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What to Think About When Leasing a Postage Machine
Do you often find yourself running to the Post Office to stamp those envelopes your boss needs mailed out pronto? If you own or work in a small business, even a minimal amount of mail may seem like a chore if you don't have the convenience of having a postage machine. From the simplest machine, to the ones with all the bells and whistles, your next machine may be just a click away.
First, ask yourself how much your business usually spends on postage each month. Ideally you want to measure not only how much postage you spend on a normal day, but also factor in how much postage is spent on heavier days. Once you have this figured out, then you can decide how simple, or how technically advanced, you want to go.
Another factor to consider is to determine if your office mostly sends standard letters, packages, or a combination of everything. If you only send standard letters, you may not need certain accessories, like a scale, since the postage cost will remain the same. If you send a lot of packages, or thick envelopes where the weight can vary, having a scale is a must.
Features and Equipment
Posting machines offer a variety of features that allow ease of use, enhanced security, and customization menus for various presets. For example, some meters offer automatic letter feeding making it easier to use than having to run one envelope through at a time. Also, many meters now have touch screens to make navigating a breeze.
For meters that hook up to a phone line, additional funds can be added to the postage machine at the touch, or tap, of a button. The machine will also be able to automatically update whenever postage rates change at the United States Postal Service (USPS), and it also allows for the date of postage to change automatically. With easy to use features, and automatic updates, even people that are not tech savvy will be able to use the machine with ease.
Security features may be available that allow the business to add different units that are password protected. Setting up multiple departments will also allow you to see at a glance which unit uses the most money on postage. Units can also customize settings to include saved presets for packages that may be sent often. This frees you up from having to go through multiple menus each time you want to mail something.
Along with the machine, you'll want a scale and a base. For the scale, you can get a spring scale or a digital one. Digital scales automatically calculate the correct amount of postage, making them better in that regard than the spring scale. Spring scales, though, do not costs as much, so the scale you chose will depend on how much postage you use in one month.
The base is what your envelopes go through to be stamped. Bases can range in cost depending on what other features they come with. Bases can include a feeder, a sealer, a stacker, and a tape dispenser. You don't need to have a feeder, but if you have a lot of letters to stamp, a feeder will make the job easier than manually putting the envelopes through the machine. Having a sealer will moisten the envelope and close it. This sounds like a great feature, but it may not be as great as it sounds.
Due to the glue and water needed, sealers can gunk up requiring more maintenance. The stacker is what catches the envelopes after they have been passed through the machine. Is it an absolute necessity? Probably not, but if you don't want envelopes shooting across the table, it will come in handy. The tape dispenser is for printing labels that can be used when sending out packages. Since boxes and larger packages can't be run through like a normal envelope, you will need to print out a label. Feeding a label through like a normal envelope doesn't always work, since the machine may not feed it through correctly. This results in wasted postage. Having a tape dispenser will eliminate this hassle.
Pricing and Tips
Due to federal regulations, you will need to lease the postage machine. Other accessories, such as the base and scale, may be leased or purchased to own. The disadvantage of leasing the base and scale is that the monthly cost of paying for it may one day exceed the price of buying it. The advantage to leasing is that when the cost of postage goes up, you will not need to pay for the scale to be updated since updates are usually included. Leasing also gives you the advantage of knowing you'll have service and support when needed, and it will be easier to upgrade if you chose to do so in the future.
Now that you have an idea of what you want, the next step is to begin researching different machines and pricing them. Again, the machine itself will be leased, and the monthly cost can vary between around $20 to $100, depending on what bells and whistles come with it. This is just for the machine, though, and doesn't factor in any of the other expenses including the amount you spend each month on postage. Once you factor in all of the accessories and other costs, the amount spent each month can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.
Deciding whether or not to lease or buy other equipment, such as scales and bases, will also factor into your monthly costs. The more digital the machine, the more it will cost. Some sellers will encourage you to sign a 3 year contract. If you're not comfortable with having a 3 year contract, though, you may be able to get a yearly one instead. Keep in mind, most sellers use the first year of your contract to determine your usage. They determine costs from the amount of postage you need, so if your postage needs go up, your monthly payment will go up as well.
However, if spending even a hundred dollars per month isn't justifiable, there are other options that don't require leasing an entire system. One tip is to buy a scale and then use your PC to print postage. The USPS has a list of companies that would be able to provide this service to you. Also, some companies will lend you postage money that you can pay back later. Sometimes when you pay in advance, you may earn additional postage. Knowing where to order your supplies will also be a great advantage. Ordering your supplies from a supply store can be more cost effective than buying directly from the vendor.
Leasing a postage machine may be the best thing that you chose to do for your company's mailing needs. It saves a lot of hassle from having to run to the Post Office, and in some cases, you can save money if you're able to get discounted postage rates through USPS. What are you waiting for? Get that mail signed, sealed, and delivered right now!