Networking Skills Power Growth of PostNet Printing Franchise in Sicklerville, N.J.
PostNet Center owner John Lorenzo is turning his printing franchise location into a hub for the business community
When John Lorenzo walked into his local PostNet to ship a package seven years ago, he never dreamed it would put him on a path to owning his own business. John was a 17-year-old high school senior, but something about him impressed then-owner Gary Chernow, who immediately asked John if he’d like a job.
It was a heck of a hire. John grew to become manager of the PostNet in Sicklerville, N.J., and oversaw its evolution from a pack-and-ship location to a Neighborhood Business Center offering a full range of printing, direct mail and marketing solutions to the local business community. In March 2012, he bought the Center and dove even deeper into PostNet’s new business model of serving the local business community. The result? In 2012, the Sicklerville PostNet brought in the most revenue in its history — and the store’s revenue is up an additional 35 percent this year, John says.
How did he do it?
Becoming a business hub
He hired a pair of excellent graphic designers to help manage in-store tasks. Then he started fervently networking with other business owners. John, 24, attends about three business networking events every week and also visits five businesses each week.
“Instead of pitching all the things we can do, I sit down and learn about their businesses and find what their needs are and look for any problems that we can solve through graphic design, printing and marketing services,” he says. “I also let them know that I can connect them to other businesses for opportunities. You might not know anybody in this industry or that industry, but chances are, we’ve printed for somebody who has the skills you need.”
“We solve the problems that we can and help them find people who can help out in other ways, so companies have learned to look at us as a networking tool, which is great,” he says.
John’s leadership in the business community has already earned him spots as co-chair for the Gloucester Township Chamber of Commerce and head of the membership committee for the BNI (Business Network International) Turnersville chapter. South Jersey Biz named him one of its “20 Under 40” entrepreneurs to watch.
“We still have a lot of room to grow,” he says. “People have learned that they can go to one of our competitors and order up some pieces of paper, and all that’s being sold is the paper and ink. We’re selling marketing consultation — we’re invested in seeing our clients succeed.”
PostNet’s resources help business grow
John says that being part of PostNet has allowed him to offer many services to clients that would otherwise be out of reach, such as websites, email marketing and SMS marketing. It’s also given him access to a family of franchisees who he can reach out to for advice as his business grows.
His mentors within PostNet are Rich and Kathy DeMatteo, who own a Center in downtown Denver. Rich runs the operations and Kathy does most of the sales calls and networking.
“When I get a quote for a job that makes me go, ‘Oh, my gosh!,’ Rich is the guy I call,” John says. “I’m negotiating for a magazine that is far larger than what I’ve done before and would have a huge impact, and Rich helped walk me through the bidding and how to handle it. I may not get this one, but it’s helping me grow so eventually I will get something like it.”
“They’ve got it down. I’m just trying to catch up, and I love this business model. We love the approach Rich and Kathy take where Rich is the guy in the store who makes things happen and Kathy is a super sales force and great at managing customers. I see myself as Kathy, and my designers, Mark and Felicia, are a great one-two punch that kind of do what Rich does.”
Growth is John’s goal. He has an aggressive five-year plan to grow the business.
“PostNet gives you the framework to grow, but it’s up to you to make the business move,” he says. “My Business Support Consultant, Goldie, stays on top of me to help make sure I’m following the path I’ve laid out for myself and has offered me some great advice that has helped our performance a lot. Getting out in the community and getting business in the door is my job, and PostNet gives me the resources I need to attract customers and grow.”