Companies that regularly send out mail in medium to large quantities can get huge benefits from using a franking machine. As well as being quick and easy to use, they can also help your company to save as much as 34% on mail.
Machines vary in terms of how much mail they can handle, and consequently come at different price points, but they are all able to help you make your mailing process more streamline.
With fewer opportunities for human error, accurate tracking of costs, plus uniquely branded items of mail, your company’s ability to communicate with customers and suppliers can be greatly enhanced with the addition of a franking machine.
Our guide is intended to untangle some of the mysteries surrounding franking machines, and to help you come to a clear decision about whether using franked mail is right for your company, and if so, the kinds of device it is worth investigating when you get competitive quotes for franking machines.
A franking machine is a device that is able to feed and stamp mail with the correct postal mark, representing charges based on its destination and weight. The machine is linked to the owner’s business account and pre-programmed with credit in order to be able to make the correct payment.
Because franking machines are also electronically connected to Royal Mail, the costs are always up to the minute and accurate. Also, Royal Mail classes all franked mail as business mail – something that cannot be guaranteed with stamps.
Modern machines use inkjet technology to mark the items of mail with postal marks that bear the company’s corporate identity and branding. Many franking machines come with integrated scales and can process very large quantities of mail at high speeds.
Although modern franking machines use the latest digital technology, the first franking devices were operated with a crank. They were invented in 1884 by Norwegian Engle Frankmussler, hence the ‘frank’ in their name.
With a franking machine, your company will be able to:
A franking machine can provide a huge improvement to the overall management of your company’s mailing process, helping you to get the right message out to your customers as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Even a small machine intended for companies that send no more than 100 items of mail per day is able to process as many as 40 items a minute! Larger models intended for organisations that send over 300 items each day can process mail even more quickly.
Franking machines can be set up so that they keep records of your company’s expenditure across all departments. Many machines come with software packages and support structures that help you to manage numerous accounts so that costs can be monitored, tracked and controlled at all times.
Franking machines are also equipped so that they can customise your mail to include your company’s branding and corporate identity on each and every item. This is an effective means of reinforcing your brand’s message, and never fails to make a good impression with potential clients.
Because you can add credit to your franking machine online, you will never have to worry about running out of stamps or the petty cash to pay for them. The whole process is quick and easy, and designed to make sure there are no obstacles in the mailing process.
Another problem with using stamps is that very often companies end up overpaying on items because they are unsure of the weight. There is also a risk of paying too little, which means the recipient has to cover the difference. Neither outcome is good for business. Because franking machines have integrated scales that can automatically weigh each individual item, they can only ever be charged at the correct amount: there is no risk of over or under-paying.
As well as helping to save time, and making the mailing process more straightforward, franking machines can also provide a significant saving on postage costs.
To give a simple example, in 2013 the price of a single first class stamp is 60p. The same item can be sent franked for just 47p. That’s a difference of 21%. For second class mail a franked letter is currently 34% less expensive to send than a stamped one; a stamp is 50p while the franked price is just 33p. There are costs involved in either buying or renting a franking machine, but in the long term franking machines offer the opportunity for your company to make significant savings, particularly when it comes to higher volumes of mail.
It isn’t only the cost of first and second class stamps that can be slashed with a franking machine. Most of Royal Mail’s services, including Special Delivery Guaranteed™ and Royal Mail Signed For™, offer savings to customers that use a franking machine.
To give an indication of the kinds of savings you can expect to make on individual items, here is a glimpse of just a few of the prices for different kinds of stamped mail versus the franked equivalent. (All prices are relevant as of 2nd April 2013.)
|Type of Mail||Stamp Prices||Franking Prices|
|1st Class Letter (0-100g)||£0.60||£0.47|
|1st Class Small Parcel (1-2kg)||£6.85||£5.85|
|2nd Class Letter (0-100g)||£0.50||£0.33|
|2nd Class Small Parcel (1-2kg)||£5.60||£4.60|
|Special Delivery (by 1pm, 100g)||£6.22||£5.95|
|Special Delivery (by 9am, 100g)||£17.64||£16.32|
For a full list of stamped and franked prices from 2nd April 2013, as well as a detailed explanation of the sizes that mail is categorised by, visit the Royal Mail website:
The best indicator of which kind of machine will be the most suitable is the amount of mail your company sends out on a typical day. The major franking machine manufacturers are Pitney Bowes, Neopost UK, Frama and FP Mailing Solutions. These are the only four companies that have been given the authorisation by Royal Mail to make and supply franking machines. They all produce machines that are suitable for low mail volumes (generally considered as no rarely or never over 100 items a day), medium volumes (around 100 items a day) and large mail volumes (200 plus).
Other factors to consider are whether or not you will need the machine to have an integrated scale (which is recommended!) and the various account options available. Each manufacturer offers different packages related to finance, credit, and the amount of accounts a machine can be used for and the tracking of costs.
The good thing about getting more than one quote for franking machines is that you will be able to weigh up the pros and cons of each maker’s offerings and make the best choice for your company.
With such a wide variety of franking machines available, it’s no surprise that there is a big difference in some of the price points. If your company is planning to buy a franking machine for low mail volumes, you can expect prices to start at around £1,000. With mid-level machines that are capable of processing around 40 letters a minute, costs start from the £3,000 mark. For the extremely high volume machines prices can be up to around £25,000, and these machines often require a maintenance contract as well.
Increasingly, many companies have been enjoying the benefits of renting their franking machine rather than paying for one outright. A small scale machine can cost around £20 a month, a medium machine is about £60 a month and a large scale franking machine can be rented for anything from £100 a month to £400 a month and possibly more. Some manufacturers offer free trial periods, which is a good idea if you want to see exactly how much money you can save by using a franking machine before making a commitment.
Ultimately, the amount of money your company saves on stamps will be offset by the costs of buying or renting the machine itself. There is no doubt that any company sending large volumes of mail stands to make a huge saving by using franked mail as opposed to stamps. Another factor to bear in mind is the man-hours and amount of admin duties that a franking machine can save.
Generally speaking, as long as your company has the right machine for the amount of mail it regularly sends out, there is every chance that, high mail volume or low, the addition of a franking machine will represent a significant long-term cost saving measure for your company.