Branch Standards and NT

Before NT POL reigned supreme with a brand of terror tactics.   Either improve your standard or else we will close you down and there were certainly times this did happen although you really had to be fairly inept to have this happen to you.  To be fair to POL they did give SPMRs every opportunity to improve and provided extra training when required.

But that was in the time when the main income for a subpostmaster came from the Post Office.   NT changes that around as I have said elsewhere.   The Post Office in these new PO Locals is a mere add on to an already successful business.

For POL to persuade these businesses to take on a Post Office Local in the first place they had to convince them that it would be financially viable.   Extra footfall would result in increased retail sales plus of course payment for ‘every’ transaction they performed.  POL provided new businesses with estimated income based on the old post office turnover as well.

Even taking all of these wonderful financial incentives for many new PO Locals it would have been a close run thing whether or not it would be financially viable.

A couple of years on and with the benefit of hindsight all is no longer rosy for these Local operators.   The rewards promised didn’t live up to expectations and the hassle of dealing with POL and their products suddenly make it no longer worth the effort.

PO Locals are closing now on a daily basis – a clear indication that worse is to come as the ones closing are the ones that have been in the game long enough to realise it is no longer worth it and can see the declining income and increased hassle coming.

All of this of course is bad news for POL but even worse for the Post Office customer.   POL can no longer enforce Branch Standards by means of coercion.  “You want to take the Post Office away?”  – be my guest is the reply.

Reports of operators not opening the hours they are contracted to are many.  POL of course know exactly who these branches are by checking Horizon and could call in all their contracts tomorrow.  Of course they won’t and they also will not reveal just how widespread the problem is.

Post Office customers are also being treated differently at the counter – the retailer wants to sell profitable items before he wastes his time on a Certificate of Posting for which he gets paid nothing.   He is not going to spend much time either on learning the new ‘rules’ that Post Office put out every week in Branch Focus and then change them the week after because they made a mistake.

With high turnover of staff in Convenience stores, training of staff to operate the Post Office side of things becomes a real issue in terms of time and expense.

Branch standards can only suffer as a result and the raison d’etre for Branch Standards is to ensure customer satisfaction of level of service.

It is one almighty mess and one that is about to get a whole lot worse.

I was thinking of what I might write on this blog in the future and one topic that springs to mind is “No Going Back” – how to revert out of the NT tragedy.   I have never given that much thought as I didn’t think we would ever get to that stage – well we are past that stage now and serious thought must be given to reversing the process before it is too late.

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2 thoughts on “Branch Standards and NT

  1. As you rightly say, the balance of power has now shifted in favour of SPMRs.

    I am bemused that more SPMRs who have been sold down the river by the Fed are not joining the CWU.

    Even if they only joined for 12 months to let the CWU establish bargaining rights, it would potentially be a very wise investment

    One possible “way back” would be for POL to franchise all remaining branches, for a negotiated annual fee, based on turnover.

    The quid pro quo of this would be that, in return for the franchise fee, POL as franchise holder would slash its overheads, particularly high paid non jobs, so that they could reduce the rake off they take off every transaction to a cost plus 5% model and be responsible for protecting the franchisees by both retaining existing business, winning new business and developing new income streams available to ALL, not just Mains, such as the greeting card and convenience store sectors that have been touched on previously.

    In a previous life, working for other large organisations, I have had to carry out numerous cost cutting exercises for business survival, all predicated on the “what are we doing, WHY are we doing it” basis.

    Too much POL activity is on the “we have always done it this way” and too little original thought has gone into the innumerable processes that actually achieve sod all.

    For example, there is no reason on earth why we should have to scan barcodes to order forms/labels that may or may not have been superseded, from a book that is seldom updated. Stick the lot on a password/fad code protected website and keep it updated with current stock and plain english descriptions.

    I’d go so far as to say give the non value stock to Amazon, and lets call if off them – we might then be able to get stuff when its needed rather than on an arbitrary order cycle

    And if that means jobs at the centre have to go to ensure the network survives, thats tough, but without a network, ALL the jobs go.

    POL cannot conceivably believe that they can let Locals wither on the vine but still have a business based on just Mains/Crowns, so they need to recognise this and act accordingly

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  2. Couldn’t agree more with the proper Franchise concept Fim – so many positives with the idea and the possibility of a new format where the Post Office part of the business comes first and as you say POL would benefit from vertical integration of complementary retail sales. Cheers, Tim

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