Shop Local and Shop Small

Online shopping isn’t going away anytime soon. And with the pandemic, it’s become even more popular, exploding to levels that have caused the major carriers and postal service to scramble over the summer with volumes that were once reserved for the holiday season. However, there are several reasons why you should consider logging off and shop small and local instead.

  1. Small businesses create more jobs nationally.
  2. The economic impact from a small business stays in the local community. For every $100 spent, $65 to $75 is returns to local activity. 
  3. There’s less of an environmental impact from shopping local. The carbon footprint of online shopping is huge and growing.
  4. Local business owners support local charitable causes more than non-local businesses. Non-profits receive almost 3 times as much from local shops than non-local.
  5. Local businesses are owned by people who live in the community and are invested in their communities and are less likely to leave.
  6. Customer service is better. You’re going to get better service from people who you see frequently and who are dependent on your support.
  7. Feel better about yourself and your community.

So how do you do this? Shop small and local of course. Not just on Small Business Saturday. Many local businesses have been severely hurt by the economic problems caused by the pandemic. The large chain stores and online megamonsters aren’t going anywhere. But when was the last time Amazon sponsored a local youth sports league or donated to an animal rescue? Support your local businesses and restaurants. Be vocal about them on social media. Small business is there for you. Be there for them.

We Know Our Ship!

While this blog post title may be funny and a play on words, when you need to ship something, you not only want to choose a company that knows what they’re doing (especially if it’s something that may be needing special packaging), you want to have the best options available to you regarding carriers and shipping choices.

At Espresso Mail, we present all the best options with all the carriers in order to let you decide. If you go to the post office, you’ll be limited to USPS options. While these may work best for you, some packages are better sent via other carriers based on size, weight, and destination. Likewise, if you go to a UPS Store or a FedEx Office your options for shipping will be limited to the UPS or FedEx options. These carriers are not always the best alternative for smaller packages, documents, or international shipping.

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When you ship with us, we verify the destination address in our software to make certain that there won’t be any delays, returns, or additional charges due to an improper address. As a convenience for you, we store all the addresses you ship to as well. We even send you a tracking link to your email so that you can easily follow up on the shipment. Of course, you can always call us and we will gladly assist you with tracking your shipment.

In addition to knowing our ship, we also know how to best pack your items to make certain that it arrives intact.  We have a saying that if “we pack it, we back it,” meaning we take responsibility for your fragile or valuable items being properly packed

to avoid damage. On the rare occasion, something does happen to your package, we will file the claim on your behalf with the carrier and insurance company. Often with international shipments, there may be issues with customs and duties in the receiving country. We act as your agent in these instances to make sure your shipment gets cleared and delivered.

In the shipping landscape today, it’s more important than ever to have someone looking out for your needs and to solve your problems. At Espresso Mail, we do more than just throw a stamp or label on your package to send it on its way. We’re your advocate and partner. Let us prove to you that “we know our ship.”Carrier logos

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! We will be closed on Saturday to celebrate but will be open normal hours on Friday, the 3rd. We will reopen on Monday the 6th ready to serve you some great coffee and help you with your mailing and shipping needs.

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Because of the pandemic, our local cities have canceled their fireworks celebrations in order to encourage social distancing. Likewise, the beaches have also been closed for the weekend. If you decide to use your own fireworks, please be cautious. Over 9000 people were treated in firework-related injuries in 2018. Approximately 36% of the injuries were for those under the age of 15.

We also ask that you be considerate of our furry friends. The constant loud bangs and flashes of light can be very stressful for dogs. A few tips: several hours before the fireworks start, let your dog get plenty of exercise. A long walk or run will get their energy out and they’ll have less to exert during the fireworks. Likewise, a solid meal an hour or so before will help them feel contented and relaxed. Distractions are also important. Playing, cuddling, and even a television show or music can help.

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And while our celebrations may be more subdued this year, please remember the normal summer tips for yourself and your family. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen if you’re outside, and don’t overindulge in alcohol.

We hope you have a great Fourth. It’s our country’s birthday and regardless of the problems we face, it’s still the greatest country in the world.

What does your business card say about you?

