Across the territories that PACK & SEND trades there are many successful stores run by husband and wife partnerships and when Helen and Colin McDonald took on the PACK & SEND store in Southampton in the Spring of 2012 they became the second husband and wife team in the UK.
What did you do before you ran your franchise?
Helen was a police officer for almost 29 years undertaking roles from an area beat officer to scenes of crime investigator amongst other things. Colin was an area manager with several breweries up to 2007 – managing between 40 and 60 pubs in England and the Welsh borders. He also managed two supermarkets for the Co-op for eighteen months before joining PACK & SEND.
What made you decide to work together?
The couple had discussed what would happen when Helen retired from the police as she would still be relatively young and had considered a bed and breakfast at one stage. However, just as Helen was due to retire in March 2012, the opportunity arose to purchase the PACK & SEND in Southampton franchise from the previous franchisee who was selling due to ill health. Colin knew the business, the existing customer base and the financial performance, so the decision making process was relatively straight forward . Being a couple who own the business ensures that you both have the same goal to succeed .
What appealed to you about the brand?
The PACK & SEND business has been trading for 20 years since its launch in Australia and, as Colin was already involved in the franchise, the couple could see the potential growth in the business and the existing customer base in Southampton.
Whilst it is still new to the UK, the PACK & SEND proposition is unique in the market which makes raising awareness of the business in the local area the biggest challenge for franchisees.
The variety of jobs from high value antiques, sentimental family heirlooms, to sending 3 metre long ceiling panels for super yachts, means every enquiry brings a different challenge and tremendous satisfaction when you provide the customer with a tailor made solution.
How do you work together
Deciding how Helen would slot into the business was a challenge as Colin already had a role and Helen had to be inducted whilst keeping the business running. As a couple we have allocated tasks that use our personal strengths. Helen’s interpersonal skills, developed over many years of helping and serving the general public, are focussed on the customer facing parts of the operation in store, on the phone, through email and customer feedback . Colin spent many years appointing and advising self employed publicans on how to grow and manage their businesses so these areas of the operation fall under his remit. Both of them get involved in packing though Helen wisely ‘delegates’ the heavier boxes and parcels to the other staff members boxes around the store!
Good communication between each other and no assumptions are key to success. The biggest challenge when working together is to achieve a sensible work /life balance. As with most small businesses, the current economic climate makes sales and profit growth very time-consuming but, whilst there are days that are just too long, working together means they both know what needs to be done.
What advice would you give to other couples considering franchising?
Any couple considering running their own business must be honest with each other and be prepared to see a different person to the one they see in a home environment.
The plus points are that you are your own bosses in control of your own destiny and will reap the rewards of your business success. You will find your partner has qualities that you never realised they had.