Location, location, location – it's the mantra of realtors, of course, but is just as important to retailers and service providers, like the U.S. Postal Service. USPS understands the importance of being where people live and shop. It also knows that keeping hours conducive to people's shopping habits increases customer traffic. Cue contract postal units (CPUs), which the Postal Service uses to supplement its 32,000 post offices around the country.
CPUs are retail establishments located inside a private business and operated by nonpostal employees, such as in a Hallmark store. Under contract to the Postal Service, they offer products and services such as stamps, Priority Mail, Standard Post, and Certified Mail. This past fiscal year, USPS had 2,656 CPUs, down from 5,290 in fiscal year 2002.
The CPU program offers customers more places to buy postal products and reduces wait time in post offices. For the Postal Service, CPUs can reduce operational costs and help increase retail revenue. Talk about a win-win.
However, to make sure the CPU program meets all these goals, the Postal Service could make some improvements, our recent audit report said.
In particular, we noted the Postal Service's host offices – which administer the CPU contracts, provide training to the CPUs, and monitor their operations – could do a better job of monitoring overall CPU operations and performance. We also found opportunities for some host offices to improve training and regular contact with CPU personnel. We recommended the Postal Service develop a formal training program for host offices and consider implementing best practices we identified in the report at all host offices.
Is there a CPU in your neighborhood or near your office? How often do you use it? Are there ways to improve CPUs?