Across the Pond: Efficiency Leafleting

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leafleting.jpgAny number of factors can slow down your business processes. Are you delivering your product or service to your clients as efficiently as possible? Here's what I encountered while leafleting on the campaign trail.

It's 8:15am, and I'm trying to focus on about 5 hours of sleep. Thankfully, my first task of the day doesn't require higher-order brain cells: I'm leafleting on behalf of the Lib Dems. Yes, it's the day before "polling day" (as the British call their election day) and I'm helping Mark, one of the campaign volunteers, blanket several election wards in Newcastle. We're distributing letters from the candidate ("this is my promise to you") and "vote for us" flyers through Castle, Denton, and Gosforth. My husband, Joe, is tag-teamed with Henry, doing the same thing.

Here's the challenge: we need to go door to door to deliver this stuff. On foot. Past the each little gate, up each walkway to the front door of each semi-detached house. Each door has some form of letter slot (unless there's a letter box at the side of the door). Drop the information through. Return down the path. Go to the next house. Lather, rinse, repeat 2,157 times. Get through 8 different districts by 6pm.

There's more. Mail slots have varying degrees of tightness. Some swing open easily; others you have to use one hand to push (but that's the hand holding the rest of the flyers! you protest) while you shove the flyers through with the other. And some are on a cockamamie sideways angle on the door jamb. Go figure.

There's more. Far be it for the letter slot to consist of just a metal flap. Oh no.Behind most of the flaps, there are 2 exceptionally thick rows of bristles. In an aera f the country that gets 180 inches of rain a year, I suppose bristles help keep the water out. If you try to shove the flyer past the slot but don't make it past the bristles, the flyer gets all bunched up. But getting the flyer past the rows of bristles is like rubbing both sides of your hand with sandpaper . . . or wild boar paper (if there were such a thing).

There's more. Behind some of the doors, there's a dog. Or dogs. And some of the dogs like to bite fingers that come through the mail slots. So this needs to be a quick in-and-out, preferably without having your fingers go through the slot at all.

There's more. Some residences get just flyers; others get flyers and letters (which have been hand-addressed, I might add). Have to make sure the right letter gets to the right place.

There's more. It's misty, cold, and damp. The longer each mail drop takes, the longer you're in the wet.

And did I mention you have to get through 2,157 of these things?

So I'm facing a number of needs in getting this job done:

  • Speed/efficiency (have to deliver a large volume by days' end)
  • Safety (watch out for dogs)
  • Accuracy (delivering the letters to the right household)
  • Quality assurance (who wants to receive a schmuzzled, wet flyer?)
  • Promotion (will it drop onto the floor with the catchy slogan side up?)
It took a lot of trial and error, working out the best way to sort while walking, use the driving time between districts to fold flyers, and stuff them into the mail slots without ripping the skin off my knuckles.

Have you worked out the best way to deliver your product or service? And did you get it right the first time, or did it evolve over time (and with experience)?

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