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 email@example.com.
Alex Chambers used to work in her father’s UPS store as a student in grad school. Now, she’s taken over that store, becoming a second-generation franchise owner. She not only uses the lessons she learned as a UPS employee to pursue her passion of growing the business, but she also utilizes the skills she’s gained from her experience as a field hockey coach. Read on to see how she’s stepping out of her father’s shadow and making the business her own.
Name: Alex Chambers
Franchise owned: The UPS Store in Baltimore, MD
Q: How long have you owned a franchise?
I’m a second generation franchise owner. My father started the store with a partner in 2003 and I transitioned into ownership about two years ago.
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Q: Why franchising?
It was really appealing to have the opportunity to be self-made, and franchising allows me the independence to develop my own goals and take my business to the next level. At the end of the day, this is my business and it’s up to me to succeed. The positive work atmosphere, opportunities to grow and customer interaction are exactly what I was looking for to challenge myself and make a career.
Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was in graduate school when I started working at my father’s The UPS Store franchise location. However, I quickly realized that owning and operating my own business was my passion.
Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?
My experience working in the store as an employee made me realize that I wanted to be a UPS Store owner. The positive work environment and the opportunities to grow the business were what drew me in. One of the greatest advantages of opening a franchise is the resources that are in place to help new business owners. While working in my father’s UPS Store provided me with a foundation for business acumen, The UPS Store training programs took my understanding of business to the next level and gave me the tools to be successful in owning and operating my own store.
It was also really appealing that The UPS Store is a well-known and established brand that I could use as a base for my own business. Plus, I’m a part of a group of franchisees who all network and share best practices with each other. Their advice and knowledge has made a big difference in how I operate and manage my own franchise. It’s a really great network.
Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I took over the store from my father so I had the benefit of not starting from scratch. Overall, costs to open a franchise start at around $167,000. I’m currently working toward opening a second store and anticipate spending around $1,000 on advertising for the opening month, as well as about $9,000 on store rent and employee hiring. Of course, opening my own store is a priceless experience!
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Q: Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
My regional manager is a great source for advice and support as well as the other The UPS Store franchisees. In my experience, it’s an overwhelmingly positive environment to work within a network of other owners. I regularly meet with other franchise owners in the area to network and discuss ways to help each other’s businesses. The energy and drive of the other franchise owners continues to motivate me to be better.
Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I think that employee management can be a challenge. In my spare time, I am a field hockey coach and I like to translate my coaching skills into managing my associates. We have a philosophy of “step up, finish, win” that I encourage all of my associates to adopt. It’s helped to create a sense of team and camaraderie.
Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
It’s important to be passionate about your business because, as a franchise owner, the responsibility to succeed lies with you. Stay motivated and continue to learn everything you can about your business and your industry. At the end of the day, it’s your business and it’s up to you to make it work.
Q: What’s next for you and your business?
Based on the success I’ve seen so far with The UPS Store’s franchise model, I plan to open several more locations in the future.
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