There are several common traits you’ll find at pretty much every The UPS Store across the country -
There are several common traits you’ll find at pretty much every The UPS Store across the country – the logos on the employees’ uniforms, the signage displayed in the stores and the similar services offered by our locations. But each of our locations also has a fair share of distinct characteristics. One of the reasons for this is our franchise business model that empowers owners to run their stores based on their strengths and the needs of their community.
But, more than that, it’s the unique qualities of our franchise owners that bring this personalized feel to locations across the country. Each of our owners has his or her own management style, personal background and life story. Some of our owners followed the typical path to entrepreneurship, while others forged less traditional paths on their way to owning a business. Brandon Phillips is one such owner. A 20-plus-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, Brandon has juggled owning a The UPS Store with his original career as a firefighter for the past decade and a half.
As far as careers go, fighting fires and owning a business are both demanding ways to make a living. Straight from the source, here’s how Brandon makes it all work.
Name: Brandon Phillips
Store location: Laurelton, (Queens) New York City
Owner since: 2005
Building a family business
When opening his franchise, Brandon chose the community where he grew up – the Laurelton neighborhood of Queens in New York City. Owning a business close to home has given Brandon the opportunity to balance two full-time careers while still getting to spend time with family and friends.
“I opened the store in my community so I still see childhood friends who have moved and come back or never moved,” Brandon says. “(And) I work with my family. My mother is my partner, and my daughter works there so it's a nice family environment with three generations working in one store.”
This community environment at his store feels so much like home that it even reminds the life-long New Yorker of a famous Boston establishment.
“Our customers have become like family. It’s a wonderful feeling when the regulars walk in, almost like in the TV show Cheers,” says Brandon. “Everybody walks in and everybody knows your name. I like that feeling, and the customers appreciate it as well.”
Growing his business
According to Brandon, one of the most important elements to growing his business has been investing in the latest technology to power his store’s services.
“To grow my business, I invest in my business. I have purchased and leased many pieces of equipment,” says Brandon. “I like our store to stand out from the rest so I stay on top of all the latest technology and equipment.”
With a base of more than 4,000 customers in the average month, Brandon takes advantage of that traffic by putting his technology acquisitions on full display. His dedication to innovation has made an impact on his customer-base and his fellow franchise owners, especially when it comes to printing.
“We are the number one printer in New York City. And I share that expertise with other franchise owners by printing for seven other The UPS Stores as well.”
Finding his niche
Establishing his store as a leader in printing was no accident. Working within The UPS Store’s framework, Brandon developed a strategic business plan aligned with the needs of his customers and the strengths of his location.
“Every neighborhood has a niche. You just need to find out what the niche is in your neighborhood,” says Brandon. “Where I brag about having a huge printing service, stores in Manhattan don't have that luxury because their stores are small, and the rent is too high. But these stores can still knock it out of the park with mailboxes or other services.”
Having the flexibility to excel at different services, according to Brandon, is one of the many key selling points of owning a The UPS Store.
“I think what makes this franchise successful is the strength of the brand name, the number of locations in the network and the number of services that we can offer to our customers.”
Learning from his peers
For Brandon, The UPS Store franchise network also presents some amazing learning opportunities for owners.
“Going to the franchise conventions is huge for owners. The conventions are great, the workshops are fantastic, and the vendor show is great, too,” he says. But, for Brandon, the learning opportunities aren’t limited to formal instruction.
“In my opinion, you learn just as much – if not more – from your fellow franchisees by mingling and networking in between the workshops. You can do that locally without going to a convention; just visit a few stores, talk to the other owners and pick their brains,” says Brandon. Engaging with other owners, can be an efficient way to gain insight about best business practices among a variety of franchises.
Offering advice to new franchise owners
When it comes to dishing out advice for new franchise owners and potential franchisees, Brandon stresses how important shared learning is as you build and grow your business.
“A new owner getting into the market really needs to visit other franchisees and get ideas and thoughts from them – both good and bad,” Brandon says. “You have to learn your neighborhood and find out what works best.”
“You'll learn in time that picking the brains of other The UPS Store owners will give you a great head start.”