Franchisee Iyad Al Junaidi explains how InXpress ticked all the boxes for the first year of his franchise journey
By Jordan Whitehouse
When Iyad Al Junaidi became an InXpress franchisee in November 2019, he had no experience in the shipping industry. He did, however, have a goal to start his own business, plus more than 15 years of working in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries behind him. There, he’d held various sales, marketing, and directorial roles for companies like Pfizer, Allergan, KCI, and Getinge group.
The connections between that background and a shipping franchise might not be obvious, but Al Junaidi sees the relation on a more macro perspective. “I was exposed to state-of-the-art operational and management systems and methods at all of these companies,” he says. “So, I know when I see really good practices. And I saw those at InXpress.”
Founded in 1999 in the United Kingdom, InXpress provides domestic and international shipping services to small- and mid-sized businesses across the world. By partnering with carriers like DHL and utilizing its online shipping software, Webship+, InXpress automates the shipping process and provides discounted rates to businesses. The company began franchising in 2000, and today there are more than 400 franchise locations worldwide, including more than 30 across Canada.
Al Junaidi’s location is in Dundas, Ontario, just west of Hamilton. Although he recognized InXpress’s exemplary practices, he took about six months to do his due diligence before joining the company and jumping into that first year. “I wanted a company with a proven sales record and a scalable, profitable business model, plus one with a growing market and repeat business,” he says. “I also wanted to know that I could compete in the market and that there were upselling opportunities, because that’s all about sales and service, which I’m interested in and good at.”
InXpress ticked all those boxes, he says. So, in late 2019, he signed. The next year would be filled with excitement and uncertainty as he learned the ins and outs of InXpress and the shipping industry. He would also be confronted with the realities of a pandemic that forced him to rethink how he would reach prospective clients. Despite these challenges, by the end of that first year, he would be handed InXpress Canada’s Franchisee of the Year Award.
Training for success
Another box that Al Junaidi wanted to tick with a franchise was a comprehensive training program. Again, he found it at InXpress.
The initial franchisee training included both an online program and two of weeks of in-person sessions at the U.S. head office in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both are designed to cover the key aspects of the business, including InXpress’s systems, managing carriers, business planning, and sales skills. The amount of information included was extremely comprehensive, says Al Junaidi, and part of it was delivered by experienced franchisees. “Not many companies use franchisees in this way, but that was great because it let you know that you were getting knowledge in a very practical way.”
Although it was a lot of information to take in, InXpress followed up with support for Al Junaidi from day one of opening his business, he says. That’s meant bi-weekly follow-ups from his business coach, a monthly best practice call, and regular monthly calls conducted by the Canadian and U.S. head offices to ensure he’s effectively implementing the business strategy.
The company also has rich training content available through its InXpress University and a franchisee dashboard, where materials include audio recordings, videos, and a variety of PDFs. Franchisees can also share ideas and best practices with other franchisees through WhatsApp and get support from InXpress’s help desk. “That ongoing training and support really makes InXpress stand out,” says Al Junaidi.
All of it amounted to a relatively smooth beginning as a franchisee, he says. His first few months were spent getting up to speed, putting all of his new knowledge to work, and finding his confidence. By about the six-month point, he started seeing results. “It was an exciting time. The business concept was really appealing, and it’s a very transparent system where you can see the performance and the results of everyone in the network. There’s also transparency in that they tell you what to expect. There’s a success formula that, if you follow it, you’ll see results. So that was really motivating.”
Adapting to uncertainty
As with any new franchisee in their first year, there were challenges. One of the biggest for Al Junaidi, particularly early on, was overcoming the uncertainty of working in a completely new industry. From logistics to transportation, almost everything about the shipping sector was unfamiliar to him. He says it was an uncomfortable feeling to be investing a lot into a business that he didn’t know much about.
But, he adds, that’s where the benefit of being part of a franchise system comes in. “I learned the key concepts and skills in the first few months, and then I noticed that if I applied the success formula and followed the system, then the results will come. It’s simple yet very powerful. InXpress provides the background support, and they manage the carrier relationships, but I have to focus on developing the business and providing excellent service to my clients.”
Then the pandemic hit, and suddenly Al Junaidi’s typical way of developing the business—through face-to-face meetings—wasn’t an option. He took this next challenge in stride, though, by improving his phone skills through webinars, books, and constantly revising his own scripts. Cold-calling prospects wasn’t easy, but he soon found that it was a more powerful sales tool than email and even in-person networking.
During those early pandemic days, InXpress also provided weekly calls on how to survive during tough times, shared best practices from its global network, and invited external sales experts to share tips on prospecting non-conventionally.
By the end of that first year, Al Junaidi saw his numbers growing exponentially month over month. “It was really exciting and motivating to see that growth and that I was building a solid base for the future.” He says that it was also motivating to win InXpress Canada’s Franchisee of the Year award after just one year in business. “That gave me a great sense of achievement, and it also assured me that I’m working with a company that has great leadership, acknowledges success, and rewards it. I’m very proud to be part of this system.”
Which brings Al Junaidi to one of his biggest pieces of advice for prospective franchisees: find a company that has your back. “Take your time to do your due diligence, and be sure that you’re joining a company that provides training and that has a good support system.” Of course, it’s also key to join a company with a concept that’s appealing to you, he adds, as well as one that allows you to grow year over year.
Al Junaidi says he’s so happy he found all of that—and more—at InXpress. “I feel privileged because I’m with a company that really cares and wants me to succeed.” Not unlike the big pharma and medical technology companies he worked with. “When it comes to training programs, when it comes to follow-ups, when it comes to improving things and adapting to changes in the marketplace and providing tools to franchisees—InXpress is as good as all of those big companies.”