I have been asked to share my knowledge of mail center management with you in this article. I have seen the power that comes with the knowledge of postal rules and regulations, and I've seen companies reap these benefits when they educate their mail center managers. Acquiring this knowledge can be daunting, but it is not impossible. I'd like to share a few tips with you on how to become a powerful mail center manager.

Power Tip #1

The Pitney Bowes Mail Management Seminar is one of the most comprehensive ways to gain knowledge of postal rules and regulations and the tips that follow. This two-day seminar is held at the Aberdeen Woods Conference Center in Peachtree City, Georgia, and covers everything from classes of mail to automation discounts and much more.

Power Tip #2

Join and become involved in at least one of the following industry organizations. Organizations such as the Mail Systems Management Association (MSMA), International Publishing Management Association (IPMA), Mailing Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA) and your local Postal Customer Council (PCC) are dedicated to the education of mail center managers by conducting regularly scheduled meetings in your area on vital subjects.

Power Tip #3

In addition to local organizations, all mail center managers should consider attending at least one national trade show each year. The National Postal Forum and the Mailcom Convention are important shows that provide seminars for mail managers of every level. Both shows feature expansive vendor displays and networking opportunities. You'll come home with many new ideas, and you will find it hard to prioritize them.

The next National Postal Forum is September 21 through 24 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Spring Mailcom convention will be in Atlantic City on May 19 through 22, the fall Mailcom show will be in Chicago from October 15 through October 17. For further information, check the Web sites of the NPF (www.npf.com) or Mailcom (www.mailcom-conference.com).

Power Tip #4

Take advantage of the free publications available from the U.S. Postal Service. A partial list includes Designing Letter and Reply Mail, Postal Addressing Standards, Designing Flat Mail, Quick Service Guide, Addressing for Success and Manifest Mailing Systems. These publications will serve as the basis for a terrific mail center library. Stop by your local USPS business center to pick up copies of these publications along with any others that fit your situation.

Power Tip #5

Let the USPS keep your library up to date by subscribing to free USPS publications like Memo to Mailers and Mailers Companion. To receive these periodic publications, contact the USPS at 800-238-3150.

Power Tip #6

Have reference information at your fingertips. The Complete Reference to Postal Knowledge is a 379-page reference manual available from Pitney Bowes, Inc. This publication makes postal rules, regulations and terminology easy to understand. It is the perfect desktop reference manual and will be a good addition to the library. To obtain a copy of this manual, call 770-487-3028.

Power Tip #7

Once you have the opportunity to attend some meetings, read some of the publications mentioned, and if you want to test your knowledge, there are a few certification programs available to enhance your level of professionalism.

The best place to start is the USPS Mailpiece Quality Control Specialist (MQCS) program. This certification can be accomplished in the least amount of time. Complete information is available at the USPS' Web site (www.usps.com) under "certification."

More experienced managers should look into the Certified Mail and Distribution Systems Manager (CMDSM) program available through MSMA (www.msmanational.org) or the Certified Mail Manager (CMM) program available from the International Publishing Management Association (www.ipma.net) or the Certified Mail Professional (CMP) program from the USPS. Any one of these programs should challenge even experienced mail center personnel.

Power Tip #8

Business Mail 101 is a self-paced learning program available at the USPS Web site. If you are unable to attend the Pitney Bowes Mail Management Seminar, you will find this an easy-to-navigate program with unlimited links to enhance your learning experience.

Power Tip #9

The Internet serves the mailing industry as it does all other industries. The amount of information available on the Web never ceases to amaze me. Take advantage of Web sites that serve the mailing industry.

Power Tip #10

Continue reading industry publications like Mailing Systems Technology for articles written by your peers, and learn how they use knowledge to speed up their mail and lower mailing costs. If you are reading a borrowed copy, go to www.mailingsystemsmag.com to get a free subscription. Remember, a good manager builds his own replacement.

Don Archer, CMDSM, CMM, is the national sales manager on Postal Education at the Pitney Bowes Postal Education Center in Peachtree, Georgia. He has been employed at Pitney Bowes for more than 26 years, and is a frequent guest speaker at Nation Postal Forums. To contact him or for more information on Pitney Bowes call 777-487-3061 or visit www.pitneybowes.com.