For many in our industry, October through the end of January is our make-or-break peak season. Marketing mailers are jammed October through early December, while First-Class transactional mailers have shop floors that looks like a paper mill exploded in January.

Success during this busy time sets the tone for the rest of our year. By hyper-focusing on four key initiatives and quickly bringing them to fruition, you can set yourself up for success in peak season – and for all of 2023.

The four key initiatives during the 30-60 days sprint should be categorized as either:

· Cleaning Up Messes & Installing Fixes

· Operationally Build, Adjust, and/or Make Happen

· Big Leaps/Game Changers

· Stop Doing/Not Fix

Make sure that for each initiative, there are clear action steps that need to be completed at the 30- and 60-day marks as well as the one person who is accountable for making those action steps happen.

Cleaning Up Messes & Installing Fixes

There are typically at least two items in any shop that need to be cleaned up, with a solution installed before peak season.

These are items that slow or kill productivity, and oftentimes, owners and managers are unaware they exist. The best way to get these to the forefront is to poll your people. Ask them: “If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing about how we do our jobs every day, what would it be?”

For one customer, it was setting up a “small job” station so the inserting area did not have to do as many setups each day. For another, it was reorganizing their supply area and placing it closing to their imaging department. In both cases, it increased productivity in those areas by about three to five percent.

How meaningful would another three to five percent of margin be in your business?

Operationally Build, Adjust, and/or Make Happen

This bucket of improvement is about standard operating procedures and processes.

Continuous improvement is, well, continuous. But if you can hone or refine one key process before peak season, it will make all the difference in the world.

Two years ago, we had a team that completely restructured their quality control (QC) department including the processes, timing, and paperwork involved. They were able to cut out QC steps, yet reduced the number of mistakes that ended up being missed by QC and becoming customer facing by 50%.

It was a huge game-changer in their Net Promoter Scores!

Big Leaps/Game Changers

This is the toughest of the four areas to make a reality. The question our customers face is: “How can I make a big leap in 60 days when I can’t do it during the rest of the year?”

Instead, ask your team: “If we made this Big Leap happen in the next 60 days, what would it mean for our customers and our people?”

The Big Leap goal has to be realistic. Don’t try to reengineer your entire workflow or change your entire supply chain.

One recent Big Leap example for a manufacturer in a different industry before their peak season was they finally accomplished what they had been putting off for years: redesigning their shipping area and adding other carriers.

The plans had been gathering dust for over two years. Once implemented, employee engagement increased in the area due to better ergonomics, and on-time shipping increased by just over seven percent due to better productivity.

Stop Doing/Not Fix

If we are going to make the magic happen in the above three areas, we need to open up more time in the day to get those things done. So what is the team going to stop doing, not fix, or not worry about?

The majority of the time, the answer is one of two things:

· Reporting: Daily/weekly manual reports that no one looks at but take the team a few hours to complete. One way to test this is to not send a report for three weeks and see if anyone asks for it. If no one does, then the report is no longer needed.

· Meetings: Reduce time in team meetings by making them less frequent and by reducing their length. Run them tighter by having a clear meeting objectives and clear agenda.

By cleaning up some messes, operationally adjusting, making a big leap and, yes, by stopping doing something, you can set your team up for success during peak season.


30-Day action steps with clear accountability owner for each step

60-Day action steps with clear accountability owner for each step

Cleaning Up Messes & Installing Fixes

Operationally Build, Adjust, and/or Make Happen

Big Leaps/Game Changers

Stop Doing/Not Fix

Bruce Gresham of Applied Vision Works can be contacted at

This article originally appeared in the September/October, 2022 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.