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Virginia PostNet owners Amanda Crow and Dennis Allard discuss why franchises are a good fit for veterans on MSNBC’s Your Business segment. American Business: Marching Orders
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Read the original article at http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/may/19/business-owners-seek-to-offer-personal-touch-with/
Story and photo by Edward Fennell, Charleston Post and Courier
For Sharon and R.C. Foster, coming to work every day is a family affair. The Fosters own the West Ashley franchise of PostNet, which provides multiple services including post office boxes; postal, UPS and Fed Ex services; video-to-DVD transfers; computer rentals; printing; greeting cards; and graphic design.
The West Ashley couple opened the franchise more than seven years ago at Ashley Crossing shopping center and have stayed busy even though the shopping center has lost a Walmart and many other stores. Things could get better soon, the Fosters note, with Kohl’s now remodeling the former Walmart space and planning to open this fall.
When the Fosters opened their PostNet outlet, the shopping center was bustling with activity. What’s kept them relevant in a downsized center is their family-friendly atmosphere and their quality service, the couple say.
“Walmart, Dollar Tree and PayLess shoes are all gone, but we managed to stay,” Sharon said. R.C. cited “word of mouth” advertising from PostNet’s clients. “Our customers are the best,” Sharon said.
She said they have many repeat customers, many of whom drop in for a good conversation as well as to do business. “They come in, and they stay. Our customers engage us and share their lives with us,” she said.
The Fosters said they enjoy being together, and they better because they work six days a week and an average of 70 hours each week. The couple’s two daughters and granddaughter, 5-week-old Raegan Collins, often are in the store.
“When grandmother works 70 hours a week, you have to come see her here,” Raegan’s mother, Miranda Collins, said.
Sharon and R.C. met while in high school in Lexington, Ky., and R.C. began a career with Colgate Palmolive Corp. after graduation. Colgate sent the couple to New Jersey, where R.C. worked as a traveling salesman for the corporation’s products. A final transfer brought the couple to the Lowcountry.
“I was transferred to James Island in 1998, and we fell in love with the area,” R.C. said. R.C. said he didn’t know, at first, that his future would be tied to PostNet when he began using the company’s services. “I used PostNet on James Island for a lot of my work,” he said.
He said he was impressed by the quality and variety of PostNet’s services. When Colgate downsized, the couple found themselves looking for other opportunities. PostNet stood out in their minds, the couple said. Sharon describes the outlet as “a solution center.”
R.C. adds it’s “a local hub” where customers know the Fosters will help them with any problem, “or I’ll find somebody to get it done.” The Fosters’ PostNet does all its work in-store, including making banners and printing and assembling booklets, R.C. said.
As the tight lending market continues to stifle small business growth, PostNet, the nation’s first and only Neighborhood Business Center with more than 700 franchise locations worldwide, is on a mission to inspire entrepreneurs across the country and award one deserving business owner a game-changing $10,000 cash grant and $5,000 towards design, print, copy, and shipping at their nearest PostNet location. In celebration of National Small Business Week, business owners looking to take their business to the next level are encouraged to enter PostNet’s Boost This Biz contest. Any small business owner can visit PostNet’s Facebook page to share why they are deserving of the grand prize. The five entries with the most votes by June 8, 2011 will move on to the final judging round, where an impartial panel of fellow entrepreneurs will choose one grand prize winner. The remaining four finalists will each receive a $200 American Express gift card. “Every day, PostNet franchise owners work with talented and aspiring entrepreneurs across the country to help them grow their businesses,” said Steve Greenbaum, co-founder and CEO of PostNet. “The Boost This Biz campaign is a way for us to recognize all the hard-working business owners who make our economy tick and inspire those who have been disheartened by market conditions.” PostNet franchise owners and their staffs work closely with business owners to identify their objectives, build upon their ideas, and develop the best solution to meet their needs. This could include anything from designing and printing custom invitations or signage for an important company event, to helping create a brand image for a new or existing business looking to re-invent itself. PostNet also offers freedom of choice for the customer as an authorized shipping outlet for all of the major carriers, including FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. For more information about Boost This Biz, or to enter the contest, please visit www.facebook.com/PostNet.