Many businesses know using email, online banking and other Internet-based functions helps them to work more efficiently, improves productivity and makes them more competitive in today’s fast-paced commerce environment. In short, they’ve adapted.
Now the United States Postal Service prepares to do the same.
The volume of stamped mail will drop from over 50 billion pieces in 2003 to an expected 21 billion this year, according to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.
While lower mail volume resulted in lost revenues, the majority of the postal service’s red ink in 2012 — $15.9 billion — resulted from mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of its loss for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
As part of a plan to stop the financial hemorrhaging, Donahoe announced a plan to save $2 billion annually by cutting Saturday mail delivery beginning in August. How will this affect business? That depends who you ask.
“Ending Saturday delivery would mean higher costs for small business in the area, which are open Saturday and need to send and receive financial documents,” says Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Washington, D.C. “Without Saturday mail delivery, they would be forced to contract with private carriers, costs that would either be passed on to customers or would result in the hiring of fewer employees.”
Rolando believes the move would compromise the post office’s competitive advantage and severely damage the industry.
But many business owners don’t see the demise of Saturday delivery as a problem.
“We don’t get mail delivery Saturdays,” says Sue Coronado, receptionist with Solid Cactus Custom Web.com, Shavertown. “We are not here on the weekend. We only get it Monday through Friday anyway, so it won’t affect us.”
Solid Cactus is not alone.
“From a business standpoint, I don’t see it having a significant impact on our business at all,” says Ric Reaman, chief financial officer with KME/Kovatch Organization, Nesquehoning, Carbon County. “So much of our stuff does not go through the mail already. Maybe we are part of the reason they don’t need to do mail deliveries on Saturday. Most of our stuff goes Fed Ex or UPS. With larger packages and contracts, we need to ensure they get there when they need to get there . . . that kind of stuff.”
KME’s manufacturing operations run on a Saturday but Reaman says it’s not really mail-dependent.
“There are other alternatives that are a better deal at the end of the day, knowing that the parts or contracts are going to get there on a particular day at a particular time,” says Reaman.
“We do use the Priority Mail service because it’s a little bit more cost-effective. If it’s something I know absolutely has to be there by 10 a.m., it’s going to go Fed Ex or UPS. That’s the premium stuff and, unfortunately, my fear is that the postal service has missed out. UPS and Fed Ex have grown their businesses on that, and at the expense of the postal service.”
The mail plays an important part of the daily operations for a local staffing service which employs nearly 2,000 people in Lackawanna County.
“It’s funny because when we first heard that news, we thought of the fact that, in the last few months, we outsourced our payroll,” says Thaddeus Supanck, executive director of CGA Staffing Services, Clarks Summit. “One of the issues we had been having is the fact that the company we used mailed the paychecks to some of the folks and they weren’t getting them on Fridays when they were intended. They were getting them on Monday, Tuesday. It seems like the mail has gotten so much slower over the last couple of years.”
The transition not only ensures employees prompt payment of its wages but also reduces its administrative workload and associated costs. While Supanck believes CGA may need to alter some of its internal processes to ensure timely receipt of documentation from its medical staffing division, he anticipates no significant problems.
“We are not here on Saturdays so the incoming mail is not an issue,” says Supanck. “It would just be more mail on Monday. Personally, I enjoy getting my mail on Saturdays just like everybody else does, but it’s not going to impact our business. To sum up, it’s a sign of the times.”
Another business that relies heavily on first-class mail in its operations shares Supanck’s opinion.
H.A. Berkheimer, a Bangor-based tax collection business, manages an in-house mail center to distribute mail to it diverse collection departments.
“I talked to our mailroom people,” says Atty. David Gordon, Berkheimer’s general counsel. “They are not seeing a big issue on that front because they don’t do pickups and we don’t have scheduled mailroom hours on Saturdays. So anything that might come in doesn’t get handled or processed until Monday anyway. They don’t think it’s going to have a lot of impact on us at this point anyway. Obviously, the Monday mail volumes will go up. We will see how that affects us, but right now we are not doing a lot when we look at that extra day.”
Stopping Saturday delivery won’t affect the legal profession, either, according to one Carbon County-based attorney.
“To me, as a lawyer, it means nothing because 99 out of 100 times if you are going to have to get something on a Saturday, it’s a Fed Ex or it’s going to be a postal delivery that you are paying big bucks for,” says Atty. Michael J. Garfield, Albrightsville. “No business is conducted on a Saturday, the banks don’t work on a Saturday.”
Garfield believes the use of email and electronic files in many industries has contributed to the postal service’s problems today.
“There is no reason to ever send anything in the mail when you have a .pdf that you can print,” he says. “No half-pound package going back and forth three times for correcting things. It’s just paperless. If any lawyer today depends on the mail, he is history, especially with money.”
Money, or the lack of it, prompted the move to end Saturday delivery. Yet it seems many business people support the move and don’t see significant repercussions.
“It’s not going to affect me at all,” says Akantha Susko, owner of True North Advertising and Marketing, Jim Thorpe, Carbon County. “It’s about time that the post office looked at their business model and made decisions like every other business out there to be efficient and not just to do things because they’ve always done it.”