Spring can be a time of self-assessment for many companies. The end of the first quarter provides an opportunity to evaluate operations and consider implementing new tools and processes to help reduce costs and increase profits. If you find yourself in this type of reflective mood, now might be the right time to assess the effectiveness of your mailroom operations and to consider utilizing a mail services provider — a third party that sorts business mail and prepares it for final delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. 

Like most businesses, you might already outsource several of your logistics, distribution, and shipping functions to third-party service providers so you can remain focused on your core competencies. But unlike other outsourcing initiatives, trusting your mailroom operations to a third party is not a one-size-fits-all solution. And, for some businesses, keeping the mailroom in-house might be the best option. 

Understanding how your mailroom fits into your business can be complicated, so before you decide to turn to a mail services provider, ask yourself a few important questions to determine if it’s the right choice for your business. 
How are you currently managing your business mail? Knowing the best way to send your business mail is very important to an efficient mailing operation. Choosing the wrong mail classification (including Priority, First Class, Standard, Media Mail, or Bound-Printed Matter) could cause you to overpay for postage and lead to late deliveries. If it’s possible that you’re not utilizing mail classifications properly, a mail services provider could be helpful. 

How much does your mail weigh? Obviously, the weight of your mail is an important factor in your mail costs. But did you know that if your mail is within the weight requirements and qualifies for First Class mail, you may be able to maintain timely delivery and significantly reduce your mail costs with a mail services provider and Standard Mail rates? Less-than-a-pound mail is the standard for most providers, but review your options carefully as some providers can offer services for other types of mail as well.

How do you process your mail? Though employees are the heart of any company, implementing new technology in your mailroom can not only make their job easier, but may allow you to maximize efficiency by moving your mailroom employees to more important business functions. Depending on how your mailroom operates, a third-party provider may be able to increase speed and accuracy through implementing an automated system for sorting mail and applying postage.

Where is your business mail going and when does it have to be there? Rates and qualifications differ according to your mail’s final destination, so consider whether your mail is being shipped domestically, internationally, or a combination of the two. Also, you may need increased visibility and updates on your in-transit mail if it is particularly valuable or time-sensitive.

How frequent are your mailings? Knowing the frequency of your mailings can help you estimate how much time is being spent on mail processing, rather than other functions that may be more important to your business. Do you mail periodically —weekly, monthly, or even annually? Do you mail on a set schedule, or is your mail dependent on outside factors such as customer requests or opt-ins?

What To Look For In A Mail Services Provider
After reviewing your mailing activities, you may realize that with so many considerations, outsourcing to a mail services provider is right for your business. If so, here are some key features you should look for.

Automation: If a mail services provider doesn’t have state-of-the-art technology to improve the mailing process you currently use, then what’s the point of outsourcing? Make sure that the mail provider you’re considering has the technology in place to increase the efficiency of your mail processing with an automated system to apply postage, sort, pick up, and transport your mail to the Postal Service for last-mile delivery. 

Accuracy, speed, and cost: Trusting a third party to process your mail shouldn’t mean you have to deal with errors and long delivery delays. Rather, it should lead to an improved bottom line. The mail services provider you choose should have an automated process that keeps accuracy rates at 99 percent or better and maintains transit times comparable to First Class. Your relationship with a mail services provider should allow you to take advantage of lower processing and postage costs to save on your mailings.

Knowledge and experience: A good mail services provider will effectively support your business relationship with the U.S. Postal Service so you can focus on other important parts of your operations. Make sure your provider can navigate the intricacies of the mailing industry by choosing a provider with a high number of employees with the Postal Services’ Mail Quality Control (MQC) certification. 

A central focus of any company should be to minimize costs and maximize employee efficiency. Reducing your costs doesn’t necessarily mean reducing the workforce; it revolves around resourceful practices that utilize each employee to her or his maximum potential. Consider whether outsourcing your mailroom operations is the right move for your business.

John Walsh is vice president of business development for UPS Mail Innovations, the business mail services arm of UPS. More information about UPS Mail Innovations can be found atwww.upsmailinnovations.com or by calling 1-800-500-2224.