Many printers, frustrated with minimal revenue gains, look to mailing services to drive incremental profits. Adding mailing services can offer synergy with existing printing services, with minimal investment and a fast learning curve.
Are You Ready?
Recent surveys indicate 65 percent of everything printed is eventually mailed. If your printing jobs follow this pattern, you could be ready to incorporate mailing services into your business.
Step one is to review your mailing-service plans with key customers, whose buy-in is critical to your success. These discussions will provide a better understanding of what it will take to get job done, which in turn can strongly influence initial software and equipment priorities.
Likely components may include a workstation (minimally, a powerful desktop PC equipped with USPS-approved presorting software); an inkjet addressing machine; work tables for staging; a strapper, tabber, postage meter and scale; plus a conveyor, inserter, and assorted supplies. Naturally, you’ll need additional floor space to accommodate this equipment; most mailroom floor plans suggest a minimum requirement of 400 square feet.
Investment Costs and ROI
Speed, volume, and mailing class all significantly influence initial cost outlays. An occasional mailer — handling postcards with small runs, for instance — can probably get started with little more than $15,000 in startup expenses; larger-scale operations may require a substantially greater initial investment.
Don’t let price tags scare you away: with an expected average revenue of $.07 per piece mailed, a $15,000 investment would take roughly 215,000 pieces of mail to break even. And depending on nature of your planned mailing services, you could even repurpose existing equipment or buy refurbished hardware resources until you’re on your feet.
As you shop for mailing solutions, you’ll notice cliché “You get what you pay for” applies far more to hardware purchases than to software, where big performance can come in remarkably cost-effective packages. How can you tell what software is right for you? Start with basic USPS qualifications:
* CASS: Coding Accuracy Support System certification — confirming use of up-to-date ZIP + 4, carrier route and 5-digit ZIP coding data — is a must for any presorting software. * PAVE: Presort Accuracy, Validation and Evaluation certifications vary by sorts and mail classes. Is software PAVE-certified for types of mail you expect to handle? * Visit www.ribbs.usps.gov/files/vendors/paveflis.rtf for a list of PAVE-certified software vendors.
The USPS: Intimidating, but Manageable
Don’t let postal rules frighten you away from potential new revenues! Requirements set by United States Postal Service for mailings are undeniably complex, but resources are everywhere that can help you stay compliant, productive and profitable in your new venture.
First, trust your mailing software: those CASS and PAVE certifications prove it’s been programmed to follow ever-changing postal details. Also, many software developers offer free technical assistance; some even train their support staff in mailing details as well as software itself. The right provider will be happy to hold your hand until you are comfortable with their product.
Instead of trying to achieve mailing “expert” status overnight, pace yourself by becoming well versed in regulations that apply directly to mailing needs of your key customers. The USPS posts latest regulation changes in Domestic Mail Manual (find it at pe.usps.gov/text/dmm300/dmm300_landing.htm), and plenty of other free publications are available to walk you through essential postal rules.
Safety in Numbers: Professional Mailing Resources
Try to develop a working relationship with your local Post Office — not just meeting local Postmaster, but getting face-to-face with personnel who receive and handle your mailpieces. Many new-to-mail printers join their local Postal Customer Councils, which offer forums to discuss general mailing issues among postal representatives and mailers at all levels of expertise.