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What Is A Franking Machine?

franking machine
A franking machine is used by businesses to accurately weigh and price outgoing mail, increasing efficiency and cutting down on mailing costs. By using a franking machine, you are saving time and effort that would otherwise be wasted queuing and processing mail at the post office. Your machine will have a pre-paid balance and keeps you and the Royal Mail in constant contact without needing to do anything else.

A franking machine has a platform that allows you to weigh your mail before calculating the price of postage, this prevents you from overpaying as you most likely would if you were using stamps. As well as this, the Royal Mail offers a discounted postal price for franked mail which further increases your savings. The machine can be bought, rented or leased and come in a range of sizes meaning you can find one to suit your business’ needs.

What are franking machines used for?

Since 1884, franking machines have been used as a secure and reliable postal system. Invented by Engle Frankmussler, the ‘Postage Stamp Affixing Machine’ as it was then called, was a crank-operated hardy machine that was effective but vulnerable to tampering. In 1902, the Pitney Postal Machine Company was founded after Arthur Pitney gained a patent for a similar machine he invented. These were the pioneers of the franking machine and, although the modern machines are in many ways more advanced, the basics still remain in place.

If your business sends out 25 letters or parcels each day, instead of going to the post office and waiting to get them weighed or buying and using stamps, you can simply set your franking machine to today’s date, set the desired postage class, weigh the letter/ parcel and stamp the mail with an accurately priced, professional and customisable franking mark. You’ll save time, money and you won’t even need to leave the office!

Before you jump right in and buy or rent a franking machine, it is important to note that the features and abilities differ between models. You can buy a low, medium or high volume machine depending on the amount of mail your business handles on a daily/ weekly basis.

Low Volume Franking Machine

A low volume franking machine is aimed at small businesses who send an average of around 30 pieces of mail each day. A low volume machine can usually handle up to 100 letters per day, if your business sends out more mail than this then a medium volume machine is likely better suited. Even a low volume franking machine tends to help reduce mailing costs by up to 10.5% per 1st class letter and allows employees to better use their time than queuing at the post office, making it a worthwhile investment even for smaller and startup businesses.

Medium Volume Franking Machine

Generally, a medium volume franking machine is able to handle between 100 and 1000 pieces of mail each day. They vary greatly in their features and abilities in order to suit the needs of a vast array of businesses. Medium volume franking machines tend to be very versatile with the ability to serve businesses of all sizes without problem, make sure you note down which features are most important to your business e.g. automated letter feeder so you can ensure the franking machine you choose has the features you need.

High Volume Franking Machine

Businesses who send large volumes of mail will benefit most from the efficiency and automated functions of a high-volume franking machine. These can process anything over 1000 letters each day. High volume machines tend to have advanced automated processes to make franking as quick and easy as possible even with high volumes. 

Franking Machine Benefits

  • Financial savings

    Franking machine users get to reap the benefits of discounted postal prices, even a small saving per letter sent soon adds up into a large sum. You can save up to 33% when franking vs buying stamps. In fact, many businesses report savings of hundreds and even thousands of pounds per year thanks to their franking machine!

  • Convenience

    No more post office trips, no more waiting in line to buy some stamps or searching through the desks for the last bunch of stamps you bought. No more delays or waiting as you are in full control of the franking machine.

  • Increased control

    You control the credit on the machine as well as who can use it. You can often separate the mailing into departments or projects to help keep track of spending too. You can top up the credit at any time in one of several ways and you can see exactly how your postage credit is being used. No more disappearing stamps or misused machines!

  • Professional branding

You can personalise the franking mark to incorporate your company’s logo, return address and/ or a promotional message. This looks considerably better and more impressive than just using stamps. You can save money, save time and promote your business all at once!

Franking Machine Prices & Cost

First of all, if you’ve tried to find franking machine prices online you’ve probably ended up going in circles and finding nothing. This can be very frustrating but there are 4 Royal Mail approved manufacturers and 19 authorised suppliers in the UK and they don’t seem to like to share their prices, unless you request a quote from them. If you aren’t sure if a franking machine is right for your business or not, here is a guide to prices to help give you a rough idea of what you can expect.

In the UK, franking machines can be rented, leased or bought outright and their prices vary depending on the volume and features of the individual machine.

