• on Sep 8th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 43 comments

    You can’t cut your way to prosperity. That seems to be the message coming out of many of the comments we received on our recent blog about the next phase of network consolidation. So, if cutting alone isn’t the answer, what are your ideas for revenue growth?

    Five years ago, we ran a blog post asking stakeholders for their best brainstorming ideas to help the U.S. Postal Service improve its net income. Interestingly, the suggestions seemed split about evenly between cutting costs and generating revenue. So, this time, we want to ask just about revenue-generation ideas. Of course, we welcome any thoughts you have on ensuring a viable Postal Service. That’s what this forum for stakeholder feedback is all about. So this week we ask you to consider the following:

    • What is the number one idea you have to raise Postal Service revenue?

    Share your ideas in the comment section. If you respond to someone else’s idea, please remember to keep it civil. Let’s get a dialogue started. 

  • on Aug 11th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 4 comments

    Say you’re about to drive off for vacation in less than 48 hours, but you suddenly realize your license has expired. The nearest DMV office is 15 miles away, the waiting line probably just as long, and there’s just too much else to do to get ready. But imagine now that you can go to your local Post Office, which can handle the renewal right there and then.

    That’s just one of the many possibilities discussed at a roundtable we recently co-organized with the Postal Innovation Platform. The topic: opportunities for postal operators everywhere to simultaneously expand business while partnering with their respective governmental agencies to better serve the public. Experts from academia, government, and the private sector looked at how postal operators could leverage their assets and capabilities to successfully meet the changing needs of government. Our newest white paper recaps in detail the main points and highlights of the roundtable.

    Perhaps the most significant point raised: Posts in every country have features and resources that give them competitive advantages over others in the e-government space. For instance, they have unrivaled networks of post offices and delivery services, which could help bring government services closer to remote areas, where Internet access is minimal or nonexistent. Given their traditional role as trusted intermediaries, posts can also offer services that require privacy and security: payments, document certification and notarization, management of electronic health records, and voting by mail, among others.

    Several postal operators already partner with government in some of these ways. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, has long helped the U.S. State Department process passport applications, and Poste Italiane issues notices of traffic violations and collects payments. But tell us: What other government services would you like the Postal Service to be able to offer? Driver license renewal? Marriage licenses? Any of the services listed above? Something else?  

  • on Jun 16th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 6 comments

    Earn more or spend less. Those are the two basic ways to achieve financial fitness, whether you’re talking about the household budget or a multi-billion-dollar corporate balance sheet.

    And that’s what it comes down to for the U.S. Postal Service as it seeks to bring revenue in line with expenses (it lost $5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2013). So far, the Postal Service has been looking at cost cutting ideas like moving to 5-day mail delivery to changing employee benefits to consolidating networks.

    It’s also been trying to grow revenue, most notably in the package delivery business. But are there some unexplored opportunities to generate income, particularly by taking advantage of one of the Postal Service’s greatest assets – its last mile delivery network?

    We asked that question in a previous blog entry and explored it in more detail in a recent audit report, Delivery Operations – Additional Carrier Services. We came up with nearly two dozen ideas – everything from monitoring services for the elderly and collection of air quality details on delivery vehicles to traffic reporting services and dry cleaning delivery. While these ideas should be explored, most would involve significant financial investments, additional training, and changes to core hours or labor agreements. Also, the 2006 postal law prohibits the Postal Service from offering any new services that aren’t postal in nature.

    But the Postal Service could move relatively quickly to add one new, albeit modest, moneymaker: advertising on postal vehicles. The agency has dipped its toe into similar waters by co-branding with Sony Pictures to promote Priority Mail and “The Amazing Spider Man-2” on mail trucks. But it could also sell space on its vehicles to promote products unrelated to mail.

    On the other hand, even with all those delivery vans, the Postal Service estimates revenue opportunities would be limited to only about $30 million in FY 2015. That’s because advertising would likely be profitable only in densely populated areas and the Postal Service would carefully select advertisers that don’t compromise its trusted brand.

    Should the Postal Service look at every opportunity to raise revenue by leveraging its last mile delivery force or should carriers stick to delivering the mail? What about advertising? Would the postal brand be tarnished if delivery vehicles promoted nonpostal products or is this a worthwhile opportunity to raise much-needed revenue? 

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