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While so many things are now digital and electronic, one of the oldest and likely still more important tools for anyone in the business world is a business card. These little introductions have been around since 15th century China and were called Meishi or visiting cards. While their form has changed over the centuries, the basic purpose hasn’t. And if first impressions are lasting ones, which impression are you leaving a potential client or customer with your business card?

There are many factors you should consider when choosing a design and type for your business card. First, you need to prioritize readability over creativity. The standard sized business card is 3 ½ by 2 inches. While you can certainly cram a lot of information onto both sides of a card, you want to make certain that the information you have on it is essential, concise, and not overly busy. The person who has your card has likely met you and knows what you do. In this case, less is more.

In addition to readability, the card needs to be visually attractive. Avoid garish color schemes and overly ornate fonts. Avoid script unless you’re in the calligraphy business. It’s difficult to read on such a small medium. Graphics other than a logo should be limited – especially if not germane to your industry. Any images you do use should be high resolution and you need to have the legal right to use the image. Many of the images on the internet are not useable for commercial purposes.

There’s a reason cards have a standard size. They are designed to fit into a wallet, purse or pocket. While creative and gimmicky cards may stand out at first, an odd-shaped or oversized card could be difficult to store and may ultimately get discarded. The same conditions should apply to the material used. 14- or 16-point stock is durable and looks professional while not being overly expensive.

We encourage our clients to allow us to professionally design and print their cards. The card is a reflection of you, your company, and your brand. Having typos, incorrect bleed, blurry photos, and improper cutting is not the image you’re trying to present. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions on business cards or any other printing need you have.

The Art and Science of Coffee Roasting

We don’t serve your grandmother’s 7 o”clock coffee or your company’s Keurig pods. We’ve previously talked about how you shouldn’t settle for stale or bitter coffee. We take great pride in the fact that we use only single-origin Arabica beans for our coffees. We also do our own roasting of the beans in house. This ensures you always have fresh coffee when in our store or when you buy our beans.coffee-beans-1082116_1280

Coffee roasting is a combination of art and science. Applying heat to a green coffee bean is what extracts those delicious aromas, oils, and flavors. While a blanket approach may work for many things, to achieve the best flavors in roasting coffees, each individual origin should be looked at differently. Taking one region’s coffee to a darker roast may not bring out the best of that bean’s attributes. And certain coffees need to be roasted longer to bring out the best flavor profile and tasting notes.

Much talk is made of blonde roasts, but often this is more marketing than the actual roast level. Most of the time these roasts are actually a medium roast rather than the lighter roast proclaimed. We have several single-origin beans that we roast to a medium level (we don’t call it a blonde roast). At these roast levels, these coffees shine brightly. They are flavorful and highlight the tasting profiles of that particular single origin.

Likewise, many of our single origins are better when they are roasted darker. We don’t over roast our beans, so you won’t find any of them bitter. But often a darker roast is better for espresso and pour-overs.

We carry seven different single-origin coffee beans from different regions and have experimented with different roast levels for each to determine what we feel is the optimum roast level for each. We also have an espresso blend for our espresso drinks which we roast to a level which makes it great for a stand-alone espresso or in a latte or cappuccino.

Regardless of your tastes, we have a fresh roasted coffee that will exceed your expectations. If you haven’t tried fresh roasted coffee, you’ll be pleased by the taste difference from something stale that’s been on a store shelf for months. If you have had fresh roasted coffee, we welcome you to try ours and see the difference that our experience and roasting makes.

Ship Happens

Millions of packages are lost or damaged each year. We have written before about porch pirates and how to avoid having your packages stolen. But now let’s concentrate on the other portion of that equation. It’s estimated that over 20% of oversized packages are damaged in transit each year. And the numbers for smaller packages, while better, are still staggering. It’s a huge cost for eCommerce and companies that do shipping and fulfillment.

But you’re not an eCommerce company or Amazon stuffing a few air pillows into a large box and hoping. You’re just wanting to ship a family heirloom, an antique, a painting, or a computer to a friend or family member. What should you do?

