In any given week the Wellington Advertiser’s circulation department handles more than 40,000 papers and upwards of 334,000 flyers.
Circulation manager Catharine Goss said the Newspaper’s largest flyer run in history took place last May just before Mother’s Day.
The mailroom staff of 20 handled 561,761 flyers, with help from other staff and members of the surrounding community.
Goss said when she began at the Advertiser in 2003 she never would have imagined handling more than 500,000 flyers.
It’s a testament to how the company has grown that the feat was even feasible.
Before moving to the Advertiser’s current location at the corner Gordon and Gartshore streets in Fergus, the paper was located in the old Van Galis building on St. Andrew Street. The warehouse space was across the road from the main office.
“So it was all stone walls and stone floor, nothing was nice and smooth,” Goss said. “The maximum number of people that we could put in there was 12 because everything was done by hand … and we could only fit that many tables in there.
“And there was a person on each side of the table working.”
At that time a flyer run of 175,000 was almost impossible.
“I remember saying to Dave (Adsett), ‘There’s no way we can do this. This is not going to be able to be done. How are we ever going to get this many flyers done in the amount of time that we have. It’s not possible,’” Goss recalled.
“But I’ve said that a lot of times when we’ve had ridiculously high flyer amounts, that this is not possible, and every week it’s always done.”
Lead hand Sharon Goudreault added, “The Wellington Advertiser gets it done.”
It is Goudreault’s responsibility to organize the flyers each week to ensure the mailroom staff can complete insertions, even if the amount is extremely large.
After moving to the Gartshore location in 2005, the Wellington Advertiser built an addition in 2015 to expand the mailroom and circulation capabilities even further.
The addition made more room for the inserting machine, which was purchased in 2007. While the machine still requires about eight people to operate, it moves quickly and is generally used for delivery areas that have a large circulation.
Employees inserting flyer packages by hand generally deal with areas that have smaller circulations and they may be responsible for more than one area on any given day.
The circulation department, much like the rest of the Newspaper’s staff, starts preparing for the next week’s paper in the middle of the work week. On Thursdays Goudreault begins organizing and sorting the flyers.
“We have to make sure that we pull in the right stuff,” Goss said. “But then it all gets opened up and sorted.”
The department has a system to calculate how many orders are to be inserted manually and on which tables. Goudreault then separates the flyers into stacks for either manual or machine insertion.
She continues this work into Monday morning.
“Monday mornings and Thursdays are my favourite time because I’m here by myself,” Goudreault said. “Getting everything organized, to the way I want it to be so that when someone comes to me and asks me where something is … I can tell them where it is.”
On Thursdays, Goss also comes up with the run list identifying which flyers, and how many, go to various geographic regions.
The mailroom staff works on Monday and on Tuesday afternoons preparing the flyer packages.
On Wednesday, mailroom staff begin work at 11am – around the time the completed Wellington Advertiser arrives at the office from the printers – inserting prepared flyer packages into the paper.
The 11am start time is new this year. Previously the paper was sent to the printer on Wednesday morning and the finished product wouldn’t return to the office until four or five in the afternoon.
That meant long, late nights for the mailroom staff.
Now, Goss said, even if the staff requires a 12-hour shift to complete inserts, they’re done by 11pm.
Once all the flyers are inserted and the papers packaged, three corporate vans begin delivering to carriers at around 4am on Thursday.
Once the papers reach the carriers, they have until Friday at 5pm to deliver the paper, said Suzane Britton, customer service representative for the circulation department.
She is also responsible for the 151 in-town carriers and 20 rural drivers in addition to being a rural carrier herself.
Each of the Wellington Advertiser Newspaper carriers has a notes list. This is a system that Britton put in place when she began working at the paper in 2014.
Any request, such as a customer asking the carrier to put the paper under a rock on the front porch or to deliver to the side door, is included in the notes to inform carriers of special circumstances at each house.
While a new carrier won’t do exactly the same thing as the previous carrier, Britton hopes the notes will help create consistency.
She also produces a carrier and rural driver Newsletter each month.
“It’s a way to communicate with the carriers,” she explained.
The Newsletter has included delivery reminders, winter safety tips, community Newspaper facts, seasonal information and examples of where a carrier is featured in the News.
Occasionally, the Newsletter also includes a contest that has the potential to earn the carrier or driver a special prize.
The circulation department also runs a carrier recognition program monthly to reward excellence in service and motivate carriers and drivers to keep improving.
Britton is also the voice on the other end of the phone when customers call the Wellington Advertiser about Newspaper delivery.
Each call or email she receives is returned, and Britton said she follows up to ensure complaints have been resolved.
In just the last year, the number of complaints received has been drastically reduced.
The number of complaints has gone down by almost 200.
“So the customers are really happy that we’re going that extra mile,” said Britton.
“People love the fact that I’ll call and follow up and say ‘how’s it going? Has it been improved?’
“That kind of customer touch isn’t available with any other Newspaper … so I say we’re heads and tails above the other Newspapers.”
Goss, for one, is proud to say she works for the Wellington Advertiser.
“This is a paper that people want,” Goss said. “This is a paper that people read.
“And as much as it’s annoying to have people call and yell at you because they didn’t get their paper, if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t call.”