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The Post Office has been in a state of continuous change for much of the past 15 years.
First it was a ‘network reinvention’, then ‘network change’ and now the Government has committed £1.34 billon as part of an investment and support programme – the largest in the history of the business.
The investment is designed to make the Post Office network more self-sustaining and, over time, less dependent on direct subsidy, while modernising branches and improving customer service.
Post Office Ltd is offering subpostmasters the chance to benefit from this investment by converting to one of two new models – the programme is entirely voluntary for every subpostmaster.
Post Office Ltd is looking to convert around 4,000 of the larger and busier branches to the ‘main’ model – which features a modern dedicated Post Office area in the shop, longer opening hours, and the chance to feature new self-service technology.
Around 2,000 of the smaller branches would convert to the ‘local’ model – which involves removing the dedicated Post Office area and serving customers on the retail counter. This means Post Office services are available for as long as the shop is open – earlier in the morning, later at night and at weekends.
As part of the programme, there is also support for subpostmasters who would like to end their contract and leave the business, but this support would only be available if an alternative site and operator for the Post Office can be found nearby. The first two options will bring with them a change of contract, but subpostmasters also have a fourth option, which is to stay as they are on the current contract.
The first step for any subpostmaster is to start the conversation with Post Office Ltd by indicting they are interested in either converting to a new model or leaving the network through a survey that can be completed on their branch Horizon terminal.
A Field Change Advisor will visit them in the branch and talk through the options and advise them on what the best operating model is for the location.
With main and local branches there is investment on offer to help with the cost of modernising the Post Office counter to a style that is appropriate to the chosen model.
Changing to the main or local options bring with them a new contract and new pay scale. Both would lose the ‘fixed’ element of their salary and move to a payment system that reflects the work done in the current year – the more they sell the more they earn.
Post Office Ltd has issued information to subpostmasters and have held more than 90 face-to-face meetings across the UK for them to further explain the changes.
If you run a Post Office and are interested in finding out more make sure you complete the survey on your Horizon terminal or contact the Post Office Network Business Support Centre.
This will be a major decision for businesses that choose to make the change and adopt a new format. Quite clearly developing a business plan will be a necessary part of the decision process. I know that having a business plan certainly helped my wife and I through the challenges we confronted when we developed our post office in 2005. It also helped us measure our business performance.
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