PostNet Franchise Review: Couple Celebrates 10 Years as Owners

Before they were PostNet franchise owners, Sharon and R.C. Foster were introduced to the brand as customers

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Sharon and R.C. Foster were big fans of PostNet long before they invested in their own PostNet franchise. While working in corporate America, R.C. used PostNet for all his printing and shipping needs because he found the service to be excellent and the prices fair — and he appreciated that he never had to wait long for help. When R.C. was laid off after 17 years with his last employer, the couple decided to start their own business, and PostNet was their top choice. They opened their Neighborhood Business Center in Charleston, SC, in January 2004. “We’re part of the community,” Sharon says, “and we like doing everything we can to help the community succeed.” We recently spoke with Sharon about their experiences:

What led you to decide to open a PostNet?
My husband was working in corporate America for 17 years before he was downsized. While he was still there, he became a PostNet customer, and he admired the company for the way it served customers and the services it offered. After he was laid off, he said that he’d like to start his own. We did research into other businesses — Mail Boxes Etc., which is now the UPS Store, and several others — and found that PostNet offered the best franchise support as well as strong leadership that has a strong vision for the future and a plan for getting there.

What were you doing before PostNet?
I stayed at home and raised our children and volunteered at their schools and often helped in the administrative offices. I was also the vice president of the PTA for a couple of years. Our daughters are 23 and 28 now. Our older daughter worked for us for four years after college before her husband was transferred to Canada by his company. Our younger daughter lives here in Charleston.

How has PostNet changed since you started your business?
The range of what we can do has grown tremendously. We started out with one black and white printer and one color printer. A couple of years later we realized we needed a blueprint machine; then we added wide-format printing. We brought in more advanced black and white printers and more advanced color printers that can do more finishing. We offer a full range of printing solutions for our customers.

How does corporate help out?
We have a Business Support Consultant — everyone gets one, and they get to know you and your employees. Ours is Michelle Barry, and she is great. The coaching, the marketing support, and the vendor relationships that allow us to offer a lot of services — all of those things have helped a lot. When I pay the royalty, I know what it’s going for, and I don’t mind it one bit. They are so supportive.

How do you and your husband share responsibilities in the business?
My specialty lies in administration, and his specialty lies in dealing with the customers out front and taking print orders and taking care of packing and shipping. I’m great at the bookkeeping and estimating the cost of print jobs. I also assist our graphic designer with her responsibilities, oversee work calendars and handle the HR. He gets to be more social with customers, which suits his personality.

Tell us about your customers.
We see all kinds of businesses. Some are home-based businesses or people with small offices, but my best clients have been physicians’ offices. I can offer them everything they need: forms, signs for the lobby, name tags, custom letterhead and envelopes, appointment cards, brochures — you name it, we can do it. We also keep all their info, graphics and documents on file so that if they need a re-order, we can deliver it to them very, very quickly. I’m really blessed because physicians’ offices keep finding us. Our word-of-mouth has been very strong — one doctor will use our services and tell another practice and then another. That’s brought us a lot of business.

The Foster's PostNet Neighborhood Business Center in Charleston is at 2245-C Ashley Crossing Drive, across the street from St. Francis Hospital.

The Foster’s PostNet Neighborhood Business Center in Charleston is at 2245-C Ashley Crossing Drive, across the street from St. Francis Hospital.

What is the advantage of being able to offer creative services?
Our customers can talk directly to the graphic designer and vice versa, which leads to a better conversation about what we can create to help their businesses grow. We help businesses grow wisely. We are always asking ourselves how we can help them grow, and how to do it in the most economical way and the quickest way.

What personality or values do you think are needed to succeed as a PostNet franchise owner? You need to be a very diligent, hard worker. You need to have the confidence to go out into the community and sell your business services and products. Computer skills are helpful, and administrative skills are great to have, because you will need to handle paperwork. You also need to be someone who loves people and who loves helping people. If you enjoy being around people and helping them, then this business will become a passion for you.

What do you enjoy most about it?
After being a homemaker for 20-some years, I thought the behind-the-scenes part of the business would be my expertise, but once our center opened, I discovered that I love being with the customers. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to solve a problem for a customer and help them grasp and get a hold of their marketing. When I drive down the street and see a sign that we made hanging as a marquee, it’s exciting to know we had some tiny part in making that business successful. We had a man come to us years ago who was starting a used children’s clothing store. He had a name for it, but had no clue what the logo should be or how to get people to visit the store. We designed his logo and gave him some marketing ideas, and his business has exploded. Now, when they need anything, they contact us. It’s exciting to know this is somebody who had a dream to start a business and had some great ideas, and we were able to help him connect with his customers.

After 10 years in business, what would you say has been your key to success? Positively sensational customer service. Customers need to know you’re genuine about helping them. Word-of-mouth travels, and if you offer excellent service, it brings in more business. I got a call from a guy starting a construction business — I have a logo but no brochures, invoices or letterhead; can I come talk to you? I asked him how he heard about us, and he said one of our customers referred him to me because we’d done a great job helping his company grow. That’s what we love to hear!

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PostNet is a printing and marketing franchise that offers a full range of digital printing solutions for small businesses, as well as graphic design, direct mail, websites, email marketing and shipping. Our services are designed to help small businesses grow by giving them the tools they need to market themselves effectively. Our franchisees succeed by helping the businesses in their communities thrive. To learn how PostNet helps franchisees and their customers thrive, visit our research pages, where you can learn about our services, startup costs, training and support, and more. You can also read Q&As with more franchisees like the Fosters on our blog. To learn even more, fill out a form to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. We look forward to talking with you!