A Year for the Highlight Reel: an Interview with PostNet CEO Steve Greenbaum
PostNet’s visionary CEO and co-founder recaps a banner year for the B2B franchise and explains why 2016 will be even better
PostNet CEO Steve Greenbaum’s unparalleled work ethic and commitment to his franchisees has kept the design, printing and marketing franchise on the leading edge of the industry for the past 23 years. The lengths that Steve goes to to bring value to the dynamic network of PostNet franchisees were beautifully captured in his starring episode of Undercover Boss on CBS. The episode finds Steve sporting a metal-head haircut and full-on biker leathers, traveling the country to explore the inner workings of the company he co-founded in 1992.
Under Steve’s leadership, the PostNet franchise has evolved from its early pack-and-ship origins into a go-to resource for a rapidly growing number of the 27.9 million small businesses in the United States. Success of small businesses is of paramount importance to the growth of the American economy, and according to Forbes, small businesses employ more than 50% of the American workforce. PostNet’s mission is to help small businesses thrive, making it the rare franchise system that has both a proven business model and a noble purpose.
“At the end of the day, we are in business to help other businesses succeed,” Steve says. “The reality is, most small business owners have a lot on their plate, and that’s where we come in. Our franchisees provide a full range of back-office solutions — from design to distribution — that support their business and marketing objectives.”
A year of rapid expansion at home and abroad
As PostNet rapidly emerges as the frontrunner in the B2B franchise segment, the success of the business model has garnered acclaim and fostered worldwide expansion. In 2015, Entrepreneur magazine included PostNet on its annual Franchise 500 list of top franchise opportunities for the 22nd consecutive year, and PostNet continues to rapidly expand in 10 countries.
In the U.S., PostNet continues to thrive. In 2015, PostNet opened 15 new locations across the country, including several in the bustling urban cities of Atlanta, Miami, Austin, Washington D.C., Dallas, Minneapolis and San Diego, and one on the West Virginia University campus, bringing the total number of U.S. locations to more than 260. The brand also expanded its network of international centers to nearly 400 locations.
With momentum behind the brand, PostNet is scheduled to open eight new centers in the first quarter of 2016, one of which will mark the brand’s first location in the state of Connecticut. In 2016, PostNet will continue executing its strategic growth plan, expanding the brand into untapped and existing markets both domestically and overseas.
“Our continued franchise growth in 2015 and impressive number of new centers slated to open in the first quarter demonstrates the strong demand for our customized, business-enhancing services,” Steve says.
PostNet continues its peerless commitment to innovation
As the leader of a mature franchise system, Steve focuses on driving value to PostNet franchisees in their businesses. In 2015, PostNet made significant investments in technology to help simplify the business model and keep franchisees on the leading edge.
“Innovation has, and will always, drive our company strategy, making us well-positioned to develop products and services that meet the changing needs of consumers and businesses,” Steve says.
“Because of our ownership structure and operating philosophy, we’re faster and more nimble than our competitors when it comes to executing against innovation. We actively seek opportunities to develop competitive advantages and new technologies that will have a meaningful impact on our franchisees and their customers.”
In 2015, PostNet launched its new Online Print Center, a dynamic online print production and fulfillment platform that makes PostNet centers even more accessible to customers. This new tool provides customers with 24/7/365 access to the same high-quality products and services they have come to expect from visiting PostNet’s centers in person, making ordering, re-ordering and managing their print projects even more convenient. With a few clicks of a mouse, customers can have their files printed and ready for pickup at their local PostNet center or packaged and shipped to the destination of their choice.
Also in 2015, PostNet deployed its new, proprietary point-of-sale system to all of its U.S. centers. The new POS offers advanced functionality, an intuitive touch-screen interface, a clean database structure and quick transaction speed. It is also fully integrated with PostNet’s overall technology platforms and strategies.
“With the brand’s bricks-and-clicks business model, PostNet franchisees have a physical storefront in the community as well as an Online Print Center, offering customers all of the convenience and accessibility of a robust e-commerce platform with the added value of friendly, face-to-face, solutions-based service.”
In addition, PostNet enhanced its iPostnet intranet site — an internal platform that serves as a portal to a suite of tools, information and business support, including message boards, financial dashboards, an online ad-builder, PostNet’s Online University, and an ever-expanding, searchable wiki-style knowledge database making it easier for franchisees to get the information they need.
A bright future for a worthy brand
In addition to impressive global growth and investments in technology, PostNet continues to keep its sights fixed on the future.
In 2015, PostNet announced several strategic new hires. Most notably, PostNet introduced COO Norma Knudsen, who comes to PostNet after a 30-year tenure in a high-profile position with Regis Corporation, the largest hair salon chain in the world, where she helped grow the company’s revenue and territory to more than 10,000 locations in the United States.
PostNet also made significant enhancements to its marketing strategy, helping franchisees win more business by becoming a more playful, engaging and culturally relevant brand.
For example, PostNet launched an innovative marketing campaign this summer, dubbed Magician’s Assistant, positioning PostNet as the “Magician’s Assistant” helping small business owners — or the “the Magicians” — make magic happen behind the scenes with the support of the products and services PostNet offers. This campaign served as a clever way for PostNet to break through the clutter in the marketplace by communicating a playful message to current and prospective business customers. The message was that PostNet understands the hoops small business owners jump through and the many tasks they juggle every day, allowing PostNet to support them in their amazing feats. As a part of the campaign, PostNet locations offered Every Door Direct Mail services for as low as 35 cents to business customers, as well as released business tips to assist the “Magicians” in skillfully marketing their business through direct mail.
In addition, PostNet used the pop-culture phenomenon of zombies to drive its Zombie Apocalypse marketing campaign this fall. With this campaign, PostNet positioned itself as the business resource in the marketplace for small businesses to turn to in the event of an emergency — and in this case — it was a zombie pandemic. PostNet armed entrepreneurs across the country with a comprehensive business survival kit to weather apocalyptic conditions and ensure local businesses remained strong. The survival kit, which was housed on the www.beatzombies.com microsite, featured a downloadable zombie classification guide, survival tips, videos, a savings promotion and a sweepstakes.
Both marketing campaigns proved to be successful in entertaining current and prospective customers while communicating a sales message that customers wanted to act upon.
To further reflect the value of the brand, Steve teased that 2016 will find PostNet launching new strategic partnerships and programs coupled with a new brand strategy aimed at driving unit-level profitability and economics. “We’ve garnered the attention of anyone and everyone that sees value in serving the needs of small businesses. That creates a tremendous amount of opportunity for PostNet,” says Steve.
“The role of a franchisor comes with significant responsibility,” Steve says. “People come into this organization every day from around the world. Our job is to help them be successful and ensure that their experience and relationships with the PostNet franchise family add value on all levels. As founder and CEO and the person who drives the strategic vision, making sure that our franchisees succeed is of paramount importance to me. Our franchisees invest real money, real heart and real soul — some of them leave careers — in the desire to improve their lives. We truly care about everyone and everything the PostNet brand touches.”
Learn more about starting a PostNet franchise
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