Annie's UPS Store

I don't do marketing for UPS.⠀

I won't say that it's out of my league because, in my business, marketers are supposed to brag about their biggest accounts and take all the credit for everyone's success.⠀

So I'll just say...it's out of my niche.⠀

My niche is the small business. And in the world of small business social media, franchises get a bad rap.⠀

They're not "cool".⠀

There isn't any profound and philosophical talk about making hamburgers or selling mattresses. No one is carving stone with their hands. There's no fire, no paint, nothing that will go viral and get them on the Ellen show.⠀

It's...work.⠀

But owning a business - whether it's a sole-proprietorship, a franchise, or a corporation - is cool. Carving out a life by owning something that serves other people is profound, even if, and especially because, it's work.⠀

I start the conversation by asking how Annie how she ended up owning a UPS store.⠀

"I ran a lot of errands for my parents, who are also business owners, and so I would have to go to the UPS store in Bay City to ship things. I got to know the owner pretty well. He knew that my parents had franchises and that when I finished school I'd probably be looking for something.⠀

So I finished school at Saginaw Valley State University for Marketing Management, with a minor in business and graphic design, and one day I was dropping off some packages there and he said, 'Hey, what do you think about UPS?'⠀

I was like, "...I don't know." She laughs.⠀

"He said that the store in Midland was going to become available and wanted to know if I was interested. One thing led to another, and here I am. I went to California for two weeks to get training, then do in-store training in Ohio for another two weeks. After that there was a whole bunch of online training and testing on things like international shipping, freight, and hazardous material."⠀

"What's the fastest you've ever packed a box? Have you ever timed yourself?" ⠀

I ask the hard questions.⠀

"...I haven't, but now I want to!" 

"Do you have to do any kind of continuing education to continue to own your UPS store?"⠀

"Oh yeah. For example, they don't want us to use packing peanuts as much anymore because they're not environmentally friendly, and they're messy and nobody likes them. BUT, ours are biodegradable...and they taste like cheese puffs!"⠀

We laugh again.⠀

"When you first started business school, what kind of business did you see yourself owning?"⠀

"Not this!" she laughs.⠀

"Did you have anything in mind?" I ask.⠀

"Not really. I was open minded and shooting from the hip. I did start out trying to buy a different business in Bay City, but their paperwork was all over the place, so it was fishy. I backed out and the deal fell through.⠀

But to be honest, I really enjoy this. Every day is different. I like meeting new people and we have a lot of regulars who are great. Somebody brings in something weird to ship, and it's fun to figure out how to do it. Sandy my manager is fun, Jill is fun. We just have fun. Honestly, I never thought I would think, 'YES! UPS is going to be a ton of fun!' but I walk in every day and I love it."⠀

"What you're saying is interesting to me because of how big the entrepreneurial world is on 'following your passion' and 'doing what you love', but your experience is saying that it's up to you to find the fun and enjoyment in what you do as opposed to thinking that finding ‘the right job’ will do it for you."⠀

"Definitely. I love this, and I never thought I would."⠀

"Your store is growing and becoming very successful..why?"⠀

"I think having a great work environment is important - why would employees do a good job if they don't want to be here? And that will always lead to a better customer experience. ⠀

You just need to go beyond, do a little bit extra, more than most people might do. Like, if someone is elderly and can't drive, I'll go to their house and pick up the package, and have them call me over the phone and I'll charge their credit card.⠀

I think people just really need customer service, a good experience. All it takes is for someone to have one bad experience to never come back, so we've tried to totally turn things around by having qualified employees who know what they're doing and care about what they're doing - because if you don't care, you're not going to do a good job.⠀

And that goes for business owners, too - you have to care about what you're doing. If you don't care, it shows. You have to accept that you don't just get to make your own hours because you own the place. Closing the doors for the day doesn't mean my day is over, there are other things that need to be done. If someone calls in sick, I have to cover - I only have four employees. I don't need more than four employees, but I need to be ready to go in case the store needs me.⠀

And realizing that you will get burnt out, and you do. But then you take your day, buck up, and the next day go back to work."⠀

"In the world of small businesses, do you feel people look at you differently because you're a franchise? Saying, 'I have a UPS store' seems like it wouldn't carry the same kind of "small business grit" to some people."⠀

"Yes...yes.I think that some people view franchises as different. But this is still my space and my business. Sure, I'm using their name, and there are guidelines that I need to follow to be able to continue to use their name, but not every store is run the same way. I'm still a member of this community, trying to make a name for myself and my own store."