Why The UPS Store Is the Best Business-Services Franchise You Can Buy
The UPS Store was deemed an essential business in 2020, and the business-services franchise is still as important as ever, coming in at #2 on our Franchise 500 ranking.
Started franchising: 1980 Total units: 5,359 Cost to open: $185.3K-$474.2K
In early 2020, The UPS Store needed all hands on deck. Its stores were deemed essential businesses, which meant franchisees were stepping up to help local business owners print free signs and menus in addition to managing their own staff.
Now, nearly two years later and out of crisis mode, its client base has changed. Customers have relocated, businesses have hybridized, and e-commerce is surging. But The UPS Store has only become more central as the world settles into its new patterns, which has helped it secure its highest spot on the Franchise 500 since 2001.
"We're at an inflection point of e-commerce and digital transformation," said Sarah Casalan Bittle, president of The UPS Store. The swell in online purchasing habits has coincided with an increase in returns, which has been demanding for both the franchises and the small businesses who depend on them to move products.
Franchisees are also accommodating a new wave of small-business owners. With 5,000-plus stores, 85% of America is within 10 miles of a UPS store, which is poised to handle not only printing and returns, but notary services, bulk sending, and customized solutions for small-business owners.
A new point-of-sale system and the implementation of a 2020 redesign have helped businesses address the intense demand. Mobile, modular units like packing and print tables create room for a new zone in the open floor plan, where customers can conduct print consultations and returns. Each of the 100 redesigned stores is agile and changeable day to day and hour to hour. Going forward, all new stores will be laid out this way. "We're future-proofing the concept, adapting to the needs of the business in the future," said Casalan Bittle.
The UPS Store is also experiencing a surge in demand from hopeful franchisees, who are attracted to its essential-business designation. To accommodate everyone, the brand shifted from on-site to virtual training. It also launched a diversity owner program in 2020, which offers 50% off the initial franchise fee for qualifying new store owners. All that has amounted to 97 stores opening last year (as of fall 2021).
"We've always been focused on empowering small businesses," said Casalan Bittle, both in the communities they serve and within their own ranks.