Donna Flanagin of Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service reflects on 25-year anniversary of serving customers with a bright smile and inviting business

Donna Flanagin of Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service reflects on 25-year anniversary of serving customers with a bright smile and inviting business

With Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service now celebrating 25 years of magic, inspiration, hard work, and quality mailing for deserving customers, Owner Donna Flanagin is here to share about her perspective and the insight she has gained from the start until now.

To no surprise to anyone who knows Flanagin personally, her friendly and inviting personality is contagious. From the moment you first enter the doors to Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service, it’s clear that customers are welcome. With decorations and a lively spirit that is constantly being changed to a new theme, it’s undoubtedly an exciting place to be. The business’ environment reflects what Flanagin has prioritized most over the last 25 years - value and respect for her customers.

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that it’s all about the customer; if I don’t have any customers, I don’t have a business,” said Flanagin. “Our philosophy right from the beginning has been to try to treat the small guy the same as the bigger mailer. As a company, we welcome the small ones as much as we welcome the big ones.”

This diversity in her customer base is something that Flanagin is proud of and strives to continue maintaining for years to come.

“One of the things that truly has sustained me is that I have a lot of customers but they’re of all different sizes. I have always felt that it’s nice to have the big ones, but it just isn’t, to me, a stable way to do business to only look for big ones,” said Flanagin. “I wanted to have small and large companies because they all come and go. You always lose customers every year and then hope to gain more the next, that’s like every business.”

Flanagin also emphasized that valuing customers is a learning process that she is constantly adapting to as both the business and her motivation grows. Becoming comfortable with failing at times is also part of that learning process.

“In the beginning, I focused on the customer, but I didn’t really understand how to focus on the customer. Emotion trumps everything; if you can make that customer feel special, that’s the most important thing you can do,” said Flanagin. “It’s something that you can never finish and you’re always learning. You always hope that you’re as good as you can be on the phone and you treat them as nicely as you can, and even in the tough times when the situation is difficult, can you still hold your cool? And do I fail sometimes? Yes. But do I win more times than I fail? Yes. That’s reality.”

It’s safe to say that Flanagin has surely succeeded more often than failed as Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service now enters their 25th year of prospering business. Not only has Flanagin and her team advocated for and supported countless nonprofits in the surrounding area, but they have retained many customers since day one. 

“I would say there’s a handful of customers that have been with me since day one, 25 years ago,” said Flanagin. “They may or may not understand, sometimes they don’t even realize, but that’s really cool.”

Among her many supporters and loving customers, Debbie Kusmiz has been with Flanagin's Bulk Mail since day one and is a prominent friend and ally in Flanagin’s life. Kuzmiz has promoted the business every day since the beginning by word of mouth, networking at every turn. 

“She is our biggest cheerleader,” said Flanagin. “Without Debbie, we would not have the solid customer base that we have enjoyed through the last 25 years.”

Though retaining dedicated customers and supporters has been a constant, Flanagin noted a few prominent changes to the business process that have occurred since their start. 

“When we first started all mailing was done by labels, but wow we don’t do a whole lot of labelling at all anymore. We do some if it’s necessary for the piece, but mostly it’s done with what’s called direct impression where the address is right on the piece, so that’s flip-flopped completely,” said Flanagin. “Another significant change is that in the beginning, almost all information came to me on a floppy disk. And now it’s totally not that way; many of my customers, quite honestly, I’ve never met face-to-face. For people to be able to attach their data to an email and send it over is huge for everybody. For them to clear it off their desk and be done and for me to just open up my email and there it is; it’s wonderful.”

Flanagin noted that the official anniversary of when the business took root was in September since that is when she first took a trip to the post office back in 1995. However, January 1 is when she marks the celebratory day. Flanagin’s professional journey jumped from one thing to another before starting her business in bulk mail, so having a multitude of dates and specifics for everything has allowed her to choose somewhat of her own anniversary.

“It’s kind of funny, for me it’s hard. I had a business before - Flanagin’s Secretarial Service - where I started doing bulk mail under that title. But when I actually did my own mailing myself, that’s the date that I count to be [the start of] Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service,” said Flanagin. “I had a federal ID number already, but I had a name change, and then I had another name change when it turned into an LLC, so I had all these dates and I just had to pick something. So I said, ‘This is when I took my first mailing to the post office,’ and that’s how I gauge being in business for bulk mail.”

Just like any other business, Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service has experienced highs and lows that have shaped them and helped them to grow to where they are today. Perhaps most notably, Flanagin discussed how seeing her two daughters, and now also one of her granddaughters, join her in working at the business has been a beautiful perk.

“I never thought in the beginning that my business would be, in fact, a landing pad for my family,” said Flanagin. “I never thought my girls would go to college and come back here; it wasn’t the plan, but how wonderful is that. You don’t necessarily have to have the plan, sometimes it just falls beautifully into place. My husband’s pretty much retired right now, not officially, but he now works a lot here, and I wonder sometimes how I did it without him.” 

After 25 years of business, the word Flanagin came back to most was appreciation for her family, her community, and the little sparks of magic along the way that brought her to where she is today.

“I’m probably more appreciative now after 25 years than I have ever been. I’m very appreciative of the blessings,” said Flanagin. “Being able to work with family is not easy, it’s generally not even sustainable, but we have found a way to make it work. It was never the plan, but it has been a beautiful reward.”

Flanagin’s way of echoing that appreciation is a bit different than most businesses. Instead of making consistent monetary contributions to a list of nonprofits in the area, Flanagin’s efforts since day one have involved simply filling needs as they come up, demonstrating an approach she refers to as “going the extra inch.”

“We don’t focus on one or just the major ones, we actually just do things when it arises. It’s little things all over the place that don’t on their own appear to be necessarily big giving, but we help a lot of different ways,” said Flanagin. “There’s a saying about going the extra mile, but sometimes it’s better to go the extra inch because it’s doable, consistently doable. I learned it from my good friend Jeff. If you always strive for going the extra mile, it can be overwhelming sometimes. Going the extra inch, it’s doing little things all year long that you don’t even really remember and don’t all add up, but it’s making a difference.”

Here’s to 25 more years of quality bulk mail, unique and thoughtful giving back, and inspiration and magic at every corner. To learn more about Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service, visit their website at http://mybulkmail.com.