Tag Archives: invoiceprinting

6 great tips on why SME's should outsource!

Outsourcing

I ‘m a strong advocate of the benefits that can be enjoyed by outsourcing a component of your business whether its print, payroll, billing I.T or customer services to the outsourcing of a complete department of an organisation as long as it’s a strategic fit for the company and there is utmost transparency in the way an organisation manages the process.

Traditionally when people think of outsourcing they associate it with big corporations who have the infrastructure and the resource to benefit from a large scale re-deployment of one of their business components.

But this is not the only way that outsourcing can be used effectively. Small to medium businesses can use outsourcing to their advantage. Sections 382 and 465 of the Companies Act 2006 define an SME that has a turnover of not more than £6.5 million, a balance sheet of not more than £3.26 million and 50 employees; a medium sized company with a turnover of not more than £25.9 million, a balance sheet of £12.9 million and 250 employees.

I’ve talked about the benefits of outsourcing in the past with particular reference to payroll and billing here!

The same principles can be levied for any business component you are considering.

why its good to outsource

6 great tips on why companies should outsource

Here are 6 things to consider when outsourcing:

  1. What business aspects are you struggling with? Where can your company outsource to make cost savings and streamline the organisation processes for example it might be marketing, web design, payroll printing, invoice processing/printing. All of which are important to a company but are time consuming and manually intensive.
  2. Outsource as much as you can but not the core elements of your business after all that was the main reason the business was established unless it’s some manufacturing element that you are considering.
  3. Dont be afraid to use the same company for many different things the more services that an outsource provider does for your business in relation to outsourcing the more you are likely to see volume savings. In the same way you see in the supermarket buy two get the second for free. If you are looking to automate your accounts systems such as AR/AP or outsource your invoice processing/printing make sure the provider can manage the distribution element for example you may print, mail and electronically send your invoices so make sure that the company you choose can manage this process for you and more importantly they know what they are talking about and can demonstrate success criteria.
  4. Investigate the market place and evaluate who you think best accommodates your requirements. Don’t think short term, think medium term at least otherwise if you get it wrong it might be painful to get of and you may well end up by repeating the exercise again six months down the road.
  5. Don’t be swayed by the cheapest option or choose on price alone if you do you will shoot yourself in the foot. There isn’t such a thing as a free lunch! When you see something cheap what’s the first thing that springs to mind “what’s wrong with it?” or “that sounds cheap”! “What does everyone hope for but rarely gets? A great deal?” You get what you pay for and often a company that offers a service cheaply is trying to win your business with a view to a serious price hike three months later or they haven’t understood your requirements. In which case you will find yourself in trouble and the cheaper service could have a detrimental effect on your business. Can you afford for that to happen?
  6. Finally, know what area or business function of the business do you want to outsource? Why do you want to outsource? Be realistic about your expectations. Set a time limit to achieve your objective and most importantly work with a company that has the expertise and knowledge and can offer sound, impartial advice!
Digital Print Management are leading advisors in the outsourcing process. We are committed to ensuring our customers get the right solutions for their business which in turn results in cost and efficiency gains.

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How to make your invoices rock?

After 20+ years being in the print and mailing services industry I am still amazed how invoices are under utilised for promotional advertising what we refer to as “transpromo” for every day business documents such as an invoice or statement.

With variable or personalised printing why not use the white space to drop a personalised message to the recipient?

You see, gone are the days when the invoice was simply a vehicle for chasing payment for goods and services sold.

But before I go into my rhetoric of how to make your invoices work better for you here are 10 things that should be on your invoice from fellow colleague and F.D Garry Mumford.

Surprisingly; we still see invoices that are missing this fundamental information!

Assuming you’ve ticked all the boxes:-

Here are some ways you can really make your invoices sing:

Are your logo and address details prominent? Why not jazz up your invoices so they stand out from the crowd after all if the credit team are chasing for payment one sure way to find your invoice in the pile is to use colour. Not black and white its a misnomer if you think it costs a lot more to have a colour logo it does not!

Marketing is no longer the sole preserve of the Marketing Department if you are sending an invoice for specific services or goods then hi-light what other products and services you provide; this can be done by adding a strategic personalised message so the recipient is made aware of your other services and if you target a specific product or service you could tie this in with a sales push to promote that given product.

