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A lot of businesses today still use the power of postage and snail mail to let customers know about their products or services, be they an Internet service provider sending out bills to their clients or insurance companies sending out brochures of their newest policies. Whatever the case may be, it’s not going to be an easy task to send out mail at a large volume every single day. Of course, you’d have to send out these mails via traditional postage methods like buying a stamp for every mail.
Long before franking machines were invented, business owners spent a lot of money to buy books of stamps in advance without knowing if they’re going to be using all of them. But this approach had a lot of problems. First, the fixed values of the stamps allowed you to overcharge or undercharge on posting. If you had a letter that costs 0.23c for postage and you had 0.25c stamps, you’d be overcharging by 0.02c. If you send out 1000 of those a day, that’s $20 per day or roughly $600 per month worth of overspending 0.02c. what if your overcharge was higher than that? Second, it was difficult to keep track of how much money is being spent on postage stamps because of their minute values. This would cause any business to leak out money, so to speak.
This is where franking machines came in. this single, yet bulky looking, piece of beautiful machinery has helped business owners manage their costs when it came to postage-related issues, like sending out letters or parcels in high volumes. Can you imagine how much business owners can leak out of their business when they overcharge postages for large packages?
But the most common misconception was that a franking machine was only made for corporations or big companies, which was true. But nowadays, even small businesses can avail of purchasing a franking machine for a small upfront cost, depending on how much they usually spend on postage and how much they’re willing to save on postage fees and costs.
Believe or not, franking machines are so accurate at providing postage costs that it actually prevents you from overspending or undercharging your clients. Due to its integration with the Royal Mail, franking machines are able to provide cheaper postage costs, depending on the destination. As of August 2006, the Royal Mail introduced discounts on franked postage fees, meaning there’s a guaranteed savings of two pence on every item franked.
Franking machines come in all sizes and shapes, and may contain simple features to having the complex features that large corporations take advantage of. One common feature that some franking machines have is a sealing-and-stacking feature. Business owners are presented with two options when it comes to ownership of a franking machine: purchase and rental. The most practical option would be to rent and pay a monthly fee, given that purchasing one requires a large upfront cost. The thing about rentals is that you don’t have any control of what you can rent. The Royal Mail is very strict when it comes ot companies using franking machines because they require owners to have non-outdated machines. If you rented a machine that went out of date a month ago, you’ll be forced to rent a newer model which means that you need to shell out more money for the rental. The same thing applies to purchasing franking machines.
But before ownership, be it rental or purchasing of a franking machine, the business owner must acquire a license to frank from the Royal Mail. This is usually done by the supplier in behalf of their client so they can track the franking machine. There are also guidelines and rules that business owners must adhere to when it comes to franking, like how the machine should only use red ink and must be kept in good condition. The writing and impression of the franking machine must be visible. Other data must be posted like correct postage costs and the date of posting.
Why do businesses need franking machines?
So why do business owners need franking machines to begin with?
- Let’s talk about how you can spend on your postage the way you can spend on prepaid load for your mobile phone. This is a good way for you to keep track of your postage costs every month, and the franking machine will tell you if you ran out of credits too, so there’s no danger of going in debt because of the inability to track expenses.
- Consumables like ink and printer can be ordered via the control panel of the equipment.
- With a franking machine, the productivity of your mail room and its staff members are improved and this helps you reduce the downtime that’s suffered by your employees in this department. They will simply load the parcel or package onto the franking machine, get the postage stamped, and it’s ready to be shipped in a few minutes. The franking speed also varies, as some can frank 10 letters per minute while there are those that can frank up to 100 items per minute.
- This is a very cost-effective piece of office equipment because it pays for itself in the long run, whether you bought it or rented it. The amount of money that you can save in franking is incomparable to traditional postage services or stamped mail.
- For companies that send out packages instead of letters, franking machines have a built-in postal scale that will help provide an accurate weight for the item being shipped, which again helps prevent you from overcharging or undercharging on postage.
- The brand-building capabilities of a franking machine are too good to pass on. you can customize franking machines to print out a logo of your company onto the letter or package so customers will be reminded who sent them their letters.
- Digital franking machines today are now capable of printing out reports containing date and postage paid for every item franked. It also tells you which department sent which parcel or package.
