Established in 1982
Contact us P:(815) 316-8255 F: (866) 314.2672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a great piece of advice when posting online:
If you are planning on promoting your business through social media, please keep your personal profile clean. Specifically, don't post anything political on your personal profiles. This week, I received a heartfelt private message on Facebook from one of our veteran members, and I had to share it with you, because it resonates with how a lot of people feel when scrolling on the Facebook news feeds:
"Hey buddy. I was just going through my FB newsfeed, and once again I was insulted by a "friends" comments about my political views/affiliations. I try to keep politics out of my social media, so maybe many don't know where I stand. Frankly, it's none of their business. It's bad enough when it's friends that I'm not affiliated with through business. But, I'm seeing lots of business acquaintances now making opinionated and insulting political posts. I just thought that maybe someone as highly respected as you could write something about proper social media etiquette for those who use Social Media for business. Many of us co-mingle, and some of these people are pissing off not just business acquaintances, but customers as well."
So, if you want to talk politics, please talk offline, not on social media, especially if you're using social media to promote your business to your clients. I know many small businesses that have lost many customers because of political posts. Furthermore, many of you know Under Armour; it has lost a significant share of business this year, due to 3 main reasons, one of which is because of its CEO voicing his political opinions in public online. Here's the link to that article:
3 Big Reasons Under Armour Cooled Off
Years of positive posts (not to mention close friends) can get lost because of one emotion-filled personal post. So, think before you click that button.
Fahim Mojawalla, AMBC Director of Social Media
Island Ship Center
AMBC Certified Store
10 Minutes from Niagara Falls, USA
#SpaOfShipping #FahimFix #ExudeExcellence
1879 Whitehaven Road
Grand Island, NY 14072
I was listening to a TED Talk yesterday. Well, it was really a TED discussion. Chris Anderson was interviewing Elon Musk—you know, the genius behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, Hyperloop, etc.—and the discussion was fascinating!
I always enjoy hearing Elon speak about the projects he's working on. He doesn't seem constrained by the limits most people put on what could be possible. If there's a problem, no matter how unsolvable it may seem, he comes up with a grand solution and presents it in a matter-of-fact "yeah, we can totally do this" fashion.
He spent a good part of the discussion answering questions about The Boring Company, one of his latest brainchildren, and how he's looking to solve Los Angeles congestion by digging down instead of building up—totally rethinking the way we dig tunnels to create a massive underground network potentially allowing a vehicle to get from Westwood to LAX in six minutes. It's nuts. I love it!
But what really caught my attention was when the conversation turned to SpaceX and Elon's ideas for a Mars colony. He and Chris were talking about a future where we, as humans, are a space-faring multi-planet species. And I think most of us, myself certainly included, just assumed this is what the future holds. But Elon made it very clear that this destiny is not by any means imminent.
Elon explained, "Then there's becoming a multi-planet species and space-faring civilization. This is not inevitable. It's very important to appreciate this is not inevitable."
He then mentioned the space program, "If you look at the progress in space, in 1969 you were able to send somebody to the moon. 1969. Then we had the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle could only take people to low Earth orbit. Then the Space Shuttle retired, and the United States could take no one to orbit. So that's the trend. The trend is like down to nothing."
I never thought about that. I guess I, probably like most people, just thought that we're naturally getting better and better; that progress just happens as a fixed course. But Elon rebutted that mindset and said, "People are mistaken when they think that technology just automatically improves. It does not automatically improve. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better, and actually it will, I think, by itself degrade, actually."
He then mentioned how the Ancient Egyptians developed the technology to build the great pyramids, but then forgot how to do it. And the Romans built the magnificent aqueducts, and then forgot how to do it.
How many times in our own experience have we tried to do something we once were great at and mess it up royally? We get out of practice … and we forget. And if we don't put effort into improving, growing, tweaking, and sometimes completely reinventing, we'll get stale and eventually go backward.
Our businesses need constant attention. We can't get too comfortable. We can't just go forward for years in the status quo. Because the market is constantly changing, our customers' needs are constantly changing, and the way in which we process, deliver, source, and serve should always be adaptable to meet those needs.
