More to Learn from PostNet Franchise Owner Featured on ‘Undercover Boss’
When ‘Undercover Boss’ snuck the CEO into Todd Friedman’s PostNet Center in Clifton, it provided a glimpse of the franchise. Now, he’s offering more insights.
If you follow PostNet closely, you may already have met Todd Friedman. The owner of PostNet NJ127 in Clifton, NJ, was featured in a Season 4 episode of CBS’ hit show “Undercover Boss.” His Neighborhood Business Center is one of three that were visited by “Brad” (a.k.a. PostNet CEO Steve Greenbaum).
While Todd enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame — especially among his customers — we thought you’d enjoy knowing more of his story. He recently chatted with us about his decision to open a PostNet in March 2007 and how he has grown and made the transition from shipping to running a printing franchise.
What were you doing before becoming a PostNet owner?
I owned a company that sold Harley Davidson parts and collectibles online, so I already was doing a lot of shipping. I also have owned bagel shops in Connecticut and used to work as a ski and snowboard instructor in Aspen, CO. Everybody in my family has always been a business owner — my mother, my father, my grandfather. I actually have a funny story about my location. When I was looking for a location, a friend who is a chiropractor told me about a spot in the strip mall where his business is. When I mentioned to the location to my grandmother, she told me that she and my grandfather had a hardware store in that same strip mall 50 years ago! It’s even the same landlord, who is like 90 now.
What made you decide to open a PostNet?
One of my mother’s friends owned a PostNet in New York, and I was interested in expanding what I was doing. I visited several Centers and compared PostNet to other franchises, and I was impressed by how clean, organized and versatile it was.
When I started, I was mainly doing shipping, and I’ve definitely had to evolve. Honestly, I was kind of dragged kicking and screaming into printing, and as shipping started to slip during the recession, I was very fortunate that one of the people who was working for me had a lot of hidden graphic design skills. As customers came in asking for help with print projects, she could say, “I can do that.” I had a graphic artist in house that I didn’t know I had! She helped me as I grew the print side of the business before she headed to San Francisco to further pursue a graphic design career. I like to say that she found me a line of business and I found her a future. Since then, I have always had a graphic artist on staff.
Why do graphic designers matter for a PostNet owner?
We pride ourselves on having people walk in, sit down with a graphic artist and walk out with a design. People skills and customer service skills are very important. Personal consultation with the customer helps you do great work. When I go to networking meetings with other business owners, one of my big selling points is that a lot of business owners have marketing ideas that they aren’t sure how to bring to fruition. Well, that’s what we do. I find out how I can help them, maximize their budget and deliver great design.
Is that why your customers love you?
Absolutely. We make ideas into reality on a daily basis, whether they need a brochure or a banner or a menu or a sign … anything. One of our great clients is a dentist, and we do everything for them, from promotional items to creating a plastic mailbox. For them, it just takes one quick call. Most of our customers are small businesses, but we have some big businesses, too. There is a medical center that we work with on all of their specialty printing — booklets and prayer cards, or comic books and activity books for health fairs. We can design and print 10,000 postcards and have it done in two days.
What kinds of projects do you normally handle?
It’s varied. We have people who come in every day for three copies, and we have a local diocese that does 120,000 postcards. One day we might sell a few stamps, and the next day we are putting together 100 signs for Lent. Facebook page, you can see a lot of examples.
How did you evolve your focus from shipping to printing?
Really, I just embraced the materials the PostNet gave me and have given them honest feedback. I think some stores stay quiet and fly under the radar. I tell them what I need, and the feedback is good. I don’t always get everything I want, but I get the help I need to help my business run well. If I need that support, they are happy to give it to me. My business support coach is amazing. He drops everything to help if I am having trouble with a technical issue.
You were featured in the “Undercover Boss” episode in December 2012. What was it like to be a celebrity?
It was fun. My 15 minutes are up, and I’m cool with that. My customers loved it, and the support I got from my customers was amazing. They felt like it was them on national TV. To this day, people will pop their heads in and are like, “You were great, you were great.” People still give me a thumbs-up.
One of the results of your appearance on the show was that you were asked to join the marketing committee. How is it going?
I like that I can give more feedback, and it was an honor to be asked. I shoot from the hip, and if I’m having an issue, I will let them know. I really like the family atmosphere and knowing that I have support — from headquarters and from other franchisees. We have an intranet where you can post questions, and you’ll get a response. I was having difficulty with a service rollout recently, and I posted a message about it on a Sunday. I got a call about it that Sunday. PostNet has a sense of kinship — we’re all here to help each other.
What sets PostNet apart from competitors?
The key things are customer service and quality. When people hand me a business card that is crooked, or I see a banner that is cut wrong, I always think, “How did that get to that customer?” That would never get out our door. We are committed to great service and results. You are going to get the most for your dollar here. People keep coming back to us because they know that they will get great results and that we will meet deadlines. When someone says, “This is what we need, and this is when we need it,” we’ll tell them if we can get it done. I’ve been to so many events where people hand me an old card and they say they ordered new ones three weeks ago and they don’t have them yet.
What are some of the heroics that you’ve pulled off for customers?
There is a camp for kids with special needs that we serve. It’s a one-week, Monday-through-Friday camp, and they produce a yearbook for the kids that they give out on the last day of camp. They were going to a Staples right by the camp to have 250 yearbooks produced, but after they went in with pictures on Thursday, they got a call from Staples saying that a printer was broken and they couldn’t do it. The camp called us, and we got it done. That’s a great example of how we’re different. If that had happened to us, I’d run to another store and get the project done. The customer would never know it even happened. They are paying me to take the pressure off them. Ever since then, we’ve been working with that camp, and it is a pleasure.
What should a PostNet owner be ready to do in order to succeed?
I wouldn’t still be in business without networking and B2B sales. I’m out in the community all the time. We do a lot of events for nonprofits, and as I meet other business owners and explain how I can help, they become an extension of my sales force.
How large is the opportunity for growth?
I have to go and sell, but as long as I hire quality people and get out to networking events, it’s pretty infinite.
I know you must be a Harley enthusiast. What else do you like to do with your time off?
Yeah, if you saw the “Undercover Boss” episode, you know that Steve (Greenbaum, PostNet’s CEO) gave me one, and I enjoy riding it. I also like to snowboard, hike and go to the beach — just being outside. I’m a huge animal advocate, and I support the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Sea Shepherd.
Would you recommend a PostNet franchise to someone else?
Definitely, if they are willing to work for themselves and get out into the community. It’s a good business with a good future, and I love it.
Learn more about the PostNet franchise
PostNet offers a full range of digital printing solutions for small businesses, as well as graphic design, direct mail, websites, email marketing and shipping. We have been consistent innovators, which is one reason the franchise has successfully evolved from a pack-and-ship innovator to a leader in the digital printing industry. We have been ranked a top franchise opportunity by “Entrepreneur” magazine for 20 years in a row and have also won consistent awards from Franchise Business Review for franchisee satisfaction.
To learn more, fill out a form to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. Want to learn more first? Check out our research pages for the answers to many questions about the PostNet franchise opportunity, and visit our blog for more franchisee interviews and news. We look forward to talking to you!