After 18 years working as a truck driver, spending weeks at a time away from his wife and four children, Chris Phillips was ready for a change. When a chance encounter with a franchise broker brought InXpress to his attention, he and wife Lynn decided that the company, which sells shipping services, was the perfect way to make their dream of working together from home a reality.
They opened their InXpress in January 2009, serving the New York metro area, with Chris heading up sales and Lynn handling customer service and billing.
For Chris, the transition from life on the road to working at home was challenging—especially going from the operations side of the transportation industry into sales. Despite his insider knowledge, his lack of sales experience caused him to struggle. And things only got harder when DHL, InXpress’ carrier provider, stopped offering domestic shipping, effectively eliminating one-third of his business.
The couple admit there were times in the first few years they weren’t sure they would make it. Looking back now, Chris is able to say, “Every business has its own challenges, but the opportunity has been great for us.”
So great that the couple had InXpress’ fastest-growing franchise in 2014 and was ranked fourth globally for sales. “Now it’s part of who we are,” Lynn says.
We asked them to share their experience building one of their system’s most successful franchises.
How did you get through that initial rough period?
Chris: I think InXpress’ strength is the people who are involved with the business, both in the corporate office and as franchisees. I knew nothing about sales, but I learned from the franchisees who were there already. I would also spend hours talking on the phone with [former InXpress CEO] Ken Brockbank, who is now our corporate trainer. That’s what really taught me how to sell.
Lynn: Now that Chris has moved up very quickly in his sales, he always helps others. And that’s one thing I really love about InXpress. We’re like a family.
Chris: That’s how we got where we are now, so we don’t mind helping others. Although I have to tell you, it’s a very competitive group.
How has your business changed since those early days?
Chris: It’s not just the two of us anymore. Once the business started to click, all of a sudden it was like, “Oh wow, we need help.” We have three full-time sales reps and one more part time. We also have three customer-service reps who work in our home office. We realized a long time ago that you have to be customer-service-centric to succeed in this market. That’s what we feel makes us different from the next guy.
Lynn: We have a lot of relationships with our customers. They know that when they call us, they’re going to get us.
Does working from home limit your business?
Chris: Not at all. InXpress has an open selling policy. We concentrate on door-to-door sales in our area, but we aggressively market our services around the country as well. If we make a deal with a customer here who gives us a lead on someone in Minnesota or Tennessee, we can follow up on it and don’t have to hand it off. Our work is our work. We’ve got customers throughout the country, and even in places like the U.K. and Moscow. With this business, you have unlimited opportunities, and it can be done anywhere.