After an early career in accounting, Maria Beltran has realised her dream of starting her own business and having more face-to-face contact with customers. Earlier this month, she opened a new Mail Boxes Etc. store at 52 Upper Tooting Road, SW17, offering post, parcel and print services to the local community.
“When looking at start-up options, I was attracted to franchising because it’s based on a proven business model,” says Maria, who left her job as an assistant financial controller to set up her business. “MBE has more than 160 stores in the UK and 1,600 worldwide, so it’s a well-known brand. When I met the team I was struck by how friendly and knowledgeable they were. I was also impressed when I met other franchisees – some of them have four or more stores and I found that very inspiring.”
Maria liked the fact that Mail Boxes Etc. has something for everyone. “We offer Royal Mail postal services without the queues; fast and easy parcel delivery using UPS, DHL, FedEx and other big brands; a mailing address and virtual office service; design and print. Our shredding and secure data destruction facility is ideal for solicitors, medical centres, small businesses and private individuals and we’re happy to collect from customers’ premises.”
Ideally located on the high street, close to Tooting Bec and Tooting Broadway tube stations and Balham overground, the new store is in a thriving part of south London. “We’re just a few tube stops from the city, so there are plenty of commuters who use our print and copy services and pop in with parcels on their way to or from work,” says Maria. “And with two universities close by and several of colleges and schools, student services like dissertation printing and student mailboxes are in high demand.”
When setting up the business, Maria also took the decision to invest in the latest photo ID technology as an additional service for her customers. “Our digital system complies with UK Passport Service regulations, so the images are suitable for new biometrically enabled passports. They are also approved for visas to all destinations worldwide – the system checks the photo against the requirements stipulated by the various embassies,” she explains. “It’s great value at just £8.99 for four images that are produced while you wait and are also ideal for bus passes, rail cards, driving licences and student cards.”
The store’s opening hours are 9am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm Saturday, but Maria is looking forward to going the extra mile for her customers. “If it means staying open a little later occasionally for a last-minute print job or some passport photos, we’re here to help. It’s all part of the service.”