Deep in the bowels of 65 Holborn Viaduct toil the messengers of Lovell White Durrant. The fact that this function is internally named the general office as opposed to the post room gives a good indication of its importance.
The messengers' day starts at 7.30am with a concentrated team effort on Royal Mail opening and sorting. The average daily delivery can be up to eight sacks, so timing is critical to ensure all internal deliveries have been completed prior to the start of the firm's working day.
Continuity of association, namely messengers being dedicated to specific floors or areas, is a successful way of maintaining high standards. The messengers become acquainted with each area's firm members so they can fine tune the service to allow for any localised needs.
Peter Bowen, senior supervisor, describes the general office's core duties as internal mail, Royal Mail, document exchange, local, national and international couriers. Two sub-contracted motorcyclists provide a circular run every two hours and a fleet of trolleys and a van also help matters.
Despite being a manually intensive function, technological opportunities are constantly sought. High speed franking equipment, electric letter openers, digital measuring and a PC-based track and trace system are some of the modern initiatives currently in service.
The decision as to sending methods is often left to the general office. Items of mail vary widely in size and a number of things have to be considered - size, weight, content, time sensitivity, destination, cost implication and proof of delivery requirement. The method offering the best business solution to the firm will be selected and executed and good contractors are encouraged to continually improve service.
Significant effort is made to ensure best value for money is achieved on all bought-in services and regular competitive tendering ensures the firm controls costs.
Laurie Nicolls is deputy head of administration at Lovell White Durrant.