Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you’re a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennings and Jeanette Nelson, their son, Jason, and daughter, Jessica, own the PostNet franchise in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Jason was a regular PostNet customer, and his mom became interested in the PostNet franchise opportunity after watching an episode of the popular CBS reality series Undercover Boss, which featured PostNet’s co-founder and CEO Steve Greenbaum. Today, the Nelsons are the proud owners of a PostNet franchise of their very own.
PostNet is the leading business-to-business franchise known for providing personalized, business-enhancing print, marketing and shipping solutions. Locally owned and operated, PostNet locations offer full-service digital printing, direct mail, signs, document binding and finishing, graphic design and ancillary business services like private mailbox rental and more.
PostNet also offers professional packaging services and shipping with UPS, FedEx, DHL and the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, with the brand’s bricks-and-clicks business model, each PostNet franchisee has both a physical retail storefront as well as an online print center offering customers the benefits of fast online transactions and / or traditional face-to-face service. PostNet has nearly 700 franchise locations across 10 countries.
Name: Jennings B. Nelson
Franchise owned: PostNet in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Q: How long have you owned a franchise? 10 months. I opened my PostNet franchise in January 2015 with my wife, Jeanette, my son, Jason and my daughter, Jessica.
Q: Why franchising?
Being part of a franchise provides entrepreneurs and new business owners access to the knowledge and support needed to successfully get a business up-and-running. The PostNet franchise opportunity specifically provided marketing, training and technical support that helped us eliminate potential startup problems.
Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I worked for a large corporation that manufactured off-highway drive train components for construction, mining and agricultural equipment markets. I retired from the company after 29 years as director of sales in North America. Then, I worked as director of new business development for a small family-owned financial-wealth management company before opening a PostNet franchise with my family.
My wife, Jeanette, has been a successful business owner of a hair salon for 35 years and has been in direct sales for 25 years with a major skin care company.
Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?
After researching other franchises, we chose PostNet because of its back-office support, low cost of entry and strong support in the startup process. The PostNet corporate team is easy to work with and was always available to answer questions throughout the process.
Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Our franchise fee was $35,000. The center development fee was approximately $89,900, which covered all of the construction, inventory, signage, equipment, fixtures, flooring and other items necessary to get our center up and running. We needed roughly $60,000 in operating, working and startup capital to cover advertising, operation and other costs during the initial phase of operation of the business.
The average total investment to open a PostNet franchise ranges from $180,000 to $215,000, depending on location and market.
Q: Where did you get most of your advice / do most of your research?
We garnered much of our general business advice from our peers in the local business community. Being active in the Winston-Salem business world provided us with many opportunities to sit down with business owners to discuss their startup experiences and listen to their advice of choosing the right franchise.
The internet was also beneficial in reading about other entrepreneurs’ experiences and the franchising industry in general. PostNet continues to be highly ranked among the top franchises to own.
Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
It was initially a challenge to identify the most effective method to communicate our services to the local community while remaining within our startup marketing budget. We were so busy learning and getting our center ready to open, that there was not enough time to focus on marketing.
In any new business, there is a learning curve you are challenged to overcome while working to maintain a high level of customer service. We stayed focused on this every day as we positioned ourselves in the local business community.
Location was another big challenge in the Winston-Salem area. The area is growing at a fast rate and we wanted to be in the right location. With the help of PostNet, we were able to pick the right location within our budget.
Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do your research first and take your time. I have always believed that anyone going into business should first of all know his or her own personal assets and liabilities. Build on your assets, and make sure you have your liabilities covered. Meaning, if you are not a strong financial person, make sure you seek someone to assist you in this area.
Test your decision by using all the outside resources you have available. Ensure you have all personal finances in order. Remember -- it takes time to grow your business and see a return on your investment.
Join your local chambers of commerce and engage yourself in the local business community.
Q: What’s next for you and your business?
As new franchise owners, we continue to focus on opportunities to grow our business. Eventually, we hope to expand and open another PostNet location. For now, we are focused on being the neighborhood business center in our community, providing a comprehensive suite of consultative, personalized services for all of our customer’s printing, marketing and shipping needs.