HEATHCOTE has been declared home to one of the state's best post offices.
Heathcote Post Office ranked second among Australia Post's top five Victorian post offices.
It was recognised for excellence in customer service and post office operations in Australia Post's 2020 licensee awards.
"We're really proud of what we have been able to achieve here," Timothy Linnell, the Heathcote Post Office's manager, said.
His parents, Rhonda and Bryan Linnell, bought the business in October 2017.
The family bought the local newsagency, which has been integrated into the shop, in March the following year.
"We've been learning a lot since then," Mr Linnell said.
He said the family bought into the post office for a change.
"Mum was a secondary school teacher. Dad was a sales manager," Mr Linnell said.
The family moved to Heathcote for the business opportunity.
"We love the town and the community we've moved into," Mr Linnell said.
In an era where a great deal of news and communication is delivered online, Mr Linnell said people still valued the services the post office and newsagency delivered.
"They still want that in-store experience," Mr Linnell said.
He said having a relationship with customers was important, particularly in a community making a concerted effort to be both dementia and disability friendly.
"You get used to what they want, what they need and you can't get that online," Mr Linnell said.
Being friendly and presentable was also helpful.
Mr Linnell said the Heathcote Post Office and Newsagency had sought to diversify its business by offering services like banking.
National Australia Bank in March confirmed it would be closing its Heathcote branch, citing a decrease in visits.
"We try to provide a service other stores don't," Mr Linnell said.
A local business partnership program is one of the post office's next frontiers.
Australia Post community and consumer executive general manager Nicole Sheffield congratulated the Heathcote Post Office on its achievements.
"The Heathcote Post Office has shown a continued and unwavering focus on its customers and supporting the local community during an incredibly difficult year, so it is only fitting that we recognise and celebrate the team's dedication, resilience and incredible service," Ms Sheffield said.
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She said the licensed post office network had never been more important than it was in 2020.
"Not only did our post offices remain open... they helped people stay connected with friends and family and supported local businesses to grow in an accelerated eCommerce environment," Ms Sheffield said.
She reinforced Australia Post's commitment to continuing to invest in and support the licensed post office network.
Mr Linnell said the Heathcote Post Office's recognition was based on its performance in an internal Australia Post retail rewards program.
Speed Post Office ranked first in Victoria. Camberwell North Post Office placed third, followed by Wheelers Hill Post Office and Doveton Post Office.
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