The UPS Store is helping Small Businesses weather the COVID-19 economic storm
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, businesses across Canada felt the impact, with the majority having to shutter their doors while Canadians practiced social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus. While The UPS Store certainly felt the effects across their franchise network, they were in the fortunate position of being designated an essential service, which allowed their franchise locations to continue to operate, albeit in a different manner.
While The UPS Store is known for its shipping services, it also provides a wide range of other services to Canadian small businesses, including digital printing solutions, mailbox services, and secure shredding services. The UPS Store locations also act as Access Points for UPS.
“Our stores were provided the opportunity to operate under reduced hours to limit exposure. Some chose to reduce hours, but just as many chose not to, but needed to operate in a different manner,” explains David Druker, President, The UPS Store Canada. “We changed a number of our store’s processes and procedures, so the franchisees and their associates were better protected and offered better protection to their customers. We provided for alternate methods of pick-up of courier packages at stores. We also provided options to make print orders completely contactless, for example, by offering online ordering and curbside pick-up.”
The UPS Store Home Office increased communication with the franchisee network and ensured that those communications provided practical help and guidance for franchisees, both in operating their stores and in making sense of the various stimulus initiatives available to them. The UPS Store also moved its team and regional meetings online and encouraged the network to reach out to their peers in a similar fashion.
The UPS Store has also focused on supporting Canadians as a whole. “The UPS Store has been instrumental in helping Canadians businesses distribute their products to customers and employees now working from home. A very important service provided by franchisees has been the shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE), or medications, throughout Canada and beyond,” says Steve Moorman, Senior Vice President, Franchise Operations.
Moorman notes the following example: “An Ontario-based franchisee helped a manufacturer of acrylic safety shields fulfill orders of nearly 4,000 shipments across the to branches of a large bank throughout the United States. This enabled the bank to provide enhanced protection to their employees and customers, and helped a Canadian supplier win a lucrative contract. This is but one example of many we can share of our franchisees stepping up and taking on projects that are outside of the norm during these extraordinary times.”
Adapting to support the franchisee network
Physical distancing measures also led to changes in the way The UPS Store supports its franchisee network. For example, The UPS Store Home Office has used technology to deliver training programs to new and existing franchisees. In late February, they decided to cancel all continuing education seminars, franchise opportunity seminars, and franchisee training classes that had been scheduled for the second quarter. These were replaced with online video conferences and webinars, which were embraced by the franchisee network.
“We’ve had great success in terms of participation by the franchisees, and plan on maintaining these well into the future,” notes Moorman. “We expect to be able to resume our traditional meeting format in the future, but will continue to offer a virtual option to better meet the needs of our network, which stretches across large distances.”
Beyond a change in the communication format, Moorman says The UPS Store also significantly increased communication to its franchisee network and worked closely with key suppliers to negotiate lease deferrals on print equipment and retail space.
The road to recovery
As the Canadian economy begins to open again, The UPS Store expects to experience continued growth across its network. “2020 started with very strong growth, and we anticipate starting to push up to pre-pandemic levels quickly,” explains Druker. “Our designation as an essential service really helped slow any decline experienced by our stores.”
Druker says small business owners may have different needs over the upcoming months, and The UPS Store is ready to help. “Our sales mix did change, as people were more reliant on shipping than is typically the case at this time of year. As businesses reopen, we anticipate an increased demand for our print services. We also anticipate that those print runs might be smaller, and more reactive to situations due to economic uncertainty, and we are well-positioned to help small business with those needs.”
Franchising forges a way forward
The UPS Store is looking for the right franchisees to help facilitate the brand’s growth. While business and print experience aren’t required, it’s essential that franchisees have exceptional customer service skills. Most importantly, franchisees “must have a passion for success and a passion for helping other people,” says Moorman.
Franchisees participate in an initial training program that takes a minimum of five weeks and includes classroom training, e-learning courses, and in-store work experience. The education continues beyond opening, as well, with quarterly continuing education seminars, a bi-annual convention, and two weekly newsletters filled with important updates and information. The UPS Store franchisees also have access to franchise business consultants who can provide local support, along with peer support programs, including a closed Facebook group for The UPS Store franchisees.
Druker says franchising offers the perfect business opportunity in this uncertain time, especially when partnered with an established brand like The UPS Store. “The concept of franchising has always been to be in business for yourself but not by yourself, and there has never been a more critical time to not be out there alone. Being a part of a brand that has history, that offers the resources of a larger network, that provides operational experience plus the knowledge and dedication of a senior management team, with strong business experience, is what someone looking to open a business needs more than ever.”
“We provided leadership to our franchisees during the pandemic in a strong and clear and transparent manner. It’s great to be an entrepreneur, but especially in difficult times, leadership and a guiding hand can be very helpful,” he adds.
For more information about The UPS Store franchise opportunities:
(800) 661-6232 ext. 246