And sometimes we have to look at our situations completely objectively. We must let go of all the constraints that we put our minds in and think, "What if!?" What if we dig tunnels instead of going up? What if we retire our old low-orbiting space shuttle and build a new kind of rocket that will take us much, much further? What if we break out of the path that we're stuck in and think about going to new worlds instead?
You can do anything. Your business isn't limited by where it is right now or the way it's always done stuff. Go ahead and break the mold.
Please listen to the TED Talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/elon_musk_the_future_we_re_building_and_boring?language=en
Marty Johnson, AMBC Director of Marketing | askunclemarty.com
Dear Uncle Marty,
I know you’re involved in some community groups. How do you suggest I get involved, and what are the best groups to join?
Hoping to meet new people,
Friendly Florence “Flo” Fenstermacher
Indeed, I highly recommend joining some community networking groups.
Right now, I’m very involved with a group that I co-founded: the Collegetown Small Business Alliance. “Collegetown” is the name of my neighborhood of Ithaca, New York, aptly named because it borders the university here. It’s a very unique couple of blocks, and so we’ve banded together to share ideas, co-market, and solve neighborhood quandaries.
I’m also on a bunch of committees with my local university and with my city. I’m constantly at City Hall for one meeting or another, and on campus for design charrettes for building makeovers and committee meetings to plan community walks and information fairs in my neighborhood. I’ve found that being part of a committee is an amazing place to network, as you’re there as a volunteer and not as a salesperson.
Years ago, when I was working with the AMPC Flagship Store in Rockford, Illinois, I was part of RASA, the Rockford Area Services Association. This group was amazing, meeting once a month at a different host restaurant to network and share ideas. We were each given a couple of minutes for a brief introduction of ourselves and our businesses at the start of each meeting, and then we spent the rest of the time talking about how we could work together. It was invaluable!
Many stores join their local Chambers of Commerce. I highly recommend this. And don’t just join, run for office! Take a page from Fahim’s playbook and become the Chamber Vice President. You’ll work your tail off, but the connections you make will be well worth it.
Other people like the BNI (Business Networking International) networking group, and this might be a good place to start if your town has a local chapter. Personally, I find their 7AM breakfast meetings uncalled for, but that’s just because I am the antithesis of a morning person and it’s everything I can muster to get to my store to open on time at 9AM.
I’m not sure what’s available in your neck of the woods, but certainly there are some organizations just waiting for you to join. And if nothing tickles your fancy, take a page from my playbook and start your own! Your neighborhood certainly needs a small business alliance to facilitate its own business-to-business networking.
When you’re at these meetings, events, and posting on these groups’ listservs, keep in mind to not use the platform as blatant advertising. Don’t list your services like some bot, but offer your support and friendship as a fellow community member. Share news, sponsor good causes, donate your time and goods, and offer your services only if they add value and provide solutions. Otherwise, let your outreach draw others to you. Be a magnet, not a bulldozer.
Not all groups meet at 7am (#JustSayin),
The original version of this Ask Uncle Marty letter was published in MBC Today Volume 19, Issue 2 (March/April 2017).
I love talking on the radio.
I don't do radio ads often, but when I do I always get a thrill going to the studio, sitting in the soundproof booth, and letting it rip. And every so often I get the opportunity to be interviewed on the radio. Today was one of those opportunities.
The delightfully entertaining and amiable Lee Rayburn from Ithaca's own WHCU had me as a guest today on Morning Newswatch. He was curious about Collegetown, the neighborhood of Ithaca where my store, Uncle Marty's Shipping Office, is. You see, Collegetown has been under major redevelopment for two years now and it has dramatically affected vehicle traffic, pedestrian traffic, and consequently businesses … not the least of which my own.
Now I'm an optimist (generally, with certain moody exceptions). And I fully acknowledge that the rose-colored glasses that I wear can sometimes get on people's nerves. But truly I see hope and a very bright future with all of the construction surrounding my business. Of course it hurts now and has been an absolute bear to deal with—full of frustration, hair-tearing-out moments, and complete bewilderment at some of the things that we've seen occur—but through it all, the end result will indeed be fabulous!
