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? 

Comments (6)

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  • anon

    Your USPS.com website needs a tracking history for regular customers. There is an apparent heading to direct customers to such a place but the history reflects "NO ORDERS." I want to be able to see the shipments I have made by USPS (especially Priority Express Mail). Fedex and UPS' equivalent services have such shipment history logs. If you have one on the website, it is not well labeled (or user-friendly). I'm sure I'm not the only one who would want this information.

    Jun 19, 2014
  • anon

    Some is finally paying attention on using our vehicles to advertise. I said this when I was working but no one would listen. All I can say is thank u for finally considering this revenue increase. So how do we eat this Elephant (One bite at a time). After 37 1/2 years and a wonderful retirement from the Postal Service. I congratulate you on just considering this revenue increase. THANK U THANK U. We can make it never give up.

    Jun 17, 2014
  • anon

    I always years ago wanted work for the USPS,believe or not...!

    Jun 17, 2014
  • anon

    I think the U.S. Postal Service should again be the U.S. Post Office Department. While the USPS does have a "product" and can make profits from it products, much of what it does is a public service. Surely universal delivery is a public service and none of the USPS's competitiors would agree to do that--not for 49 cents or probably even 1 dollar! By bringing the USPS back as the U.S. Post Office Department, Congress can take any and all revenue and use it as it wishes and the pressure to be profitable diminishes. Isn't it interesting that the Food and Drug Administration, that charges fee for its users, isn't similarly an independent entity, required to make a profit. Why is it with the USPS?

    Jun 16, 2014
  • anon

    $5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2013) report this situation to u.s. departmen of defence http://www.defense.gov/ cu 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. currently are theses mail truck advertizing still for sony pictures imageworks ,what other marketing is usps doing currently and who is collecting or sending the invoices to these companies to collect payment for this marketing

    Jun 16, 2014
  • anon

    I think coordinating a race (1 mile Fun Run and a 5K) to show support for our local Postal Service would be a good way to increase visibility. And the title of this article would work perfectly!

    Jun 16, 2014

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