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Franking machine

As small businesses are growing, their owners sooner or later realize that a real strategy has to be designed to optimize time-consuming mailing tasks.

After getting a clear understanding of franking basics to evaluate the opportunity of getting a franking machine, and a quick overview of their features, benefits and costs, prospective customers will be able to make an educated choice among the various machines made by the major manufacturers.

Franking basics

- Simple solutions: While franking used to refer to any kind of materialization of postage, the introduction of franking machines has restricted the meaning to self-calculated, self-printed franking.

Before thinking about getting a franking machine, business owners may streamline their mailing operations a bit by considering simple alternatives such as stamp rolls or prepaid envelopes.

- Postage rates and franking price: Postage rates differ quite a bit between stamps and franking, as it has been Royal Mail’s business price policy to allow generous discounts on franking. For example, first class postage for a 100g letter will cost 62p when stamped, and 50p when franked.

If your business sends 10000 such items a year, savings will be worth £1200.

- The Mailmark evolution: Mailmark is a new franking system introduced by Royal Mail, with a 2D barcode containing machine-readable information to exactly know who sent the item, to whom, and where it is located in Royal Mail’s services, anytime. It therefore offers great reassurance over simple franking, and even deeper discounts on postage offered by Royal Mail.

Franking machines features, benefits… and costs

The basic feature of a franking machine is to simply print the correct, computed postage price directly onto the envelope or self-adhesive franking label. More advanced models may have a built-in scale, automatic envelope feeder, document feeder, folder and inserter, advanced software connected to the auditor’s network, and in effect operate as full mailing robots to process hundreds of mailing items per hour.

Why buy a franking machine? On top of the above-mentioned savings, franking machines provide clear productivity improvements, a professional image on every item sent, further enhanced by custom design capabilities and a guarantee that the correct postage price will be paid.

In terms of costs, franking machines are expensive to buy – you won’t find a new one cheaper than £1000. Franking machine rental therefore comes as an interesting alternative. Many suppliers provide such an option, together with maintenance and servicing contracts. But prospective buyers – or lease-holders – should carefully consider the hidden costs, and evaluate their breakeven point.

The main manufacturers are Pintey Bowes, Neopost Ltd. and Fp Mailing.