FIVE years ago Gerry and Maria Burns took the plunge and decided to work for themselves – and now the company they started is enjoying month-on-month growth.
The couple, who met while working for the same firm in London – Maria in marketing and Gerry in sales – bought the franchise for the MK and LU postcodes for InXpress after some intensive research.
Maria said: “We decided we wanted to do our own thing so Gerry looked into franchising opportunities and picked InXpress.
“There are 50 franchises and they are all run as individual businesses.
“We had a week’s induction, found an accountant, registered the business and jumped in at the deep end.”
InXpress offers companies a cost-effective way of shipping parcels around the world. The group has accounts with all the major shipping companies, including DHL and UPS, and passes on the savings it can make by being a global firm to its customers.
“We are the shipping department for our customers,” explained Maria. “Instead of them having to ring round all the carriers to find the best price, we do the work for them. We also track the parcel and sort any problems along the way and can arrange insurance. And customers are sent a single invoice regardless of how many different shippers they’ve used, so it’s much easier for the accounts department.”
Maria and Gerry have 450 customers and can help them with import and export documents, something that is very helpful to smaller firms.
Gerry said: “We are extremely positive; we have seen an increase in turnover of 46 per cent in the last 12 months, and we are signing up 10 new shipping customers, on average, a month.”
Maria puts the pair’s success, – they won Franchisee of the Year 2011 recently – to being “very focussed and working really, really hard”.
She added: “When we started, Gerry went and door-knocked businesses to try and get customers. Rejection didn’t make him despondent, it just spurred him on.
“Initially, we ran the business from the spare bedroom and we had some doubts about what we’d done.
“In those days, everything had to be input manually and we were working harder than ever. We’d underestimated how much there was to learn.”
Since those difficult early days the business has gone from strength to strength, and now they have an office in Waterside House, Irthlingborough, and employ three people, with plans to recruit at least one more in the near future. They have also just signed an agreement to keep the franchise for a further 10 years and are investigating the possibility of buying the franchise for the NN and PE postcodes.
“Franchising isn’t for everyone,” said Maria. “But it does give you a ready-made corporate identity. This franchise works for us because it is business-to-business so we work business hours and we run it as our own company.”
Gerry added: “In the current economic climate, businesses should be looking for savings at every opportunity and minimising shipping costs is no exception. InXpress streamlines the whole process for customers.
“Every day brings new challenges for our freight consultants, whether it is finding the best price and carrier for shipping an aircraft platform to Germany, or importing adorable baby shoes from China, the team here works to make it happen.”
Go to www.inxpress.com.