“Leave no stone unturned” might have been coined exclusively for Steve Kennedy, the energetic and imaginative Mail Boxes Etc franchisee in Wilmslow, Cheshire who is always keen to explore new ideas and exploit new opportunities.
Before he joined the courier franchise Steve worked in senior management positions in IT services companies, travelling extensively throughout the UK and Europe. The boom time for the sector came to an abrupt end as companies began to downsize in the late 1990s.
Steve’s employer of 12 years decided to move its operation to Munich but the impending change came at a difficult time for Steve and his family. After much discussion with his wife, a finance director of a large American company, Steve opted for a complete change, ultimately using his redundancy package to achieve his goal of being his own boss.
Initially, Steve stayed at home and considered his options. He commented: “I used to travel a great deal but soon discovered how much I enjoyed being a “house-husband” for a year while I thought about what to do next.
“I had IT and project management skills but I knew I didn’t want a job back in IT. I’m interested in graphic design and could see the synergy between graphics and IT. I wanted to stay local as I liked the idea of a one mile commute, which would enable me to see more of my family and allow time for my hobbies, music and motor bikes,” Steve continued.
“One day in town I came across a new Mail Boxes Etc store, which had a sign in the window saying 'staff wanted'. I already knew about Mail Boxes Etc from working in Europe and was impressed by the huge variety of different services that the franchise offers its customers. I was excited by the potential, so decided to find out more.
“I went back with my CV and talked to the lady owner, who told me that she couldn’t afford me although she recognised that my experience might help her business. I felt I could be an asset and that I would enjoy working there, so I suggested a three month trial at a basic rate and then, if I liked it, I would buy into the business. She was very surprised by the idea but agreed and in the end that’s exactly what happened: we enjoyed a successful 50/50 partnership for eight years.”
When Steve had the opportunity to buy out his partner, he jumped at it, not least because of the investment of time and effort he had already made in developing the business and refining new services.
“I was very keen to work exclusively for myself and wanted to be my own boss,” Steve commented. “Wilmslow is a vibrant place with plenty of opportunities. It is very affluent, with a thriving business hub. It has a large legal community whose firms work on high profile cases involving sensitive and confidential documents, which we deliver through our secure express document service. The service is also used by many businesses.
“There is a particularly strong demand for packing and shipping from our regular celebrity customers, so we introduced an exclusive new service called 'Premier Shipping', catering for TV stars and executives, as well as footballers – and their wives - from many local Premiership Clubs.
“Being part of a nationwide franchise enables us to work with top-class and trusted brand names and means we can choose the best and most experienced carriers for each country, matching them to our customers and their needs. We would not have access to that level of expertise as independents,” he added.
Steve’s store offers all the usual Mail Boxes Etc services, from mail box rental to document finishing. A recent graphic design job for a local supermarket has been adopted by all the supermarket’s 17 stores in the region and is now being reviewed by the head office for the whole country.
Such is the success and diversity of operation within the Wilmslow store that it is the approved training centre for new Mail Boxes Etc franchisees in the North West, where they do their ‘hands on’ training before opening their own stores.
“Being a Mail Boxes Etc franchisee automatically aligns my business with high profile service partners, whose names are recognised and respected all over the world. The strength of being a franchisee is belonging to a network and all the benefits that offers, where you are your own boss but not entirely on your own. I could never have achieved so much if I had started a similar business from scratch,” Steve concluded.