Earth Class Mail CEO Sarah Carr on the Revamped Business Model and What Had to Change in Her First 10 Months
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that millions of would sign up for the service. The process would then be automated and the costs brought down leveraging scale. So the product was originally forward priced assuming scale.
Not only did the scale never come, but the model never made much sense. We would charge a flat price and then allow our customers to request actions on their mail—this required labor. We were actually afraid of our customers getting too much mail and wanting too many scans. We lost money on every customer, even the ones that never got any mail. And ultimately, it was not a sustainable business model.
We decided to switch our model to focus on business customers who want to divert a particular mail stream to us, not necessarily have us manage all of their inbound postal mail. We realized that if you don’t get much mail, or if you are just using our solution as a mail forwarding service, we don’t give as high a value as if you are using the solution as your business lockbox, or your in-house mail scanning service.
We now charge a monthly subscription fee, and provide a menu of services that our customers pay for separately such as mail and document scanning, check deposit, secure mail storage, recycle and shredding, etc. Our current customers appreciate the ability to choose their services and manage the costs—and they clearly see the value of our service. Earth Class Mail customers can avoid hiring a clerical staff person because all of their scanning, filing and check deposits are being done by us. Spending $2,400 a year to save $35,000 is a fantastic return on investment.
X: Where does the company stand now and where do you see it heading in the next year? Next five years?
SC: We are seeing the fruits of our change in vision and focus. Our customer base is shifting to small business high-volume customers, and more and more customers are signing up every day. Our postal licensee, Swiss Post, continues to improve its product, Swiss Post Box, and our relationship is very strong. I recently testified at a Congressional forum on postal innovation in the 21st century and hope that the U.S. Postal Service will explore some of the ideas that I put forward. It’s an exciting time for our company. Next year is all about growing the retail business, driving to profitability and continuing to innovate as a software platform provider. Five years from now? Who knows, but I hope that we are part of a bigger entity that can leverage what we have built and help us take it to the next level.
X: How would you describe your leadership and management style? Do you think the company culture has shifted since becoming CEO, and if so, how?
SC: I feel that I have created an environment where it is safe to voice your opinion and know your opinion will be heard. It may not be acted upon, but you will know why. We are a complete meritocracy. Our quality assurance manager was the person that suggested we add a test drive feature to our website in order to allow prospective customers to try Earth Class Mail’s service. Not only did we use his idea, but he got to design and produce the test drive! Lastly, we laugh a lot. If you can’t laugh during this level of intensity why bother?
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