Abbas Saremi became the owner of his Mail Boxes Etc. store in April 2015 after the previous owners looked to retire. With a varied background in retail, sales marketing and banking, Abbas knew that he had a broad enough range of skills to take on the challenge, along with his business partner.
He said: “I’ve worked in customer services and retail before. I’ve also done lots of sales and marketing in the past which helped me to recognise the weaker points in the business and increase the footfall and volume of the business using a range of different methods.
“We chose Mail Boxes Etc. because we wanted a proven business model and we already had an idea of what Mail Boxes Etc. did. We researched them further to find out more about the people behind the business and spoke to existing franchisees. It just ticked all the right boxes for us.”
Like many others in the network, For Abbas, Mail Boxes Etc. is a very long-term investment. It’s common for Mail Boxes Etc. franchisees to remain in the business for a long period of time due to its diversity and the way it can be adapted and developed to suit the local market.
He explains: “Mail Boxes Etc. just fitted with what we wanted and it’s a successful business model. For us, it’s a permanent career move so I think I’ll be with Mail Boxes Etc. for the rest of my career now. Having looked at the other store owners in the network, many of them have been in the business for a long time and remain until retirement age.
“I enjoy working in the business enough to stay for a long time. It is your own business but you’ve got people in the backgrounds that are there to support you. Mail Boxes Etc. have tried and tested methods so you know that whatever they recommend has been fully tested and will work. You can also have some expectation of what the results will be when you invest into a certain area of the business; there’s a minimum benchmark for your investment.”
Abbas is particularly enjoying the flexibility and ability to reap the rewards of his own hard work.
“There’s a huge difference between employment and self-employment. You know that if you put in a huge amount of effort, at the end of the day, it’s your own business so you benefit from it. I like the feeling of being in charge and making decisions for the business. Owning a business hasn’t affected my personal life at all.”
Regarding his training, he adds: “There were three phases to my training: a full week at a training centre in London, three days at head office and two days in a different store to get a flavour of how the business runs on a daily basis. After that, we’re allocated network support executives who come to the store on a regular basis to make sure everything’s up and running properly and there’s always someone on the other end of the phone if you need them.
“Mail Boxes Etc. is a unique market to enter. There are multiple revenue streams to generate business from and I like that you can offer tailored services to customers which puts you ahead of the competition. It allows you to build a good reputation and gain repeat business.”
Abbas enjoys the variety of the services and customer base at Mail Boxes Etc. Serving individuals to businesses and developing range of skills from customer services to working with auction houses and shipping both fragile and unusual antiques. No two days are the same in a Mail Boxes Etc. store!
“We recently packed and shipped a pair of wooden doors from China that were made around 300 years ago. They were extremely old and fragile so they have to be packed very carefully. Some items can be scary to touch in case it goes wrong! We also shipped a painting that was worth £25,000 and was being shipped to Russia. Not many companies are willing to touch such an expensive item but we have the right expertise to do it. As a network, we take pride in being able to handle fragile and unique antiques.
“When we first started, there was a lot to learn but we had support from head office every step of the way. With support from them and other stores, I didn’t feel like I’d been left alone at all. I felt very excited and was passionate about entering a market I didn’t really have any experience in except for the sales and marketing side of things.”
When thinking about his business, Abbas knows that he made the right choice to suit his experience and skills. So, with a whole career ahead of him, what does he plan to do?
“For the future, I want to broaden the services I currently offer in my store and increase sales. There is also the potential to open further stores.”