BACKGROUND:

There are 23 million small businesses in the U.S. and they play a vital role in the national economy and the mailing industry. They are one of the U.S. Postal Service’s key customer segments, generating more than $9 billion in annual revenue, and the small business mailing and shipping marketplace continues to grow. The Postal Service has focused on growing small business revenue and has a variety of ongoing initiatives. Two initiatives are a program for postmasters to build contacts, leads, and relationships with small businesses and a contracted sales staff (telesales) to reach the small business market.

Postmasters and sales staff are central to these initiatives — postmasters often are the link to local small businesses while sales staff members manage and implement many small business-related programs. Our objectives were to evaluate the effectiveness of the Postal Service’s postmasters' and sales staff's efforts for growing small business revenue and identify opportunities for growth.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:

There is an opportunity for the Postal Service to retain and grow revenue from its existing and prospective small businesses by improving the efficiency of its postmasters’ and sales staff's efforts. The Postal Service can improve the effectiveness of growth in the small business market by developing and implementing a strategy to place organizational priority on generating small business revenue; further leveraging the relationship postmasters have with local small businesses by establishing a process for postmasters to obtain funding to join local civic organizations; enhancing collaboration between postmasters and sales staff and developing clear communication paths to support postmasters; and improving the availability and usage of quality sales-related tools, data, and training.

We estimate these collective improvements could result in additional small business revenue of $122 million in fiscal year 2013.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:

We recommended the Postal Service develop a strategy to increase the priority that postmasters and sales staff place on generating small business revenue. We also made recommendations regarding postmaster involvement in civic organizations; sales staff interaction with postmasters; and the availability and use of sales-related tools, market data, and training.