Trends in Print and Mail

The Berkshire Company Blog

Let's Build an RFP – Part One: Prep to Publish

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 28, 2015 5:30:00 AM

The Request for Proposal (RFP) process is an excellent method to use for selecting vendors and products. You may need to use an RFP for many reasons. The equipment in your shop may be outdated and in need of replacement. New software programs may mean a digital solution to a manual process. You may want to analyze whether outsourcing a particular function will bring savings to your company.

No matter what you purchase – equipment, software or services – how you purchase is more important. You can improve your chances for success by following these steps:

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Operations Management

Preparing for the First USPS Rate Change of 2015

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 20, 2015 5:30:00 AM

Last week, the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”) announced the first rate change for 2015. The rate adjustment was filed just days after the Postal Regulatory Commission (“PRC”) published a notice outlining the steps the USPS needed to follow when removing the exigent surcharge they approved in December of 2013.

In August, we published a blog post recommending that mailers budget for a 2% postage rate increase in 2015. A few months later, the USPS announced they wouldn’t file for a January increase and many mailers reduced their 2015 postage budgets accordingly. Those mailers will be facing budget shortfalls as the new rate case brings a 1.9% to 2.7% increase for commercial First Class mailers and an average 1.9% increase for Standard Class mailers beginning April 26, 2015.

Many of the pricing tables in the rate case can cause confusion. The figures in the rate case are based on what mailers would be paying without the exigent rate increase. As such, the tables include pricing that is actually lower than the current rates. For example, here’s the First Class Mail breakout:

Current stamped single piece mail is priced at $0.49 and AADC Automation mail costs $0.406, not $0.47 and $0.389 as shown in the charts. This difference makes it more difficult for mailers to accurately assess the impact of the increase on their budgets. We recommend ignoring the prices and using the percent changes for each category of mail that your company produces. Here’s the chart for Standard Mail:

While better charts will be forthcoming (we hope), mailers need to act now to prepare for the April rate increase. Here are 5 steps every mail operations manager can take now:

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United States Postal Service

Impact of the US Postal Service New Standards

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 14, 2015 5:30:00 AM

On January 5, 2015, The United States Postal Service (“USPS”) implemented new delivery standards for First Class Mail. The new standards mean slower delivery times. For single-piece mail, the delay will be at least one full day, and for metered and permit mail, the average delay will be anywhere from a half-day to a full day. Since most companies only receive mail once a day, the “half day” translates into a getting mail a full day later. And if there’s a holiday involved, there will be even more delays.
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United States Postal Service

Checklists – Simple & Powerful Tools

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 7, 2015 5:30:00 AM

US Airways Flight 1549, The Miracle on the Hudson. On January 15, 2009, CPT Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, landed a jet on the waters of the Hudson River after it had lost both engines when it hit a flock of birds. 155 people were on that plane, and not a single life was lost.
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Operations Management

Trends and Technology - Top 10 Posts of 2014

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 31, 2014 5:30:00 AM

This has been an interesting year for the print and mail industry. The US Postal Service (“USPS”) has rebounded, with Commercial First Class and Standard Mail volumes remaining steady. Congress didn’t pass a postal reform bill, and didn’t confirm President Obama’s nominees to the USPS Board of Governors. And for the first time in almost a decade, postage rates won’t be rising in January 2015.
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United States Postal Service / Operations Management

Quality Control Survey – Thoughts

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 17, 2014 5:30:00 AM

Last month, we posted the results of our quality control survey. While none of the responses were surprising, the patterns and differences were thought provoking. The areas that are most notable are:

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Operations Management

Quality Control – Survey Results

Posted by Mark Fallon on Nov 26, 2014 5:00:00 AM

Several weeks ago, we published an anonymous 8-question survey on quality control in print and mail operations. We asked about how many pieces a company printed and mailed in a year, and how many errors were reported in the last 12 months. For companies that use a service provider, we asked the same questions.

Print quality errors are defined as:

  • smudges, smears or damaged paper that causes any field in the print output to be illegible
  • incorrect document orientation (i.e. portrait versus landscape or print fields printed upside down)
  • printing documents on the wrong form or letterhead
  • incorrectly printed fields, omitted fields or transposed fields
Inserting errors are defined as:
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Operations Management

Software: A Tool, Not a Solution

Posted by Mark Fallon on Nov 19, 2014 5:30:00 AM

Software is everywhere in the print and mail industry business – from file formatting to address management to piece-level tracking. Like the rest of the business world, our industry relies on software packages to help us in our daily jobs.

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A Letter to My Senators – A Response

Posted by Mark Fallon on Nov 12, 2014 5:30:00 AM

A few weeks ago I posted a copy of the letter I sent to my two United States Senators – Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey – about the need for the Senate to confirm the nominees to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. In addition to the blog, I sent them the letter through their website, posted a link on Twitter and mailed them a physical letter through the U.S. Postal Service.

A week later, I received a phone call from Senator Markey’s office. His aide didn’t mention any of the electronic methods I used to communicate, but told me he was responding to the letter they had received. Hmm, a physical letter garnered more attention than a blog, email or tweet. Interesting.

The aide stressed that the senator was taking the issue seriously, and had testified at Ms. Kennedy’s nomination hearing. He said that Senator Markey had spoken to the Majority Leader – Senator Reid – and asked for the nominations be brought to the floor for a vote. Unfortunately, the opposition was holding up the vote. He said that Senator Reid felt that the nominations could get approved during the lame duck session.

This conversation was the week before the elections, but the polls weren’t looking good for the Democrats. I asked the aide that if several Republicans had already stated that the Congress should not approve nominations during the lame duck session - why would anyone think otherwise? He replied that those comments were about judges and cabinet-level positions. We chatted a bit more, and the call ended.

Of course, the elections went very bad for the Democrats. The new chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the US Postal Service, will be a Republican. They may ask for the nominations to be put on hold until the new committee is formed. It’s not an easy call.

However, I did receive a response. From my physical letter. The power of mail endures.


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Quality Control in Print and Mail – A Survey

Posted by Mark Fallon on Nov 5, 2014 5:30:00 AM

In a competitive environment, “good enough” isn’t “good enough”. Customer expectations continue to rise. They want to receive their documents with the correct information, and expect a printing job to be error-free. They want the right statement, with the right address, in the right envelope to be delivered at the right time.

With quality control, the goal must be 100%. Integrated processes and tools, best-in-class procedures and tight quality control processes minimize the opportunity for mistakes. But no print and mail operation is perfect. Even in the best run shops - a faulty line of software code - or a malfunctioning piece of equipment - or a distracted operator - can cause an error.

The two most common errors are print quality and inserting errors.

Print quality issues include:

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Operations Management

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The Berkshire Company improves business processes in your print & mail operations, helping you solve real problems.

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