WSJ: InXpress franchisee review – Cathy Battreall of Jacksonville, Florida
Entrepreneur finds her sweet spot as 2015’s top InXpress Franchisee
Cathy Battreall was no stranger to the entrepreneurial life, but she never really pictured herself as being part of a franchise system. When she first heard about InXpress, she thought it sounded almost too good to be true. She studied the numbers. Overhead expenses were low. The market — small and medium-sized businesses in need of international shipping — was severely underserved. She soon realized the potential the franchise system offered and set out to make it work for her.
The former pharmacist and mother of two — her sons are aged 17 and 19 — was the No. 1 InXpress franchise salesperson in 2015, despite being based in Jacksonville, Florida, which has no major shipping hub or first-tier international airport. Cathy treated herself to a Maserati for all her hard work.
This is her story:
How did you learn about InXpress? It was around 2010, and I was in another business — the tree farm industry — and a guy we were renting property from owned an InXpress. Because I didn’t ship internationally, it didn’t make sense to me that there were that many people who did. I was out in Salt Lake City when they had a Discovery Day, and after hearing the numbers I thought, “Clearly, people are doing a lot of international shipping!” There were several webinars, and just seeing the numbers and looking at what could be possible, I was interested. There’s no brick and mortar, no overhead, and it looked to me like it could be profitable quickly.
What were you doing before becoming an InXpress franchisee? I’m actually a pharmacist by training; I have a doctorate in pharmacology. I owned home medical equipment companies for 25 years, but as of Dec. 31, 2015, I own nothing but InXpress.
You’re smart, you’re capable, you could have put your money anywhere. Why did you invest in InXpress? My business partner at the time had this burning desire to own a franchise, and I never understood it. We looked at 6 different models and decided not to get into a franchise agreement with a mosquito control company, and I said to him, “We’re not franchising people, we’re entrepreneurs.” We taught ourselves the business and sold it to an employee. Then we looked at other brands. We got serious. But with some of them, for all you had to spend on rent and everything, I just didn’t see a ton of dollars. From my perspective, if I can’t make 6-plus figures, I can just be a pharmacist. The no-overhead model InXpress offers, and the flexibility they give you to be an entrepreneur was perfect. Nobody is telling you to do A, B, C and D and to wear a green shirt to work every day.
Knowing what you know now, if you were just starting out today, would you still become an InXpress franchisee? Yes, I love it. In 3 to 5 years I will have paid off all my business debt, I’ll be very cash-flow positive and my son will have graduated from college. The plan is for him to take over the business so I don’t have to work as hard. But I don’t have to work as hard as I do now; I could just as easily hire someone and have them do what I do. I’m just driven and I love it.
What is the genius of this brand? In my previous life as a pharmacist, I was in home medical equipment sales and I wanted to start a home infusion business. I went to all my suppliers, but I just couldn’t make any money at the prices they charged for supplies. Finally, I joined a buyer’s group and was able to pay a fraction of the cost. I see InXpress as a buying group for small businesses. We give you the ability to act like you’re a much larger company. What are you selling, and how much does it cost to get it to your customer’s door? If you’re on your own, you’ll pay 10 times what Walmart does for freight. InXpress helps small businesses keep a competitive edge.
What I really love about the business is getting to help small businesses grow. How can I help your bottom line? What can I do to simplify what you’re doing? Let’s talk about your business model and what you’re doing, and I’ll tell you the 5-10 programs we have and we can figure out which one is right for you.
What kind of staff do you have? I have 1 full-time sales rep, 2 part-time sales reps, 2 full-time customer service people and 1 part-time customer service person. We all work remotely, and we range from California to Florida so we can cover all the time zones. I’ve got customers all over the world.
How important is previous industry experience? I had none. A trait I think is more important is business ownership experience, or being self-employed in something — any other industry. It’s a whole different ballgame when you’re billing a customer vs. getting a paycheck from a company. Having business knowledge and organizational skills are very important.
What does your typical day look like? At the beginning, the work day is like this: When you get up, you immediately need to be out prospecting either physically or on the phone. A new franchisee should be looking for new customers almost all day long. For the first year, that’s all they do. I do very little selling anymore because I’m managing my business. In the evening or late afternoon, they need to be doing lead generation, preparing for what they’re doing the next day. In terms of who you’ll call on, there’s not a rhyme or reason for the kinds of businesses I’ve gotten as customers. I have attorney’s offices, manufacturers, adoption agencies, universities — the range is huge.
Why are you necessary as a brand? Why do customers come to InXpress? There are two main reasons. Price is definitely a motivator. As a reseller, we are DHL’s small to medium-sized business sales force. We don’t have pickup fees or monthly charges. Customer service is the other reason. When you call a big carrier on your own, you get somebody who knows nothing about your business. We’re able to provide that personal service that’s usually only reserved for Fortune 1000 companies.
For instance, I work with a customer that does not have an in-house shipping department and he travels regularly so when he need a quote, he simply provides the number of units and the country of destination. I keep a file with all his item specifics so I know the details necessary to provide an accurate quote without him having to provide that each time. That level of customer service is very important to him, that is why people choose InXpress. To learn more
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