Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Plan for the USPS (Suggestions and Opinions)

Save America's Postal Service
On Tuesday,September 27th, the area Roanoke postal worker unions are planning a "Save the Postal Service Rally" in downtown Roanoke. We will be meeting on Franklin Road between Williamson and Jefferson. Various concerns ranging from plant closures to 5 day delivery and local postal employees would like the general public to be aware of what seems like endless politics locally and even nationally during the USPS' most dramatic hour of need.

So I have a plan to save the USPS. It may not be popular preaching from a union point of view but its the USPS we trying to save not necessarily jobs within the post office.

 If you're a coworker of mine or any other random USPS employee and you:
A)Don't own a computer
B)Run from technology
C) Do not know what terms Google,eBay, or Window's 7 is.
D) Do not use email

 you are well past the eligibility requirements to should be forced to retire from the USPS as it progresses aggressively towards the future. I use the term progress aggressively because the USPS has a LOT of catching up to do in the 21st century. So unless you are willing to learn and understand,not to mention embrace technology in the business sector of your job. Please...enjoy retirement! Save me a spot down at Shady Oaks. I'll catch up with you in 2035. We'll talk about the old times....

Let's pause for a moment to give the reader a great example of how the USPS suffers from modern business practices through the use of technology. I was hired by the USPS to work in the Roanoke P&DC in March of 1997. Shortly thereafter I began training to begin qualification to operate certain mail processing machinery (flat sorters and parcel sorters). Now, if you're on the outside looking in,i.e. not employed by the USPS,brace yourself. My training was being done on an Apple IIe computer! Yes! That's not a typo! Families have internet in their homes by 1997 and there I was being trained on one of the first ever personal desk top computers. 

Several weeks ago the company Lockheed and Martin did some modifications on a parcel sorting machine in Roanoke,VA and we had a meeting to discuss the new improved modernization's of the machine.  A rep from Lockheed and Martin explained to us that the circuit boards removed from the machine were so old that they were no longer even made. He cited it was as if you went into Best Buy and asked where they sold the 8-track players. And that is a great parallel to where the USPS is today from a technological stand point. We are still dabbling in 8-track players while ALL our customers are looking for digital music services.
In other words. We are a failing service.We are no longer needed. So why then would the USPS be so reluctant to change and modernize its efforts to keep up with the competition and demands to modern delivery services? Simple:

We simply never needed to. Our volume of mail was so high that it was like fixing something that wasn't broken. A well oiled machine that needed no maintenance. Let the good times roll. The USPS offers a universal service and its standards of delivery was about to meet its ultimate enemy. The World Wide Web. When you are the tortoise in a race full of hares eventually your slow reluctance to keep up with the modern weapons of "warfare" (in our case,declining delivery volumes) Will catch up with you with rapid pace. Technology is  extremely and rapidly ever changing. And so does the way our company conducts its business. The USPS has,in a lot of ways,failed to keep up. We (the USPS) are a sleeping giant. We reign supreme in total volume when compared to our competitors. Its time to awaken the sleeping giant. Here's how....

Our outlook: First and foremost its time we say goodbye to letter mail. The internet has crushed away the need to send letters,bills,bill payments and greeting cards. Its time to embrace the fact that these letters and more importantly the revenue in which we receive from these letters is gone. And its not coming back. End of story.Every year we lose millions and millions more letters than the previous year. This trend will continue. That's a fact! You,the USPS employee, should not in any way be shocked to hear that even your coworkers never buy stamps anymore. Its just that convenient to use the internet for paying bills and sending eCards. Now,even though its true that our bulk business letter volume is up and thus the revenue is up in that department the fact of the matter is first class letter volume and revenue is the absolute life blood of our plus or minus in profitability.

The Plan: After we throw a going away party to our first class letters we need to start looking for ways to generate a new life blood in order to survive.   I suggest a huge emphasis on parcels. Our two major competitors (UPS and FedEx) seems to thrive on their business plans and rely solely on parcel delivery for their life blood. So why shouldn't we? Companies such as J-Crew,,Home Shopping Network,QVC, etc. should be our best friend. Companies mentioned here and the thousands more that ship their products is who we should be working for. Making an ever trusting commitment to deliver their goods. Offer incentives,discounts,service standards.

Every flat rate box being shipped at 10.95 is the equivalent of almost 25 first class letter stamps. Priority shipping rates is the new wave of the USPS future. We should have business minded employees that go from shipper to shipper and recruit their business. Make them offers they can't refuse.

The Roanoke P&DC has 12 letter sorting machines and yet only has one parcel sorting machine. I think employees of the USPS should envision a day where that ratio is reversed. In every surviving plant we have. 
There is a generation of 20 somethings right now that will never set foot inside a post office. They simply don't have to. Even if they are customers of ours they still use their computers to print postage and pay bills. And of course we come to them to meet their shipping needs. Its time to acknowledge this. Ask a 20 something where the nearest post office is and watch them pull out their smart phone a to look it up on google maps. But even this generation and the next shops online. What company will tap into the shipping needs of the thousands of online retailers? Hopefully the USPS. 

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Mike. The "Postal Services" in Europe saw it coming from a mile away and jumped on board 20 minutes before the train left the station. Our beloved USPS saw it coming and thought it was a fad. Shame on all of the overpaid analyst etc. that thought "if it ain't broke don't fix it". Communication is no longer physical and the sooner the USPS, not only recognizes it but, embraces it the better off we'll be. I say check your email and set up your billing cycle at That is what other countries have done but it's a little late for us. Just like you said....we have a lot of catching up to do.