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How to fix the post office's constant budget shortfalls

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1. Get rid of all post offices. Sell the properties.

2. Have single large stations in cities (or one single station, for regions of small communities) where mail is sorted, cased and picked up by letter carriers. (Mostly, these sorting areas already exist and would probably only require slight modification.)

3. Focus only on the delivery, transportation and pick-up of mail. Don’t sell stamps. Don’t advertise until the enterprise becomes profitable. Don’t sell postcards or envelopes. Keep delivering on Saturday. No one else does, and so it’s a great competitive advantage. (Besides, it’s when I get my weekly issue of Barron’s.)

4. Sell stamps through retailers — Wal-Mart, CVS, FedEx Kinko’s and Walgreen’s, etc. Sell only stamps and two-day mailers. The U.S. Postal Service shouldn’t compete where it has no advantage.

5. Have postal windows at the one sorting center for each community (or region of smaller communities) for certified and registered mail. These windows are only for certified and registered mail.

6. Either get out of the parcel post and package business, or relax the weight rules for mailing parcel post items and packages. Such items should be mailed from retail stores (FedEx and UPS) or through assigned commercial vendors.

7. If a customer lives outside an urban area, he or she typically has mail picked up from postal drop boxes between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. That’s insane, right? That feeds into not being competitive with UPS and FedEx, who typically pick up between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. What businessperson wishes to have mail picked up well before the end of the work day? Change the times so that all pick-ups occur after 5 p.m. If the USPS really wishes to compete and be only a quasi-governmental entity, it needs to stop acting like a government entity. Only a government entity would “compete” by picking up mail at lunch time.

8. Read the last two sentences of No. 7 again.

9. Fight replacing retiring supervising employees. The core employee will be the letter carrier, and everything should revolve around him or her.

10. All stamps should be “forever” stamps, and the price should be adjusted automatically to reflect what is needed to support the USPS and provide a reasonable profit, a portion of which should be distributed to employees via profit-sharing. Change the ounce rules so that one may mail 1-ounce to 5-ounce packages for, say, fifty cents.

11. If unions fight USPS reorganization (remember, I’m not suggesting the wholesale discharge of employees; I’m just suggesting using them in better ways and not replacing as many post-retirement), allow the USPS to go out of business and let private enterprise deliver the mail. Either FedEx or UPS will be happy to hire the letter carriers and do a perhaps improved version of items one through ten.

I really like the USPS and its personnel — we have great letter carriers at my home and office. I want the USPS to survive. However, in order to survive, it has to modernize and become logical and efficient, doesn’t it?

Next week? I’ll suggest ways to fix the federal government. (Just kidding, mind you. That would take at least a month of work).

Have a great, great week, and say thanks to your letter carrier, okay? Most all of the ones I know are great people.

For more blogs from Richard Hoe, click here.

For more on mail, see:

How to find the right direct mail lead system

3 steps to developing a successful referral system

5 design tips for improving direct mail response

Readers may email Richard Hoe at [email protected]. Mr. Hoe, an investment professional for 42 years, is a member of Prosperity Network’s five-person investment team, as well as an investment advisor representative and registered representative. Paul Ewing’s Kansas City-based Prosperity Advisory Group has over $2 billion in AUM. Mr. Hoe has been writing professionally for more than 50 years and is a member of the adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Finance, a graduate school at California Lutheran University that offers an M.B.A. in financial planning. He holds five designations, including Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Life Underwriter and Accredited Estate Planner, and is a member of both the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the Financial Planning Association. He helps edit each edition of Andy Kilpatrick’s “Of Permanent Value,” a book about Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway published yearly in advance of each shareholder meeting.

This information is intended for financial professionals only, not the general public. This is not a solicitation to buy or sell any specific security. Mr. Hoe may have positions in the securities or other investments discussed. Investments in securities do not offer a fixed rate of return. Principal, yield and/or share price will fluctuate with changes in market conditions, and when sold or redeemed, one may receive more or less than originally invested.


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