PostNet Franchise Review: Q&A with Harry Lozinski
PostNet franchise owner Harry Lozinski on the value of customer service and his best advertisers
PostNet franchise owner Harry Lozinski doesn’t consider himself a salesman — in fact, he lets his customers do the talking for him.
“A lot of these people coming in now are word of mouth or existing customers. It’s our reputation for good customer service and quality work, our customers are our best advertisers now,” he says.
But don’t let Lozinski fool you. This former contractor’s laid-back demeanor hides an affinity for hard work and getting the job right the first time. That’s what keeps those customers coming back and recommending PostNet to their friends.
How long have you been a PostNet owner? What were you doing before?
We opened in February of 2004, so 11 years. I was in construction, a pipe fitter, and my wife was a bookkeeper. I eventually got into supervision and became a general foreman, then a superintendent then a general superintendent for the company I was working for. Once I became a general superintendent, I was in charge of all the crafts and making sure all the jobs got done. I was in that for 25 years.
Why did you want to change careers?
The economy was tough for construction, so it was inconsistent. We decided that we would think about doing something for ourselves and even looked at maybe purchasing a construction company, or starting one. My wife made the comment that, “Well, what would be cool would be to own something like Mailboxes Etc.” So we happened to find Entrepreneur magazine, which had the top 500 franchise opportunities, and we started thumbing through that. We narrowed it down to the category that had those types of businesses — we thought that might be a good thing with all of the variety and not doing the same thing every day. I visited with one and saw a few of the others in the category, and then we contacted PostNet. Within an hour, maybe two at the most, they contacted us and we started walking down that path. We felt really comfortable with the PostNet organization and with Steve Greenbaum and Brian Spindel.
What attracted you to the business?
From the very beginning it was a great feeling. Like I said, within two hours they contacted us. It was pretty interesting because at the time we had a site in mind for a store. When I met with the area franchisee at the time, he said, “We’ve been looking at that exact spot and have been wanting to get someone in there.” We felt a real comfort with them.
When we were looking at UPS stores, we had stopped in at some stores. The owners would ask how they could help us, but when we said we were thinking about opening a franchise, they left us alone. They didn’t really want to visit with us that much.
When we went into PostNet centers and said we were looking at buying a franchise? Man, it was like: “What can I talk to you about? Let me answer your questions.” It felt like they really cared about the PostNet franchise and were excited about what they were doing. That felt good.
When we met with Steve Simmons, the area franchise representative for Denver at the time, it was like running into a long-lost friend. At Discovery Day at PostNet, I heard Brian Spindel say, “Welcome to the family,” and since that day it has always felt like family. Everybody is happy to share their successes and things that have worked for them and give you ideas for your store. When we go to conventions or regional meetings or whatever, new people and people that have been in the system for awhile — everybody works together and helps each other out.
Why do businesses need your help?
We have all of the shipping carriers. And when you get away from the shipping side, we offer so many other things. Customers can come here and ship and print and do passport photos and fax and get on the internet if they need to. The variety is part of our allure. At times it can be difficult because you have to know so much, but on the other side you are doing something different almost every day.
Who are your target customers?
When we first started we heard a lot about the small businesses and the home-based businesses, and a lot of our mailbox customers are those types of businesses. But in the last three or four years we’ve targeted small and medium-size businesses, as well. For example, a couple of years ago we landed a contract with a local hospital for their printing needs. It was one of those things took three or four days to put together and send the detailed bid. I think this was in early August 2013, and we didn’t hear anything until September. When we got it, it opened my eyes: If we can get our foot in the door, then we can do that. We have another customer, a local dairy, that does a lot of printing with us. That’s large business, as well, so we have expanded our horizons.
How do you get customers?
At this point a lot of it is word of mouth. A growing segment of our business is local artists. One of the artists came in with some of her artwork, and she wanted to make greeting cards. That kind of mushroomed in that genre with the local artist scene — they’d ask their friends, “Where did you get that done?” So we are now up to 10 or 12 local artists coming in to get calendars made and greeting cards printed and things like that.
Early on we did a lot of marketing in the local newspaper and with the Chamber of Commerce. But now it’s almost like the snowball has been rolling and it keeps getting bigger and better. It’s our reputation for good customer service and quality work — our customers are our best advertisers now.
What kind of person can succeed as a PostNet owner?
I’m an introvert, so I don’t feel real comfortable going out to chamber events and those types of things — so I wouldn’t necessarily say you have to be a salesman. But you do have to be somebody who is willing to buy into the system. PostNet has a great system, so you will succeed if you follow that system and use the tools that headquarters has and take advantage of what other owners do. It would be good to be entrepreneurial, but not so much that you’re going to change everything about the process and do it your own way. Somebody who is honest, somebody who is sincere, and somebody who cares about the product they send out the door and cares about the customers — that is the key.
How large is the opportunity for your business to grow?
In year 10, we grew 10 percent over the previous year. I’d say we are going to stay in that realm, but the way it’s kind mushroomed for us, it could be even higher than that! We’re here, we’ve developed a good basis for customer service and we’re very well known in the community. After these past few years of growth, the sky is the limit, really.
How does the headquarters team help you grow?
They’re visionaries. Early on a good portion of business was focused on shipping, and then somewhere around Year 3 they started talking about taking PostNet in a different direction and taking control of our own destiny. Their visionary outlook has really paid off. Also during the economic downturn, they didn’t cut staff at headquarters. They were increasing staff, they were looking at ways to build their support system so that we could be better and have the chance to succeed. They’re not just collecting their royalties; they are investing in our future because they know that is better for their future, as well.
What are your goals for your business?
I’d like to grow enough to where I can get off the schedule and do more of the marketing and face to face with customers. I’d like to do that.