  • A low-volume designed to send up to 100 pieces of mail per day and can be bought for as little as £1,000 or rented for £15 per month (this would be one of the most basic machines available). The average cost of buying a low volume machine would be between £1,000 – £3,000.
  • A mid-volume is designed to send between 100 – 1000 letters per day and can cost between £3,000 – £8,000 to buy and between £50 – £99 a month to rent. The price varies greatly due to the vast number of models that fall into this category.
  • A high-volume which is designed to send anything from 1000 letters upwards (high volume franking machines can process a huge amount each day for large businesses) and can cost from £8,000 up to £25,000 or between £100 – £500 per month.

This is a rough guide that should allow you to estimate the cost of a franking machine for your business. If you have a good idea of what volume franking machine you require, you can always find a few machines that match your needs and request quotes enabling you to find out an up to date price.

Buying vs Renting or Leasing– which one?

When deciding whether to buy or rent a franking machine there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First of all, what volume of mail does your business send out each day and is this likely to increase over the coming years? If your business is still growing and expanding you may find that renting a machine is the better option because the model that is best for your business now may not be able to keep up with your expanded requirements down the line. Buying a franking machine outright can cost a lost which is why renting is a popular and worthwhile option for many businesses. Renting a franking machine allows you to reap the benefits without the daunting price tag. Many rental contracts last between one and three years and generally include the maintenance and upkeep of the machine however you do not own the franking machine which is why others decide to buy a machine instead.

Buying a equipment can be an expensive decision but it is a solid investment that will remain steadfast in your office for many years to come. Even though they are a lot of money, it is usually better to pay more for a new machine rather than battling through the trials of a second-hand franking machine which, although cheaper, brings with it many of its own issues. When you buy, you know the cost upfront and you can decide where to buy it’s supplies from which can both help you to save money in the long run. Overall buying a franking machine is likely to have lower lifetime and running costs than renting, however the high initial cost and the chance of an older model becoming outdated may dissuade you.

Franking Machine Manufacturer Companies

There are only 4 Royal Mail approved manufacturers of franking machines in the UK, these are:

  • Neopost

    The biggest UK franking machine manufacturer. With high quality machines and well-priced machines to suit everyone, Neopost is reported to be the best franking machine supplier in Europe.

  • Pitney Bowes

    Remember Arthur Pitney who we mentioned earlier? Since 1901 Pitney Bowes have produced high quality franking machines as well as other office equipment and machinery. They are considered the number one franking machine supplier in the world and offer a vast range of products to suit businesses of all sizes.

  • Frama

    Franking machines produced by Frama are easy to use, utilise the latest technology and are geared towards saving you time and money. The touch screens are operated using Frama ComTouch which allows users to program the most frequent programs into a one-touch system to make it even quicker and easier to frank your mail.

  • FP Mailing

    Founded in 1923, FP are known for their innovative designs and proudly released the first: automatic franking machine, electronic franking machine, digital and even inkjet franking machine. All of these firsts are a clear indication of FP’s expertise and technological advances.

 

These manufacturers have been approved by Royal Mail, assuring the standard and quality of their products. They are the only 4 approved manufacturers in the UK but there are also 20 approved independent suppliers who can sell, lease, rent or service franking machines. These suppliers tend to have deals available so it is worth shopping around, just always make sure you only choose Royal Mail approved companies!

What Type of Mail Can Be Franked?

When you frank your mail, you can choose what kind of delivery you require; first class, second class or special delivery. You can frank letters and parcels easily by selecting the on-screen options regarding the size and class required and weighing the mail on the built-in scales.

Once you have franked your mail, it can be sent in one of three ways:

  • Post office – you can drop your separated and organised franked mail off at the post office. Usually there is a separate window for business mail which means you won’t have to wait around to drop it off.
  • Post box – Do not put franked mail into a regular postbox UNLESS you are using low volume posting envelopes. These are for businesses who send up to 30 items of mail per day. There are franking post boxes too.
  • Collection – for an annual charge, Royal Mail will collect your businesses mail each day. This is a perfect solution for businesses that have large amounts of outgoing mail or businesses that are based away from a post office or if you just want to save time.

Franking machines are a great investment for many businesses and with ever-increasing stamp prices more businesses are turning to franking machines to help save them money and time. Remember to only buy/rent/lease from a Royal Mail approved supplier and enjoy the many benefits of having a franking machine in your office.