August 31, 2009
Law offices ship differently. While all 10 of the ways offices can save on UPS and FedEx that I mentioned in my last post are valid for law firms, there are some differences. Law firms mostly ship documents but may also ship boxes filled with files. Here are some of the unique differences:
- The most significant requirement that all law firms have is the capability to track and bill back clients for shipping. This means that every item must have a valid cost center code for a specific client and the case number. Law firms may be working on more than one case for a client and accuracy is paramount. If a matter is not tracked, then the firm bears the expense and it affects profitability. If an item is accidently charged to the wrong client, it can be a major problem. Not only do they look bad, but it takes an administrative effort to clean up the mistake and they probably end up eating the shipping charges. A system that validates that the correct client number and legal matter has been entered can eliminate mistakes.
- Legal firms can ship locally, throughout the United States, and internationally. They need to have the ability to track couriers, local delivery companies, regional carriers, and messenger services as well as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the US Post Office. Since some legal matters require a signature or proof of delivery, they need to be able to ship with Delivery Confirmation, Registered Mail and Certified Mail.
- Large law firms typically have more than one office. The capacity to have an enterprise shipping technology that ties together all the offices is advantageous. This will allow any shipment for any carrier from any office for any client to be properly accounted for and billed back to the client.
- Many law firms have outsourced or hired a third party to manage their mailrooms. They typically have “free” systems from the carriers and use a separate system for FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the US Post Office. The ability to use one multi-carrier system that has all the history and tracking in one location for all the offices minimizes time searching for information and makes it easier to consolidate reporting. This provides full visibility into the document chain-of-custody.
- Most law firms have a customer relationship management system (CRM) or Microsoft Outlook where they store the contact information for their clients. The capacity to integrate these systems so that the address data does not have to be retyped saves time and eliminates mistakes.
August 23, 2009
There are two types of office shippers: corporate offices and small to medium size offices. The difference is the volume of shipments. Corporate offices that don’t have centralized mailrooms may be shipping from a few to dozens of items a day. Most small offices may only ship a few pieces a week to a couple of items a day. Regardless of volume, they have some common characteristics.
The type of shipping that is done in the office is different than the in the warehouse. The front office mostly ships proposals, samples, urgent documents, and occasionally gifts (especially for the boss). Most of the shipping is done by an office manager or an administrative assistant that is computer savvy. They typically ship with the carrier’s website, www.fedex.com or www.ups.com. I have a warning: don’t choose your carrier based on advertising or how nice the UPS driver is to you or you will get a poor discount. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have seen companies shipping as much as a $1,000 a week that have no discount but love their carrier. A few years ago the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about how thousands of office workers couldn’t wait for their UPS man to arrive. They loved their UPS man! I’m not kidding; just for the fun of it, Google “love UPS man” and you will be surprised.
Tips for Saving on Shipping
- Ask the person who is requesting that you ship something for them, when the item needs to be received. Studies indicate that more than 59 percent of all overnight items are not opened the same day they arrive! Don’t ship it overnight unless it absolutely positively has to be there.
- Check out other service options, such as next afternoon delivery or second day delivery; you can cut your costs from 50%-75%.
- Compare the cost with the US Post Office. Priority Mail has tracking and is significantly less money.
- If you don’t have a discount, research your industry’s trade association and see if they offer one. See my other tips on getting a better discount.
- Don’t fall in love with your UPS man. Attachment is the source of poor discounts.
- If you are not on-line, set up an account. The carriers will give you better rates for an online account.
- Find the nearest drop-box. If you don’t ship something every day, don’t pay for pick-up fees.
- Track your costs; create a category and charge them to a specific department, person, client, job, etc… You can enter this information in a data field of the shipping application and generate reports.
- Double check your address. Some carriers will charge a $10-$15 fee for an incorrect address including items like a wrong suite number.
- Check your carrier invoices for errors. Some carriers will tell you what time they delivered so that you can verify if they were on time; if they weren’t, ask for your money back.
August 16, 2009
I am committed to full transparency with you and want you to know that I have made a decision to monetize this site. In the near future, you will begin to see ads from sponsors. I have made it clear with my sponsors that I choose to remain free to blog about what is important to me. My opinions are my own. I may choose to write about some of their offers. This does not mean that I will be changing my voice, perspective, values or persona. I will always be me, and that’s why I blog. I am passionate about small parcel shipping and educating shippers with ideas that can help them save money or be more productive. Blogging takes time and it has become necessary to seek an income to support myself in doing this. It will help motivate me to blog more often and stay in touch with what is happening in the industry. I will be open, honest and transparent about the things that influence my blogging. This includes disclosure of organizational affiliations, compensation received for advertising, paid content generation or inclusion, as well as any form of VIP treatment or gifts received.
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August 8, 2009
The fifth category of parcel shippers is an Internet Retailer. This could be a SOHO with a website that markets products over the internet or a power seller on eBay. It could also be a retail store that also markets their products online. The difference here is volume. Internet Retailers ship every day. Volumes can range from a dozen packages to a hundred plus parcels a day. Technology becomes critical to making their lives easier. They utilize programs like Blackthorne Pro, Auctiva, and Channel Advisor to automate their auctions, images, orders, and fulfillment. When it comes to shipping, technology that can increase productivity is important. The following are features and functionality that appeals to Internet Retailers:
- Internet Retailers want shipping functionality integrated with the software that they use to process orders. They don’t want to have to type or cut and paste shipping addresses from one software program into another.
- The ideal shipping technology provides the most cost effective service and carrier for each package. This can be accomplished through business rules or comparing prices based on delivery requirements.
- The capacity to ship with multiple carriers. These shippers realize that no carrier is the least expensive in all categories. They want to be able to ship with several carriers. They need to print USPS First Class, Priority Mail and Media Mail labels with Delivery Confirmation. They want PC Postage capabilities and also need to be able to ship packages via UPS, DHL, and FedEx.
- Technology that can cut costs and eliminate errors is valued such as features like address validation and checking whether or not an address is a residence or business that can reduce accessorial charges.
- The ability to ship parcels to international locations is essential.
- Batch processing is indispensable. Internet Retailers want to be able to produce shipping labels in mass rather than one at a time.
- The capacity to have multiple users is significant; this is the first category that may have employees to help in the shipping process.
- Tracking of packages is important to this segment; they are committed to customer service and want to easily respond to customer inquiries; they want to know when a package was delivered.
- Internet Retailers also want to pro-actively notify their customers when a package has shipped, the carrier, and the tracking number. They want shipping software that can send an email automatically to a customer with all the details.
- Finally, the Internet Retailer wants reports on shipping volume, average weight per package, average cost per package, dollars spent for each service and carrier, and so forth.