Experienced franchising expert finding success as a Minuteman Press franchisee
- Name: Philip Milburn
- Location: Norwich
- Franchise: Minuteman Press International
- Date launched the franchise: May 2018
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Minuteman Press franchise business?
I have a diverse background. I’ve started multiple companies from scratch, have worked as a Lloyd’s underwriter, and do have experience in both printing and franchising. One company I started from scratch was Highway Emergency Services, which did emergency repairs for insurance companies. We became the biggest in the UK and ran a 24/7 service. Our sales grew from zero to 77 million pounds. That business was sold to HomeServe.
I also previously ran a print shop a long time ago as well as a Canon dealership. We became the fastest dealership in Europe and were bought out by Canon’s World HQ in Japan.
Can you also tell us about Minuteman Press?
I tell people all the time that with Minuteman Press, the clues are in the name. Most of our work is needed very quickly, and that is what we do. We are not just a print and copy shop, but a full-service marketing provider.
Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose the printindustry? And why a Minuteman Press franchise?
I previously built up 58 franchises for Highway Emergency Services so I knew what franchising was all about. I also had experience with another franchise and helped HomeServe expand their gas franchise business.
After traveling all over the UK and also Texas for my businesses, I simply didn’t want to travel anymore. I knew about printing and marketing, so I bought the Minuteman Press franchise in Norwich as I thought it was a great fit.
The more I looked into it, I thought it would be great to be able to stay in Norwich and sleep in my own bed at night. I visited ten Minuteman Press franchises all over the country. I thought that just maybe this would work, and what really sold me was their cap on royalties. I’ve collected royalties on the other side of franchising, and the fact that there is a cap was a huge selling point for me to go with Minuteman Press.
How did you raise the finance?
I raised finance through Franchise Finance in the UK, as recommended by Minuteman Press.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
I liked the training, particularly the people and the atmosphere. When I launched, I had a team of field reps here for three weeks and I was able to get started and pick up the business. Today, if I have an immediate query to Mark Heath, he is able to help. At one point, I needed an extra Xerox machine, and I was able to get it at a great deal.
I also like the Minuteman Press FLEX software. I’ve seen other franchises where the software is lacking but FLEX works really well and helps manage many aspects of the business.
How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee?
“Right now, we have really been busy especially since the pandemic restrictions have been lifted. I have been spending my days managing my team as we process work and handle orders. I have a fantastic team and am hands on as we have so much work to do. We see the appreciation from clients with their reviews and they have also been showing their gratitude with really kind words and even some nice thank you gifts.”
Provide information on challenges overcome as well as your key successes to date. Please also detail the steps you have taken to manage the business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We stayed busy as an essential business. We managed to keep the doors open and earned a lot of loyalty with some of the work we did. We produced floor decals, signs, banners, hand sanitizer dispensers, face shields, gloves, and many more items for businesses.
For example, in March 2020, we had a few NHS customers. I reached out to doctor surgeries and simply asked them what kind of signage they wanted or needed. One of them needed roller banners and floor signs and so I worked that out with him. Then, I came to find that there were 93 surgeries that needed these items. I personally visited all 93 of them, measured up what signs and banners the needed, and then delivered them personally. Other NHS departments came on to us and we were able to help them and at the very least stay busy and keep operating.”
Since Sept. 1st, when all restrictions were lifted, it’s as if someone’s turned a tap on and we’re just getting so much work. It’s great to see.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
I honesty like to work and enjoy the work that I do, though it’s great not to travel anymore and sleep in my own bed.
If you have staff, how do you retain your best staff and keep morale high and productive; how do you incentivise your staff and recognise success?
I’ve previously ran big companies that have had formal reviews and everything like that. With this business, I simply like to run on gut feeling, which is something you can do when you have a small business. There are four of us and we all work together while having fun. Yes, we are very busy, but it’s that banter during the day that makes it all work so well. In a small business, everyone has an important role to play, and I appreciate my fantastic team. We celebrate each other and they are rewarded for their great work.
What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
I think you have to set yourself apart and provide something unique in your area or sector. For example, we are able to do what our clients need and fast. I also have learned that our clients want to talk to us, which is something they can’t do online. Instead, we provide an experience where they can come to us, talk to me or my team, and we can help them understand what they actually need. Most of our clients might not know what they need at first, and we help educate them and show them what we can do that makes sense for their design, printing, and marketing needs.
I also think it’s important to understand key aspects of marketing including SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, and websites. Learn these things and it can help any business.
What are your plans for the future?
If we continue to be busy like we are now, we’ll be having the machines running for longer hours with a night-time staff. It’s great to see more businesses coming back, and we are glad to help.
Interested and want to know more about Minuteman Press?
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