The future is ours to build so let’s do it.
The viability and sustainability of the LPO network is ranked as a high priority on CEO of Australia Post Christine Holgate’s must have list. This is a breakthrough position for Licensees, and it is time for Licensees to grab the opportunities and grow our Post business to help ourselves to a much better future.
For a large part of the past decade or more, the previous CEOs of Australia Post and their senior management teams had been trying to sever all obligations and responsibilities for the extensive LPO network. For Licensees it was a very distressing time to be part of this business.
In 2012 LPOG was established, and set about achieving our primary goal, to save what we could of our financial investments in our LPOs before we became extinct.
It was impossible to see any hope on the horizon, let alone in front of us, under the past executive management. It would be reasonably fair to say the past CEO felt sure even his elderly Mum could operate via a smart phone, so the retail footprint was a thing of the past in his plan. LPOG members were inspired to fight for what we could recover of our investments, as we prepared for our expected demise.
It is equally fair to say we have been quite successful in our endeavours to recover some of our investments before our demise, because here we are 6 years later, with many of us still trading. We did not underestimate our expected demise in 2012, but we did not foresee the success we would achieve, and the power of a united voice, to drive our message to the right places, and the best people, to save the LPO network. A look back at our archives will tell our story, share our history and name the many many people who contributed to our success over the years. That is our baggage, and it now rightfully belongs in our archives, so we never forget why we needed to exist. But we do need to move on.
Time now to be building on our success, so we must now look to the future, and ensure we share in the offerings that is being put on the table by our new LPO friendly executive team. The offer is like a buffet table, with new business and innovations to existing business and services that will ultimately present tools and products that will give us the choices to strive to thrive. To return to the good old days when we were a blue-chip small business investment, operated by many thousands of Mum & Dad operators all over Australia. While we are striving to thrive, we must also embrace the changes that have come with the digital disruption and all the good, and the bad, that that has bought to our industry and this business overall. Digital disruption is here to stay and is part of our everyday and will continue to be in the future. We need to, we have to, adapt.
Christine Holgate, and her EGM, C&C Nicole Sheffield, are passionate about Licensees and the retail footprint. On numerous occasions, to public forums, Australia Post Executives, Board Members, and Australia Post staff and stakeholders, Christine Holgate has pointed out that it is only Licensees who mortgage their houses to represent the Australia Post brand, and she values that commitment by Licensees most highly. She is equally committed to honour our commitment with her own efforts to secure our future and that of the business overall.
For many Licensees the struggle to survive is no longer about our diminishing slice of the pie or being discarded by the management of Australia Post as they anticipate moving forward without the retail channel. Licensees need to look to the future now, to ensure they do move the LPO network forward with the new Executive and their plans to grow this business. It is no longer enough to stand in the past footprint of your existing LPO, doing what we have always done and expect more of the same, because we will never see that business again. We need to be proactive and grab all the opportunities we can to help ourselves, while the Executives are also trying to do what they can to help us all. The retail industry is very challenged these days, and we need to work as a solid team to promote and support all the endeavours undertaken to drive this business forward, for all of us to potentially thrive.
The previous executive team considered we should be saving ourselves (and propping up our LPOs) by taking on an in-conjunction business to remain viable. Not many standalone LPOs were interested in the Lawn Mowing sideline that would financially support the postal side of our business. And rightly so, we are the postal network, providing essential services for our communities. Our postal business should pay for itself, not sponge off or rely on a side business to survive.
The current executive team is focused on building the overall business, but sees that the retail arm, with our very impressive footprint makes us a very rare beast, hugely valued by most people in most communities. Their focus is to grow our business, not a sideline business as a prop.
The future success of the retail footprint will rely on the retail footprint embracing the opportunities being presented and assisting in every way to grow the brand to ensure our slice of the pie is available for us to take up. We all need to pick up the ball and run with it, so that the success of the retail arm of Australia Post is growing daily to deliver our slice of the pie.
Most Licensees are successful small business owners. Daily we meet the needs of our customers and our communities. Australia Post is one of the most trusted brands in the country, delivering daily to the country. Together, we should be invincible.
There is an array of offers to build our business already available, in the pipeline and or being prepared to be delivered to Australia starting in the next few weeks.
- We already have payment reform, that has changed, and in many cases improved our cashflow, and given clear visibility of how to keep improving our cash flow. It’s all about scanning and parcels now, suddenly a prepaid satchel with a mob phone no and a post code brings extra joy with an extra payment.
- Olivia and the Banks have added to our increased cash flow as they encourage our communities to keep banking local and come to the Post Office. The community access fee is a nice addition to help make this service more sustainable finally.
- There are ongoing talks with the banks about what else we can do to help customers who no longer have local access to their banks. We can provide so much more.
- From 1 July 2019, every Licensees has the financial benefit of 1 free terminal that was previously at our cost. We can also look forward to the future POS platform. Funding has been approved by the Board to build and deliver far better technology solutions and bandwidth to the retail footprint. The POP wheel going round and round will be a past memory when it is finished in 2 – 3 years’ time.
- The payment reform has finally enabled flexibility with our POBs pricing, and the first discounted offer is available from 16th September for 2 weeks. If you have vacant POBs, you can offer them for the next 6 months at a discounted rate, and will receive 90% of the applicable rate, as well as monthly MMF, M2D and parcel payments for any leased POBs taken up during the offer, which is a lot better than 100% of nothing we are currently getting for vacant POBs.
- From 1 Oct 2019 3rd party carriers will also be able to deliver to all POB addresses without charge, and we will be paid to deliver these parcels. This will be a free service for boxholders until next renewal cycle, when they can opt in to add this service to their POB for an annual fee.
- We will also see delivery of PUDO parcels by Doddle start to enter our network in the next few weeks/months. This is new parcel deliveries. These parcels have previously been managed by 3rd party carriers. Now many of these customers will choose the PO as their preferred collection point when offered the choice to do so.
- One of the game changers for our business future will likely be the Sending Made Easy program. From October, if it Packs it Posts. National flat rate pricing for ordinary parcels under 5Kg (over 90% of all domestic parcels), in 4 sizes, going anywhere across Australia. Another 4 national flat rate price points for express parcels, and those 8 price points will replace over 2,500 current price points. Should make Christmas much easier for everyone this year.
- The PAYG post satchels will also be available in October. This will allow smaller LPOs to stock these satchels without the inventory cost to hold these products. They can be displayed on the shop floor as they have little value until postage has been paid for via purchase.
- Towards the end of September, we will be having our own collectible frenzy. The Great Aussie Coin Hunt. A full alphabet of $1 coins to collect. People must come into a PO and must purchase something to get the coins in their change. Increased foot traffic and increased baskets per customer. Unlike the toys from the supermarket, this collection will appeal to all ages, across the nation, and there will be no concern about any of it ending up in landfill once it has been passed over. It will just go back into circulation.
- Then we will be “spreading the Merry” and helping Australia prepare, and enjoy our Christmas season. Our crazy busy time of the year. That will round out a very busy year and we can start it all over again in 2020.
The future really is ours to build. Don’t wait for someone to come along and spoon feed you. Grab these opportunities. Help our business leaders grow our business so we all share in the rewards. Our retail network is the best there is, we are the best there is. Let’s build our business. Let’s do this.