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Walz Outsourcing Takes Paper Burden Out of Certified Mail

Walz Group here made a name for itself as a provider of certified mailing services, but now the company is offering to clients the option of outsourcing related functions as well.

The impetus for an outsourcing division began a couple of years ago when one of Walz Postal Solutions' large clients said that despite outsourcing the printing and mailing of certified mail, it still faced substantial manual labor. Walz essentially became the company's certified mail department, handling the storage, tracking delivery status, and managing the storage and retrieval of certified mail receipts.

Company officials said managing those "green cards" which are certified mail receipts is an important job, even though a lender rarely needs to retrieve those cards.

Jim Hutchinson, president of Walz, said the outsourcing business allows Walz to take a data file every night from clients that is treated like a mail merge. Not only does Walz print the mail, it follows the progress of certified letters. In the case of certified mail, Walz always gets the letter back or a receipt signed by the recipient. If a recipient refuses a piece of certified mail, Walz keeps track of this information as well.

Walz images the letters and the receipts so that clients with an in-house imaging system can import and store the certified mail material. The imaged materials are available to clients via the Internet. Clients can also outsource the storage of receipts to Walz.

"We organize all that data so that it's not just a bag full of green cards," Mr. Hutchinson said.

Jim Jereczek, vice president for business development, said that while lenders rarely have to retrieve the green receipts, the penalty for failing to do so can be severe.

"We streamline a process that is pretty chaotic," he said, noting that lenders face enormous legal exposure and liability for being disorganized in the handling of certified mail.

"These green cards, even though servicers only need them rarely, are very important to have."

Walz accepts information electronically and also has integration with the U.S. Postal Service that reduces mailing times for certified letters. Walz accepts variable name, address and account information from clients over secure VPN for FTP links and prints to high-speed network printers. If a client sends the variable information by 6 a.m., Walz can have the certified letter in the mail the same day. Additional services like address correction, fast-forwarding, presort and same-day electronic confirmation of delivery are also available from the company.

Mr. Jereczek said Walz can process certified mail for considerably less than the $3 to $7 per letter that lenders typically spend on certified mail.

Lenders typically use certified mail only when required to do so by law, usually in cases of loan default. The certified mail is designed to document that the borrower had adequate notice about the default and foreclosure actions.

At this month's MBA National Servicing Conference, Walz plans to highlight the new Walz Secured Outsourcing division, which was formally launched last year.

Walz has long been a leader in the certified mail outsourcing business. The company estimates that 10% of certified mail is handled by an outsourcing firm and Walz manages 70% of that market.

Mr. Jereczek said that with servicing costs rising by an estimated 2%-3% last year, lenders are looking for ways to contain cost growth.

"We are going to be talking about reducing operational costs in their back offices," he said.

Walz Postal Solutions offers "privately printed" Special Service Forms for clients of the United States Postal Service. Its primary product, the WALZ Certified Mailers, provides significant labor savings to clients.

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