Run It Your Way

Just because you're part of a franchise doesn't mean you're not an entrepreneur.

By Devlin Smith

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marc Guttman's not a rebel. In fact, he spent most of his life in the military. The Handle With Care Packaging Store and Navis Logistics Solutions franchisee is, however, a creative thinker, and often sees business opportunities in situations where others don't.

One such opportunity arose two years ago for the Denver area franchisee. While in his car, Guttman heard an announcement telling Broncos season ticket holders that if they wanted to buy their seats before Mile High Stadium was demolished, they needed to do so soon. "That clicked with me," Guttman says. "I thought, [if] they're going to be selling the seats, they've got to be shipping them."

Guttman made an appointment with the stadium district, presented his idea for shipping the seats and got the contract. "The funny thing about it is nobody in this packing, crating and shipping industry ever approached them, other than me," Guttman says.

To handle the job, Guttman approached Howard Feldstien, another Packaging Store franchisee, about sharing the seat contract. The two soon realized their retail packing and shipping stores couldn't handle this big of a task, so they invested in a new franchise from their parent company: Navis Logistics Solutions, an opportunity created for handling larger jobs.

The addition of this new franchise allows Guttman to think of more creative ways to drum up business. Through the deal he struck to ship Mile High Stadium's seats, Guttman's Navis franchise now ships furnishings and other personal belongings for players cut or traded from the Broncos.

Guttman also reads through the business section, looking for stories about companies that are closing or moving headquarters. Though he understands these are tough times for the companies, Guttman is confident he can provide them with a service they need. "The first reaction is usually, 'We don't need you,' almost like I'm intruding on them," he says. "I come back saying, 'I know this is a hard time, but you're going to be crossing this bridge, and when you do, we would like to help you solve that problem.'"

While many of his sales techniques are not part of basic franchisee training, Guttman is happy to be part of a franchise system while still flexing his entrepreneurial muscle. "By being a franchisee versus an independent, I have a much bigger network to sell my clients. I can say, 'We're not just a mom-and-pop store--we're a national network of packaging and shipping professionals, and I know the training given to the guy in San Diego and the gal in New York, and I trust them to handle your shipment the same way I would.'"

Though he appreciates the support system in place within the franchise, Guttman still believes he is an entrepreneur. "I do go out and take the risks. I'm willing to step into untried areas to build my business," he says. "That's all part of the entrepreneurial spirit--being willing to take the risk and step on the thin ice and hope you don't fall through."

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