Post offices 'should become business centres'
THE Government should transform post offices into small business hubs to secure the future of the otherwise under-threat Post Office Network, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging. Small firms are regular users of post offices, and a key cust
THE Government should transform post offices into small business hubs to secure the future of the otherwise under-threat Post Office Network, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging.
Small firms are regular users of post offices, and a key customer base - FSB research shows that almost one in five small businesses visit the post office every day and almost half (47 per cent) say they visit a couple of times a week. Small businesses are a loyal customer base for post offices, yet they are not getting the service they need and the post office network is in serious need of investment, the organisation said.
FSB Huntingdonshire chairman Malcolm Lyons said: "Post offices are at the heart of many communities and act not only as a place to send invoices or to collect parcels, but as somewhere for small firms to network and meet like-minded business men and women as well as potential customers.
"However, small firms are not being given a fully operational service and are let down by the lack of business services available. Making post offices into small business hubs - including dedicated business desks and a full range of financial services - will ensure the survival not only of the country's post offices, but also the communities that they serve.
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"The Government has committed to the importance of sustaining local communities and must now step up and support the post office to become a small business hub. The sooner this happens, the sooner the Post Office can become financially viable in its own right and small firms will be able to access the service that they deserve."
The FSB believes the post office network should be remodelled into small business hubs to respond to the needs of some key customers and to ensure the network is financially sustainable for years to come. The establishment of business hubs, with business banking on offer, is the best chance the Network has of becoming financially viable.
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The FSB proposal includes establishing a business desk at each post office with specially-trained staff, able to advise businesses on banking, Government services, insurance and sending and receiving parcels; setting up a regular Business Link service in each post office to give one-to-one advice to small businesses - similar to mortgage advisors in bank branches; offering dedicated advertising facilities within the post office, to help small businesses reach other local businesses and potential customers; establishing a full range of financial services, including business banking; and offering meeting room facilities to start-ups and micro businesses in as many post offices as possible.