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Founded in 2007, BlueGrace Logistics offers complete, customized transportation management solutions to customers throughout the United States. Based in Riverview, Florida, with satellite offices in Salt Lake City and Chicago, the company has increased sales by more than 400 percent since 2009. It also launched a franchise program in early 2011 as part of its strategic growth plan.
The company offers best-in-class freight services and support, including less than truckload, truckload services, international and domestic air freight, ocean freight, parcel shipment, logistics management, state-of-the-art technology, service desk support, and auditing services.
(Fun fact: BlueGrace is derived from the middle names of the founder and CEO’s two daughters.)
KJ McMasters, Vice President of Business Development for BlueGrace Logistics, has worked in the shipping industry for more than six years, holding positions at UPS and DHL. Most recently, he worked at a third-party logistics provider and created the marketing and recruitment departments to generate sales and attract partners. In addition, McMasters has also owned and operated two marketing and recruiting companies.
Franchise Chatter (FC): For those unfamiliar, please tell us about BlueGrace Logistics. What services do you offer? Who are your target customers?
KJ McMasters (KM): BlueGrace Logistics offers best-in-class freight and logistics. This includes shipping and freight services in small package, less than truckload, truckload, air and sea. BlueGrace’s target customers are businesses that are looking to save time and reduce costs associated with shipping.
FC: What are some of the things that set BlueGrace Logistics apart from other logistics companies?
KM: BlueGrace Logistics simplifies the shipping process and provides a lower cost solution. We understand the challenges and complexity of shipping and are dedicated to simplifying it for businesses by offering a web-based tool that allows our clients to easily select the fastest and most cost-effective way to ship their goods by comparing thousands of carriers at the click of a mouse.
BlueGrace has relationships and negotiating power with more than 3,000 shipping companies and we offer numerous options in one, user-friendly place and for that we are known as “the Orbitz of shipping.” BlueGrace is able to offer our clients personalized, streamlined service with one point-of-contact and one invoice.
FC: What led to your decision to start franchising in early 2011?
KM: BlueGrace was created from the remnants of a previous franchise group. Bobby Harris, our founder and CEO, threw a life raft out to over 20 franchisees, treated them like franchisees, and then got set up with the FDD so that they could be franchisees. This in turn opened the door to expand upon the franchise channel with new, vibrant, and talented business people.
FC: What are the main responsibilities of the franchisees in your organization? What are your responsibilities as the franchisor?
KM: The responsibilities of the franchisee are to develop the marketplace, to build their business, and to help cultivate the BlueGrace brand. The franchisor is responsible for supporting them through that process and providing them with a systematic approach to successfully running a logistics business.
FC: What are some of the qualities that you look for in a prospective franchisee?
KM: People that have a great business acumen that want to develop an intelligent, driven, and successful sales organization.
FC: Can you describe the ideal territory for a BlueGrace Logistics franchise?
KM: We do not have territories. We unlimit our franchisees!
FC: What kind of training and support do you offer your franchisees to maximize their odds for success?
After a one week training at the corporate office, a 90-day initial sales support kick off program is implemented. Additional support includes Enterprise Department Sales Support for larger accounts, full access to all software including web-based technology, customer and lead management software, credit assessment tools, commodity classification tools, email systems, and customer retention and satisfaction software.
BlueGrace also offers its franchisees personalized, branded collateral, sub-sites with the franchisee’s information, data analysis tools and hiring assistance, including access to personality assessment tests and CareerBuilder.
FC: What is the initial investment and typical ongoing expenses for a BlueGrace Logistics franchise? What can you tell us about its profit potential?
KM: BlueGrace Logistics has an inexpensive start-up cost, a quick return on investment, and offers a service that will always be needed: shipping.
Start-up costs to become a franchise owner:
- The one-time franchise fee to open a BlueGrace Logistics franchise is $57,500.
- Franchisees need $71,000-$150,000 in working capital.
- After 3 months of opening, an office is required.
Since its inception in 2007, BlueGrace Logistics has doubled its sales every year. Systemwide sales for 2011 totaled about $80 million. With the growing need for affordable shipping options, our business is only going to expand.
FC: Can you name a few franchise companies (inside or outside your sector) that you admire, and why?
KM: Subway because they took fast food and made it seem healthy.
FC: What are your growth plans for BlueGrace Logistics and how do you plan to scale the business?
KM: BlueGrace Logistics has experienced steady growth in the $600 billion dollar shipping industry, doubling its systemwide revenues every year since 2007. Along with increasing clientele, the company has added new franchise locations in 16 territories and plans to add 20 more this year.
BlueGrace has set forth the goals and strategies to further promote its success through its unique franchise offering, increased corporate staff to support expected revenue growth (including an additional 4,500 sq. ft. office space), and development of enhanced technology services.
Bobby Harris, President and CEO, was quoted stating, “We’re looking at about 70 percent growth again this year. Right now, we’re above that projection because we started off the year very strong. We think the economy is getting better. There are a lot of goods moving through the U.S. right now, exports and imports are increasing. We think it’s a good sign for everybody, but especially for us. We’re going to seize that as another opportunity.”
FC: Can you tell us about your new 4,500 square foot facility and the recent hiring of Adam Blankenship as Senior Vice President for Strategy and Customer Development?
KM: The new 4,500 square foot facility will be the new home to the Specialized Service Team, as well as the Technology Department. All other departments will remain in the existing corporate headquarters location. The new building has room for nearly 70 employees, and we expect to see both departments grow to capacity within one year of the expansion.
Adam Blankenship joins the BlueGrace team with years of industry experience and will be responsible for yield management, marketing, strategy, and sales planning for the brand. Adam has been in the transportation industry for nearly 15 years, starting off at Yellow Transportation. He was looking for new challenges and a more fast-paced environment, so he decided to join BlueGrace with the opportunity to create value for both carriers and customers.