Statement Printing and Mailing: When is it time to outsource?


By Harry Stephens, President and CEO, DATAMATX


If your organization is like most other industries today, it is experiencing rising operating costs. Most collections agencies and credit unions are studying budgets more closely, looking for items that need trimming, or ones that can be eliminated all together. One area to consider evaluating is the cost for printing and mailing monthly statements.  Even though you may have a well-qualified and dedicated staff in that department, there are always ways to streamline and reduce costs in this area.  In other words, with a hefty upfront investment, you will be able to save money further down the line. But it’s not always a simple task to find the funding for that upfront investment, with the biggest consideration being when you will see a return on investment with new equipment and software.


Making matters even more complicated, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is also caught in the crunch of rising costs and the need to keep its prices down. As the USPS works toward greater efficiencies, the rules and regulations get more complex in terms of qualifying for rate discounts and defining each class of mail. If something gets overlooked in the pressure to get the billing out on time, volume mailers can lose some of their postal discounts. This is an added—and unexpected—expense no company can afford. And it’s another area where up-to-the-minute expertise ensures your collections agency or credit union is taking full advantage of the postal services and discounts that may be available.


The outsourcing option—and its advantages

One very viable option available to collections agencies and credit unions is to outsource the printing and mailing of regular monthly statements.  A service provider that prints and mails bills is entirely dedicated to finding and implementing state-of-the-art solutions for printing your statements and preparing them for mailing so that you get maximum postal discounts and the quickest delivery possible. Just as your core business is providing financial services to your customers, the service provider exists to serve your specific printing and mailing needs.


Although modern digital printing technologies do save time and money compared to technologies of only five or ten years ago, purchasing and installing this equipment and retraining your staff to run it can add up to a significant initial investment. And, because these technologies are frequently upgraded, this is also an ongoing expense. Additionally, e-statements can reduce print volumes, but at the same time, they also increase the unit costs for mailing print statements.  At some point you have to ask yourself: Are you managing a collections agency or credit union or are you managing a printing and mailing business?  Outsourcing print and mail services allow collections agencies and credit unions to level out these unit costs, as well as save on equipment maintenance and even gives the opportunity to potentially sell unused equipment.  A service provider can (and does) make these investments on a regular basis—that’s its core business—and the costs are distributed across its own customer base, so no one customer bears this full burden.


Another key advantage is that an outsource service provider is—or should be—an expert in the field and aware of new and developing methods and practices in printing and mailing. The service provider you choose should regard its job as not only providing these basic services, but also finding the very best in business practices. Staying informed of new developments in relevant hardware and software, as well as staying updated on industry issues, such as the USPS standards, is simply part of the job.


In addition to performing printing and mailing tasks for you, a competent service provider can advise you on what’s new and what more you can do to achieve even leaner operations and lower costs—and then help you implement these practices. You gain the benefit of a company’s knowledge and experience at only a fraction of what it would cost to establish or maintain these capabilities within your own organization.


The bottom line

To find an outsourcer that’s a good fit for your business, you must determine if they have the resources and staffing required to manage your work load. Questions to ask include:

  • Can they suggest and, most importantly, deliver real advantages over what you’re doing now? You might ask for a plant tour and if the service provider has specific experience working with collections agencies, credit unions, or similar customers.
  • Do they have up-to-date systems that are compatible with your own? Do they understand your “mission critical” requirements and take them seriously?
  • Do they go the extra mile to stay on top of developing technologies and postal regulations?
  • How long have they been in business? Remember, it is the same in your field. Experience does count.


By using a qualified service provider, you won’t need to spend precious time and resources shopping for non-core technologies and hiring experts in fields outside of your own. You’ll be free to set and reach your own operating goals and guidelines without having to justify infrastructure and capabilities that may go beyond your immediate needs. You won’t need to worry about how to finance a printing and mail operation or how to keep it busy enough to justify its cost. And, your invoices and statements will go out on time every month, at the lowest possible cost and with the quickest delivery possible. Which is, after all, the bottom line?


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Harry Stephens

President and CEO, DATAMATX


Harry Stephens is President/CEO, and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions.  


As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations.  He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council, Major Mailers Association (MMA), PCC Advisory Committee (PCCAC), and National Postal Policy Council (NPPC).  He is also president of The Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for electronic service bureaus.  As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups, including the Board of Governors, about postal reform and other issues affecting business mailers. 


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