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What Information Should You Gather Before Centralized Mailbox Installation?

It’s a big job, preparing a new development or upgrading an existing property. As you may know, there are many steps to both.

Of course, you’ll likely need mailboxes for your property. If you’re developing or planning a large property such as a commercial complex, plaza, or apartment community, you likely already know you’ll need a lot of mailboxes. Even if you’re simply renovating your mailboxes or replacing them with new ones, you’ll still have a lot of questions about which type will work the best. After all, there are several types of mailboxes on the market today, and USPS standards have changed for those that receive delivery straight from the post office.

Gathering information is the first step towards installing the right mailboxes for your community. After all, if you don’t get the first step right, you’ll end up derailing the entire planning, purchase, and installation process, which can lead to expensive adjustments down the road.

Here’s a list of information you’ll need to gather before planning, buying, and installing your mailbox.

Item #1: USPS or Private Delivery. Did you know that there are two types of mail delivery? Customers can receive mail from two main sources: from the post office directly, or from within an organization or property.

  • For most apartment complexes, multifamily properties, and some commercial properties such as strip malls, USPS delivery is the preferred option. The USPS delivers mail and packages directly to each customer, typically via mailboxes.
  • For some commercial properties, college campuses, and military bases, private delivery is often utilized. One person receives the entire property’s mail from the USPS, and a third party then distributes mail to each customer. Sometimes, this is via a mail room, sorters, or through centralized mailboxes.
  • Why is the delivery type important? The type of mailboxes you purchase matters. Some mailboxes are approved only for private delivery, meaning that the USPS won’t deliver to them. Others are marked as USPS-approved, and these meet minimum standards for USPS delivery.

Item #2: The Number of Customers. Of course, the number of people, businesses, or offices receiving mail is important, too. You’ll need to know how many mailboxes or customer compartments you’ll need before you renovate or develop.

  • Don’t overlook future growth. One important factor that’s easily overlooked is the future growth of your property. More tenants, businesses, or simply a higher demand for space in your area can create the need to expand your property in the future.
  • Expansion will mean adding more mailboxes, so it’s good to know if expansion is likely in the future. If it is, choose an area on your property or a setup that will make it easy to add more mailboxes in the future. An example can be a concrete pad with more room for mailboxes, or a lobby with wall space left over for additional mailbox cabinets.
  • How do you know if expansion is likely in the future? Studying a variety of factors in your area such as the job market and other vacancies can go a long way toward gaining the information you need.

Item #3: Mail and Package Volume. Another factor you’ll need to predict is how much mail your property should receive in future years. A large office complex, for example, can expect to receive, and possibly send, a lot of paper mail and packages. The same goes for multi-family properties, though these properties are more likely to send out less outgoing mail than office complexes.

  • Paper mail. Paper mail can sometimes pile up in larger office complexes, medical facilities, and the mailrooms of college campuses and military bases. Paper mail can mean requiring mailboxes for both incoming and outgoing mail. Incoming mail can often be handled via mail sorters, centralized mailboxes, and door slots. Outgoing paper mail can be better handled with products such as plastic totes, letter locker collection mailboxes, and locking drop boxes. If USPS approved equipment is used, the post office will offer direct pickup.
  • Since packages come from different carriers, there are different options for accommodating them. Parcel lockers are excellent for receiving USPS-delivered packages that don’t fit into customer compartments, and most centralized mailboxes include them. In some cases, they’re required: you’ll need one for every ten customer compartments. In new apartment buildings, you’ll need one per five.
  • Why is This Important? Package theft is a problem that costs consumers and businesses over 2 billion dollars every year. Protecting packages with parcel lockers, which can be used for USPS delivery or privately, will reduce package theft.

Item #4: Mailbox Convenience.  You’ll want to know who you’re installing mailboxes for, and what their needs are. Tenant satisfaction, after all, will reduce turnover.

Mail carrier convenience. Your mail carrier likely won’t want to climb flights of stairs to deliver packages to parcel lockers. He or she also needs to easily find your mailboxes. The same goes for commercial customers when it comes to retrieving mail. Placing mailboxes near an elevator or in a lobby is a good idea.

Is the area always accessible? For USPS delivery, you’re required to keep the mailbox area accessible, safely lit, and free of obstructions at all times. Consider this as well when deciding where to install your mailboxes. Mailboxes for private delivery can be in a secured area if necessary, but when customers need to pick up mail after business hours, it’s a good idea to keep these areas always accessible as well.

Why is this important? Residential customers want convenience and the ability to easily reach their mail. This is why mailboxes are often at the front or center of a community. Older residents likely won’t want to walk as far as younger residents to retrieve mail. And no one wants to get injured while checking mail or getting their packages.

Need More Help? National Mailboxes is here to help you find the right mailboxes for your community, no matter which type you have. If you have questions, reach out to us today.