It's called managed print services, and Canon is the latest provider offering a way to let you do it.
When we looked at ways of keeping your printing costs under control, we mentioned the possibility of using a managed print service, which can guarantee a known fixed cost per page.
Canon has now introduced a similar scheme designed for small and medium businesses.
Its Flexi Choice plans actually go a step further with a fixed monthly charge.
But that doesn't mean you're paying for pages you haven't produced - not in the longer term, at least. Here's how it works.
Canon has realised that print volumes can vary significantly from month to month. A business may run seasonal direct mail campaigns (eg, ahead of Christmas or Valentine's Day), or from time to time need to print large paper documents when submitting tenders for new business.
So in return for a fee starting at $199 per month, what the company does with Flexi Choice is install a Canon imageRunner multifunction device with a capacity that suits the overall print volume and provide the customer with credits for printing a certain number of pages during a quarter.
Unused credits are rolled over one quarter to help smooth out the peaks and troughs. That could still be an issue for businesses that have just one peak per year, but once the available credits have been used Canon charges 'preferential' rates (no, they didn't mention any figures) for any extra pages.
The service includes consumables management, remote monitoring of the printer and automated fault reporting, and Canon guarantees the printer will be up and running at least 98% of the time.
Keep in mind the model assumes a fairly significant amount of printing (many small businesses probably spend less than $199 a year on printing).