You see gone are the days that an invoice is purely a vehicle used just for collecting money it is so much more than that!

I go into more detail here on ways to make your invoices rock more!

White space management – I am sighing here now because I see 3 lines of transactions and then a big white space – use it, say something even if it’s just to say A big Thank You for the business but mean it and don’t leave it on every invoice run because it then becomes valueless!

I just sent my first invoice to a new client of ours and made a point of asking our accounts team to drop in a”Thank You for choosing Digital Print Management as your payroll provider on your next copier paper order we will give you 5 reams free”; guess what, we took a call from the customer to say how much they appreciated us doing that, we got an order for copier paper. So, it does work!

Judicious use of colour – OK so I’ve covered this earlier BUT I’m also talking about hi-lighting areas of personalised text in colour to draw attention to this relevant bit of information. Research has shown that colour has tremendous power to add impact to communications boosting recall and influence. Pantone® and the the internationally recognised Pantone Color Institute® indicate that consumers are up to 78% more likely to remember a word, phrase printed in colour than in black and white!

When colour is combined with the written word it impacts readers with greater recall, recognition and attention – full colour variable/personalised documents enhanced customer loyalty and retention generating 34% faster response rates; a 48% increase in repeat orders and 32% increase in overall revenues!

Who said invoicing wasn’t a science?

Reverse of invoice – Not just for Terms and Conditions as these should have already been stated prior to the supply of goods and services. This part of the invoice is a great way to show how your customer can get in contact with you; or how to pay you by showing the methods of payment you accept as an organisation.

Of course you can optimise the benefits of multi-channel distribution by combining the benefits of e-billing and paper based solutions.

If you want to stop feeling like this:-

 

Then why not give Digital Print Management a call we provide free no obligation print audits which include looking at your document flow and invoice processes.

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Print mail services. 10 useful tips to speed up your document processing!

Our Print-2-Mail solution straight from your desk top.

Our Print-2-Mail solution straight from your desk top.

How long does it take it to process, print and despatch invoices, statements, remittances?

Do you use multi-channel distribution i.e. post and electronically despatch documents?

Do you have staff using their valuable time checking and reconciling matching documents and then manually inserting in to envelopes?

Do you have too few days at the end of your month?

If the answer is yes to some or all of the above then opting for a print mail service will help streamline some if not all of the above processes.

Optimising a managed print mail service will save staff time and yield big cost savings through automation.

Organisations that use multi-channel distribution a combination of posting out letters and electronically sending them for example e-bills will reap dividends by outsourcing the paper based letters.

Here’s a list of 10 reasons why you should use a print mail services company for your paper based letters, invoices and remittances. 

print mail services

If you use multi-channel distribution for your documents then a print mail services company can reduce the cost of the documents you need to post out.

Why would I want to outsource my letters to an external supplier?

1/ Companies with a regular through put of documents such as invoices, statements and cheques stand to gain from outsourcing some if not all of the components that make up the process flow.

Working with a print mail services partner gives the company access to state of the art electronic design, printing, document management technologies and cloud based computing. Which means that you can make sizeable gains by not making the investment in the technology. Saving you time and money.

2/ Working with a reputable print and mailing company will ensure you harness their expertise to maximise the advantages of document management, electronic despatch and print of transactional documents.

What are the advantages?

Simple. You get the flexibility to post out the letters you don’t want to manage in-house a task that may well be time consuming and cumbersome.

3/ Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to audit your paper flow and evaluate what letters are being generated for who and why. It provides an opportunity to rationalise some of the documents. Are so many necessary? Do they convey the company branding effectively and do they communicate clearly and unambiguously?

Its no good having a great looking invoice if the customer can’t see how much it is they owe and where they need to pay.

4/ Speed – one of the main factors affecting the despatch of your documents is speed. Great if you print them over night but what if it then takes three days to get them in the post and another two days getting to your customers. Mailing facilities by definition have faster production/automation, printing and despatch technology, the process is completely mechanised from receipt of file to posting out.

We never have problems printing in-house!

Really. What happens when you’re ready to hit the print button and discover there’s a problem with the invoice file?

