20 ways to save money in your mail center

Kathy Lundy

We all know where to look when it comes to cutting costs. There are the obvious corporate targets. The mail center, however, is often overlooked. Yet it is one of those hidden gems where savings secrets abide. You just have to know where to look.

Here are 20 ways to save money in your mail center. Not all of them will apply to you … but even just a few could add up to worthwhile rewards.

1. SATELLITE DELIVERY. It seems obvious, but the fewer mail deliveries you need to make, the less staff and equipment you will need. Break up your mail center into “satellite” mail stations where departments pick up their own mail, freeing up your staff for other duties.

2. LOCKABLE MAIL CARTS. Another intelligent choice in these days of increased security, your company mail must be kept under lock and key. If your mail cart is secured, you cut out the time consuming process of transferring mail back and forth between the cart and storage areas.

3. MODULAR FURNITURE. Keep your needs for future growth in mind. In our digital age, the composition of the mail center is changing right along with all the technological advances we experience daily. To guard against your mail center becoming rapidly obsolete, buy modular furniture that is scalable and designed to configure with any changes that may occur in the future. One way to achieve this is to buy from an established company that is likely to be around in the future. Chances are they will be designing furniture to match what they have already sold to existing customers.

4. DESKTOP SHIPPING. Take advantage of new software solutions, which cut down on sorting and labeling. Consider the latest optical recognition software that can help digitize many tasks now done by hand.

5. ERGONOMICS. Mail sorting is repetitive work. Having furniture that is ergonomically correct helps cut down on repetitive stress injuries that could potentially lead to lawsuits and costly employee turnover.

6. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE CONSULTING. Are you planning changes in your mail center? Most mail center furniture manufacturers offer free consulting and design. This often includes free CAD drawings to help you understand how your mail center can run much more efficiently. Why not save big money and take advantage of this free service that is unique to the mail industry.

7. COMPARE VENDORS. Check references. What best practices and equipment for saving money have your vendors provided to other customers? What are their success stories? Why not take advantage of the best knowledge in your industry and learn what your competitors are up to at the same time?

8. SMALL CHANGES/BIG SAVINGS. Naturally a vendor would like you to purchase a complete redesign of your mail center. But you may be able to retain much of your equipment and achieve savings with only minor changes. Look at all your options before you buy.

9. AESTHETICS. Employees are more likely to remain on the job if you provide a pleasant environment in which to work. In the past, the mail center often had a reputation of being a distant cousin in the corporate family. It’s time to spruce up your mail center and avoid costly staff turnover.

10. SPEED UP PROCESSING RECEIVABLES. Clearly you would rather have a check made out to your company earning interest in the bank than languishing in the mail center. Therefore it’s critical to speed up processing receivables. While you are at it, why not speed up your billing process as well?

11. LIFETIME GUARANTEES. It may be hard to believe, but mail center furniture is often sold with a lifetime guarantee. You just have to remember to ask for it.

12. COLOR CODING. Color code such items as bags, totes, boxes, and shelf labels. Use coding for quick identification of floors and departments as well as internal and external mail. You’ll be surprised how much time you will save.

13. CHARGE BACKS. Who should be paying for postage? Should it be you or the department sending the mail? Obviously the charge for postage should be charged back to the sender. That’s an immediate way to cut down the costs of running a mail center.

14. OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES. You don’t always need a new product when some clever accessories will achieve the same results. For a mail cart, for example, hanging baskets, totes, and racks can obviate the cost of buying an entirely new cart. Look for other similar savings throughout your mail center.

15. PREASSEMBLED FURNITURE. Why spend time on the often complicated process of assembling mail center furniture? Some manufacturers will preassemble the furniture for you at nominal cost … saving you a great deal of time and money in the long run.

16. COMPARE SHIPPING COSTS. The cost of shipping in any field can vary widely, and the same holds true for mail center equipment and furniture.

17. KEEP YOUR ADDRESS LIST “CLEAN.” Nothing wastes more time than delivering mail to phantom employees who are no longer with the company. Similarly, it’s a big waste of money to send mail to defunct addresses. So update your list of names and addresses on a regular basis. Keep the list “clean,” and enjoy the savings.

18. GAIN EXECUTIVE SUPPORT. For you to gain an increase in funding, management needs to know what the mail center staff does. Invite management to the mail center and demonstrate new equipment. Practice internal public relations.

19. CENTRALIZE. Is your mail center near the employees who use it the most? The simple exercise of moving closer to your customers can add to the bottom line.

20. LISTEN TO YOUR WORKERS. After all, who knows more about creating better efficiencies in the mail center than the people who work there? Listen to your staff. Reward them when they contribute savings ideas. If you don’t have a suggestion program, start one as soon as possible.

Kathy Lundy (800/328-2962) is sales manager for Minnesota-based Charnstrom Inc., which manufactures mail center furniture.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Quality Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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