So Lee and I talked about it. And I hope that our discussion will encourage more of the general public to visit our fine neighborhood and support our fine businesses during the redevelopment process that we're stuck in the middle of.
I'm very grateful for the opportunity to speak freely and openly, no matter what the topic. Because nothing gets done if nothing gets said. And there's always a way to address a situation in a proactive, positive, professional, and solution-based manner, which has been my approach with this construction process and an attitude I hope to continue with. As a result, and by being involved and outreaching, I've been able to make some amazing connections with major developers, landlords, media, and local city and university officials. It's been quite the silver lining!
We all have something to say. For some, it's sharing hope. For others, it's raising awareness. We have stories to tell, accusations to make, positions to defend, causes to rally for, jokes to jest, encouragement to give, love to extend, and new connections to foster.
A good friend of mine gave me very good advice recently. He's a designer and was critiquing some new logo ideas I was toying around with. He said, "In design, it's not what you can add, but what you can take away." And I think the same editing mindset is appropriate with our spoken/written platforms. But when it's appropriate, timely, and might—just might—bring positive change, then why not speak up?
Talk about it. It'll do you good.
#WHCU #Ithaca #Collegetown #UncleMartysOffice #AskUncleMarty
Check out the full interview here: http://whcuradio.com/morning-newswatch/uncle-marty-invites-you-to-collegetown/
Marty Johnson, AMBC Director of Marketing | askunclemarty.com
Am I allowed to send anonymous packages when people don’t want their name to show on the return address?
Under an assumed name,
I’ve asked a few store owners and my fellow AMBC board members about this since receiving your question. The general consensus is that it’s OK to block out someone’s name or ship under a pseudonym for someone as long as you keep record of the actual shipper’s real name and contact information.
Some stores make it a policy that they will ship anonymously, but if the recipient calls them asking who sent the package they will tell the recipient who the sender was.
My policy at my store has been that the transaction must be under someone’s real name for security, safety, and accurate records. Then the shipment may be generated under a pseudonym as long as records connect it to an invoice reflecting the real shipper’s genuine information.
But now that I’ve thought about this more, thanks to your question, I’m going to change my policy. From now on, my official policy is that I don’t ship anonymously. But here’s the catch: I’ll unofficially make an exception for known, trusted customers who I know are only removing their name because they’re nervous about the eBay buyer, want to surprise someone with a secret Santa gift, or are playing a harmless practical joke on their sister.
Remember, you as the account holder are ultimately responsible for every package sent from your store. So don’t ship anonymously willy-nilly. And always, always, always make sure your records can trace every shipment back to a real person.
This is my real name,
Going over your carrier invoices should be a part of your weekly duties. Has anyone ever shipped an unauthorized package on your account? How many packages have not been delivered after 20 days in transit? With Refund Retriever you can easily see this in your own personalized client interface.
This report can be used to view any package that has been picked up by a carrier over 20 days prior and has no delivery event. The package is still in the FedEx or UPS system and further investigation is needed.
For mail, parcel & business centers, all packages should originate from your store front. It’s always a good idea to make sure you are only charged for your shipments. Our third party package report shows shipments where the origin and destination are not from your address. These packages were not in his/her position at any time.
If it’s in your third party package report, the package at no time went across your counter. This report can be filtered on the Refund Retriever interface by account number and time span.
Why is it so important for mail, parcel & business centers to have a shipping audit system in place? We are no strangers to the mail and parcel industry! Refund Retriever was started in 2006 by Brian Gibbs in the back of his first business which was a mail and parcel store. Brian used his own FedEx and UPS accounts to develop proprietary parcel invoice auditing software specializing in saving money on FedEx & UPS invoices. Since then we have been auditing FedEx and UPS invoices for mail and parcel centers and other businesses of all sizes. We are constantly updating our refund technology to provide our customers with the highest quality of service.
No set up, monthly, or cancellation fees...The only time we ever charge you is when we successfully have a refund credit applied to your shipping account. Our fee is a percentage of successfully disputed and credited refunds. No refund, no charge!
