Choosing the right mailbox system for your commercial property can seem like a complicated matter. In this article, we discuss centralized mail delivery, which are those mailboxes in which multiple customer compartments are contained within the same cabinet. These mailbox types are the most common on larger commercial properties, because the USPS prefers centralized delivery.
Whether your property is an apartment complex, office building, community, or strip mall, the process of choosing and installing the right type of centralized mail system is the same.
Property managers must determine how many customers need mail delivery, whether that delivery will be direct from the USPS or private, how many packages need handling, and where to install centralized mailboxes. Only then can a manager or owner feel confident in choosing the right mailbox type.
Once the right type of centralized mailbox system is chosen, it is critical to avoid making common, and possibly costly mistakes, with the installation process.
Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Mailbox Type
While all centralized mailboxes serve the same general purpose—collecting mail—they can differ when it comes to who can deliver directly to them.
If you want your mailboxes to receive mail directly from the USPS, only USPS-approved, 4C mailboxes can receive delivery, and they must have at least one parcel locker per ten customer compartments in most cases. (For apartments, the requirement is now 1 per five.) Older 4B mailboxes can still be purchased for USPS delivery, but only if they replace worn mailboxes of the exact same type, and only if no major renovations are occurring.
Choosing centralized mailboxes for private delivery (which takes place after USPS delivery or between those who occupy the same property) has fewer restrictions.
Making the distinction between USPS-approved mailboxes and mailboxes for private delivery only is easy. Every product page on National Mailboxes will say whether a mailbox is USPS approved, or for private delivery only.
Mistake #2: Installing in a Difficult Location
Every commercial property is different, but one common rule applies: any centralized mailbox system should be installed in a centralized or forward-facing location. Mailboxes must be easy to reach, meaning that no locked doors, obstructions, or vehicles are in the way. They must also be intuitive and easy to find.
Lobbies, clubhouses, and kiosks are ideal places to install centralized mailboxes. They also work well close to main parking lots and in front of buildings.
One thing to keep in mind are your customers. A community for retirees may not appreciate walking all the way to a front parking lot to check mail and retrieve packages, especially if those mailboxes are far from parking. Other customers may have difficulty checking mailboxes that are in an unlit location. And the USPS may not deliver mail to an office building where the mailboxes are in a rear maintenance hallway.
Mistake #3: Leaving No Room for Expansion
Sometimes, commercial properties expand. Apartments may add more units, communities may build more homes, or offices may rent out space to more business tenants.
When installing a centralized mailbox system, USPS approved or private, it’s important to leave space for expansion if it is a future possibility. This may mean leaving wall space free for more wall-mounted or recessed units or having the room to pour another concrete slab for an additional outdoor pedestal mailbox.
Some property managers purchase more customer units than they need at the time in anticipation of more tenants. This approach can work well when wanting to save on construction costs in the future, as well as save on the cost of purchasing and shipping additional mailbox cabinets.
Failing to account for expansion can lead to higher labor costs in the future as property managers must move mailboxes to a new location, switch the mailbox type, or otherwise adopt a new system for delivery.
Mistake #4: Lack of Parcel Lockers
Package delivery is on the rise in recent years and has been since the advent of online shopping. More packages means that customers of all types are seeking safe ways to receive their packages. Specifically, mail theft has become a major concern.
Parcel lockers come with many centralized mailbox types, whether they be wall mounted, recessed, or pedestal types. USPS approved mailboxes almost always have them if there are at least ten regular compartments. Some mailboxes for private delivery will have them as well.
Having enough parcel lockers will allow the USPS to deliver most packages to secure, locked compartments. For private delivery, parcel lockers will allow a property employee to receive packages and deliver them in the same manner, and they will be able to handle packages from all carriers as well.
Mistake #5: Ignoring the ADA
The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to improve accessibility of public facilities for those who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and other adaptive devices. Mailboxes must follow the ADA as well, and it is also recommended that those for private delivery do as well.
Allow three feet of space in front of each mailbox when installing. When installing mailboxes for USPS delivery, ensure all customer compartments are between 28 and 67 inches from the floor or ground. At least one customer compartment should be no higher than 48 inches, and no parcel locker should be closer to the floor than 15 inches.
USPS approved, 4C mailboxes are designed to meet the ADA. However, following the ADA with private delivery mailboxes is also a good idea.
Avoid Costly Mistakes and Make the Right Choice for Your Property
By knowing which mistakes to avoid, you can save on the costs of running a commercial property, no matter what type, when purchasing and installing a centralized mailbox system. Providing the right type of mailboxes and parcel lockers will also improve tenant satisfaction, help you keep costs low, and help to retain good tenants for years to come. This will save further on operating costs.
To find the right type of mailboxes for your property, contact us today.