The lowly postage meter has long been a staple of most professional offices. As e-mail and fax have taken over many of our correspondence needs the postage meter is now often up for discussion as a way to save costs.
After all you have to acquire the device either on a lease or rental and then you are locked into a fixed agreement to rent the actual meter portion of the device (PSD - Postal Security Device). These costs are over and above the cost for postage which is the same as if you bought stamps.
So why do you want a postage meter?
In the end it primarily comes down to efficiency and inventory control. If your volume is very low then a roll of stamps can easily suffice. But if your volume starts to exceed 10 or 20 envelopes per day then placing stamps on envelopes starts to take more time and controlling stamp inventory becomes more tricky.
A postage meter by design has the ability to be locked so unauthorized use is stopped. This means no one can 'borrow' a stamp and forget to pay for it.
A postage meter is also designed to help the operator process the stamping and the envelope sealing. The higher the volume and the bigger the postage meter the more this becomes a factor. User time (and therefore cost) becomes much more of a factor in determining the pay back from a postage meter as volumes increase.
A postage meter has the means to add an address or advertisement to the indicia at the time of stamping. For many businesses using the postage meter to ad the return address on their envelopes has eliminated the need to buy preprinted envelopes. The savings by using unprinted envelopes can provide a significant additional pay back for the postage meter investment. Advanced postage meters like the FP Centormail can even auto weigh and size envelopes for the right postage, saving cost in processing and in use of excess postage.
A final piece is more intangible but its signficance should not be ignored. Using a postage meter to stamp your mail is simply less tedious than applying stamps to a large stack of envelopes. Of course some people may say too bad if you have to work through a stack and put on stamps. On the other hand, providing a meaningful work experience for your office employees and equipping them with the tools to do the job before them is part of ensuring you retain good employees.
Inserters often complete the package.
Once the mail volume starts to get into the hundreds of pieces per day or when there are times when there are major runs (say a large payroll run every week), adding a further enhancement to the mail processing can really pay dividends. Folder/inserters have the ability to reduce the tasks of folding invoices, payroll slips, or flyers and inserting them into the envelopes ready for postage.
I have seen paybacks as short as a few months for substantial pieces of equipment due to the labour saving nature of their design. Using Optical Mark Recognition software and tools properly equipped folder inserters are able to sort documents of varied length and place them into the correct envelope a capability which is of considerable value in an invoice application.
How about opening the mail?
One final piece to consider is the process of opening your mail. If your office has more than few pieces per day of mail to process then an electronic letter opener can be of value. While on the surface it seems frivolous the time saving and the saving of damage to items in the mail can offer a quick payback. These devices are long lasting and will speed a tedious and thankless task performed each day.
Like almost every area of office operations when you look at the mailing needs of your office you will find ways to improve your processes and control your costs with the right choices of tools.
What is your postage bottleneck? What has your postage meter experience been like? How would you improve mailing operations?
It's your turn, share your thoughts....
Photo credit: wikimedia commons public domain