By Natalie Strom
As the winter months in Southwest Florida come to an end, one inevitable question always seems to arise. How did this year’s “season” compare with last year? We attempt to calculate by discussing parking availability at the local grocery stores or by wait times at our favorite restaurants. But do we ever get an accurate answer? It seems that Marco Island’s Postmaster, Michael Gomez, might just hold the key to this question along with many others one might have about our local postal service.
Postmaster Gomez and the employees of the Marco Island Post Office at 600 East Elkcam Circle are just beginning to feel a shift in population. As the summer months approach, there is an extreme influx in the number of change of address cards that infiltrate the post office. This is one of the best ways of calculating the population shift.
“People put change of address slips in the mail to come down here and then again as they go back up north. As a matter of fact, one of the ways we know that people are heading back up north is that in just the last few weeks we have had over 1,200 change of address forms come through,” explains Gomez. “The comparison from last year to this year, looking at the numbers, shows that a lot more people came this year than last year.”
From an economical standpoint, the influx of visitors to Marco Island is always beneficial. Increased population means an increased demand for, well, everything. This includes local post office needs. Yet, Gomez and his crew feel confident in their ability to handle these changes. Having over 16 years of experience within the United States Postal Service, Gomez has worked in all areas of the postal arena. “I started at the Ft. Myers Processing and Distribution Center. I was there for about four years, starting as a mail processing clerk and then moved into a management position.” From there, Gomez became involved with an Associate Supervisor Program, offered by the USPS at the time. “At that point, I opted to go into Customer Service. There are basically two sides to the postal service; the Processing Center and the Customer Service aspect. The Processing Center sorts the mail for delivery while the Customer Service end delivers and retrieves that mail,” Gomez explains. “That was back in 1999, and I have been on the Customer Service end ever since.”
Taking a role as Supervisor in Lehigh Acres in 2000, Gomez spent nine years at this post. He then moved on to work as Officer in Charge at the Alva post office and then became Postmaster of the Bokeelia office in Lee County. Gomez took the Postmaster position at Marco Island in November of 2011. “This is the first time I’ve been in an area that’s very seasonal,” he adds, expressing that it doesn’t necessarily change day-to-day functions at the post office. “We always make sure we have enough supplies and we also communicate with the Ft. Myers plant on a daily basis. This way we know the volume to expect for the day and for the next couple of days in order to schedule accordingly.” By constantly looking ahead, everyone at the post office knows what to expect as they face each day.
Regardless of the seasonality, the goals of the post office remain constant. “One of the main goals of the postal service is to provide a good customer experience when people come here or when they get mail delivered to them. It is very important to maintain that,” adds Gomez. “One of the ways we try to accomplish this at the Post Office is by having a “first responder” on the floor to assist the customers in line. That way they are prepared, having all their information ready and forms filled out before they get to the window. The ‘first responder’ also answers any of the questions they may have while in line. This is very helpful in providing a good customer experience.”
The excellent staff at the post office also add to the positive customer experience. “Many of the clerks have been here for their whole career, we even have some carriers who will be retiring in the next few years. We really have a great group of people here. They all know what they need to do and they do a good job. It made it very easy for me to adjust and to continue to maintain what was already in place,” states Gomez.
In fact, the Marco Post Office holds itself to such a high standard that it recently received a “Gold Performance” rating by the USPS. A “Mystery Shop,” or a test of customer service at a USPS location, gave the Marco Post office better than 100%. Evaluated on wait time, cleanliness of the facility and overall customer service, the “Mystery Shopper’s” experience garnered perfect scores in all areas. “It is rare for this score to be given and I am extremely proud of my employees to be able to achieve such level of performance. We are constantly striving to create the best customer experience each and every time. This was the result of our efforts.”
As for what he likes the most about his transition to the Marco Post Office. “I really enjoy the action of maintaining the operations here. I’m constantly trying to improve what’s in place already, trying to make all aspects better. We are always trying to provide timeliness of delivery and a positive customer experience. I also want to make sure the employees are working in a safe, productive environment. I am looking forward to staying on at the Marco Post Office indefinitely, and from the beginning, have enjoyed working with the employees and getting to know the Marco residents, both seasonal and full-time.”
Gomez and the staff at the Marco Island Post Office embrace all the “seasons” of Southwest Florida, encouraging all to utilize their local offices. As one clerk explained, “we are always looking to find you the most cost efficient way to send your mail.” Whether it be a letter or a parcel, the USPS as a whole is constantly working towards improving experiences. Stop by the Marco Island Post Office to see for yourself. They may also be reached at (239)394-5437.