One of the few growth spots in the mail industry are audit and recovery firms that focus solely on helping you save money on mailing equipment, avoidable fees, overpayments, and lost funds. With the dramatic postage changes happening, these firms are uniquely positioned to know where to bring money back to your organization and should be considered.

There are audit firms for every spend category. Some that you may be familiar with are freight, print, utility and benefits. Mail Audit is a new area that should be explored because this spend is often overlooked and the savings can be large. These audit firms typically will not charge for their services but will only share in a piece of the savings or recovery. This gain share model is great for many companies because there is no risk. If they do not find any savings, the services are free.
Here are the main areas these firms explore to find savings:

Mail Equipment Savings - Up to 80% Reductions
These firms look at what you have for mailing equipment across your enterprise. They will develop detailed spend reporting, analyze postage use and benchmark pricing against developed industry standards. They will assist with site requirements and vendor negotiations to make sure you are paying the least amount of money for any new or renewed equipment.

The reason that the savings percentages are so high is because of the complexities of mailing equipment agreements. Most sites have multiple account numbers for equipment, leases and postage and it is difficult to get complete information on all of the different spends. This gets multiplied when you have diverse locations scattered around the country. Also, there has historically been a lack of visibility to what this equipment costs. There are only a few vendors in the space and almost no published pricing. Finally, there can be "feature creep" for options that have costs but are not broken out to validate their worth. This makes it difficult to know that you are getting the best deal for the right services. These vendor neutral firms give you the leverage in negotiations to get what you need at the lowest prices.

Eliminating Avoidable Fees
Due to the complexities inside mailing agreements, often times fees are charged that can be eliminated. These fees are typically overlooked or not understood and paid as a cost of doing business. These audit and recovery firms will find where these fees are being paid and figure out ways to get them eliminated for the future.
Here are some examples:
· Unneeded equipment insurance
· Annual fee loyalty plans
· Late fees
· Finance charges that can be over 20% of the cost of postage.
Identifying Overpayments
With payments being made for leases, meter rental, maintenance, rate changes, supplies and postage, at times invoicing can be in error. These firms will look at the payment history and help you apply for refunds and credits. Here are some areas where these overpayments can occur:
· Invoices not billed under the firm's national contract discount rate.
· Duplicate charges for meter rental, maintenance and rate changes that are covered under all inclusive lease agreements.
· Closed sites still being billed.
· Expired leases with no activity.
Recovering Lost Postage
There has been a major downsize in the number of postage meters throughout the United States. This is due to reduced volume, office closings and consolidations. The question is what happened to all of the postage from these returned meters? Typically when a company puts money into their postage meter, the funds are expensed and it is no longer looked at as an asset. When the meter gets returned there could be money sitting on the device or in the attached postage account where funds are deposited.
These audit and recovery firms will look for previous postage accounts and assist in getting these funds returned. Lost postage funds could be sitting with your mailing vendor, at the state as unclaimed property or with the USPS from dormant meter or permit accounts. All of these can be explored to help you get your money back.
How to Select the Right Mail Audit and Recovery Firm
The key when selecting an audit firm is to look for experience in their industry and documented client successes. You also want to understand how they can help you maintain your equipment inventory and at what frequency they are going to be looking at your invoices and accounts for additional savings. Clients with multiple locations will typically have scattered renewal dates. It is important to have the audit firm managing this inventory and to make sure new agreements are done at the right times and remaining lease balances are not being incorporated. These firms should become partners to manage this spend with a common goal for savings and simplicity.
If you have ever watched the show "Pawn Stars" it shows a Pawn shop in Las Vegas (Far from what we typically picture as a pawn shop) where people bring in historic items to sell. What makes this the most successful shop in the country (and what makes the show great), is that Rick Harris the owner will call in experts to give him the value and background to these random items. Bringing in experts is the key to any organizations success because it is too costly to have this level of expertise on staff. Mail Audit and Recovery firms give you this expertise and can find you savings and recovery that would have typically been overlooked.

Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, is President of Postal Advocate Inc. and runs the largest Mail Audit and Recover firm in the United States. Their mission is to help entities with large numbers of locations reduce mail related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. He can be reached at (617)372-8653 or