As the go-to source for process improvement in the office, administrative professionals are always on the lookout for areas to streamline. And in many companies, the mailroom is a good place to start. With a few smart changes, the office mailroom can run more efficiently.
As mailroom supplies experts, Eric Wenzel, Field Sales Director, and Raymond Roy, Account Executive, both with Staples Shipping and Packing Supplies, provided advice for streamlining mailroom efforts and reducing shipping costs.
Examine Your Mailing Process
Mapping out your beginning-to-end process for getting a piece of mail or a package out the door can help highlight areas for improvement. Roy recommends writing the entire process out on paper.
“People are surprised at how many steps are involved once they write it down,” he explains. “This visual approach makes it easier to see where slowdowns exist.”
Streamlining is often a matter of having the right materials on hand to support quick package assembly, including good-quality tape and shipping boxes in a variety of sizes. In other cases, fewer steps to packing is the key. For example, if you’ve been using bubble wrap around small items and sticking them in an envelope or box, think about getting bubble mailers that take out that extra step.
Choose Tools Carefully
The size of your mailroom and the way the space is organized can have a significant impact on efficiency. Space is at a premium in most mailrooms, so success may depend on prioritizing what tools and equipment you keep on hand.
“A tool may help you get certain packages assembled faster, but you still need to consider if it is important enough to merit a spot in the mailroom,” Wenzel explains. “If it’s something you only use a few times a month, consider if you actually have space for that device.”
For example, a Kraft paper dispenser that easily rolls out the paper void fill could help you quickly assemble certain packages. But if you’re only assembling a handful of larger packages each week, the space could be more efficiently used for setting up an assembly line for packages you manage every day.
If you need larger tools to stay in the mailroom, then look to creative storage options. Shelves, carts or tables with compartments underneath can help reorganize items to support your packaging needs.
Work With Your Warehouse
Your mailroom is not an isolated environment. If your company has a warehouse, team up with your warehouse manager to determine how you can get packages out the door more efficiently and help secure better deals with your carrier.
For instance, schedule time each day to drop off your mailroom shipments in the warehouse so that your carrier can pick up everything at once. Work together to presort packages and mail by ZIP code before your carrier arrives.
“Keep in mind that your mailroom is not an island,” Roy says. “Combining forces will do you better than working solo.”
How you prepare packages for shipping can make things easier for your carrier and can give you more leverage to negotiate lower rates. Roy suggests revisiting the carrier contract with your warehouse manager once or twice a year to see if there are any changes that you can use to negotiate on costs and services.
Call on Your Carrier’s Expertise
Your carrier isn’t there only to pick up and deliver your company’s mail. Tapping into their expertise can help you lower your shipping costs. If someone from your carrier’s organization is willing, have them watch how you package your shipments. Ask them to point out any inefficiencies they spot and provide recommendations on how to improve your operation.
Some carriers provide free tools to businesses that meet certain criteria, like sending out a specific number of packages per week. One example is a label maker that can help automate your process and get packages assembled and out the door faster.
Proactively considering possible damage to your packages can also save you money, Roy explains. If an item arrives damaged, it not only hurts how the recipient views your company, but also may result in increased cost for you due to return and replacement fees. Taking the time now to adequately protect your packages is another way to provide cost savings in the mailroom.