Justin Brookes, who owns two Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) stores in Oxford, was one of the early franchisees to join the network, which has now grown to over 120 “one-stop” High Street stores in the UK and Ireland. MBE offers a large and diverse range of business services to local businesses and consumers.
As well as running his successful business, Justin was appointed last year to the British Franchise Association’s main Board, one of only two franchisees in the UK to represent its 35,000 strong franchisee community.
Justin’s stores are in Summertown and Headington, Oxford. He was the 12th franchisee to join MBE, after visiting a franchise exhibition where he met them for the first time. He has been a representative on the BFA’s Franchisee Forum and also received a global accolade when the President of MBE Inc. awarded him “International Franchisee of the Year”, in recognition of his outstanding achievements.
London-born Justin studied hotel management after leaving school and then worked in Canada for three years. He returned to start a business with his wife and parents, a country hotel in an idyllic Cotswold village, which they ran until his father reached retirement.
Convinced that he wanted to run his own business, Justin explored franchising so he could be his own boss but with the support and benefits of being part of a much larger organisation. He chose MBE because he liked the people and the culture and says: “One of the things that really impressed me about MBE, both here and in Canada, is that many of the senior management had themselves been franchisees. They have an empathy with people in the network and a genuine understanding about running a small business.”
Justin wanted to open a store fairly close to home, so Oxford was the obvious choice. It was a wise decision and both current outlets are trading extremely well. He attributes his success to several factors and comments: “Having really good locations, with the right mix of customers, is very important. Previous experience of running a small business in the service sector has certainly stood me in good stead in knowing how to look after my customers. My wife has been an enormous help in pushing me in the right direction as far as marketing and promoting the business is concerned. Our customers range from large concerns, such as OXFAM, the universities and hospitals, as well as small businesses, people working from home and local residents.”
Justin enjoys being part of a franchise and welcomes the opportunities to chat to other franchisees. “I’ve been a franchisee now for some years and I’m very pleased to say my business in two locations is getting stronger and stronger, as we concentrate on the services that are the most popular and therefore profitable. Income streams vary between different locations but, here in Oxford, a thriving tourist city with two universities and a huge medical establishment, much of our business is generated by students, academics and tourists.”