Friday, January 04, 2013

How To: Save the Postal Service (@USPS)

It's been in the news of late that the U.S. Postal service is facing a sort of Fiscal Cliff of its own, having missed several large payments due its pension plan.  I've had a soft spot for the Postal Office Department, a branch of the Federal Government ever since it declared that man, Kris Kringle, to be the one and only Santa Claus.

So it's only fitting that I, the unpaid consultant to the world, would offer up some practical solutions about how the U.S. Postal Service might change its business to save some money.

1. Super-Saver Shipping - during the Christmas season as I was buying gifts on, several times they offered me $1 credits if I absolutely, positively didn't need the order rushed.  That is, they paid me to choose a slower delivery.  The USPS could offer less expensive stamps on stuff that doesn't need to get there in any hurry.

2. Reduced Residential Delivery - in the olden days (or so I'm told), it was downright romantic to receive a letter.  Or gosh, when the Wells Fargo Wagon rolled into town, they were in the streets singing.  If once a week is good enough for garbage pickup, why not deliver postal mail less frequently to homes?  We've all heard about how the volume has really decreased.  If it's all credit card bills and junk mail anyhow, deliver it less often.  That's fewer wasted trip to the mailbox just to be disappointed, and it means fewer postal officers required to make the rounds.  Bulk mail can pay extra for non-standard delivery.

3. Eliminate Commercial Friday/Saturday Service - for big businesses, the finance department probably doesn't work weekends and for small businesses that are open on weekends, they're probably pretty busy, especially in the service industry.  Dealing with delivered mail is just one more thing to deal with.  Make the 17-year-old assistant manager handling the lunch run happier by not trying to hand her a stack of mail while she's trying to help with a manager override on the cash register.

4. Discounts for Multi-Year Post Office Box Renewals - P.O. Box rentals are usually 6- or 12-month terms.  I think you can renew for longer, but there's no incentive.  Give a discount on 2-, 5- and 10-year rentals.  That will allow more revenue to be collected today.  Tomorrow can take care of itself.

5. Discounts for P.O. Box Substitution - allow me to cancel home delivery in favor of a post office box.  That is, any mail that comes to 5551212 Fake St. to automatically be diverted to my post office box.  No more mail comes to my house, no more mail gets stolen
from my mailbox or collected by neighbors while I'm no vacation, the guy making the rounds has one less mailbox to stop at.  I no longer get stuck at prompts online where they won't let me put in a post office box.  Or, maybe just make it free altogether.  Make it up in selling more stuff from vending machines at the post office.  (Not just stamps, you could install candy, soda, gift card, cell phone/minute vending machines at the post office.)

6. Special Deliver-On Stamps.  If my credit card bill is due on January 21st., any day ahead of the 21st. that the credit card company receives my check is extra money for them and less money for me.  Even if it's just the principle of it all, people might pay an extra 5 cents for mail that's delivered on a specific date.

7. Installation of Post Office Boxes in non-post office locations.  Still charge the same amount for the boxes, but then turn around and charge Wal*Mart, Walgreens, 7-11, Fred Meyer, long-term leases for the boxes.  If my P.O. Box was at Fred Meyer, that would guarantee I was going into Fred Meyer at least once a week.  That's a great way to get people to keep coming back in.

8. Open small post offices inside larger stores like Wal*Mart, Costco, Target, K-Mart, etc.  Rent would be inexpensive or free, or possible in some cases, they might pay you to be there if it generated additional traffic to the store.  Would also allow for the elimination of some costly real estate holdings and building maintenance.

9. Operate a deliver-to-email service.  It wouldn't work for every document, but in many cases, you could divert mail to a facility where an automated system opened, scanned and stored the documents.  It's completely transparent to the sender who just sends as they always did.  The recipient, can sign-in, view the documents, print the documents, and for a small fee, have the originals delivered to them by mail.

10. Open a post office at Disneyland.  Ok, this one might not save you any money.  But it's really lame that all of the mail you drop off at Disneyland is carried to a nearby post office and stamped Anaheim, California instead of being stamped Disneyland, California.  You could even sell $1 stamps (everything else goes to Anaheim).  It's no secret that Walt Disney loved Americana.  A Post Office/memorabilia/collectible shop would be a nice addition to the various Main St., USAs at the parks.

11. Operate Post-Officemobiles.  Like libraries in smaller areas that can't sustain a library, there are some areas of the United States with Post Offices where it really doesn't financially make sense.  Operate a roving Post Office as a cost-effective way to service those areas.

12. Sue FedEx and UPS et al for copying you.  Seems to be working for Apple.

So... there you have it.  Some humor, but some legitimate ideas
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