The Rural Carrier Tip Guide

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This is kind of a companion guide to our Guide for Regular Carriers.  Just some tips from experienced rural carriers and things that have made our jobs easier. If you have a tip, you can scroll to the bottom to send me your tip. These tips were shared by Rural Carriers all across the country.. Some might work for you, some might not.. Just putting them out there in case they might work for someone. Thanks to all of you rural carriers who contributed to this guide..

General Tips

  • If asked to do something that is not part of your job (carrying city mail, clerk work, etc.) ask if it is direct order and get it in writing and dated before you do it. Then, you can grieve it with proof and hopefully get paid.
  • Don’t work off the clock
  • Remember to leave your problems at home. Never let it affect your job in dealing with your customers. Always wave at your customers and say hello. Get them familiar with you and it will help you with problems down the road should you need to interact with them. Establish a good rapport with the customers on your route.
  • If you get hurt on the job report it right away, do not wait to see if you feel better in a day or two.
  • Know who your Union District Representatives and Assistant District representatives are and the numbers to reach them. Click here to find them.
  • Don’t work off the clock
  • Know your Weingarten rights.
  • Read your PO 603 and know what you job includes, Know that your 4003 is what increases and decreases your route time. See our Guide for Regular carriers for information on your 4003

Click here for our Rural Carrier Information Guide

Office Tips

  • Make a copy of your leave slips before you turn them in!
  • Case small to big for each address so you don’t spend extra time on the street to deliver mail. If all mail is the same size, make the last piece one of a different color.
  • Don’t work off the clock
  • Keep everything in your case organized, try to make a habit of putting things in the same place so they are easy to find when you need them.
  • Use small yard sale stickers on the case over the address of boxes that are vacant,holds, or forwards for the whole box. Lets the sub know not to take any mail out for that box.
  • Use a highlight colored dot next to addresses you do not deliver packages to (for whatever the reason is…to far, dogs, etc)
  • Use different colored markers to mark packages. Blue is for a Big ones in the back, Orange if the package will fit in the box and Yellow if it’s a flat, letter or something really small.
  • You could try pulling down from the end of the route to the beginning. Only case raw & flip every other box. The flip voids the need to go thru the mail again. Pulling from end & placing the mail from back to front of the tray saves time. I don’t have to re-shift the mail in order to read it and don’t have to readjust the mail to keep it slanted towards me. Once you get the hang of it, it could save you close to 15 min per day with all factors considered.
  • Only case DPS during extreme weather…ice, heat over 100, heavy rain. This saves, all factors considered, over 40 min per day but uses about 1/4 gal more gas.
  • Don’t work off the clock
  • Try to get your manager to order some stickers that say “Please keep the approach to your mail box clear at all times or we will be unable to deliver you mail” You can stick them on top of all the garbage cans in front of boxes. This way when the customer takes out the garbage they remember not to put it in front of the box! The trash collectors even read them. It helps a lot!
  • Remove battery from scanner and copy ID number found under battery in your route book. Put battery back in scanner. Someday they will come after you over a parcel that was scanned wrong. The computer print out will have a scanner number on it to compare to see if it was your scanner.
  • When working on your edit book, and someone has moved and you have received their COA sticker, write the date where the name goes in the edit book so with a quick glance you can see when the 90 days are up and then mark it vacant. This way you don’t have to check the pink cards over and over.
  • Whenever you pay for a postage due, keep track of on a calendar at your case.
  • Fill out 3849’s in the driveway or at the curb, it gives the homeowner a chance to come to you and you are less likely to have them yelling at you from the door as you are pulling away!
  • Don’t work off the clock
  • Use orange stamp envelopes to mark parcels – order side fits in box opposite side doesn’t
  • When you have a parcel to deliver, turn the first piece of mail for that address backwards.
  • If you have 2 small parcels (boxes of checks or medicine) rubber and them together with the addresses both on the outside. You can check the address and scan both without having to take rubber and off.
  • Write the case row number, house number and first 1-4 letters of the street on top of the pkg (but not on the small things I have in a tub). You will see the larger numbers instead of having to search the packages for the smaller address labels.
  • Also, something that works well for new subs is, when marking parcels write the row and piece of equipment number. So I may put 1-3 on parcel, which means first row – third case section. Helps them put in order.
  • When casing, after reading the name and address, immediately move your gaze to that point on the case.  Don’t watch the mail piece as you move it to that separation.
  • When casing boxholders, if there is a small table or flat bin on the end of your case wing, place some boxholders there to avoid having to reach back to the case ledge.
  • Mark your vacation holds that are picking up with black marker. the vacation holds you must resume, put in red marker. first thing in the morning you scan for red dates and don’t have to look at all of them.
  • Mark your holds on a calendar instead of looking through all of them everyday, then just glance at the calendar to see if any resume delivery that day
  • When casing DPS put everything else up first including parcel markers, start in reverse order F-A tray that way if you decide to take any to the street it is the first part of the route. Look at next address with a flat or whatever raw mail then just flip through DPS to that piece of mail

Route Tips

  • Use a cd holder on your visor to hold extra 3849s, stamps, parcel notes, carrier cards, brown postage envelopes, etc so that they are handy.
  • Make sure each box is marked with the number (inside or out).
  • Use Red Dot stickers on the lid of the boxes that are vacant.
  • All vacant slots in my cbu’s get those blue sticks in them. Much easier for everyone to know they are vacant.
  • Put the white customer information card in each Vacant box. That way when you see it you remember it is vacant.When someone moves in and fills out that card you will know EXACTLY who all lives there
  • If you use your own vehicle for the route, always keep a spare key somewhere you can find it so you will not be locked out of the vehicle.
  • Always carry a light jacket in your vehicle for unexpected weather conditions
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat for sun and rain protection. Especially important if you wear glasses and it’s raining.
  • Put a rubber band on the end of a ruler or paint stick to reach mail in the back of the boxes
  • When you take a certified or accountable mail to the door take a rubberband with you. If no one is home leave it on the door handle or by the door. When managements comes to you to ask why you didn’t go to the door, you can reference the rubber band and where you left it. It goes a long way to help with complaints.
  • Zip-tie vacant boxes, or use a piece of duct tape the rubbermade ones.
  • Keep a cut-off shovel or broom handle beside your seat to knock ice off mailboxes.  Wrap a rubber band around the end to drag letters from the back of a mailbox.
  • Keep a scissors in the vehicle for that customer who wants 7 stamps.
  • Carry a small floor jack and a 4-way lug wrench to quickly change a flat tire
  • Use a back scratcher from the dollar store to reach mail in the back of a mailbox
  • Use a piece of yellow duct tape to mark your vacant boxes
  • In summer heat purchase a stadium seat from Amazon called “LAVA BUNS”! Sit on it or put behind your back. This will stay frozen up to 3 hours and keep your shorts dry (off brands will get you soaked)! Remember “Lava Buns” priced around $25.00 to $30.00. Well worth it!
  • I have a long skinny file and bent the end of a hook. .to drag mail to me.i have pov..a skeleton tray..I what I call it..dividers. .one slot for out going. .middle for markers. .one for acct.mail..the cell phone..arrow keys ..everything set up to my left..faster and safer
  • A hand towel on your right leg will help keep you and the mail dry during light rain..
  • WD40. Never leave the PO without it!

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Rural Carrier Tips



7 Comments on "The Rural Carrier Tip Guide"

  1. Leland Grant via Fac

    here's a good tip. ———–don't become a rural carrier.———— they treat you like crap. lower your pay and increase your work annually and blame everything on you

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