For a print mail services company it’s easy, you can make changes at the last minute and your documents will hit your deadline.

5/ Sophisticated design technology means that documents can be variable and highly personalised.

Why would I want to personalise my invoice or statement for?

Your documents are likely to have a name, address and department or destination for the intended document therefore it is already personalised. A print mail services company can design your documents to be highly personalised. For example, some of your customers might get specific discounts or you might want to do a marketing message for a product or service.

This can be hi-lighted in colour moreover colour hi-lights what you want your customer to do with the document and where to pay it.

6/ Clean your customer invoice lists to ensure correct addresses and ensure more accurate delivery of invoices. What’s the point of sending out your invoices if half of the envelopes come back as “not known at this address” you’ve just duplicated the effort!

A print mail services company will use de-duplication software to manage any duplicate addresses and provide a report back to your CRM team for updating. Or, they can simply be extracted at source saving you extra postage costs and wasted stationery.

7/ Outsourcing your letters means you benefit from sortation of mailing addresses by maximising postage discounts using downstream access this in turn reduces postage costs. A franking machine in-house will not provide the same level of discount.

8/ Good use of hi-light colour – laser technology enables us to print and hi-light specific areas of text in colour on your document.

So? Our invoices are already printed in two colours.

That may well be, but using what we call spot or hi-light colour on the amount column or to bring attention to amounts overdue is a very powerful way of alerting your customer to speed up payment. What about hi-lighting a new product or service you are promoting?

9/ One of the difficulties in managing the paper process in house is the maintenance of your corporate credibility. If different departments order from many print suppliers how do you ensure the company style is reflected across all transactional documents?

print mail services

Easy – outsourcing ensures that the company style and branding are maintained and reinforced on every invoice, statement, cheque sent out.

10/ A print mail services company facilitates an end to end service by using modern document management technologies and printing services making it easier for you to outsource the whole process.

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Outsourcing the pros and cons. Why customers are scared to change suppliers?

I want to share a true story.

In March of this year, Digital Print Management met with a £200m+ turnover company based in the Midlands.

How to outsource your print

Companies that offer a cost effective solution for your business needs are the companies you should be listening to because they provide expert advice.

The sales process began in 2008 with an informal meeting with the Finance Director; the key influencer and decision maker.

The company were already engaged in an outsource relationship for the printing of their billing and debt collection letters.

In spite of a very informative discussion we were unable to woo them with our offering.

The incumbent supplier we were advised were doing a satisfactory job but the FD insisted we stay in contact.

Note the word satisfactory. The following three years met with quarterly telephone updates, emails and general newsletters on Digital Print Management’s services and consultancy at the behest of the Company.

Then bingo, we were invited back again for a preliminary discussion.

We met this time with the Credit Manager (we had been referred by the FD) who was very open about the current relationship with their print partner.

Things were not good to say the least.

Co-incidentally, their print partner was a large UK based print management company. Information was forthcoming and we knew what the specifications and  requirements of the applications were and more importantly, what they were looking for in a working partnership.

A proposal was requested and dutifully submitted and received with gasps of ohh and aahhh as we showed savings in excess of £15,000 factoring in postage, paperless billing and processing costs.

The proposal was based on margins in keeping with our philosophy a fair price without de-valuing our service offering, skill and expertise.

A follow up meeting took place which was favourable with all the buying signs evident. We tested their buying signals to ensure they were keen to progress and a formal written request for us to proceed was issued and a live implementation date agreed at the end of the meeting.

There were calls to action and the prospective customer appeared to be content and confident with advancing the project.

And then SILENCE!

The silence was deafening!

Frustration at the short-sightedness of companies limited outlook!

We duly followed up our actions, with their call to actions, no response. We emailed again, no response, we called, guess what, no response.

I know that when a company wants to change vendors this can be fraught with many variables and we had said that if at any stage a well meaning person should question the decision taken that they should take one of our very special DPM sweets.

And if that didn’t work to alleviate any concerns then to telephone directly.

Because we all know what happens after you make that buying decision it’s called buyers remorse. The one that says I know it makes sense and I’ve made the right choice but then someone comes a long and happens to say oohh is it the right time to be changing suppliers now? Or words to that effect.

