Quick Takes: Reinventing the Mail Business with Lawn Care

Posted on Jun 10, 2016  in Nerdery, Quick Takes  | 2 Comments

The United States Postal Service is one of the largest civilian employers in the country1, but has been plagued with financial struggles, making news headlines several times over in the last decade. In 2010, for example, the organization posted a mind-blowing 8.5 billion dollar loss2. I remember the debate over ending Saturday service only a few years ago.

The causes of these problems (and their solutions) are large and complex, but the decline in usage of traditional ‘snail mail’ (due to digital communication) and the logistical transport efficiencies achieved at the demand of massive retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart have no-doubt shaken the foundations of historical postal services.

Posti, the postal carrier in Finland, is adapting to change using a rather low-tech tool: the lawnmower. Here’s more detail from the Atlantic3:

Postal workers will mow Finns’ lawns on Tuesdays “due to the lower volume of advertisements and publications distributed on that day” between mid-May and August this year. Customers can order the service online and must provide their own lawnmower. Thirty-minute lawn-mowing sessions cost 65 euros, or about $74, per month, and 60-minute sessions are 130 euros, or about $147, per month. The icing on the cake: It’s tax-deductible.

Punola said the idea for the service came from postal workers themselves, who sound like they don’t have as much to do now that fewer people are using direct mail.

It’s both refreshing and encouraging that plans for adaptation came from within the organization, from employees on the ground. Posti is testing other solutions as well, one that includes partnership with a private company:

One program, in partnership with a health-services company, sends postal workers to the homes of people with disabilities, where workers help with chores, warm up meals, and provide support in other daily activities. Another, in partnership with a security company, brings workers to two central Finnish towns to carry out “security services.”

I have no doubt that we will see the entrepreneurial nature of humanity highly exposed in the coming years, as both established industries in first-world countries are toppled by technology and new ideas from nascent, second-and-third-world countries gain international footholds.

1. You can read about the top 10 employers of civilians in the USA, including the USPS, on USA Today's website.2. You can read more about the USPS's 2010 losses on the ABC News website.3. You can read the entire story about Finland's postal service mowing lawns, along with innovations from other countries, on The Altantic's website.

  • Ryan Hamilton

    I have been thinking recently about USPS in terms of its real estate. It has prime bricks and mortar locations across the country that someone should utilize (lease). They currently fill the void with greeting cards and ugly wrapping supplies, but there has to be a better use of that space that would benefit the Post Office and be a consumer link for some brand/product.

    • Very interesting thought, Ryan. That could be a really smart play for the USPS. After some quick research, I found a 2012 article that listed the following:

      “Well, the USPS leases 24,671 square feet of space — mostly small rural post offices — and that property wouldn’t be affected. But it also owns 8,621 properties (totaling about 318 million square feet of interior space), and about 500 acres of vacant land. Most of that owned real estate is prime, downtown real estate in every town and city in America — the main Post Office and the neighborhood branches in cities, suburban branches, and big operations centers. The land is scattered all over the country, but pretty much none of it is in wilderness areas.” (Full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-reinbach/post-office-privatization_b_1730996.html)

      They may have trimmed their assets since 2012, but that’s still a significant footprint of prime property that they own.

Quick Takes: Reinventing the Mail Business with Lawn Care

Posted on Jun 10, 2016  in Nerdery, Quick Takes  | 2 Comments

The United States Postal Service is one of the largest civilian employers in the country4, but has been plagued with financial struggles, making news headlines several times over in the last decade. In 2010, for example, the organization posted a mind-blowing 8.5 billion dollar loss5. I remember the debate over ending Saturday service only a few years ago.

The causes of these problems (and their solutions) are large and complex, but the decline in usage of traditional ‘snail mail’ (due to digital communication) and the logistical transport efficiencies achieved at the demand of massive retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart have no-doubt shaken the foundations of historical postal services.

Posti, the postal carrier in Finland, is adapting to change using a rather low-tech tool: the lawnmower. Here’s more detail from the Atlantic6:

Postal workers will mow Finns’ lawns on Tuesdays “due to the lower volume of advertisements and publications distributed on that day” between mid-May and August this year. Customers can order the service online and must provide their own lawnmower. Thirty-minute lawn-mowing sessions cost 65 euros, or about $74, per month, and 60-minute sessions are 130 euros, or about $147, per month. The icing on the cake: It’s tax-deductible.

Punola said the idea for the service came from postal workers themselves, who sound like they don’t have as much to do now that fewer people are using direct mail.

It’s both refreshing and encouraging that plans for adaptation came from within the organization, from employees on the ground. Posti is testing other solutions as well, one that includes partnership with a private company:

One program, in partnership with a health-services company, sends postal workers to the homes of people with disabilities, where workers help with chores, warm up meals, and provide support in other daily activities. Another, in partnership with a security company, brings workers to two central Finnish towns to carry out “security services.”

I have no doubt that we will see the entrepreneurial nature of humanity highly exposed in the coming years, as both established industries in first-world countries are toppled by technology and new ideas from nascent, second-and-third-world countries gain international footholds.

1. You can read about the top 10 employers of civilians in the USA, including the USPS, on USA Today's website.2. You can read more about the USPS's 2010 losses on the ABC News website.3. You can read the entire story about Finland's postal service mowing lawns, along with innovations from other countries, on The Altantic's website.

  • Ryan Hamilton

    I have been thinking recently about USPS in terms of its real estate. It has prime bricks and mortar locations across the country that someone should utilize (lease). They currently fill the void with greeting cards and ugly wrapping supplies, but there has to be a better use of that space that would benefit the Post Office and be a consumer link for some brand/product.

    • Very interesting thought, Ryan. That could be a really smart play for the USPS. After some quick research, I found a 2012 article that listed the following:

      “Well, the USPS leases 24,671 square feet of space — mostly small rural post offices — and that property wouldn’t be affected. But it also owns 8,621 properties (totaling about 318 million square feet of interior space), and about 500 acres of vacant land. Most of that owned real estate is prime, downtown real estate in every town and city in America — the main Post Office and the neighborhood branches in cities, suburban branches, and big operations centers. The land is scattered all over the country, but pretty much none of it is in wilderness areas.” (Full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-reinbach/post-office-privatization_b_1730996.html)

      They may have trimmed their assets since 2012, but that’s still a significant footprint of prime property that they own.