Examples Show Using The Right Shipping & Communication Tools for Reduce Costs

By Paul Johnson, President CMS – Complete Mailing Solutions

This blog will provide real-world examples of how the right tools can increase productivity and reduce costs. These examples were chosen to illustrate how worthwhile it is to consider more than just price when solving your communication challenges.

Our last blog, “4 Considerations To Ensure You Have The Right Tools For Your Shipping &  Communications”, outlined a number of areas that are not typically considered when acquiring mailing or shipping equipment. In other words, sometimes what you don’t think about can often lead to unforeseen costs that impact your bottom line.

Business Case #1 – Improved Efficiency

Shipping Solution

Take for example, one of CMS’ Clients that manually folded and inserted over 7,000 checks and statements each month.  This required 3 staff members to put other tasks aside and allocate a total of 18 hours each month to this project.  At an industry average hourly rate of $15, this cost the company $3,240 every year.

By introducing an easy-to-use folder/inserter, this process was reduced to a single employee for 1 hour each month. As a result this change provided a savings of over $3,00 each year in labor that could be utilized toward revenue-generating tasks.

Business Case #2 – Reduce Costs & Improved Visibility

One of our legal Clients required delivery confirmation each time legal papers were mailed.  Their employees were manually filling out over 250 Certified Return Receipt green cards each year, waiting for the return confirmation and filing the green cards.  Using 2020 postal rates, this law firm was spending $6.90 for every Certified Mail Return Receipt letter sent – over $1,725 in postage each year.

We introduced our ConnectSuite software, which enabled them to send Certified Return Receipt Mail electronically (ERR).  This not only saved the Firm $1.15 on each letter sent, in short they gained:

  • A savings of 5 hours/week by eliminating manual preparation of green cards
  • Full audit trail and archiving of Certified Mail and other required legal documents
  • Elimination of physical file space for storage
  • Electronic storage into their document management system

Additionally, this firm was better prepared for future planned expansion.

Business Case #3 – Enhanced Efficiency & Confidentiality

Another one of our clients was mailing 1,000 business critical multi-page mailings daily. These were customized to each of their clients which ranged from 5- 8 pages. This company employed one full-time employee dedicated to this task.  He manually grouped mailings based on the number of inserts in each envelope because their folder/inserter could only run the same number of pages at one time.    

As a result of assessing their situation, we introduced the OMS software. OMS uses barcode technology to identify all pages that should be included for each client. The advantage of barcodes:

  • Eliminate the need to pre-sort groups of mailings based on the number of inserts
  • Fully automate the inserting process without the need to change set-ups
  • Ensure 100% accuracy – right contents go to the right person

Subsequently, this company is now able to prepare their 1,000 mailings in one hour, vs. the 8 hours it took manually.  Consequently, their dedicated employee can now be utilized on other revenue-generating projects.

Business Case #4 – Upgrade to Savings

One of our Clients was trying to “make do” with a mailing system that was not designed to automatically weigh envelopes of various sizes and weights.  One-at-a-time weighing was draining employee’s time and efficiency in their mailroom. 

During CMS’ Discovery stage of our Proven Process, we learned they were shipping many packages via UPS and FedEx that could have been shipped through the USPS at a significant savings. 

As a result of our Discovery, we recommended a three-part solution:

  1. Upgraded Mailing System with a dynamic in-line weighing capability that could automatically weigh different size and weights of envelopes on the fly.  This system saved approximately 13 hours of labor each month.
  2. Neoship Software that allowed them to: 
    • Compare shipping rates to identify the best rate
    • Allowed shipping from remote locations.
    • Consolidated reporting.
  3. Training on proper utilization of the USPS IM®pb to reduce Priority Mail rates by 13% and First-Class parcel rates by 40%

Subsequently, the net benefit to our Client was a savings of approximately $1,200/month in expenses. Additionally, our suggestions improved visibility through reporting and being able to allocate employee resources to more important tasks.

Business Case #5 – Outsourced Solution

An auditing/inspection Client had been expanding significantly in the past few years. However with that growth they were then faced with how to best manage their communications.   Since there was some question whether they level of growth would be sustained, they were reluctant to hire additional employees.

After meeting with them, our recommendation was to partially outsource a portion of their larger mailings. Outsourcing to a mail production facility using Neotouch provides several advantages.  This solution allows them to:

  • Develop communications using their existing office applications.
  • Forward materials to Neotouch’s state-of-the-art production facility for printing, folding, inserting, metering and mailing with a single click of their mouse.
  • Provides the ability to email communications to their Client’s, a capability they did not have previously. 
  • Trace and archive (up to 11 years) all documents.

