4 Considerations To Ensure You Have The Right Tools For Your Shipping & Communications

By Paul Johnson, President CMS – Complete Mailing Solutions

In today’s work environment, it’s more important than ever to have the right Shipping & Communications tools to help your company be competitive.  When it comes to communications and package shipping tools, businesses typically default to the least expensive options.  Using price exclusively can lead to acquiring systems that won’t meet your company’s needs, lead to equipment failure, down-time and ultimately costs more in the long run.

When organizations mail/ship items, they are essentially printing money.  These costs need to be evaluated and controlled.  You may think that mailing/shipping tools and workflow software can’t significantly impact your balance sheet and/or can’t be controlled.  On the contrary!  

This blog explores factors that should be considered when assessing mail room tools.  We’ll cover some over-arching guidelines to keep in mind in the evaluation process.  For detailed considerations, we’ve developed a Mailroom Tools Assessment.
 
1. Get Feedback
Internal
Start your assessment by talking with your employees. They can tell
you what’s working and what isn’t.  Start by review your company’s
internal workflow:

  • Who is doing the job – dedicated staff exclusively or with untrained staff as volume spikes.
  • What is the job – standard jobs (e.g., invoicing) or ones that must meet privacy regulations.  What are the challenges to getting the job done?  What are associated costs?
  • Where is it done – centrally or remotely.
  • When – how frequently do jobs occur; are they repetitive or one-offs.
  • How is it done – are processes documented; are they manual, automated or outsourced.
  • Why is it done this way – based on how “it’s always been done”, inadequate training, or because best practices have not been established. 
Shipping & Communications Tools

The goal is to identify gaps and cost impact.  Explore hindrances, challenges and frustrations in getting tasks done. Do your
employees have customer feedback that suggests dissatisfaction with your company’s processes?  Now is the time to
obtain all feedback, positive and negative.


External
Get feedback from your customers.  Call two or three of your larger
customers or ones who you know would be willing to be open and
honest with you. 

Explore whether they are happy with your communications and how
they receive them.  What would they change? What you uncover could
be surprising.  For example – they may consider it wasteful that a return
envelope is included with your statements when they pay with ACH. 
There are tools to address that!

TIP:  understand what’s working and what isn’t to identify your vulnerabilities.

2. Review Existing Capabilities & Equipment
Look at the strengths and weaknesses of your existing mailing and shipping systems, processes, tools and people.  Anything done manually, should be a candidate for an automated solution.  Use our Assessment Tool to help.

Know your numbers:

  • Confirm current equipment expenditures (lease, maintenance)
  • Validate (in writing) all equipment Lease End Dates (LED)
  • Confirm all cancellation dates and requirements

TIP:  Including employees engages them and reduces resistance as new tools and systems are incorporated. 

Blue sticky note with letter costs

3. Review or Develop Your Business Plan/Projection
A big piece of your business is managing money. To be successful, you need a plan.  Many companies don’t have a business plan or never consult it.  An annual plan will focus your efforts, help determine what tools you need, when they can be acquired, and will contribute to a smooth transition.

TIP:  Without a plan you can end up with the wrong communication tools.

4. Explore New Solutions & Vendors
Engage with current and new vendors:

  • Share your challenges and plans.
  • Be open to new industry capabilities.
  • Meet at the vendors office (ideally) or at least face-to-face to become familiar with new industry options and capabilities.
  • Get hands-on experience before you commit. 
  • Make apples-to-apples comparisons between competitive systems to determine the best solution.
  • Get feedback from existing customers to identify strengths/weaknesses of the vendor’s solution and support.

NOTE:  Beware of companies (such as Pitney Bowes) using primarily telesales.  By nature, their focus is an immediate sale, not a long-term relationship based on a customized solution and local support when you have issues.     

A price-only decision at this stage will haunt you.  Longer term leases have lower prices but the contracts may outlive the value of the solution.  A higher monthly lease may provide the flexibility to give you a competitive edge in today’s fast-changing environment (think of COVID’s impact). 

TIP:  Factor in savings achieved from all areas (e.g., labor, materials, down-time) when evaluating real cost.

Business as usual is not an option anymore.  Be open to new ways of approaching your business – change can be difficult but worth it in the long run. 

Check out our detailed Mailroom Assessment Tool that includes specific questions to help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  You’ll find it here:  Assessment

What has been key in your evaluation process?  Share your experiences with us!