeek India team for printing machines. It’s an easy to use site; and  has thousands of registered Indian users.

Before you say yes to a good machine deal...
- A physical inspection
- The number of hand(s) the machine has changed
- Documentation that explains the machine’s technical capabilities
- History of maintenance while it was in use
- The type of work done and for how long
- The accuracy of the machine number and the year of manufacture
- Bank finance and credit-worthiness
- Service and spare parts support

Your guide for buying from start to finish
Do your homework

Research your chosen machine thoroughly before setting foot inside a pressroom or trade show. You can gather essential information using pressXchange, fellow printers, the internet and PrintWeek India.
What is the impression count? A surprising number of buyers overlook this until it’s too late. What about hydraulics? Are the gears and levers and nuts-and-bolts original? What type of jobs are you printing on it? Has the cylinder been damaged ever? What type of power settings does it have? What about maintenance? Check what accessories come as standard.

Set your budget
The most important thing to remember is that the bills don’t stop once you’ve bought your kit. It’s all too easy to forget everyday running costs, such as insurance and tax.
It’s the same story with the single biggest cost in ownership: depreciation. You can limit the damage by buying a kit with a better future residual value or by securing a big discount up front to offset the expected losses.

Exchange offers
Selling your old digital press to the manufacturer or dealer you’re buying your new one from can make sense. This is especially true for digital presses and at times CTP platesetters. Most companies have upgrade schemes built into their contracts. Sometimes the manufacturer provides a reasonably good package and offers bundle package which includes service plus spare parts support. Others offer a fair price for six months supply of printing plates along with the main device. But be vigilant.. However, the dealer’s price may be too high, and he may include these special offers in it. If it is a digital press ensure the plate and blanket systems are in good condition.

Do tests and trials
Before you buy the machine, ensure it is what you want. Let it not be too high-end for your requirement. Also find out about the history. Was it over-used? Any break-downs? Did the previous owner do low-end jobs and tweaked the system. Just to be safe, run a job you know well, so you can concentrate on the press rather than what you’re printing. Pick a variety of substrates and applications. Look at service history and general wear and tear of the press. Listen for engine noise. If you spend most of your time doing short-runs, test the machine’s make-ready time. Above all, you should be happy. Ask yourself is this a machine you want to use every day?

Always haggle
Negotiation is the lifeblood of any deal. Demonstrate commitment and look as if you want to do a deal. You must eventually deliver an ultimatum. If you are getting close to a deal, say that you will buy at the price you are happy with — so long as the salesman agrees now. If he can’t do that, then he will lose your business.

Learn to close the deal
Eventually you should reach a point where both sides are happy and you can think about shaking hands and putting pen to paper. Remember, though, that this is the point of no return. Once you sign up, you have entered into a contract; pull out after this and the seller is entitled to compensation. The only exception is if you buy on finance, because the contract becomes binding only once the finance firm has also agreed.
Always check the small print of any contract, particularly regarding delivery times. These vary from machine to machine, so ask the seller how long you’ll have to wait, and check the contract.
Assuming there are no problems, sit back, relax and wait for the final step in the process: delivery of your kit.