Wondering if there’s an AMBC special? Well... there is! Mention that you read our #FahimFix guest blog and get your first month of auditing on us and a 60/40 rate!
Refund Retriever is an approved AMBC vendor and was recently awarded #18 Fastest Growing Aggie Owned Business
For years, we received requests to ship cars: “How much to ship this car to Texas? How much for my truck? Can I fill it with my stuff and then ship? “ We learned that there are way too many ways for a customer to search for pricing online for it to be worth the time and expense for us to quote these. Usually, the quoted prices is met with, “Wow! You’re expensive! I got if for half that much online yesterday.”
If you take the quoted prices and add on a decent mark up (25% isn't decent but I will use it), your retail rate is SO MUCH higher than what is available on the open market. Chances of winning this quote is near zero unless your customer has a money-is-no-object mentality and only wants to use you because they are familiar with you and trust you. If you make less, (and you shouldn’t), then you run the risk of making even less when the person wants to use a credit card to pay for it. Plus, you have the liability of someone's car until the car carrier picks it up.
What we do now, is refer the customer to the car carrier. We have a local company that handles national moves, if they don't have a truck, they do use a network of other trucks to find a load going that way. The carrier talks to the customer, they answer all the questions, they take all the heat for late deliveries, or any problems in route. The car carrier pays the credit card fees. The car carrier gets a new customer, our customer gets a referral to someone we trust. What do we get? We get referrals from the car carrier.
Each time someone shows up to ship a car and they have personal items, (which are not allowed by most car carriers), they are told that they can't ship them. “Call Parcel Room. They can take care of it for you”. They have referred and we have shipped everything from small UPS/FedEx packages up to freight shipments. We even had a huge steel and concrete safe that was in a truck that couldn't stay in the vehicle so we shipped it separately.
Some carriers will pay referral fees of $50.00 or $100.00 for a successful car shipment. My way of doing it gets me two to five customers a month from the car carrier. People we didn't send over there but they have items that can't be left in the car. The car carrier sends them to us. We have found that it is a far better return to get ongoing referrals rather than a onetime referral fee.
We do the same thing for large household moves. If a shipment exceeds what I KNOW will be cost efficient for us, I look to a mover. We found a good (very good) local mover that we work with. What I do is I email the salesman: “We have a customer with xyz and they will need a quote. Please contact the customer to complete.”
Two things happen at this point in time. We get a very happy customer, and we have a very happy moving company. The movers, in return, can pay $50.00 on a successful move, but we just ask them to send us customers that are too small for them. During the busy moving season we get 3-4 referrals a week. These customers ALWAYS tell me: “Xyz told me to call you for an estimate.” Now I know this is payback, I also know that they probably have been just quoted the minimum amount for summer season which is usually $2,000.00.
This gives me a very good advantage to start. We know they are serious customers, we know that their budget it under $2,000.00, and we know they want to ship. They are not just kicking tires (usually).
The two referral companies that we use give us a steady stream of sales and customers. We don't sell customers these services, we let them sell themselves. We did our research into each company we refer and we keep up on their reviews. We ask our customers: ”How did they do?” We are taking care of our customer “At Parcel Room, we make it go away”, and they love us for it.
1465 Woodbury Ave
Portsmouth NH 03801
NMFC Changes are taking place April 15th, 2017
NMFC = National Motor Freight Classification, is the system that sets the description and class of everything shipped freight. The description used to describe an item shipped sets the NMFC number, that number sets your freight class. The freight class sets the rate per pound you are charged.
Paintings /pictures is just one of a few items that are changing; I have added the new to the list on the freight site look for a note in the description to see if it expires this year. Do not use an expired NMFC, the carrier will not care they will not adjust. If you are in doubt call the carrier and inquire (get the person's name), email me the item full description. There is no grace period, there is no "I didn't know" they don't care.
At carriers discretion they can start using the new NMFC Number as of the 15th. In most cases stores have used Class 110 for their painting shipment. The new NFMC is density based, so accurate weights and measurement will be even more important.
