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Introduction to Post:
Just a short intro here, this is an idea I shared with my District Manager for the delivery section of the Registered Guard Newspaper in Eugene, Oregon. August 2015.
No More Cheap Service or Product:
Here is an idea for Newspapers on how to deal with the declining market for the tangible product of the newspaper itself. This idea would increase money coming in and streamline the efforts the Newspapers are using to deliver the tangible paper to the customers in the areas they serve.
In general Newspapers are declining in their readership and in sales for the actual product. This means less money from advertisers. The competition obviously is the Internet, which is where people have gone instead of the tangible newspapers. Now, of course Newspapers have an on-line paper which they can ask for a subscription fee for- great, but what about this dying delivery system that is draining everyone involved and could prove the downfall of some Newspapers all-together? How do we fix this decline?
I have a simple idea which I will lay out as best as can here:
- 1. Deliver the paper 6 days instead of 7
- 2. 5 Major Holidays the carriers get off every year
- 3. Monthly Subscriptions for 26 papers (four days aren't being delivered: Tuesdays let's say) would cost $40
- 4. Carriers would be required to purchase a hat, shirt, a hoodie/sweater, and a windbreaker/coat. Carriers will wear one item to identify them as a Carrier, as well as every carrier will have three magnets on their car (both doors and back bumper).
- 5. Every carrier would be advised to carry a taser for protection
Number 1.Deliver the paper 6 days instead of 7,
This is key for making this a decent job, the carriers simply have to have a day off a week in order to not suffer from burnout- or get paid well enough to hire a sub. This idea does both, which means they can either hire a sub or tough it out with only one day off a week.
I would suggest Tuesday is not delivered, but doesn't matter as long as it's not one of the weekend papers. The percentage of customers who would complain and not get paper would be less than 10% I believe, and when explained to them it's so carriers can have a day off then they will likely agree to it.
Number 2. 5 Major Holidays the carrier gets off every year
This is important too, who wants to deliver papers on Christmas morning? If this job is to become a decent job worth keeping then this has to change. Customers don't need their Holiday paper delivered, I would guess rather they would rather their carriers get the day off to spend with their families. If a customer wants the paper bad enough then they could go to an open market and get one.
Number 3. Monthly subscriptions for 26 papers (four days aren't being delivered: Tuesdays) would cost $40.
Now the break down of what this $40 goes to is as follows:
$30 Is the full fee for the Newspaper for 26 days
$ 9 Goes directly to the Carrier
$ 1 Goes to District Managers and Dock Crew as bonus every month divided evenly
So, that is the $40 package for full monthly Newspaper delivery. Also included in the subscription is the on-line subscription and a tube or clip.
Let me take a moment here to explain this part of the equation, because this is the key to the whole idea in the first place. I want to explain why charging more for the near daily delivery of the newspaper is well worth $40 to many people. Yes, there will be many people who decide it's too much and stop their subscription, but in my estimation about 60% of subscribers will continue and they will be the stalwart customers of which we can expect little variations. Really, the 40% of those customers who we lost are mostly those who don't appreciate the paper, are getting a near free paper they usually don't even read, weren't going to pay anyway. Basically, you retain the serious lovers of the Registered Guard Paper, which we should say is a special product of which one should be appreciative to get delivered to their front door 6 days a week.
That's the key, changing the mind set of customers and those who work at the Registered Guard, into thinking of the Paper they create and distribute as a special product of which people should be appreciative they have access to. In reality, the Registered Guard is a very important player in the area of which it covers which is a large part of Oregon. The Paper is not a cheap product everyone should get for free- instead it's a valuable product which provides valuable information to the area.
Also, customers should be told and understand the impact the Registered Guard has on the community. Let's give them the numbers of people it employees, how much it gives back to the community, how many subscribers, how many people reading, the benefits of subscribing and what people are supporting.
The point here is to sell people not only a product in the Newspaper only, but a pillar of the community of which treats it's employees very well and supports the local community around the customers in many ways! This is what will also add allure to the product itself. Them knowing all of this and that their carrier is going to be a very content worker who is treated well...this is going to make that $40/month seem like less and less – cause let's just admit it, people generally have $40/month in most cases to spare for something useful...
If we can get people to pay $40/month for their Newspaper delivery subscription, then everyone gets paid for their efforts, and the whole culture around the delivery system will become an asset instead of an liability.
There is another added benefit for a customer to subscribe to the Registered Guard with Home delivery for only $40/month. This being the carrier who is delivering papers to your neighborhood 6 nights a week, is also serving as a security watchman for your neighborhood. Although they're not trained security guards or licensed, their mere presence in your neighborhood at the very early dark morning hours serves as a deterrent for thieves and criminals in your neighborhood. We also, advise every carrier to carry a taser or pepper spray for protection, and to report any criminal activity they see. So, although they are not trained or purposed to intervene in any criminal action, they can inform proper channels to have the crime resolved by the police.
