"We will continue to grow the business in this great City and to develop the PACK & SEND name across Northern Ireland whilst we enjoy ourselves!"
Sam Ireland had been working in the logistics world for more years than he wanted to let on and had amassed a wealth of learning, knowledge and professional contacts as he reached a senior level in his corporate career. He had always known that there was something missing, though, and that was the chance to use his experience and logistics skills in driving a business of his own.
So, when Sam discovered the unique elements of the PACK & SEND business proposition in 2017, he saw the opportunity to make a change and, after discussing it with his family, he and son Jamie were soon on the road to opening the first service centre in Northern Ireland which they launched in East Belfast in October of that year.
Why did you decide to take on a franchise and what appealed to you about Pack & Send?
Having spent many years in logistics with customers of all sizes, I knew that there was a gap in the market for a service like this. I also realised that the franchise route was the way to get started quickly and with the least risk due to the systems, suppliers, the support and the wider franchisee network already trading.
PACK & SEND was always my first choice as it addresses the market that I could see existed combined with the opportunity to be the first service centre in N. Ireland and the proven success in the UK and their 25+ years trading in Australia.
What did you do prior to joining PACK & SEND and how did this help in starting your new business?
I had previously been a senior manager in the largest independent logistics company in Northern Ireland which gave me a great insight into the needs and ad hoc requirements that customers have which none of the big freight businesses address, but which PACK & SEND is ideal for.
This also meant that I had a great network of contacts in the market to bounce ideas off before making my decision to start my own business.
Have there been any unexpected problems or especially challenging jobs?
I think that my biggest challenge was locating the business and securing a good commercial deal for the lease. As the first PACK & SEND service centre in the Province I had several territory options and needed to decide what was best for the business opportunity and for me personally.
Once this was resolved I then spent time finding the right site to locate in including a couple of days reviewing property with managers from HQ. Whilst this took a little time to resolve, it was time well-spent as our unit is in a great location for servicing Belfast and wider N. Ireland market.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Our induction and launch training comprised of some classroom theory work combined with several weeks of practical training in a UK service centre before we opened our own unit. As my son Jamie was part of the team from Day 1, he was able to attend all the training as well – which I think was a big benefit when we opened the doors of our own PACK & SEND service centre.
Whilst we are a little remote from the UK HQ; we were helped by the fact that there is a lot of information available online to support the training. Which is just as well as there is a lot to remember!
What does a typical day look like? What do you love about your work now?
There is no such thing as a typical day at PACK & SEND! We have to solve different problems for every customer and finding effective solutions provides a great sense of satisfaction.
People are paying for our expertise and advice as well as our packing and shipping services and part of the fun in running a PACK & SEND service centre is in working out the best approach on a particularly challenging packing task.
There is a lot of advice and support available in the business though, and as orders can range in value from less than £100 to many thousands it is important to get it right!
We help solve people’s problems and that’s a great thing to do.
What would you advise someone who is considering investing in a franchise?
Don’t rush into anything! I had planned to have my own business for many years before starting it. Whilst experience in a market isn’t essential; anyone considering a franchise should choose a business that they understand and one with a clear USP, strong brand identity and a proven track record.
If you can’t see yourself enjoying running the business – it isn’t for you!
It is important to do your homework before deciding on a franchise model and you should expect to see some performance information and speak to the management team and an existing owner before making a commitment.
What are your plans for the future?
To continue to grow the business in this great City and to develop the PACK & SEND name across Northern Ireland whilst we enjoy ourselves!