Posts Tagged Presort

Tour The Facilities

Have You Toured Your Vendors Facility?

tourYesterday I took a group of people on a tour of our facility. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve lead a tour here, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. And every time I have a person or group of people come through, they’ve told me they have come away with beneficial knowledge and new ideas.

Whenever I visit a vendor, and I hope whenever a client or prospect visits us, these are a few of the things that I would expect of the experience.

  • Is your sales rep present?  Better yet, is he or she leading the tour?
  • Meet your Customer Service Representative. In most cases, it will be the CSR that handles your day-to-day business and not the sales rep.
  • If your sales rep (and perhaps your CSR as well) is leading the tour, what is the sense of relationship you feel between sales and the production team? Do they seem friendly and collaborative towards each other?
  • Get an introduction to the department managers or team leaders in each step of production. Personally, I like my clients to have a face to associate with each department (in our case, data processing, quality control, laser imaging, lettershop, presort and transportation).
  • Whenever possible, manage an introduction to someone “at the top”.  I like to make sure my tour attendees get to meet the president of our company.
  • Look at equipment in each and every department. Is it well maintained? Is it apparent that the company keeps up-to-date in new technology and machinery?
  • Observe the plant condition. Is it clean and well organized? Does work seem to flow through the plant in a common sense manner?
  • Ask if any of your work would be outsourced to a subcontractor or whether your vendor has all the equipment, personnel and capacity to complete your jobs in house.
  • And last but most importantly – listen, ask questions and learn something new. I have yet to lead a customer through our facility and not hear them talk about something vital they’ve learned or new ideas they plan to take back to their own companies.

When was the last time you toured the facilities of your vendor or vendors? What did you take away from the experience? Did you leave the plant feeling positive in your decision to use this particular company?

Lesson: Ask for a tour, build lasting relationships with the folks producing your jobs, get fresh ideas and have fun!

This video takes you on a little journey around Strahm Automation and Mailing!

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USPS | Changing the Way You Mail with Presort Services

Presort Services: Changing the Way You Mail

mailworksWith new services and programs offered by the USPS, not to mention changing mail characteristics, have you changed the way you think about your outgoing mail?

Engaging with a Presort Service provider allows companies to take advantage of postal discounts. Discounts are achieved when many pieces are sorted to the same 5-digt ZIP Code. By commingling your outgoing mail with mail from other companies, Presort Service providers are able to maximize postage discounts and pass that savings along to you.

The number of organizations choosing to partner with Presort Service providers has grown over the past several years. The driving factors include security, control and economics.

Presort Services have made large investments in new technology – both equipment and software. Providers have been working closely with the USPS and mailers to improve workflows and standards. While this has forced many smaller shops to close their doors, larger more robust service providers have been thriving.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask a potential service provider:

  • How many pieces of mail do they process daily/weekly/monthly? Is this primarily local or national mail? (This information may help determine your postage rate.)
  • Do they process First Class, Standard and Non-Profit Mail?
  • Do they process letters and flats?
  • How secure is their facility, including the dock area?
  • Do they provide pick up service? Is there a fee for this service?
  • Will they also meter mail for you? Will they agree to serve as a backup should your own meters be out of operation?
  • Are they up-to-date with Intelligent Mail barcode? This will be mandatory beginning January 2013.
  • Are employees background checked?
  • Is there an on-site USPS postal verifier?
  • Does USPS pick up from their dock? Or do they deliver to the nearest postal sorting facility?

Take a few minutes and think of the ways a Presort Service provider could benefit your organization. Cost savings, improved workflows, and security of your mail are just a few of the advantages these vendors bring to your company.

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USPS | DC Court Rules on Postage Discounts

DC Court Rules on Postage Discounts

Postal ProblemsThis week the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Postal Service’s discount for presorted mail cannot exceed the cost the office saves by not having to sort the mail itself.

One of the many services that Strahm Automation provides our clients is presorting of their mail so that clients are able to take advantage of discounted postage rates. This discount encourages mailers to presort, which in turn lowers costs for the Postal Service, but the current discount is greater than the Postal Service would pay to sort the mail themselves.

The Postal Service is not pleased with this ruling because it believes that it needs to offer mailers large discounts so that bulk mailers (including co-minglers, combined mailers and continuous mailers such as Strahm) will continue to use First Class mail.

“Through snow and rain and heat and gloom of night, the Postal Service delivers the mail,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the three judge panel.  “But the Postal Service does so under the watchful eye of a separate independent agency, the Postal Regulatory Commission.”

The PRC establishes rates that the Postal Service may charge for mail.  The commission states that the reason customers choose to presort their mail is based on the lower price, and a 1% increase in price will cause a “significant change in demand”.

What are your thoughts?  Would a decrease in your presorted postage savings cause you to change how you process your mail?  Would you reconsider presorting?

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USPS | Glossary of Common USPS Terms

Glossary of Common USPS Terms

Image: A view shows U.S. postal service mail boxes at a post office in EncinitasI thought it would be a good idea to review a few of the terms commonly heard when working with either a presort service or directly with the USPS.  If you have other terms you would like addressed, please drop us a line!

Automation Compatible Mail – Mail that is prepared according to USPS standards so it can be scanned and processed by automated mail processing equipment such as a barcode sorter.  Postage discounts are available to mail that is automation compatible.

Bulk Mail – The term is generally used to describe commercial mail.  The term “bulk mail” refers to specific minimum quantities of mail that are prepared as a specific class of mail at reduced postage.  For instance, First Class Mail requires a minimum of 500 pieces for each mailing.  Standard Mail requires 200 pieces or 50 pounds for each mailing.  The term “bulk mail” is synonymous with commercial business, or advertising mail.

Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) – The area of a postal facility where mailers present bulk and permit mail for acceptance.  The BMEU includes dedicated platform space, office space and a staging area on the workroom floor.  Presort service providers will present their mail to the BMEU for processing.  At Strahm, the USPS picks up from our dock area since we have an on-site USPS Verifier and MERLIN for pre-approval.

Certified Mail – A service that provides the sender with a mailing receipt.  A delivery record is maintained by the USPS.  This type of mail must be sent at First Class or Priority Mail prices.  Certified Mail may be combined with return receipt service and restricted delivery service.  Extra service fees are in addition to postage.

Commingle – To integrate dissimilar mail into the same mailing.  Presort service providers such as Strahm Automation commingle customers’ mail and offer postage savings.

Delivery Confirmation – An extra service that provides the date and time of delivery or, if delivery was attempted but not successful, the date and time of the delivery attempt.  Delivery confirmation is available for Priority Mail, First Class Parcels, Standard Mail machinable or irregular parcels, Package Services and Parcel Select packages.  Please note that this service is not available for regular letter mail.  Extra services are in addition to postage.

Express Mail – A mail class that provides expedited delivery service.  This is the fastest mail service offered by the USPS.  Express Mail International Service is available between the United States and most other countries.

Flat-size Mail – A flexible rectangular mailpiece that exceeds one of the dimensions for letter-size mail ( 11 ½” long, 6 1/8” high, ¼” thick) but that does not exceed the maximum dimension for the mail processing category (15” long, 12” high, ¾” thick).  Flat-size mail may be unwrapped, sleeved, wrapped or enveloped.

Indicia – Imprinted designation on mail that denotes postage payment (permit imprint)

Letter-size Mail – A mail processing category of mailpieces, including cards, that do not exceed any of the dimensions for letter-size mail (11 ½” long, 6 1/8” high, ¼” thick).

Permit Imprint – Printed indicia instead of an adhesive postage stamp or meter stamp.  Shows postage prepayment by an authorized mailer.

Postage Meter – A device that can print one or more denominations of postage onto a mailpiece or meter tape.  It is available for lease only from authorized manufacturers.

Presort – The process by which a mailer prepares mail so that it is sorted to the finest extent required by the standards for the price claimed.  Generally, presort is performed sequentially, from the lowest (finest) level to the highest level, to those destinations specified by standard and is completed at each level before the next level is prepared.

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USPS Update | Move Update Requirements

On January 27, 2013 ,

FASTforward Service Will No Longer Satisfy USPS Move Update Requirements.

Many presort service providers use FASTforward for their customer’s mail in order to meet mandates. The FASTforward system uses Multiline Optical Character Readers (MLOCRs) to update and spray change of address (COA) information on mailpieces prior to submission to the USPS. 

Move Update requirements help mailers claiming presort or automation prices for First Class Mail or Standard Mail to reduce the number of mailpieces requiring forwarding or return by matching their address records with COA listings maintained by the Postal Service. 

New services using MLOCR include NCOALink  Mail Processing Equipment. This solution allows mailers to process mailpieces against the Postal Service COA database, providing current address information for customers who have filed a COA order. There are approximately 160 million permanent USPS COA records. Licensees (such as your presort service provider) receive a weekly update for all address changes over the last 18 months. 

Make sure to check in with your service provider to ensure a smooth transition. It may mean signing a new Process Acknowledgement Form (PAF) for whatever new system your provider chooses after January 27th.

A Process Acknowledgement Form (PAF) is required by the Privacy Act of 1974. The USPS requires that each mail service provider using an NCOA product for their customers must have a completed NCOA PAF for each customer. These agreements should be updated annually. 

What steps should you take?

  1. Speak with your presort service provider. If you are currently using FASTforward to meet Move Update requirements, what method will they use moving forward
  2. Ask if you need to complete a new PAF for your service providers files.

If you have any question about these changes, please feel free to contact one of our Customer Service Representatives at (816)756-2733.

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Presort Services Provider | Postal Discounts

Presort Services: Changing the Way You Mail

With new services and programs offered by the USPS, not to mention changing mail characteristics, have you changed the way you think about your outgoing mail?

Engaging with a Presort Service provider allows companies to take advantage of postal discounts. Discounts are achieved when many pieces are sorted to the same 5-digt ZIP Code. By commingling your outgoing mail with mail from other companies, Presort Service providers are able to maximize postage discounts and pass that savings along to you.

The number of organizations choosing to partner with Presort Service providers has grown over the past several years. The driving factors include security, control and economics.

Presort Services have made large investments in new technology – both equipment and software.  Providers have been working closely with the USPS and mailers to improve workflows and standards. While this has forced many smaller shops to close their doors, larger more robust service providers have been thriving.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask a potential service provider:

  • How many pieces of mail do they process daily/weekly/monthly? Is this primarily local or national mail? (This information may help determine your postage rate.)
  • Do they process First Class, Standard and Non-Profit Mail?
  • Do they process letters and flats?
  • How secure is their facility, including the dock area?
  • Do they provide pick up service? Is there a fee for this service?
  • Will they also meter mail for you? Will they agree to serve as a backup should your own meters be out of operation?
  • Are they up-to-date with Intelligent Mail barcode? This will be mandatory beginning January 2013.
  • Are employees background checked?
  • Is there an on-site USPS postal verifier?
  • Does USPS pick up from their dock? Or do they deliver to the nearest postal sorting facility?

Take a few minutes and think of the ways a Presort Service provider could benefit your organization. Cost savings, improved workflows, and security of your mail are just a few of the advantages these vendors bring to your company.

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