The Berkshire Company Blog
W.H. Fallon - US Army Air Corps - US Postal Service
Last week, I attended the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) open session. David Williams, US Postal Service (USPS) Chief Operating Officer gave his quarterly operations update. In addition to the good news of performance during the recent election cycle and planning for the upcoming holiday season, Mr. Williams talked about USPS actions during two recent disasters – Hurricane Michael and the wildfires in California.
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On Wednesday. November 14, 2018, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) reported the financial results for Fiscal Year 2018 (October 2017 – September 2018). As expected, the USPS reported an operating loss. The reported controllable loss was $1.95 billion, or approximately 2.62% of controllable expenses.
The day before, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved the new postage rates for 2019. The new rates represent about a 2.5% overall increase over the current prices for mailing, or “Market Dominant” products. In other words, next year’s increase won’t even cover the previous year’s operating loss.
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In October 2001, an unknown terrorist sent envelopes containing anthrax through the US Postal Service (USPS). The intended targets were news broadcasters and elected officials. One envelope was misdirected, and ended up at the State Department, where several employees were seriously injured.
17 years later, another terrorist is using the mail to attack people. Instead of anthrax, pipe bombs were sent to a cable news company, past presidents and elected officials. One package was misdelivered to the return address on the envelope – the local office of a congresswoman.
On Thursday, October 11, 2018, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) filed the rate case for Market Dominant products with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Set to go into effect on January 27, 2019, the new rates represent about a 2.5% overall increase over the current prices for mailing, or “Market Dominant” products.
Despite the headlines appearing on news websites, this isn’t “the biggest rate increase”. For many mailers the increase is lower than expected. While retail customers may have “sticker shock” on the 10% increase on stamps, the nickel increase allows the USPS to achieve the “simplicity of structure” of pricing. Plus, second ounce rates go down, flats pricing stays flat, as do postcards.
Thanks to technology, we have more ways to communicate than ever before. Then why do we still have a problem getting our message across?
The most common problem is choosing the right medium for your message. Instead of capitalizing on technology's ability to foster closer relationships, we use technology to distance ourselves from others: leaving voicemails instead of having a conversation; sending broadcast emails instead of holding a meeting; or posting a notice on a website instead of distributing the information to everyone concerned.
Are you using the wrong medium for your messages?
“Plans are useless after the first shot is fired.” – Military Adage (attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte)
I’m a strong proponent of planning – project plans, budget plans, travel plans. Even weekend plans. Schedules and plans help me accomplish my goals. However, most plans have to be changed as soon as the action begins.
So, if I can’t always follow the plans I develop, then why plan at all?
Good plans include key elements that remain in place even when the plan changes, due to unforeseen events. These key elements are:
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At a time when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is struggling with declining volumes, someone at that organization has decided that one answer is to create additional restrictions on what could be mailed at Marketing Mail rates.
Each spring, mailers gather at the National Postal Forum, and every fall brings the spotlight to Postal Customer Councils (“PCCs”), culminating in National PCC week, which takes place September 24 – 28, 2018.
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On July 6, 2018, when the Trump Administration announced tariffs on certain goods from China, the media focused on steel and aluminum – essential components of manufacturing. The tariffs actually were applied an entire group of products – detailed on a 28-page list available on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) website. The impact goes beyond automobiles and motorcycles, including equipment used in the mailing industry.