The Newspaper carriers are also serving as security watchman for almost every neighborhood across the city every night. And, unfortunately, they generally get paid under min. wage for their efforts at security and delivery. This needs to change for everyone's benefit, and it could if people simply paid a nice low $40/month for their monthly delivery of the special Registered Guard Tangible asset.
One more note on this topic, when a person becomes a subscriber, they will receive a packet with the marketing materials the Registered Guard needs to make and have available. This packet will contain material which explains what they are investing into and what they are getting in return for their membership with the Registered Guard and receiving special morning delivery. They will also get to choose between a Tube or a Clip. I said membership for a reason, customers want to be part of something that has meaning and that matches their values in the community they live in. This can be the major selling point the Registered Guard has to offer. Getting this packet when they subscribe will help them understand how to go about complaints or reporting a missed delivery and on and on. Also, they could be given a flier that has the carrier that will be working that area. This could have their picture on it with the Registered Guard clothes on and their phone number. The point is to make this an event worth noting for people.
Finally, I simply believe people will pay more for home delivery than they are now, when they are shown the things I'm suggesting, then $40 is nothing for most people to spend on 6 day delivery. Many people don't respect the paper anymore the way they used to, they think it's a cheap product that has little value. The whole dying delivery system everyone is suffering from, doesn't help this marketability problem. The delivery of the tangible product of the newspaper is the only real direct connection the RG is going to make with the people in the community at large, so why is it done in such an cheap dying way? Be bold, and stop fearing the loss of some subscribers with a raise on the price, with the suggestions I've given the subscribers will increase and the best part is most of them will continue on for a long time.
Not only will the subscribers last for a long time, but the carriers will stay for a long time, the managers will stay for a long time. Retention will be up, cost will be down, income will be up, and everyone will feel better knowing they are working to make a product that is worth the price people pay and no less.
Number 4. RG Clothing suggestion
Since this is now a good job, carriers can now afford to pay $150 to get their clothing when they start- clothes can be issued out in part on credit for a months time. This will allow people to know it's a RG carrier, which is a good thing all around, for cops, robbers, customers, and the people in the neighborhoods we visit.
Number 5. Taser or pepper spray
This has to be a suggestion, but should be suggested at least. The carriers are better of in the city at night to have some modest form of protection. They also should be told to report any crimes they see , to their manager or the police.
This idea involves two major changes to the delivery system: charging $40 for full Monthly delivery 6 days a week, and giving the carriers Tuesday off every week and 5 Holidays a year. Although these may seem unchangeable, the truth is something has to change with the delivery system in general with Newspapers around the country. Why not do something innovative and set the pace for the reinvigoration of the Newspapers in the modern era with Internet being so accessible.
Some people are always going to be willing to pay a decent amount for the tangible good. Newspapers are always going to have a fundamental base of customers even with the prevalence of the Internet. People also want to help the community they are in, and if they can believe they are helping their community in the ways we show them the RG does, then they will happily give over $40/month for home delivery of the paper.
When the carriers are getting paid better (200 customers $9/month each = $1800/month Gross before Gas/Taxes/Wear on Car/Clothing/Supplies) then they are going to do a better job in general which will lead to better customer satisfaction! This will lead to customer retention and carrier retention. The carrier will get tips now and this will truly be a bonus instead of a way to maybe average min. wage that month.
Everyone is happier, and if the RG is getting paid twice what they were, then they could loose half of their customer base and still have the same income, plus they will have half the cost of delivering the papers. The routes will expand, the carriers will lessen to the chosen best, the cost of delivering will be cut in half with the same amount of income coming in at least!
No longer is the RG barely making it, another giant Newspaper going into decline and utter obscurity. Rather, the RG is an important pillar of the community that sets the trends and uses innovative ideas to better adapt to the modern times.
In my humble opinion giving out all these free papers every week is a mistake. I believe most people find them to be a hassle to deal with, and in the end it doesn't make them think well of the Registered Guard if they can associate the paper with the RG. I would say to stop throwing the free papers all-together and not putting as many in the Sunday, and raise the price on the advertisers do have when they are shown the raised opinion of the RG in the area. Although a free paper could be made available, it has to be much more specific in it's application to be affective in gaining a loyal readership.
It' my belief that through this vision, the RG would grow and become relevant rather than decline and sputter out in frustration from it's stalwart inability to change with the times. There is a crisis the Newspapers are having delivering their papers to customer across the land of America, so what is anybody doing about it? Wouldn't this idea change this trend and begin to make RG something even more people would love to invest into and be part of? I think so...