Monday, January 10, 2011

Making processes more efficient isn’t always the best plan

By Ed Sweeney, Information Technology Manager

In the technology world, we are always looking to improve the way we do things, make things more efficient, you know the saying, “bigger, better, faster”. Analyzing processes, tasks, whatever it might be, and refining them to improve efficiency is a great way to increase profit margins and improve turn time. This is something that the IT department at FCi takes very seriously. Anything that can increase turn time and reduce touches is going to benefit the bottom line, but is refining processes the right solution?

During the analysis phase, when you are looking for ways to refine and improve a task or process, you must take a step back and ask yourself if every step in the process is necessary. Improving a process or making a task or set of tasks more efficient adds zero value if the task is unnecessary to begin with. It is not difficult to fall into the rut of “this is how it has always been done”, so it is likely that there are actions being performed that are not needed; making an unnecessary action more efficient offers little to no value to your business. So when working to improve and streamline, take the extra time to analyze each step in the process to make sure that it is required to realize the same outcome. Strive to eliminate, as well as improve, that is what will make a different to your bottom line.

Monday, January 3, 2011

5 Tips to Market to Current Clients: On a Budget

By Rachel Kuhn, Sales and Marketing Assistant

In a smaller business, it’s easy to put off marketing because you will “get to it later.” Marketing is a must; even if it’s in a money-saving point of the year, you can concentrate on marketing to your current clients on a budget. There are many ways to market to current or potential clients where the sky is the limit when it comes to the investment of the campaign or project. What most don’t realize is that marketing to your current clients can be very inexpensive and extremely effective.

There are a number of ways to effectively receive feedback and provide solutions to the clients in which you already do business, and I will touch on what I believe are the 5 most important ways of doing so.

1. Talk to them. Communication with your customers is essential. Whether it’s picking up the phone for a short conversation to see how things are going or sending a newsletter each quarter and following up for feedback, it is the fact that you communicate that is important, not how. Keeping the line of communication open is going to do nothing but help your relationship with that client.

2. Get personal. It is important to build personal relationships with your clients if you want that loyalty factor to remain. Once that relationship is built, they will feel they can come to you in any situation and resolve it if there is an issue instead of just finding another company as a solution. Not to mention, “getting personal” with your current clients costs you nothing but your time and I think it’s fair to say it would be time well spent.

3. Manage your reputation. Just as quickly as an unhappy customer can bring down the reputation of a company, good customer service can boost the reputation. Keep your customers coming back by always putting them first and provide excellent customer service, always.

4. Show your appreciation. Letting your clients know how much you appreciate their business is an extremely effective way of keeping them loyal to your company/brand. If you show genuine appreciation, they will always remember the thoughtfulness. You can do this a number of ways; you can send your current clients a “thank you” card or e-mail (which you may think to be a no-brainer, but you would be shocked at how many businesses do not take the time to write them). You could also meet up with them for coffee or lunch to tell them how grateful you are for their business or even send them a small gift card for somewhere they enjoy. It can be as simple as a $5 gift card for coffee at their favorite coffeehouse. It’s the little, thoughtful gestures that are going to make them remember you.

5. Get involved. It is important to demonstrate your dedication to your community. If one of your clients is involved with a particular charity or event, consider donating your time, money or goods to the cause! A little effort here could go a long way.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Are You MDP Certified?

By Keith Ballard, FCi Production Scheduler, Kentuckiana PCC Programs Director

Don’t be left behind; bring more knowledge to your professional career by completing the USPS Mail Piece Design Professional Certification. This program is administered by the USPS Business Mail Academy and combines the now obsolete MQC Specialist with the newly created online MDP information to increase your knowledge base 10 times over. The seven-hour study guide can be accessed from your computer and takes you through a series of slides, presentations, and practice tests to keep you current on USPS rules and regulations. This knowledge is worth its weight in gold to your business and clients. You will learn what it takes to keep your mail compliant and maximize your postal discounts. After completing the self-paced study course, you can then apply to take the USPS “final exam” to earn your certification. Log on to the BMA web site at for more information.

Fulfillment Concepts prides itself in being current and up-to-date on the latest USPS rules and regulations. If you have ever looked at any of the regulation handbooks, you understand how overwhelming and complex they are. We have on-site team members who hold over 10 USPS certifications in all types of USPS mail solutions. Many of these can be achieved through your local Postal Customer Council or the National Postal Forum. We have saved clients thousands of dollars in potential re-work by proactively catching design errors. Even simple mistakes could result in lost postal discounts or even mail rejection based on non-compliance of USPS regulations. Remember, knowledge is the key to guiding you and your clients down a successful path. Once you have proven this success, they will look at you with complete faith and trust that you have their best interest in mind. My advice to you: become as knowledgeable as you can. Your career and business will thrive on it.