An Australian Franchisor Interview
Franchisors name: Michael Paul
Name of franchise: PACK & SEND
When and by whom was PACK & SEND established? What was the motivation behind setting up the business?
I started PACK & SEND with my business partner, Kennard Neville, in 1993, with our first store in Parramatta. The concept behind the business spawned from my own personal experience. At the time, I had a lot of trouble trying to send a computer from Melbourne to Sydney, predominantly because no carrier would pick it up from a residential address and insisted the item be packed professionally. I was scrambling around trying to pack it myself and to find someone who would send it. I had a thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to just hand it to someone and they did the rest?” So I took the steps towards turning that vision into reality.
What made you decide to franchise PACK & SEND?
Franchising was a logical decision which really aligned with our philosophies of “no limits” and personalised customer service. Firstly, we knew we would require a large network of stores spanning across Australia and be able to courier nationwide to cater for the logistical demands of our customers. A broad network would also help develop brand awareness in local communities. However, the most important element of our business model has always been personalised customer service, so we saw value in having owner operated stores, allowing for high levels of service and customer attention. We looked into a ‘company owned’ model, but preferred having franchisees own their store and be fully invested in their service and business results.
What have been the company’s biggest achievements/successes to date so far?
On paper, our biggest achievements have been winning Franchisor of the Year in 2007 in the PricewaterhouseCoopers Excellence in Franchising Awards, Australia’s biggest franchising award. The year after, PACK & SEND came equal runner up at the 2008 International Franchisor of the Year Award (Singapore), the most prestigious franchising award globally.
With that said, our business has achieved other significant milestones such as successfully exporting our business model to the UK and New Zealand, growing to over 100 stores in Australia in 2009, and moving to a multi-channel offering so our customers can book and pay online,. These markers in our history showcase how PACK & SEND is true to its philosophy of having a “no limits” approach and is continually extending services to meet the changing needs of Australians.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge the entire courier industry has faced in the past twenty years has been to continually innovate and adapt to a changing market place. When we started, there was no internet, no online shopping and no eBay. While e-mail has led to a decrease in the posting of letters, the web has done fantastic things for the couriering and logistics industry. E-commerce has paved the way for prosperous partnerships with e-tailers who need logistical support, while eBay has led to an increase in enquires from everyday Australians who previously didn’t require our service. As a result, we’ve had to refine our services to meet customer needs, whether it be having additional hands on deck, expanding our network or accelerating marketing support.
What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
PACK & SEND employs a range of business tools to leverage our franchises: our website, TV advertising, search engine optimisation, referrals from major freight transport companies, social media and public relations. We have that marketing activity occurring at the macro level, but at a micro level, we support our franchisees with a tool-box of options to market the brand and their franchise and connect with the local community. These include brochures, EDMs and local marketing support. Of course, a healthy franchise marketing plan implements a balance between macro and micro marketing activities to ensure maximum exposure and localised content.
What makes PACK & SEND stand out from the competition?
We are a one stop solution with “no limits” on what we can and can’t do. I’d like to think we are what the travel agency is to the travel industry – we’re the same in the logistics space. For example, if someone wants to do business directly with DHL, they are limited by weight and air freight limitations, whereas our customers don’t have these limits.
We can handle any customer’s packing requirements and can send their package anywhere in the world. We handle freight by road, sea and air, and can send items such as lithium batteries whereas our competitors cannot. We also do furniture removals and can pack entire rooms to be shipped to a new home. While there are many companies who specialise in freight, many don’t specialise in packing delicate items like us, which is why so many art galleries and antiques sellers come to us.
Many of our competitors don’t have a retail service centre offering face-to-face service, which is another advantage of PACK & SEND. It means you can go into a service centre and talk to a real person about your requirements.
In your opinion, what makes a successful PACK & SEND franchisee?
It’s all about relationships. PACK & SEND is all about providing excellent, bespoke customer service – so naturally, a successful franchisee is someone who can work well with people and provide great service to our customers. They have the ability to communicate clearly, have excellent selling skills and are positive team players. More importantly, they have the personal drive to run a successful business. We provide our franchisees with a great business system to work with, but if they have these additional qualities, they can really go far.
What changes have you seen in your industry over recent year? And how have you adapted to them?
The biggest change in our industry has been the growth of e-commerce globally and the exponential growth it has created in postal and parcel deliveries. As a result, we have had to adapt to changing customer needs.
As customers are sending and receiving more parcels, they also need to be able to pick up their goods at a convenient time or have items delivered to their workplace. Customers are sending more technological gadgets such as smartphones and tablets with lithium batteries, which is a service only we can provide by air freight.
On top of that, customers want their items delivered in the most cost effective and timely effective manner, but above all they want convenience. To meet these demands, we have extended our opening hours, launched an online booking service, we now offer a parcel holding service and we are currently increasing our network both nationwide and internationally.
What is the future of the courier industry in Australia?
The courier industry in Australia is thriving. To quote recent figures from IBIS World Data, demand for parcel delivery services in Australia as a result of the online shopping boom will continue to grow, with revenue expected to grow from $6.62 billion last financial year to $8.13 billion in 2017-18. It’s one of the top industry growth sectors in Australia and currently the strongest non-mining sector. With online shopping becoming an integral part of Australian commerce, we expect the future to be very positive.
What expansion plans do you have for nationally and international expansion?
Overall, we’re interested in growing our network to cater for sector growth and customer demands. We’re expanding our services locally, opening satellite stores in our existing retail business and growing our network in New Zealand to cater for domestic growth. We’re also planning to expand into other international markets in the next five years.
What advice would you give to someone considering franchising their business?
Before franchising your business, I’d suggest considering all the options in terms of business models and source expert advice from people who have had experience in franchising. Franchising requires a big investment up front for business systems, support infrastructure and franchisee training and development. My other tip is to start small and work out the nuts and bolts of your business before expanding to a franchise network. Ensuring you go through these initial steps will help set you up for many prosperous years.
If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
Our business has adapted to changes in the industry in a timely and efficient manner, so I wouldn’t do any of that differently. That said, I probably would have expanded overseas sooner. We waited fifteen years to launch our business in the UK and New Zealand which are thriving markets for us, so in hindsight we could have done that a bit quicker.