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Counter Culture: Retail Standardization is more than just a pretty place

Retail Standardization.More than 7.5 million customers visit Post Offices each day. Every time a customer steps into a Post Office lobby, it's an opportunity to increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction. The goal of the Retail Standardization initiative is to make the most of every one of these opportunities.

"This isn't about lobby beautification," says Customer Service Vice President Susan Plonkey. "It's a systematic process to ensure we're doing the right things across all Post Offices to keep our customers' business and generate the revenue we need."

Simple steps like cleaning up clutter and properly placing menuboards and product information can make a big difference.

A new electronic newsletter from the Retail Standardization team at Headquarters, Counter Culture, aims to share success stories, tips and other information to help Post Offices provide the best across-the-counter experience possible for their customers. Read it online at And, while you're there, sign up your retail office to be a part of "Team Makeover."

Memorial funds established for Goleta victims: Community memorial service planned

Two memorial funds have been established by the Goleta community to benefit the families of the postal employees killed in the shootings at the Santa Barbara Processing and Distribution Center:

GOLETA CA 93117-3631

(Funds going to postal and non-postal victims' families.)

GOLETA CA 93117-2316

(Funds going to postal victims' families.)

The Postal Service is providing information on these two community-initiated funds for your information only, and is not involved in collecting or disbursing the funds.

VOE survey deadline approaching - Feb. 22

If you're among the quarter of Postal Service employees who received a Voice of the Employee (VOE) survey mailed out Jan. 26, don't forget to complete it and send it back before the deadline. When you fill out your survey, you're helping USPS identify workplace issues that need to be improved. That's good for employees and for customers.

Let your voice be heard. Fill out your VOE survey, on Postal Service time.

Completed VOE surveys must be received by Feb. 22.

Snowbird spotting: "Snowbird Mail Patrol" catches errant packages

Ending informal "snowbird" forwarding agreements is one of the key components of Premium Forwarding Service's (PFS) two-year test period. And for good reason - we can't accurately measure the success of this service if offices offer something similar for free.

When the program went into effect in August, any prior agreements to forward mail in a manner similar to what PFS does - a weekly shipment of mail inside Priority Mail packaging - were to be discontinued.

In Fort Myers and Cape Coral, FL, letter carriers take their revenue protection responsibility seriously. Ever since they learned about Premium Forwarding Service - and its additional revenue potential - they voluntarily formed a "Snowbird Mail Patrol" and discovered more than 88 ZIP Codes sending down unauthorized snowbird mail packages. The offices have been contacted and reminded to end their own version of snowbird mail forwarding and offer PFS to customers.

Thank you, Snowbird Mail Patrol. Revenue protection is everybody's business. Questions on PFS? Check out the PFS program on Under "Receiving Your Mail," click on Premium Forwarding Service.

Setting the Record Straight: Costs not the reason for price increase

"Baloney!" was what came to mind when Public Affairs and Communications Vice President Azeezaly Jaffer read the opinion piece in a recent Christian Science Monitor titled "Instead of Raising Stamp Prices, the USPS Should Cut Costs." Author Sam Ryan - a frequent critic of USPS - suggested that the recent price increase is related to postal costs.

Jaffer's letter to the editor stated the facts. USPS has reduced its costs by a stunning $5 billion during the last three years, and the 5.4 percent rate increase had nothing to do with postal costs. The increase resulted from the federal mandate requiring USPS to establish a $3.1 billion escrow account.

Jaffer said, "Congress has had this topic under discussion for the last 10 years and has never entertained any of the suggestions advanced by Mr. Ryan. The column did not merit a place on the Monitor's editorial pages."

Boise earns a star: First under new OSHA Corporate Voluntary Protection Program

Photograph of the STAR Worksite

From left, Maintenance Manager Joe Williams, NPMHU Safety Representative Pete Tomaszewski, Manager of Distribution Operations Glen Umland, Plant Manager Dennis Draney, Acting Safety Advocate Annette McBride and APWU Safety Representative Steve Viera.

Add the Boise, ID, Processing and Distribution Center (PDC) to the growing list of USPS facilities that have earned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star status. The award was recently presented to the facility to recognize its commitment to employee safety.

"The Boise Processing and Distribution Center has exhibited excellence in effective safety and health program management," said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Terrill. "Their outstanding efforts have included significant management commitment and employee involvement."

Significant indeed. The Boise PDC has an injury and illness rate that is 64 percent lower than the average postal facility and has reduced that rate by more than 60 percent in the last three years.

Boise is the first postal facility to be accepted as a VPP Star site under the new OSHA Corporate VPP, designed to streamline the process for large corporations with standardized safety and health programs, allowing for multiple facilities to apply for and enter the VPP.

Business Connect takes hold: Wrestling supply company pinned down by Postmaster

Photograph of Suplay Employees

Suplay employees show the Priority Mail, Express Mail and Global Express Mail supplies they use to ship between 500 and 1,000 parcels a day. Elma, WA, Postmaster Bill Carlton, far right, scored a reversal through Business Connect - showing Suplay the benefits of switching to USPS from another shipper.

Elma, WA, Postmaster Bill Carlton didn't use any fancy moves to sway Suplay Wrestler's World to switch to USPS.

The amateur wrestling supplier simply didn't know all that the Postal Service had to offer. But the business owner had seen the "Angie" TV commercial and was intrigued about Carrier Pickup service.

That preparation helped Carlton make his move through the Business Connect program and a follow-up meeting with the customer and Seattle District Small Business Specialist Rhonda Kelly.

The sale may bring in as much as $1 million in new revenue.

Keepers by the dozen: Lunar New Year souvenir sheet reissued

Lunar New Year souvenir sheet.One of the Postal Service's most popular souvenir sheets, Lunar New Year, is available now at the new 39-cent postage price.

The images on the individual stamps are intricate paper-cut designs identifying the Years of the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage. The Postal Service issued the first of the 12 stamps in its award- winning Lunar New Year series in 1992 in observance of the holiday. Since then, additional stamps were issued until all 12 animals associated with the Chinese lunar calendar were represented.

Also known as the Spring Festival, the traditional Chinese New Year is a time of renewed hope for a prosperous future.