Trends in Print and Mail

The Berkshire Company Blog

Contingency Plans Required

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jun 18, 2018 7:30:00 PM



“First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.” – Dale Carnegie

In the Summer of 1997, I was the Assistant Vice President of Mail Services at State Street Corporation in Boston. My team was responsible for inbound and outbound mail for the Greater Boston area. That included shipping out hundreds of overnight packages each day – the bulk of those were handed off to United Parcel Service (UPS).

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United States Postal Service / Operations Management

Recognizing Individuals

Posted by Mark Fallon on May 23, 2018 8:47:19 AM


Growing up, I never heard my mother say, "Why can't you be more like your brother?" And I'm not an only child. I'm the second youngest of 10 kids.

My mother recognized each of us as individuals with different talents and skills. For some, it was school. For some, music. For others, sewing and crafts. For some, sports – no stars, but we made the team.

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Operations Management

Updated eBook for 2018 - 110 Tips to Improve Your Mail Center

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 17, 2018 5:01:00 AM

The Berkshire Company is excited to announce the publication of the 2018 edition of our popular eBook - 110 Tips to Improve Your Mail Center.

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United States Postal Service / Operations Management / National Postal Forum / U.S. Postal Service

Designing a Mail Center – Key Principles and Concepts

Posted by Mark Fallon on Feb 7, 2018 5:00:00 AM



There are diverse types of mail centers ranging from small inbound operations staffed by 3 employees to large production operations that print and mail a million pieces a day. No matter what type of work you process, the layout and design of your mail center has a direct impact on your effectiveness and efficiency.

The 5 key principles and concepts when designing a mail center are:

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Mail Security / Operations Management / Strategy

Trends in Print and Mail - The Top 10 Posts from 2017

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 3, 2018 5:20:00 AM


A new administration and a new congress took office in 2017. Along with those changes, there was a brief hope for legislative reform when a joint bill was passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. As the President and the Senate majority are from the same party, perhaps nominees to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors would be approved.

However, the legislation has since stalled and the Senate hasn’t scheduled any hearings on the nominees. Letter mail volumes – for both First Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail – have declined. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) announced their findings and proposed rulemaking after completing the mandatory 10-year review of the system for regulating postage rates for Market Dominant products – and the responses from industry and USPS leadership have been negative. Mergers and acquisitions of service providers continue at a brisk pace.

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United States Postal Service / Industry Vendors / Operations Management / National Postal Forum / Outsourcing

The Unstoppable Move to Less Paper, and the Upcoming Upheaval of the Mailing Industry

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 12, 2017 6:30:12 PM



Roaming through a used book store, I came across "Writing with a Word Processor" by William Zinsser. Written in 1983, the book chronicles Zinsser teaching himself how to use an IBM Displaywriter – one of the first office word processors. More than just a look back to the adoption of modern technology, the book provides some insight to what we can expect in the future – less paper.

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Industry Vendors / Operations Management / Technology / Outsourcing / Strategy

Healthcare Payers and the Shift to Digital Communication: A Survey

Posted by Mark Fallon on Oct 24, 2017 12:01:11 PM



My bank gave me a choice – receive my monthly statement online, or pay a fee for a paper copy. For my car loan, the interest rate would be a point lower if I accepted automatic withdrawal and online notices. My utility company prints a request on every bill – and envelope – to pay electronically. As a consultant, I’ve seen several clients in these industries replace physical mail with digital documents.

One industry that has trailed on the move to digital has been healthcare – both providers and payers. Challenges include systems integration, member and patient preferences, and of course, federal and state regulations. Due to interpretations of the Affordable Care Act, many healthcare companies saw an increase in their volumes of physical mail beginning in 2013.

Until recently.

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Operations Management / Technology / Digital

2018 Postage Rate Increase: The 50-Cent Stamp is Here!

Posted by Mark Fallon on Oct 8, 2017 1:39:13 PM


On Friday, October 6, 2017, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) filed the rate case for Market Dominant products with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Set to go into effect on January 21, 2018, the new rates represent about a 1.9% increase over the current prices for mailing, or “Market Dominant” products and 3.9% increases for shipping, or “competitive” products.


Interestingly, this price increase comes in the absence of both a Board of Governors (Board) and the anticipated PRC review of the ratemaking process.

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United States Postal Service / Operations Management / USPS

20 Trustworthy Tips

Posted by Mark Fallon on Sep 19, 2017 7:23:13 AM


Continuous improvement leads to continued success. Small, incremental steps can have significant and long-lasting impact on your operation.

Here are 20 tips to consider along your path to excellence.

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Operations Management / Technology

Postage Budgets Await No Agency

Posted by Mark Fallon on Aug 22, 2017 4:36:00 AM

Sometime in the next month, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will complete their review of how the United States Postal Service (USPS) sets postage rates. There have been strong protests from several mailer associations against allowing the USPS to increase rates for Market Dominant products beyond the rate of inflation. On the other hand, the USPS has argued that the existing rules prevent them from establishing the rates necessary to cover their expenses.

As the prospects for legislative postal reform remain dim, the USPS needs more flexibility in setting rates. The CPI is a poor standard to use for postage rates, as most of the USPS expenses are for transportation and personnel. The price index for gas has consistently risen higher than CPI, as have health insurance rates. Ending the CPI cap will put the USPS on a stronger financial footing.

The PRC hasn’t indicated what their decision might be. They could leave the cap in place, they could modify the cap, or they could remove the cap altogether. Whatever they do, the USPS will then develop the proposed rates for 2018, probably releasing the pricing in October.

For most companies, October is too late in the planning cycle. Many of our clients are already submitting their preliminary 2018 budgets. For the past decade, managers could look up the CPI, add a few points as a buffer, and calculate their future postage costs. With no PRC decision, there are no guideposts to follow.

Predicting the future is a fool’s errand. Especially when it comes to political bodies like the PRC. However, not planning for the future is the hallmark of a fool. What’s a manager to do?

It’s probable that the PRC will lift the price cap on Market Dominant prices, with some type of controls. Postmaster General Brennan has repeatedly stated that the USPS want to grow the business of mail. A drastic rate increase won’t help them reach that goal.

A reasonable rate increase would be 5%. This would bring rates close to where they would be if the Exigent Rate Increase wasn’t rolled back in 2016. Also, it’s consistent with the annual rate increases of both FedEx and UPS – not including the holiday surcharge both companies recently announced.

Most managers are asked to reduce spending, and a significant rate increase will be unwelcome news. Savvy leaders will need to look for other methods of limiting the impact. That starts with taking advantage of the heavier weights allowed for machinable letter mail. Mailings should be combined and householded to a single envelope. Wherever possible, flats that weigh less than 3.5 ounces should be redesigned for 6 x 9 letter envelopes.

Mailers need to take a second look at the Promotions & Incentive Programs for First-Class & USPS Marketing Mail. Savings that seemed small before will be key to offset additional expenses. Mail service providers can add value to relationships by finding ways to easily enroll customers in these programs.

While no one knows the amount, postage rates will increase in 2018. Managers should budget and plan accordingly.


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United States Postal Service / 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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