Above all, this solution is scalable and allows our Client to dedicate employees to revenue-generating tasks.  Projected savings as a result of our recommendations was well over $7,000 per year.

These cases provide just a few examples of the benefits of thinking outside the box.  CMS is your 360° Advocate, we are here to listen to your needs, solve issues and provide on-going support.  We are your local resource for all questions, concerns and needs.  Call us today to see how we can help you – 303-761-0681.

Does your company have the RIGHT tools?  Take our Assessment and find out.  Then share what you learned that surprised you!

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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!

What You May Not Know About Postage and Your Mail Machine

By Paul Johnson, President CMS – Complete Mailing Solutions

If you have a mailing system, you know that postage must be added to your meter as needed.  Typically, postage is funded in one of three ways:

  1. Through an ACH debit (direct funding from your bank account)
  2. Sending in a check to the Postal Service (via a specified lockbox operated by the USPS)
  3. Automatic downloads with billing at a later date (much like a credit card)
small mail machine

No matter which funding method used, you may have assumed that once funds are loaded onto your postage meter, that money still belongs to you and that your manufacturer is holding the funds for you.

Not true!

Once funds have been downloaded onto a postage meter, those funds immediately become the property of the US Postal Service. The USPS authorizes the manufacturer to rent or lease the meter thru a licensing agreement, but the postage meter can never be owned by an individual or company. (Beware of EBay scams selling meters!)

What happens when you no longer need your mailing system or change systems and postage meters?

If you are changing or upgrading to a new system with the SAME manufacturer, your postage money will be transferred to the new postage meter.  However, if you are cancelling/returning the meter and not replacing it with a new one, the US Postal Service will be refunding your money.  Your meter must first be deactivated and returned to the manufacturer for processing. A request will then be made by the manufacturer to the USPS and a check issued to you. This refund process may take up to 6-8 weeks. *

When Will Your Postage Funds NOT Be returned to you?

Be aware that if there is less than $25.00 on your postage meter, the USPS will not refund your money (pursuant to Federal Reg. Section 604.9.3.1 set on 11/06/2008).

Have questions?  At CMS, we are here to help.  Call us at 303-761-0681.

*Non-Neopost or Hasler equipment manufacturers may have a different process.

Can A Turtle Become A Gazelle?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions

Today’s companies are in transition. Mailroom processes have reached a tipping point between old school “turtle” thinking entrenched in “business as usual” and progressive “gazelle“ thinking that is focused on flexibility, speed, responsiveness and efficiency.

With increased labor and processing costs, strict legal requirements concerning customer privacy (e.g., HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley), steep penalties for non-compliance, and customers expecting responsiveness, companies can no longer afford to fall back on old school thinking by hiding in their shells.

How To Become a Gazelle

State-of-the-art mailroom Process Integrity Solutions (PIS) provide the ability to combine hardware and software technologies to ensure mail preparation is secure, content is correct, visibility is instantaneous and costs are reduced. Consider these additional benefits:barcode-with-push-pin

  • Increased efficiency – eliminates slow, manual processes that lead to errors, mismatched documents, privacy breaches, and high handling costs.
  • Visibility and tracking – barcode technology groups documents by customer and reports the status of individual mail pieces.
  • Cost Savings – combines multiple communications into one mailing based on the individual, which saves significant postage costs.
  • Security – automated processes ensures accuracy and eliminates the risk of private information being exposed.


Process Integrity Solutions increase operational efficiency, eliminates error-prone manual processes and ensure a superior customer experience.

What are some of the components of a Process Integrity Solutions suite?

  • Software that:
    • Centralizes the creation and management of communications
    • Ensures the right documents are delivered to the right customer in accordance with their preferences (mail, email, web portal, etc.)
    • Provides addresses accuracy and correct formatting
    • Provides visibility and trackability in the mail stream
    • Turns standard communications into marketing opportunities
  • Equipment designed to interface with software to eliminate manual processes and provide greater responsiveness

Working in tandem, PIS can dramatically transform your mail center and improve financial performance as well. A turtle can become a gazelle.


Want an overview of other ways you can improve your mail center? Read this white paper on How Your Mail Center Can Improve Your Financial Performance. You’ll learn more about the various areas of a mail center that can improve your company’s flexibility, speed, responsiveness and efficiency.