Fall 2011 Edition

In this edition you’ll find “Record Storage Strategies” by Rob Mattern, a report on Mattern’s Customer Satisfaction Survey, “Off-site Records Storage Can Save You” by Steve Mackes of GRM and a Webinar Recap: Off-site Records Storage.

Record Storage Strategies

It is widely believed that the oldest legal document known to mankind is the Code of Ur-Nammu, created in 2050 BC by King Hammurabi. This is not entirely accurate. In truth, the oldest legal document known to mankind is the off-site records storage contract that was created in order to store the code off-site from King Hammurabi’s palace. Rumor has it the Sumerians are still negotiating re-boxing fees.

For anyone who has ever dealt with off-site records and negotiated the contract for these services, you may recognize the truth in the hyperbolic jest. Off-site records storage is an industry based on antiquated policies and terms that may present issues resulting in, if not the world’s first epic poem, epic financial penalties and other costs if you are not careful.

Here are some negotiating strategies to help you be careful and achieve the contract that most benefits your firm.

Define the Purpose.

When we engage with a client to work on their off-site records storage contracts, one of the first questions we ask the client to clarify is the purpose of the off-site records function as it relates to the overall goals of the firm. Specifically: Is off-site records storage going to be an extension of the on-site records storage (if applicable)?

  • Will the off-site location store active records or will it be only for inactive records?
  • Are you looking for one vendor to represent the firm in all your geographic locations?
  • Alternatively, would different business partners in different cities be acceptable – as long they have similar terms and pricing?


We have clients whose off-site records storage contracts haven’t been looked at since Nixon was President. Once the contracts are reviewed, they often reveal these types of hidden fees:

We have clients whose off-site records storage contracts haven’t been looked at since Nixon was President. Once the contracts are reviewed, they often reveal these types of hidden fees:

  • Evergreen clauses with mandatory storage charges
  • Excessive permanent withdrawal fees
  • Contract termination fees

In order to minimize the termination and withdrawal fees as well as limit the amount of document destruction, be realistic. Your permanent withdrawal fees have been accumulating for years; they are not going to go away overnight. Additionally, make sure you have the firm’s management agreement and the process in place before you over-commit to any amount of destruction.

Get Competitive. Get a Request for a Proposal.

Getting great pricing and terms never happen when you deal one-on-one with a new vendor or if you are negotiating a new contract with your current vendor. You may get better terms and pricing than you have currently (which only means your current pricing and terms are weak), but not great pricing. The only way you will get the most competitive pricing and terms the market has to offer is to create a competitive situation, and the only way to do this intelligently is to solicit competitive proposals through a request for proposal process.

Know the Market and the Vendor.

Even when you complete a request for proposal, most vendors will not put forth their most competitive terms unless the vendor is explicitly asked or you are asking the decision maker.

Contract Negotiations: Just Say No.

Off-site records storage is an extremely competitive market and the vendors will back-down on terms only if they are pressed and only if they know their competitors are involved. We suggest prior to selecting your short list, create a list of deal killers that you refuse to give in on and inform the business partners that they will not be allowed to participate in the final round unless they address those items in writing. After this exercise, you will have a pretty good idea of the vendors who will be willing to negotiate a competitive contract.

Webinar Recap: Off-site Records Storage

Mattern & Associates’ webinar “Off-site Records Storage ” was a great success. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of some important questions and answers that were covered.

What are the pros and cons of law firms building and maintaining their own off-site (or on-site) storage facilities?

Very few law firms elect to go this route, primarily because of the cons, which include:

  • Records storage is not “core” business
  • Cost of procuring, equipping and maintaining adequate, safe and secure space
  • Cost of staffing for such space
  • Limited growth opportunities

However, if you are able to procure, equip and maintain your own storage facilities, the pros include:

  • Potentially reduced storage costs
  • Elimination of activity-based charges
  • With appropriate equipment and training of staff, increased utilization of “electronic” access to data, reducing physical transportation costs
  • Increased opportunity to implement electronic conversion opportunities – scanning can be done daily by on-site staff and not charged on a transactional basis
  • Elimination of “removal” fees

What is temp space?

This refers to the location in a vendor’s facility, where records (new or refiles) are initially placed when removed from the vendor’s truck after a pick-up from your office. The vendor will then begin to place the records onto their shelves, or into the appropriate boxes. However, depending on the vendor, the facility, time of day, etc., it may take several hours, or possibly a few days for all of the storage to be moved from this “temp space” to the shelves. In the event you require one of these boxes of records to be returned, it can often take an extended amount of time for the vendor to locate records that are in their “temp space.”

How does Mattern help firms reduce cost and improve efficiency in this area?

Mattern provides a complete review of all current contracts (terms/conditions and expiration) and pricing, including your potential exposure to “removal” fees. We review service levels and your firm’s process and workflow. The information gathered is benchmarked vs. industry best practice. Finally, we provide recommendations and strategy (the tools) for reducing current expenses and improving your long-term contractual agreement.

Today’s economy underscores the need for cost-effective service. Reducing costs without sacrificing service levels is not only possible, it’s necessary. Mattern & Associates has helped many firms do just that.

Off-site Records Storage Can Save You

Off-site records storage can save an organization in a number of ways. It can save you from the many forms that disaster might take – physical, financial and emotional—and, it can save you in terms of improving productivity and literally cutting costs.

Even so, there are still companies and firms keeping their information physically in house, incurring, in many cases, the considerable capital expenditures of purchasing or leasing, equipping and staffing a storage space or facility. “It’s a fact that never ceases to amaze me,” says Executive Vice President, Jerry Glatt, keenly aware of both the challenges and opportunities this reality presents for his company, GRM Document Management.

From its beginnings, more than twenty years ago, GRM has dramatically evolved. Today, it provides comprehensive, end-to-end records and information management solutions that go far beyond off-site document storage to include digital/electronic document content management, data protection, certified destruction and consultative Retention, Compliance and Governance expertise.

But for many of GRM’s clients, their first exposure and interaction with the company comes with a decision to store their records off-site. There are a number of reasons, as Jerry Glatt explains, for embracing such a change.

“With off-site storage, a company or firm immediately saves by not having to outlay capital for leasing or purchasing space, shelving, staffing and other items such as inventory control software, security measures or a fire suppression system. A records and information management company like GRM provides all of that and more, using its considerable knowledge and experience to save you money reduce your risk and deliver value.”

Even as this article came together, GRM was prepping its east coast facilities in Miami, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York/New Jersey to withstand a major, rapidly approaching hurricane, underscoring the superior kind of disaster prevention/recovery service the company provides.

Measuring Customer Satisfaction – The Ultimate Question:

Since 2008 we have been using the Net Promoter Score also know as NPS to measure Customer Satisfaction. It is based on the book “The Ultimate Question” by Fred Reichheld and utilizes the single question “On a scale of one to ten – how likely is it that you would recommend Mattern & Associates to a friend or colleague?” For the first time since we started, our NPS score has topped 80% with a score of 85% as of September 8, 2011. This is especially gratifying since most companies score in the 10% range.

The use of this score as part of our management philosophy has at times been “painful” such as in 2010 when we recognized that we had to improve the quality of our end products and our scheduling/capacity. At other times, such as now, it is rewarding to see that those improvements have paid off.

Mattern’s NPS Score
2008 2009 2010 2011
60% 75% 48% 85%

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