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Keeping Post

A hurricane and marketing woes couldn't keep these persistent franchisees down.

After 17 years in management at FedEx, Peter Aveni, 56, accepted an early retirement package, but he wasn't ready to leave the business world just yet. So he and his wife, Mary, 45, started researching franchises. With the help of a franchise advisor, they chose PostNet Postal and Business Centers. The franchise would benefit from Peter's experience in shipping while allowing them to offer other business services such as printing and direct mail.

But even with Peter's business experience, success didn't come easy. Just as the Avenis were preparing to open their location in Orange Park, Florida, hurricane season hit. Only after several months of delay were they finally able to open their franchise in 2004.

While certainly the most dramatic, Mother Nature's blow wasn't the only challenge the Avenis had to face. They needed to get customers into the store. They joined an advertising co-op that pays for print, TV and radio advertisements. But the best marketing tool, says Peter, was simply "getting out there, meeting people, introducing yourself and giving them a card."

Now that they have the customers, the real challenge can begin. With technology advancing by leaps and bounds, there's always something new for the Avenis to learn about up-and-coming software and machinery for their business. Seminars at PostNet's conventions help, but for the most part, they just learn day by day as customers come to them with new requests.

Despite the hurdles, the Avenis' franchise has thrived: Their annual sales are over $200,000.

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This article was originally published in the March 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Keeping Post .

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