article

How to Optimize Your Postal Program

Posted: 9/2003

How to Optimize Your Postal Program
By Ron Whaley
and Lenny Taylor

If you are like most telecom

service
providers, you mail out thousands of invoices month after month. Isnt it galling that you have to spend so much money in
postage just to get paid for a service youve already delivered? Its not
only natural but practical for you to ask how your business can take advantage
of postage discounts, guarantee your mail gets the best delivery possible, and
keep the weight down to prevent additional postage fees. By answering these
questions, you can dramatically reduce postage expenses, enhance piece delivery
and reduce float on receivables, which speeds cash flow.

Optimizing your postal program starts with understanding and
making the most of what the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has to offer. Here are
some tips and techniques to get you started:

Standardize Addresses/Presort Discounts.

Stand-ardizing addresses means your addresses are accurate and
consistent with USPS formatting guidelines. By standardizing addresses according
to USPS specifications, you become eligible for postage discounts through
presorted mail, which guarantees faster delivery of mail. For specifics on how
to standardize addresses, you can refer to USPS Publication 28 (visit
http://pe.usps.gov/ text/pub28/welcome.htm).

When addresses are standardized, they can be matched to the
USPS national ZIP code directory. When a match occurs, the mail piece receives a delivery point
bar code and is entitled to a first class discount of between 6.1 cents and 9.5
cents per piece, depending upon the number of pieces going to the same ZIP code.
Multiply that by the thousands or tens of thousands of invoices and you can see
how pennies quickly turn into significant dollar savings.

Additionally, standardized addresses and presorting will get
mail to customers considerably faster than non-presorted mail. By presorting
mail to its delivery point destination, you are doing a portion of the work for
the post office, which allows them to skip several steps in the sorting process.

Presorted mail will shave at least one or two days off the
delivery time. The benefits are obvious: Faster delivery equals faster payment equals improved cash
flow.

Reduce Invoice Pages. In terms of
mail-piece weight, the difference between a four-page invoice and three-page
invoice is one ounce. An additional ounce costs 2.25 cents in postage. That is
why it is critical to evaluate the layout of your invoices to make sure you are
making the most efficient use of the space and consolidating data wherever
possible.

When looking at the layout of your invoices ask yourself the
following questions: Can we use a twocolumn format? Can we revise the page
breaks to consolidate data from multiple pages onto one? Reduce font sizes where feasible. Some simple format and
design changes can translate into significant postage savings.

Manifest Mailing. Manifest mailing
is the process of combining multiple ounce groups into one mailing. With
manifest mailing, you can get greater density to any particular ZIP code, which
translates into greater postage discounts. Another benefit of manifest mailing
is the mail no longer has to be metered with the sloppy red ink dispensed from
standard postage meters. Instead, mail has a preprinted indicia the USPS
uses for collecting postage, based on postal paperwork that accompanies every
mailing. No metering also means there is no indication of the mailed-from
location allowing you to maintain anonymity regarding the mailing location of
your bills. In addition, with all manifest mailings, there is a corresponding
USPS receipt that can be used for verification of mail date, total pieces
mailed, and total postage cost for a particular mailing.

Reply Mail. Make sure the remittance
addresses are USPS standardized or formatted and include the delivery point bar
code. This guarantees USPS will sort and deliver payments accurately and without
delay.

Change of Address (Move Updates).

Customers are constantly relocating; yet you need to get their
bills to them as accurately and efficiently as possible. In order to stay
updated with change-of-address information and to ensure invoices for people who
have moved are handled properly, consider adding one of two possible
endorsements on your outgoing mail:

1. Address Service Requested. By
having this endorsement just below your return address, you are providing
instructions to the USPS as to how to handle moves. If during the USPS sorting
process they detect a mail piece that has filed an active change-of-address
request, for a 70 cents-perpiece service charge, the following occurs:

  • Your mail piece is forwarded to the new address.
  • You receive a postcard that contains the old and new
    address to update your database.

The benefits:

  • The bills get delivered to your customers in a timely
    fashion.
  • You do not receive return mail that you would then have to
    re-insert, re-stamp, and re-mail.
  • You get the new address information. Enter this into your
    database and never have to pay for this information again.

2. Return Service Requested.With
this endorsement, when the post office detects a move, the piece is returned to
you with a label that contains the corrected address. There is no charge for
this service. At that point, you need to handle the remailing of the piece.

Its easy to take the mailing process for granted. However, by taking a closer look at USPS offerings, service
providers can realize significant postage savings and enhanced delivery of mail.

Ron Whaley is vice president of sales and marketing and Lenny
Taylor is director of client relations for OSG Billing Services Inc.

Links
OSG Billing Services Inc.
www.osgbilling.com

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