Paintings or pictures, posters NOI framed or unframed with or without glass in boxes, cartons or crates released to a value not to exceed $25.00 per pound. (Will expand on this at the end)
Density of Less than 4 pound per cu foot - Class 300: 056165-01
Density of 4 but less than 8 pounds per cu foot - Class 175: 056165-02
Density of 8 pounds per cu foot or greater - Class 92.5: 056165-03
The weight and dimensions need to include all packaging, all pallets, banding, strapping. You KNOW that they will be auditing packages and I have never seen it come out in the store's favor yet on an audit. So please double check your data prior to shipping.
The AMBC Freight site does help you calculate the density you only need to fill in the weight and dimensions and it calculates and displays your cubic feet plus the density of the shipment. Be SURE you match and use the correct Class and density.
In the NMFC description they use NOI which means Not Otherwise Indicated (no other listing for that specific product) and the release value is that you are agreeing to limit the carrier's liability to a MAXIMUM of $25.00 pound. The does not mean they will pay $25.00 per pound that is the MAXIMUM they will pay. In most cases carriers have not ever paid a claim on paintings, they always "determine" that the art falls within their scope of not covered. This is why I always recommend that you obtain 3rd party coverage and plan that the carrier's coverage will be minimal at best.
Painting, art, pictures posters
Rugs, carpets, floor coverings
Tables or stations for food preparation (commercial)
Household Kitchen utensils (when NOT shipping as personal effects)
Baseball bats, softball, cricket other than hollow
Think like a customer work like a professional.
I just made a kids' mailbox.
It's a concept I've heard of before, but completely forgot about until Henry reminded us of it at the PostalMate regional training weekend a few weeks ago in New York.
It's really quite a brilliant idea: put the key to one of your large mailboxes on a special key chain and fill that mailbox with toys and prizes for kids. Then, when someone brings their young pal into your store, give that kid the key and tell them that if they can figure out which mailbox it opens, they can have a prize from inside.
Because I personally can't handle stuff falling all over the floor in chaos, I put a small box inside my kids' mailbox that the kids can pull out to discover prizes inside: sunglasses, temporary tattoos, rings, pencils, slap bracelets, American flags, puzzles, etc. You can fill yours with whatever you'd like, though stickers are always a winner.
Kids' mailboxes keeps kids entertained and allows their grownups to focus on business at hand. The kids love it, the grownups love it, and it's a win-win across the board!
Think about making one today. It takes like five minutes and makes a huge impression.
#KidsMailbox #AMBC4ME #AskUncleMarty
Ten years ago, I ran an eCommerce site selling personalized leather gifts to businesses and individuals. I learned SEO from experts and got on the social media bandwagon very shortly after March 2007.
I've studied many aspects of online checkout over the years, including Amazon, PayPal and guest checkouts. I've learned that having a guest checkout on one's website increases conversions and encourages people to buy more from your site without feeling "locked in" as a member. Translating this option into our business centers can provide a lot of insight and help us as store owners to give choice to our clients and guests.
For example, when my wife & I designed and launched our 24 hour business center last year, we assumed that everyone would love to be a member and would opt-in to paying for the 24 hour security entrance, using the key-less entry system. However, 4 months into our new model and we had many people inquiring about mail and business services without wanting to pay for 24 hour access. In other words, they wanted to pickup their mail and parcels during our business hours.
We, of course, agreed to this system and as a result of this flexibility, have noticed an increase in our mailbox clients and others who use just our package receiving services (without the option of 24 hour key-less entry). In other words, they want to "checkout as a guest" and not be a "member" and we are fine with that!
Providing this flexibility to our incoming visitors allows us to extend our reach into the marketplace. So, we encourage the 24 hour access now and most guests opt for it; however, we are perfectly happy to provide the flexibility for someone who just wants to come by see us every time he or she has mail or parcels picked up.
With gratitude and effervescence,
1879 Whitehaven Road
Grand Island, NY 14072
Association of Mail & Business Centers TM, 1465 Woodbury Ave. #811, Portsmouth, NH 03801 ~ (815) 316-8255