When you think of UPS, what comes to mind? One image that probably pops into your head is delivery agents in brown uniforms picking up and delivering packages from big brown trucks.
But there’s another aspect of UPS that you may have seen in a shopping center near you: a UPS store (pictured below).
Here’s something that surprises people. Did you know that those are franchise locations, owned by local business owners like you?
The stores may carry the UPS brand and have the marketing power of UPS behind them — but the success of the stores rides on the backs of the owner-operators in each location.
When you frequent a franchise-owned UPS Store, you’re really supporting a local small business in your community.
The UPS Store brand was born in 2003, after UPS acquired Mail Boxes Etc. Most of the Mail Boxes Etc. locations were transformed into the UPS Store brand, although the Mail Boxes Etc brand still exists in some places. Today there are 4,800 local franchise-owned UPS Stores across the U.S. and Canada.
Each of the stores has a business owner or owners, such as a husband and wife, operating it. According to the company website, a franchise owner has to invest between $150,000 and $375,000 of their own money to become a franchise owner and start up a UPS Store. For many, it’s an alternative to corporate employment. One store owner, Jim Westcott, says that he had worked for someone else for 26 years, but started a UPS Store to control his own employment.
A typical independently-owned UPS Store offers copying and printing services; packaging; shipping; even direct mail services. You can also get a mail box if you need a real physical address, and get mail forwarding from that box along with package notification.
Do Whatever it Takes
The UPS Store franchise headquarters just launched a new campaign to make the public aware of the locally-owned nature of the locations — and that because the stores are locally owned, each store can offer customized services.
According to a UPS Store spokesperson, the “do whatever it takes” campaign grew out of research showing that small business owners often feel they don’t get enough support when it comes to all the day-to-day tasks necessary to build and run a business. Said Vice President of Marketing and Small Business Solutions, Michelle Van Slyke:
“Our research found that while small business owners love what they do, they often feel overwhelmed and under-supported when it comes to getting everything done. They may be experts in their particular field, but that often doesn’t necessarily equip them with the knowledge to manage all aspects of running their business. We also found that many small business owners were not aware of the types of resources their local The UPS Store could provide.”
The local ownership model offers flexibility that a chain structure cannot offer. Local stores can customize solutions to suit a customer.
According to Van Slyke, the current marketing campaign is more than just messaging. It follows on the heels of some substantive changes. The franchise owners underwent extensive training on how to serve small business customers better, and also how to tailor offerings to suit small business needs. The store interiors were also revamped to serve business customers.
The UPS Store website offers a store locator with maps, if you don’t know of a store close to you. Next time you’re in one, ask for a business card. You’ll likely get one with the owner’s name on it — tangible proof that your local UPS Store is really a small business.