In this Franchise Chatter Q&A, we get to learn more about Unishippers from one of its franchisees, Emily Howard.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your professional background. What drove you to franchise entrepreneurship?
Emily Howard (EH): Previous to Unishippers, I was a customer service manager at a jewelry manufacturer. I was actually a Unishippers customer who became intrigued with the concept. I began asking the franchise owner that I was working with if I could work for him doing customer service.
After nine months of being persistent, he offered me a sales position. I was hesitant because I had no prior sales experience but I decided to give it a try. I realized quickly that I really enjoyed selling. After 18 months as a sales consultant, I had the opportunity to purchase my own franchise.
At the time, my father, Doug, was looking for a new opportunity so I decided to make the biggest sales proposal of my career. I sold him on the idea and in March 2014, he and I, along with my husband, made the plunge!
FC: Why did you decide to become a Unishippers franchisee?
EH: There are many reasons I decided to become a Unishippers franchisee. As a sales consultant I loved
what I was doing every day and was confident that I could also become a successful franchise owner.
I truly believe in the services that Unishippers provides to other business owners. As a Unishippers
customer I experienced those benefits and as an owner I have seen the positive results in many of my
Additionally, the flexible schedule was ideal for my family. I am able to work from home as needed, take my kids to school, sports and other activities and still manage a business. I am able to create a happy work/life balance that works perfectly for me.
FC: What key criteria do you look for when evaluating potential business opportunities?
EH: First, I evaluate each potential customer’s current shipping process to identify if they are the right opportunity for Unishippers.
Secondly, I look at a customer’s growth potential, their core values and their willingness to work hard with me to create the best shipping process possible for their company. The best business relationships will help grow both of our businesses.
FC: What sets your Unishippers apart from your competitors?
EH: My honest answer to that is myself and my business partners. We are a locally-owned small business working our hardest to provide an outstanding level of service and savings to other small- to medium-sized businesses. It is important to me that I am delivering everything that I promise my customers.
Beyond savings, I can provide so much more. The customers can be assured that a great team of people
is doing all they can to ensure each shipment goes as successfully as possible. We are also one of only
two authorized UPS resellers so, unlike other 3PLs, we are able to provide shipping solutions for a wider
range of shipping needs.
FC: Tell us about the level of training and support your franchisor provides.
EH: The Unishippers franchisor meets all of my expectations and more when it comes to training. As franchise owners we are provided with owner training, sales training, and also have the opportunity to work alongside another franchise owner which is arranged by the franchisor.
The franchisor provides additional webinars and training, as products and services are updated or added. We have several levels of additional support which are responsive and attentive.
FC: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
EH: The best way to get started is to work for a franchise in the same industry. It’s a great opportunity to gain experience and decide if the franchise is right for you.
There is a high level of activity that is involved in owning a franchise in this industry. Being willing and able to maintain that level of activity is a crucial factor for success.
FC: What is your favorite part about being a Unishippers franchisee?
EH: My favorite part of being a Unishippers franchisee is that I am able to help other business owners in my community. We help our customers save money and create more effective shipping solutions so they can focus on other areas of their business.
I have found that shipping processes go overlooked—especially in a small business that is just starting—and our goal is to educate our customers on how shipping costs can make a significant impact on the bottom line.
I feel great knowing that I can help businesses grow with the right shipping process in place.
FC: How do you plan to further grow your business?
EH: Our business grows as our customers grow. We will continue to find new customers while we enhance existing customers’ capabilities.
Customer referrals are the best way to earn new business and are based on a level of trust which is the highest compliment we can receive. We also network with local small business organizations and chambers to meet with new businesses in our community.