One seemingly throwaway comment suddenly propels a buyer into panic mode questioning the decision he/she has made.

Irrespective of how well the service provider has absolutely done the best job and closed ‘that sale’.

The success in changing the vendor is determined by the longevity of the current relationship.

How was the supplier relationship founded i.e does the MD happen to be socially connected with the MD of the print company?

Who else in the company does business with the print vendor?

The inertia to change has to be there and in this case was all too evident!

As far as Digital Print Management was concerned it clearly was a bench-marking exercise and was a poor way of the prospective customer fleecing us of information of our services and solutions.

They probably went back to their current vendor and no doubt bartered for more discount.

And then I stumbled upon an article which said that buyers are not interested in developing connections or relationships for the long term they prefer to connect and disconnect as their requirements change or, as needs arise.

I consider this to be a very transient relationship bourne out of a short-term need rather than a long-term productive relationship.

It is a fleeting transaction between that of the buyer and that of the vendor providing the service/commodity.

Depending on the size of the purchase will dictate the duration of the buying process.

To quickly illustrate buying a pair of shoes is not like buying a house, the former taking minutes and the latter being a long drawn out process requiring trust on the part of the estate agent and solicitor!

Surely any business relationship can prosper if both parties are keen to work together to reach a fulfilling and satisfactory result in which both parties benefit but this can only be achieved over a period of time, right?

Was it the fact that it was just too much hassle to move supplier? Is it the fear factor i.e. better the devil we know which far outweighs the need to change? Or is it quite simply that business relationships are formed only when the need arises.

Is customer loyalty outdated?

After all I am sure you’ve experienced speaking with a contact one week only to find the following week they’ve moved jobs!

What do you think? Do you have any similar experiences to share? Do you agree that buyers see suppliers as “loose connections” there only to satisfy an immediate requirement?

Please feel free to leave a comment and share your experiences!

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8 Tips to consider when outsourcing billing

Outsourcing

Outsourcing a business process is a viable and cost effective proposition for many businesses.

When you decide to outsource a business function such as outsourcing billing the risk can be minimised by ensuring you select the right partner.

I use this term because it has to be a relationship, one that works two ways, it’s not an association;  or “just the company we happen to use to do our billing, payrollprint function you are outsourcing it has to be a relationship designed to aid your business which translates onto your bottom line.

Your check list should include the following:

Outsourcing

Deciding which business process should be outsourced is defined by what has become a bottle-neck in your company.

What process/processes are you considering outsourcing? – outsourcing billing, payroll, HR?

What selection process/mechanism are you going to use to find such a company?

Who is going to be responsible for managing the task of selecting the provider?

What criteria of selection should be used to disseminate the good from the bad?

Please don’t make this solely size of turnover or accreditation driven; there are just as many small and large companies doing just a good and bad job of providing services to the end user. If, after an initial discussion a potential supplier can satisfactorily demonstrate in-house quality, policy and procedures that are integral to you and your requirement then don’t rule them out of the picture!

How do I evaluate the service provisions on offer?

I would recommend you think about what credentials the supplier has i.e. years of expertise, references and case studies of projects undertaken. More importantly a genuine gut feel of the person(s) and the company you are talking too!

What are you asking the incumbent supplier to do/provide service wise?

What will my decision making criteria be based upon?

I urge caution here as a decision should never be price driven in our experience this has always been to the detriment of the company seeking to outsource and you will end up by shooting yourself in the foot. Partnering with a company who does it “cheaply” implies that they don’t  have the infrastructure to follow through which means they won’t or can’t deliver what you really want or have asked for!

When is a good deal EVER A GOOD DEAL?

When is a good deal ever a good deal? The cheapest price should never be your main criteria for selection.

When is a good deal ever a good deal? The cheapest price should never be your main criteria for selection.

Has a budget been set for the process OR what cost savings are you looking to achieve?

What timescales are you looking at to implement the project?

Right from the outset you must be clear that once a decision has been taken to outsource you determine a live start up date otherwise the time you spend investing in moving the project forward is worthless and the supplier feels frustrated as they have also invested time and goodwill in assisting with the outsourcing process!

What are your next steps?

Digital Print Management aim to provide an independent outsourcing services for electronic & paper billing, payroll, cheques and secure print management.

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