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As a certified packing and shipping store, the easy answer would be to come to see us at Espresso Mail. We offer “we pack it, we back it” guarantee on items that we pack. We take extra care to make certain that your items are professionally packed to arrive in mint condition regardless of the extreme handling and abuse they may suffer on their journey. In the rare case of damage, we file the claim for you and follow up on it every step of the way.

However, if you want to do it yourself, here are some guidelines and don’ts that will help you make certain your self-packed items arrive as you intended. First the don’ts:

  1. Recycling is great but not for a box. Carriers can deny a damage claim if the box is not a shipping box or is used. You may save a few dollars by not buying a new box, but is that worth the risk of damage. Remember, your box, when it is in the package stream will be bouncing into other boxes on conveyors, tossed into trucks, and often treated like a pinball.
  2. Don’t use paper for glass or fragile items. Paper is great as a void fill but provides little protection. Use bubblewrap. And remember, bubbles go on the inside. Feel free to pop a few but not on the items you’re packing.
  3. Don’t have the items touching the edge of the box. Remember our pinball analogy. Chances of damage are greater when the items are next to the edge of a box.

Once you obey the don’ts, here are some helpful guidelines:

  1. Make certain your box is large enough to accommodate the item and use at least 2 inches of insulation around all sides of the box to protect your item. We prefer Styrofoam peanuts. They cushion fragile objects and compress to a snug fit. Always fill your box with enough peanuts so that the delicate items cannot move around in the box. It should be a snug fit when closing and taping the top.
  2. As we stated in the don’ts about a box, it’s just as important to select the right weight box. All of our boxes are rated for shipping with a 200-pound crush test. It’s a heavier duty box than what you’ll see from that E-Commerce giant or your local hardware store, but they aren’t as likely to crumple under stress. And the package distribution channel is very stressful. Just look at the numbers in the first paragraph.
  3. When taping your box, use proper packing tape. We use a 3” wide tape and make certain to cover all seams in an H design. This can help prevent the elements from impacting your package. While most carriers aren’t going to leave your package out in the rain, the added protection can help.

Proper packing is an art and a science. It can be a major inconvenience to not only source the proper supplies but also to make certain that your package meets carrier and insurer guidelines. Most importantly, you want your package to arrive intact. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions regarding packing. We’re also able to pack your oversized, odd-shaped, valuable, and fragile items for you.

 

Don’t Burn the Candle at Both Ends

As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we know that we all wear different hats and work long hours to make our stores and operations succeed. Things are continually changing in our industry and the market pressures are only increasing. Often, we’re paddling faster and faster in order to keep our heads above the rising waters. Can we work longer hours? Can we work smarter? Can we be the duck whose web feet are moving at a bit torrent pace under the water to move forward? Potentially, yes, to all three questions. However, for us to be at our best, sometimes we have to take a different tack so that we can be at our best and succeed.

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Here are a few suggestions on little things you can do as a store owner in order to change your mindset and give you a chance to refresh yourself so that when you’re back in the store, swapping all those different hats, putting out all those fires, and paddling faster and faster in order to succeed.

First, take a minute to unplug. Most of us are constantly on our cellphones, receiving email updates, posting on social media for our stores, and doing the vast things that the wonderful smartphones now allow us to do today. There is growing research that shows that people who use cellphones during their leisure time interferes with our ability to disconnect from work and recover from the stress and demands we face on a daily basis.

Maybe it’s only an hour, but the longer we can unplug, turn the cellphone off and decompress, the more likely we’ll be able to perform better when we’re plugged in. Read a book, exercise, take a walk. But put the cellphone down and unplug. Avoid the temptations and distractions.

Automate and delegate. We hopefully all use a shipping software to automate our shipping processes. Both Postalmate and Shiprite offer great solutions that help us automate the packing and shipping. But look at your other responsibilities and tasks. Which of these can be automated? If you can save yourself time and effort in reducing redundant tasks. It’s often a cost saving item for store owners to do everything themselves. But there’s a built-in cost in doing that. Free up your time in order to focus on other things and growing your business.

