If your business sends out thousands of mailers or brochures...

If your business sends out thousands of mailers or brochures annually, you may qualify for a bulk mailing permit, experts say. Apply for the permit from the U.S. Postal Service. (July 26, 2011) Credit: Getty

If you're a business owner who sends out frequent mailings or does a lot of shipping, you recognize how onerous these costs can be.

Though these are line items you can't eliminate, there are ways to save. It requires taking a hard look at your overall mailing and shipping operations, an area quite often overlooked by businesses, say experts.

"When a small business is looking at different parts of their business and how to cut costs, so many times shipping and postage is not even touched," says Andrew Jensen, a business efficiency consultant and chief executive of Sozo Firm Inc. in Shrewsbury, Pa. "It just becomes an expected part of their budget."

But you can cut costs:

Stop guessing. Businesses often overpay on mailing costs because they play a postage guessing game, says Jensen, who offers more postage/shipping tips at andrewjensen.net.

He said they may put four stamps on an envelope that requires only two. Purchase a small scale or lease a postage meter, which often has a scale built in, to avoid overpaying on postage, he suggests.

Get a bulk mailing permit. If your business sends out thousands of mailers or brochures annually, you may qualify for a bulk mailing permit, says Jensen. Apply for the permit from the U.S. Postal Service (usps.com). Because you weigh, figure postage and sort the mail yourself, you will receive a discount, he notes. Just take the presorted mail to the post office where you have a mailing permit, says Jensen.

Clean your lists. There's no point in wasting postage to send mail to people no longer at their residence, says Greg Demetriou, CEO of Lorraine Gregory Corp. in Farmingdale, the parent organization of Bi-County Mailing, American Mail Communications and Direct Printing Connection. Keeping clean lists that have been checked against the National Change of Address registry also helps ensure you receive USPS discounted rates, he says.

Go standard. If you can send out standard mail, as opposed to first class, you're going to save, says Demetriou. For instance, presorted standard is 27.3 cents, compared with 39 cents for presorted first class, he notes, though standard has a longer delivery time.

Get educated. There are discounts and incentives your business may be eligible for from the USPS, says Demetriou. The new Every Door Direct Mail program allows you to target a location without an address list for up to 5,000 pieces of mail and receive a discounted rate of 14.2 cents per mailer, he explains.

The mailer has to meet certain size requirements (see usps.com), says David Mastervich, manager of marketing and advertising mail for the Postal Service. "We really built this program for small businesses," he notes.

One such business, The Donnelly Group in Garden City, found the program quite helpful, allowing it to save up to 50 percent on its mailing costs, says office manager Lynne Koszalka. The real estate firm sends out more than 1,000 mailers monthly, she notes. "We think it's a great way to get exposure, and it's very cost effective for us," says Koszalka.

Go online. Check for discounts associated with paying for postage and shipping at usps.com via Click-N-Ship, says Gary Reblin, vice president of domestic products for the Postal Service in Washington. Also check at usps.com to take advantage of free flat-rate boxes that get shipped to your business at no cost, he says.

You can ask your local postmaster about additional small-business programs and savings and tap into local resources like the Long Island Postal Customer Council at longisland pcc.com, he suggests.

Cost savers

Use email when possible.

Print on both sides of a page to reduce mailing weight / required postage.

Avoid overnight shipping.

Send pre-stamped postcards when possible -- they'll mail for a third of the cost of a first-class letter.

Source: Andrew Jensen

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