Pressure Seal: Just the FAQ
If we've learned one thing in the ongoing aftermath of the recession, it's that efficiency is more important than ever. Budgets are tight, resources are limited, and time is so scarce we're going to need Greenpeace to intervene to protect it.
For businesses that do high volumes of self-mailing, this makes pressure seal forms and machines an attractive alternative to traditional mailing methods. "Inserted mail requires at least two components, the windowed envelope and the imaged form, as compared to a single component for a pressure seal mailer," said Andy Harnett, partner at InfoSeal LLC, Roanoke, Va. "In general, folding and sealing a pressure seal form is faster, more efficient and less complicated than operating an inserting machine."
If you're a distributor looking to sell pressure seal solutions, that's a good start to a sales pitch. But pressure seal forms require a specialized sealing machine, a big investment you'll need to justify to your client. And you can't just drop the sealer and a stack of forms at your client's door and say, "OK, you're all set!"—your client is going to have questions, and you'll need the answers. Not sure what to expect? Don't worry. Read up on the frequently asked questions below, and you'll be selling pressure seal in no time.
I like my envelope-inserter. A lot. We go way back. Why should I switch to pressure seal?
"We like to talk about the typical example of a utility company that has 25,000 customers to whom they're sending a single-page bill, a return envelope and an outside envelope once a month," explained Art Waganheim, vice president of operations for Davie, Florida-based Paitec USA. "Well that's 50,000 envelopes a month, 600,000 envelopes a year that they are currently using that can be eliminated by using pressure seal forms and pressure seal machines."
Even by conservative estimates, that could translate to a cost savings of nearly $10,000 per year (Quill.com offers 500-count boxes of #10 standard windowless envelopes for $7.99 a box). On the higher end—say, #9, double-window, security-tinted invoice envelopes ($41.99 for a 500-count box at Staples)—that could result in savings upwards of $50,000 a year.
You have my attention. But you still need to account for the cost of the pressure seal forms, don't you?
Of course. But pressure seal forms are standalone mailers, while traditional envelope-inserted mail requires both the envelope and the form that is being sent within it. Pressure seal forms effectively eliminate one piece of paper for every mailer that is sent. In addition, because pressure sealers are able to process high volumes of mail more quickly than traditional inserters, the cost-savings in labor will likely offset the cost of the forms.
"Certainly, pressure seal forms have their expense, and when you compare a pressure seal form to the raw cost of a piece of copy paper and an envelope or two, the copy paper/envelope combination might end up costing slightly less than the pressure seal form does, depending on volume," said Waganheim. "But when you involve the labor that's necessary and the cost even of having to pay for a printed envelope, it all seems to work out in the advantage of a pressure seal machine throughput scenario over time."
What about the cost of the machine?
Industrial-volume pressure sealers can be expensive (a Google search for "high-end pressure sealer" returns some models that cost upwards of $89,000). But Christian Simko, director of product marketing and communications for Relyco Sales Inc., Dover, N.H., noted that lower-end pressure sealers, suitable for low-volume mailing operations (1,000 pieces per month), start around $1,500. Either way, Simko believes the labor-cost savings will eventually even things out.
"A return on investment can be realized in just a matter of months when you factor in the reduction in labor time and material costs to process these mailers," he said.
Pressure sealers create a mechanical bond by applying high pressure, activating patterns of cohesive on the form. That sounds complicated—how easy is it to use?
Big machines can be intimidating (we still need someone to hold our hand to use the office copier) and pressure sealers are, well, big machines. But clients already accustomed to operating an envelope folder-inserter should find pressure sealers easier to use. "They typically require trained operators and lots of attention to keep functioning at rated speed," Harnett said of envelope folder-inserters. "A pressure seal machine functions with virtually push-button simplicity."
It looks like there's a lot of moving parts in there, should I be concerned about maintenance?
Yes and no. According to Waganheim, many pressure seal machines require a technician to maintain, but there are exceptions."Our machines were designed for a lot of the parts to be easily maintained by the end-user themselves, meaning less calls to the distributors and dealers seeking assistance," he noted.
OK, but I have such bad luck with technology, you'd think I have a degree in Murphy's Law. What if my machine breaks down or needs to be serviced?
Even in the easiest-to-use pressure sealers, technical problems are not entirely avoidable. But partnering with a reliable pressure sealer supplier that offers continuing service on its machines can make life much easier for both you and your client.
"If sending out pressure seal mailers is an essential part of an end-user's business (i.e., a mail house, insurance company, etc.), maintenance programs are essential, so that you have no downtime," Simko commented.
What should I know about the forms?
"The machine sale is important and can be profitable, but it is only part of a successful pressure seal installation and in reality is a one-time sale," explained Harnett. "Resellers should focus on the pressure seal form, as this is the source of continuing revenue."
That means being prepared for whatever questions your clients may have about forms and knowing how to deal with any complications that may arise.
Complications like ... ?
Waganheim advised paying special attention to the perforations on each form, as these are critical to assuring uniform folds and maintaining consistent quality.
"We run into a number of situations where we have sample forms sent to us and the perforations are not cut squarely across the paper, they're kind of deep on one end or shallow on the other, and that can affect the ability of the paper to fold," he said. "We've had some where the perforation was actually the opposite direction, where the strong side of the perforation was on the wrong side of the paper, making it nearly impossible to consistently fold."
The best way to avoid this? Being proactive. "We would recommend that the dealer or distributor look at some samples of the forms and just [try] to fold a few by themselves by hand and see how easily the fold takes place," Waganheim urged. "If they're seeing the paper bending, that's telling you that perhaps the perforation's not done properly."