PostNet Printing Franchise Review: Q&A with Bill Merwitzer
Former financial planner finds his skills serve him well as a PostNet franchise owner
Bill Merwitzer describes himself as a “recovering financial planner.” A marketer at heart, Bill got into the financial planning industry after moving from Southern California to North Carolina nearly 40 years ago. He carved himself a niche as the marketing and sales guru within the financial planning firm, but he was ready to do something new. His search for a new career led him to the PostNet printing franchise. He and his wife, Eydie, opened their Neighborhood Business Center in May 2010. Eydie handles personnel, administration and online marketing, and Bill focuses on finances, sales, B2B marketing and production.
Bill recently shared his story with us:
What were you doing before PostNet?
I tell people I’m a recovering financial planner. I did that for 35 years and 1 month. When the economy took a nosedive, I decided I had had enough of that — let’s find something else. Before I became a financial advisor, I owned a retail clothing store in Southern California. After starting it, I found out really quickly that the town I was in had no newspaper, radio or TV that we could use to reach customers, so we had to build our business using direct mail. We advertised a “private Sunday sale,” and an awful lot of our success depended on the success of the sale. It worked really well. In five years, the store grew from an 18 x 40 space to a 36 x 80 space with a separate building for receiving, packing and office space. I handled all the graphic design and printing for the mailers, so I got a lot of experience.
When I was looking for a business, that experience was in the back of my mind. I eventually sold my store because I developed Hodgkin’s disease, which meant that I was in the hospital more than the store for a while. I had a whole mess of surgery and therapy. I moved with my family and got into financial planning. I didn’t really enjoy the financial planning itself, but I learned to like other parts of the business. My business partner did most of the financial planning, and I did marketing and sales and set appointments. I was the relationships guy.
What drew you to PostNet?
I was reading the Wall Street Journal every day, and one day there was an article about a franchise consultant and expert. I called her, and found out about PostNet. I decided to talk to at least 12 franchisees, geographically dispersed, random by demographics, and ask them questions. I wound up calling 18, and 17 of them were somewhere between ecstatic and blissful. I visited the one who wasn’t and it was clear to me that it was because of that person, not because of PostNet.
How would you describe the support PostNet offers?
The support is awesome. They are right on top of things and are forever offering help as well as new products and services for us to offer. They are innovating; they are trying to stay ahead of any trend that may come our way.
We’re each assigned a Business Support Consultant. Ours is Andy Collins. He calls us to ask about how our business is doing, and whatever my answer is, his response is to ask if we are happy, what we want to accomplish in the next 30 days, what we will do to accomplish it, and whether it is a dream or a goal. If it’s a goal, then there has to be a plan. Then he makes suggestions and shares ideas about things we can do to improve the business.
What sets PostNet apart?
We offer a range of printing services and a choice of postal carriers. There’s a UPS Store almost directly across the street from us, and he sends us a lot of business because people are forever taking him FedEx packages, and he can’t take them. We can. (PostNet is an authorized drop-off location for UPS, FedEx, the USPS and DHL.) When those customers come in, we let them know about our other services, too.
PostNet has bright colors, nice lighting and no barrier between us and the customer, which makes it a friendly place to come. If we see customers walk in, nobody is allowed to go more the three steps without a nice warm, sincere greeting.
We understand that you’re not the only person with marketing savvy in your family. Tell us about your wife Eydie.
Eydie is really, really active on Facebook and Twitter, and every three months we have a “Tweet Up.” She’ll invite all our business customers and social media followers to come socialize and network across the street at a nice steakhouse. It’s a great arrangement. The steakhouse sees it as an great opportunity for themselves to get business, so they provide the space and finger foods for free. Our customers see a great opportunity to mingle, and business customers now ask us when we’ll have our next event. It draws a crowd!
Who is a typical customer?
We get everything from one-person businesses operating out of a house to major businesses, including the franchisees of other business concepts who want more help with their local marketing.
What personality or values do you think are needed to succeed as a PostNet franchise owner?
You have to like people and let them know that you value them. And you have to be willing to go out into the community and generate sales. Also, we’re pretty good at making promises, but we are even better at keeping them. WE. ARE. NEVER. LATE. There have been times when we had a piece of equipment act up and we couldn’t complete an order in-store — so we’ll drive somewhere else and pay to get it done. We will give up profitability at times to keep a promise, and long-term that commitment has been very valuable for us.
Learn more about PostNet
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 Bill 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!