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Franchise Interview
Interview Date:  4/1/2008
Brian Spindel President and Chief Operating Officer of PostNet International Franchise

Q: You have a great concept at PostNet. Tell us a little bit about your company and how you got started..

A: Brian Spindel: We’ve been involved in this industry since 1983. Steve Greenbaum and myself, we opened a shop back then and in 1985 we started developing centers in the pack and ship industry independently and we started the PostNet franchise in 1993. So, we’ve been franchising now for 15 years, and have a very deep industry experience.

PostNet has always been a company that’s grown and evolved and so our points of differentiation with respect to our services and products at the store level is we aren’t just a pack and ship anymore. We do get very much involved in the shipping. We offer UPS, Fed Ex and DHL, but we also get very much involved in providing document, digital document services like printing, copying and finishing services.

Q: What do you think the single best reason you can give someone looking to invest in a PostNet franchise?.

A: Brian Spindel: I think the single best reason is that this business is a time tested business and is based on trends and not fads.

I see a lot of franchise opportunities that are good today but not great tomorrow and the PostNet concept is a nice solid concept that’s based on more and more people in small businesses outsourcing various activities and that’s not going to change anytime in the near future. People have less time, they’re more hurried, technology is moving faster than ever. And as a result, the value proposition of the PostNet business model - it becomes more and more valuable to people that use PostNet stores.

Q: It seems like in the past 12 or 18 months the economy has been relatively shaky, has that affected your franchisees business at all?.

A: Brian Spindel: No, not significantly. It does impact who’s using the stores and why but, we’re not a luxury good. Our services and products are services and products that consumers and small businesses need to support their daily activities. We’ve been in this business as I mentioned a long time, so we’ve weathered economic downturns very well in this industry and like I said, it historically has performed very well. So, the downturn in the economy has no real impact on our business.

Q: We know that franchise ownership isn’t for everybody. What qualities does PostNet look for in an ideal candidate?.

A: Brian Spindel: We’re looking for someone who is adaptable. Postnet has a technology aspect to it and we continue to evolve. Someone who weathers change well is important. We’re looking for someone who has a great outlook and personality because this is a retail business so, we need someone who can build relationships with customers, become active in their community and become “liked” for lack of a better term.

And then finally, we’re looking for team players. We’re looking for people who understand that in order to get from an organization, they have to give. Those kind of people give a franchise organization more strength because it’s not just the franchisor, but it’s everybody working together to make a great opportunity.

Q: What is it that differentiates PostNet from the competition?.

A: Brian Spindel: Our key competitors are owned by carriers, so they only offer one flavor of shipping. Whereas, PostNet centers are multi-carrier so we not only are an authorized shipping outlets for UPS, but we’re also a Fed Ex authorized ship centers and DHL authorized ship centers.

In addition to giving the customer a better choice, this actually increases the amount of activity in our stores because we’re listed on all of those companies’ web sites and also on their 800 locater systems. So when a customer, whether they like the brand Fed Ex better than UPS or they like DHL better than Fed Ex, they’re directed to our locations from the locater systems of the carriers. So, being multi-carriers is a big strength and benefit and a point of differentiation.

The other thing is that we’ve diversified into document services, so we not only have the business—to-consumer piece, but we’ve also developed a very exciting business-to-business element of our business and I’d say that’s the other piece of it that makes us unique. And the point of differentiation is - is the development of that business-to-business offer.

Q: Starting a franchise like any business is pretty hard work and you know that particularly well. What are some of the things you tell perspective franchisees or new franchisees to help them have more realistic expectations as they’re just starting out as PostNet franchisees?.

A: Brian Spindel: That’s an excellent question. The hardest thing for us to really gauge when we’re sitting across from someone and considering them as a franchisee is the level of discipline that they’ll have.

The vast majority of people that we help in the business have never owned and operated their own business before and they have never bought a franchise before and so they’ve worked for someone else. They have a boss - somebody else who they’re accountable to. And it’s interesting, if you’re a student of human nature to watch people once they’re on their own, they go one of two directions invariably. One is, is that the fear of failure drives them to be successful and so they come earlier, they stay later, they make sure things that need to be done are done and they make sure that the customer’s taken care of and the customer experience is second to none.

And then you have the other person which leaves their employment and because now they’re accountable to themselves, they take their foot off the gas. They think it’s time to take more time for themselves and work less and certainly business ownership can ultimately provide you with that luxury, but it doesn’t on the front end. So, one of the things we try to stress is the amount of discipline it’s gonna take, the amount of time, energy and effort and that it’s not going to be easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. And that it’s going to take a remarkable effort to be successful in their own business, even with the help of our franchise organization.

Q: What do you think is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome to make your franchise system a success?.

A: Brian Spindel: It’s understanding that once a franchisee has reached a certain level of success that they may want to take their foot off the gas. Everyone has their own definition of success. As a franchisor, we have to understand and respect that and not push too hard because, of course, our revenues are impacted by the sales levels of the stores and the royalties that the stores bring us. Some franchisees, when they reach a certain level of activity and success, they want to stop and smell the roses and so that’s been one of the more powerful learning experiences for us is to respect the franchisees once they’ve reached that level of activity.

Q: Where do you see PostNet going over the next few years?.

A: Brian Spindel: We’re going to continue to grow our system. Our implementation of our document services and our new store design has been met with a lot of approval from the market. We’re just looking for good solid citizens, people that are willing to work hard that share our beliefs and our values, to join us. We’re going to continue to grow one good franchisee at a time.

Q: Do you have any final words or encouraging advice for somebody that’s considering franchise ownership or the PostNet brand, in particular?

A: Brian Spindel: I applaud people that have the American dream and entrepreneurial spirit to break out on their own. It takes a lot of courage to do that and we understand and respect it. Whether it’s us or some other good franchise organization, the most important thing is that the person looking for a business finds one where there’s a good fit, both with respect to the day-to-day of the business and also the culture of the organization that they’re joining.

Brian Spindel co-founded PostNet International Franchise Corporation in 1992. As President and Chief Operating Officer of PostNet, Brian is currently directly responsible for the development and operation of domestic PostNet franchised locations including franchise support, communications programs and technology initiatives. Brian holds the designation of Certified Franchise Executive (CFE); he is a frequently is a panelist at International Franchise Association conferences and conventions. Brian also serves as the Chair of the IFA’s Technology Committee and has been nominated to serve on the IFA Educational Foundation’s Board of Trustees.