Likewise, we may be the most qualified person in our store to do every single task. But is it cost-effective for us to be making a twenty-cent copy or even packing every single job that comes in the store? We have to be able to delegate to our employees and trust that they will follow the excellent training that we have provided them. Yes, they may make a mistake. However, that can be a teaching tool and another opportunity for us to get out from behind the counter and grow our business in a meaningful way. This was the hardest lesson for me as a store owner to learn. As a perfectionist, I want everything to be done exactly the right way. But trusting your employees and empowering them makes them more engaged in being a part of your team.

Spring cleaning for your business!

It’s almost Spring, although, in south Florida, the actual season doesn’t mean much because temperatures rarely drop below the 70’s. The calendar date is drawing closer though and it’s time to begin thinking about spring cleaning. Traditionally, spring cleaning was something done in colder climates when the weather warmed. However, we’re not talking about washing baseboards or vacuuming vents. We’re talking about the spring cleaning that your business needs to do.

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Here are a few suggestions on some smart ways to put the luster back on your business:

  1. Evaluate your staff and their roles.

It’s easy in the day to day bustle to get complacent with your current staff and their jobs. Are your team members engaged and focused on your core standards? Do their roles need to be tweaked or revamped in order for them to become high performers? Spring is an excellent time to make certain that you’re not only staffed properly but that you’re investing in the growth of your current team. We have to ask ourselves the tough questions and understand that sometimes, it’s not the person you fail to hire; it’s the person you fail to fire. Your team is the windows to your customers. Are they shining?

  1. Dust off your website and social media.

When was the last time you actually clicked on your website, much less updated it or gave it a fresh look? It doesn’t take a web designer to make certain that all your links work, that your photos are current, and that any changes in your services or offerings are up to date. Is your social media adequately showcasing your brand? Tightening up the little details with your online presence doesn’t take an enormous effort, but can pay big dividends.

  1. Take a look at your numbers.

Yes, spring also means tax time. But apart from that, this is a perfect time to look at the Key Performance Indicators of your business. Are you maximizing ROI on your services? Take a hard look at underperforming areas. Does the service need to be revamped or eliminated entirely? Do you need to double down or expand with your high performing services? Before you send all the numbers date to your accountant, take a close look at them. Do a critical analysis based on facts, not a gut feeling. If you do this on a regular basis, your numbers will improve.

  1. Clean out your files and emails.

We talk about cleaning out our email often but actually do it. Organize them and get rid of the cobwebs that have grown in your inboxes. Clean out your paper files. Can they be scanned or shredded or both? It can be a time-consuming process, so consider outsourcing this to a company such as ours which specialize in these business to business services.

  1. Wipe off that business plan

If you’ve been established as a business for any length of time, you may have totally forgotten that you once had a business plan. Pull it out of the crypt and update it. Look at your goals as well. Are they SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound)? Maybe it’s time to update them.

Spring cleaning your business may not take as much effort and elbow grease as deep cleaning your house. But the results can pay off immeasurably. So shake off the dust and routines that have become habitual. In doing so, your team and your customers will likely see a much fresher business.

 

 

Community Support Initiative for Local Foster Children

If you are getting rid of aFoster Kidsny kind of luggage, do not take it to a donation center or throw it away. Clean it up and bring it here. We will collect them and give them to our local foster care agency. People may be unaware that foster kids are often asked to transport their belongings from place to place, in some cases in a plastic bag. By donating unwanted luggage, you can help.

We have teamed up with Guardian Ad Litem in Palm Beach County to help local foster children. Please bring any luggage to our store instead of taking it to a donation center or throwing it away. Foster kids are often asked to transport their belongings from place to place. Thanks in advance for helping us help others less fortunate.

Please consider working with us to improve the lives of others
we may not know or have a chance to meet. Our business has a
desire to make a positive impact on our community. Thank you,
in advance, for your kindness and consideration!

The Shopping and Shipping Season is here!

present-1893642_1280We want to make sure that your gifts arrive before the holiday, so here are the critical dates to make sure they get there. Remember, the earlier you ship, the better. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns because #weknowourship!

FedEx and UPS Ground: Monday, December 16th

3 Day Air Service: Thursday, December 19th

2 Day Air Service: Friday, December 20th

Overnight: Monday, December 23rd

USPS Priority Mail is a 2-3 day service but after this week we don’t recommend shipping with the postal service.