The benefits of using franking machines
Companies like insurance companies and Internet service providers usually send out large amounts of mail on a daily basis, from reminding clients to pay their dues to informing clients of their new products or services. if you’re using stamped mail, you could end up spending thousands of dollars on postage every month and the amount of money you waste on overcharging or undercharging could be more than that. But with a franking machine, companies get to enjoy a lot of benefits that usually involve saving money.
- As mentioned earlier, postal discounts are being offered by the Royal Mail on franked mail, simply because it’s easier for them to handle franked mails as opposed to traditional stamped mails. When you automate your postal services, you automate the Royal Mail’s services too so they are able to send out your letters quickly and more efficiently. Because you made their job easier, it’s only fair that they give you a discount. You can earn a discount of up to 10 pence per postage for 1st class mail.
- Brand recognition is one benefit of franking machines that goes undetected, but should be taken advantage of. It also boosts your company’s sense of professionalism due to the fact that clients are receiving letters or packages that contain your company’s logo. Depending on the franking machine, you can also add pieces of information like your company’s email or contact number.
- Over-stamping or overcharging is avoided because franking machines are able to give accurate postage costs for your items individually. Understamping or undercharging is also prevented, so there’s no way for you to inconvenience your client because they can’t pick up their package or letters from you.
- Accountability is also a very impressive benefit because it’s able to help you during filing for tax returns. They are able to generate accurate reports on your postage costs and it gives your company a chance to claim full expenses. The machines will also help you keep track of postage from different departments, so it will also help you implement measures on controlling costs.
- Remember the time when you had to manually stick the stamp onto a letter? If you do that on a daily basis, you’d spend close to a minute for every time you need to attach a stamp. Franking machines can help you save time and produce more letters to be shipped out because of their ability to stamp a lot of letters per minute.
Tips on using franking machines for beginners
Now that you actually have your own franking machine, you may think that it’s easy to use and that you can easily take advantage of the many benefits listed above, but hold your horses. There are standards that you need to follow, implemented by Royal Mail, to monitor and to keep track of the franked mail being produced by companies all over the UK. So what do you need to do?
- First, you need a Mail Franking License. The Royal Mail will require you to know about the terms and conditions of the Royal Mail Scheme for Franking Letters and Parcels 2008. This book holds all the guidelines and regulations for franking mails. The franking license can be obtained via your supplier, as they will be the one to get it on your behalf provided you are qualified to do so.
- Test out your machine. This is a rule imposed by suppliers to make sure that your franking machine is in good working condition. It also helps you check if the ink and paper supplies are adequate. Set your machine to £0.00 and print out a few letters. This will also help you determine the legibility and readability of your franking machine’s printout. While you can claim back your franking mistakes in the real world, you will incur a 15% charge so make sure that your franking machine is working properly.
- You also need to make sure that the prices, time, and date are correct before you start printing. Again, errors will cost you 15% more, so double check on the information and make sure that your franking machine is properly synchronized.
- If you are using envelopes, tapes, and packets of different sizes and shapes, you can test out the legibility of the ink by franking them (step #2). This is to make sure that your different shaped packages will not be victims of illegible marks. If you rented your machine, you can get your supplies from your supplier directly because part of your contract will require you to get your items from
- Set the correct return address before you frank. This can be formatted on the equipment so it’s included when you frank a letter or parcel.
- Make sure that you’re using red ink for your franking marks, unless you are using Cleanmail products which require blue ink. The marks of your franking machine should be clear and readable, so do a test run always whenever you refill your ink and paper supply.
- Items will need to be franked in advanced to help you avoid missed collections. All you have to do is to set the next day’s date on the franking machine.
- Always be mindful of how old your franking machine is, especially if you’re renting. If you’re thinking about renting an old model because you want to save money, think again. You will be asked by the Royal Mail to switch to a newer model once your rented model is phased out of the circulation. This also applies to business owners who bought franking machines. The only difference here is that people who bought franking machines are guaranteed that their machines won’t be phased out in a few years.
Franking machines may not be used by majority of the businesses in the UK, but time will come when the need to purchase or rent franking machines will arise for advertising needs.
We want to help you avoid the mailroom headache by using smart parcel services. We offer flexible discount price quotes for the UK market on the following equipment:
- IMS machines