For me, it wasn’t that long ago, but for some reason I like paying money to send pieces of paper across the country to friends that I could easily just send a text message or call.
Not only is it personal, but it’s also tangible, and it seems to be beginning to become an art form lost in the fog of digital and wireless technology.
It’s more difficult to throw away a complete envelope with a handwritten letter inside and maybe even a small trinket of affection than it is to delete an email or a text message.
It’s almost like throwing away a piece of your loved one, their time and your memories. Most Americans don’t share my views.
This is easy to see if you’ve picked up the latest TIME magazine and read the briefing on the United States Postal Service, where it was reported that USPS lost $3.2 billion in its most recent quarter.
Many small countries in the world don’t even have a GDP of $3 billion, but USPS can afford to lose that in a quarter.
How is that OK?
The postal service has clearly become the Greece of government organizations, and it’s time to either cut it loose or make some serious changes.
Projected losses for USPS if changes are not made is estimated at $14.1 billion for 2012 and $21 billion annually by 2016.
The United States cannot afford to continually flush $21 billion down the toilet due to a failing postal service.
So what can be done?
The same TIME magazine briefing made six excellent recommendations to help USPS get back on its feet, all of which I think are excellent ways to start generating immediate profit for this floundering industry.
Because of limited space, I’ll highlight which options are the most important, in my opinion.
The first recommendation is to partner with companies to personalize promotional materials for mail routes, kind of like a physical version of how Google tailors ads toward user preferences.
While this may result in more “junk mail” for us, it has the potential to help out small businesses and forge a relationship between the industry of local areas and USPS.
The second recommendation is to offer basic financial services such as selling bonds, credit cards and mortgages like postal services do in Europe, giving people important reasons to come to the post office other than to send packages.
In 1911, USPS started selling certificates of deposit that allowed buyers to earn two percent interest. However, this initiative went under by 1967.
Training USPS employees to make a variety of financial transactions could also be helpful and allow them to transfer to other industries, such as banking, if USPS needs to cut its budget (again).
The third and most interesting recommendation, in my opinion, is to turn postal trucks into “roving science labs.”
USPS has 213,881 mail trucks that traverse the entire country, which means that they have the opportunity to gather information about weather patterns and air pollution levels that some weather stations just can’t access.
It also mentions that the USPS could lease truck space to businesses like Google Maps, therefore outsourcing from one of the biggest companies in the world to stay in America.
USPS has a lot of opportunities to turn itself around; it’s just a matter of who it wants to listen to.
One thing’s for sure: USPS needs to be eagerly awaiting that letter of reform in the mail.