Published on: June 1, 2017
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
There was a piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day saying that the budget proposal sent to Congress by the Trump administration included one surprising suggestion - that the US Postal Service should cut back on its delivery days from six days to five as a way to address the multimillion dollar losses it suffers each year.
This sort of surprised me, especially coming from the first administration run by a businessman, who, one would think, would be more focused on how to be competitive. Instead, the mindset seems to be one that rarely works - that the Post Office needs to cut its way to prosperity.
I would suggest that in a lot of ways, the Post Office may be more relevant today than ever - largely because it adopted a seven day delivery schedule in many markets that has it delivering Amazon shipments on Sundays. Plus, it has made deals that have UPS delivering products to the Post Office, which then delivers the items to consumers. I don't know about you, but it seems to me that I see more postal service trucks than ever making deliveries, not fewer ... and the USPS confirms that while first class mail is way down, package shipping actually makes up about 28% of overall revenue, up from nearly 20% in fiscal 2014. It isn't hard to imagine that this number will continue to grow as e-commerce does ... especially if the Post Office does things to be more competitive and relevant, not less so.
Now, I'd never list myself as a fan of the US Postal Service, largely because there are too many people working there who don't seem to realize they are in the customer service business. Sometimes they act entitled, as opposed to feeling lucky that they still have jobs in an industry that gets consistently more competitive and loses customers every day to email. But that may be something that requires a real cultural transplant, and that takes time ... and probably some sort of charismatic leader from the business community willing to take on an enormous challenge. (Years ago, when the Irish Postal Service was in trouble, they brought in supermarket icon Feargal Quinn to transform the business. Which he did. The solutions today would be different than they were then, but they ought to be looking for someone in that vein.)
That said, the Postal Service is shutting down offices and consolidating, so that's a good thing. The big thing they need to do is get some relief from Congress in terms of how it calculates pension costs and liabilities, which would be a huge help.
But the one thing they need to do is get more competitive, not less so. They need to find new ways of maximizing their infrastructure investments, not reasons to shut the place down for an extra day.
The good news is that the US Congress is unlikely to let this proposal go through, simply because a lot of voters like to get mail on Saturdays. But while that's a good reason, it ought not be the only reason. I have no problem with the notion that government ought to be able to make do with less, but when it comes to essential services like the US Mail, I think that simply cutting back doesn't help anyone.
More competitive, not less so. to me, that's the key.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: