Home Business magazine recently sat down with successful InXpress franchisees and husband-and-wife team, Anthony Escobedo and Cristina Montero, to discuss their perspective on providing an essential service, growing, and especially thriving during a pandemic.
As COVID-19 continues to cause uncertainty across various industries and many Americans are feeling anxious about their job security, entrepreneurs are being forced to rethink their approach and explore different avenues to make a sustainable living. Many might consider investing in a home-based business as remote work becomes the norm and the desire for flexibility and low investments increase.
Anthony Escobedo and Cristina Montero, who previously owned a green waste recycling company, decided to sell their business to find a new venture that didn’t require high overhead or need a large number of employees. They knew a home-based business was key to unlocking their growth potential, as each day’s success depends on how much effort is put in as a business owner. In the midst of a global pandemic, it proved essential to develop a survival guide in order to more adroitly dodge the obstacles commonly faced by traditional brick-and-mortar concepts. All of these factors have allowed home-based businesses to thrive, including Anthony and Cristina’s latest venture.
In March 2018, the pair opened their own InXpress, a global business-to-business shipping and logistics franchise. Due to the franchise’s size and its partnership with DHL, as well as more than 50 other trusted carrier partners, InXpress franchisees can offer big shipping discounts to small and medium-sized businesses.
While Anthony leads external sales and customer-oriented strategies, Cristina manages internal business processes and marketing initiatives. Their business was off the ground within the first 90 days. They realized that with collaborative skills, strategic prioritization and confident customer interaction — anyone can successfully generate leads and make a business truly their own. In two years, the husband and wife team have generated over 1.6 million dollars in revenue, purchased additional, existing InXpress franchises and serviced over 150 clients.
Here are the steps they took to successfully launch and profit from a home-based business model:
1. Find an Essential Service: Entrepreneurs should open a business that provides a product or service needed in any economic climate. Now more than ever, small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) need help reducing costs, the ability to ship efficiently and a shipping consultant who provides one-stop-shop access to multiple carrier options. By offering an essential service, Anthony and Cristina knew that anytime they onboarded a new customer, they would successfully retain them by delivering on exceptional customer service.
2. Ask the Right Questions to Identify the Right Customers: When building your customer base from scratch, it’s critical to understand that it’s just as important to find the right customers as it is to bring in the necessary volume. Lots of SMEs ship, but Anthony and Cristina made a conscious decision about the types of verticals to go after. Most importantly, they learned to ask the right questions to get to the root of customer prospecting — can we help this business, and will this potential customer appreciate what we can do for their business? Furthermore, it allows you to understand a customer’s business needs quickly, seamlessly adapt to their internal processes and determine whether your offering is a good fit for them. With minimal employees at the outset, you want to make sure your time is being spent efficiently — recruiting and caring for the right customers.
3. Be a Resource for Your Customer Base: Always make sure customers know the value your home-based business provides. Anthony and Cristina help their customers save time and money, but they also emphasize that they’re highly accessible and willing to educate them. Whether it’s helping a client ship domestically or globally, it’s their job to know the marketplace, navigate the supply chain realities and provide a shipping solution. Most importantly, despite COVID-19 impacts, Anthony and Cristina have found the importance of offering adaptability. They take the time to sit down with clients to truly understand how the coronavirus is impacting their individual business, and then find creative ways to support them and keep their business and shipments moving.
4. Add Employees Once Business Grows: Anthony and Cristina spent the first year of business laying the foundation, establishing the necessary processes and perfecting their account management procedures. They took ownership of their commitment and set business goals for themselves. As their benchmarks kept rising, they determined it was time to bring in like-minded, driven individuals to take the business to the next level. The couple now has four employees, which cover their multiple InXpress businesses.
While many business owners find their hands are tied, with no way to go out and bring business in — Anthony and Cristina, as remote workers, are able to adhere to social distancing orders, while still being able to generate new business. As long as the need for affordable shipping and one-on-one support remains, they are able to be shipping advocates for existing customers and put in the effort and hustle to obtain new business as needed.
It goes without saying that they have had to adjust their normal business practices. For example, they’ve had to eliminate the in-person meetings and sit-downs they previously enjoyed and had to find ways to ensure that their client relationships continue to flourish virtually. Overall, they feel fortunate that they are able to operate their business 100% remotely for as long as needed and continue providing livelihoods for their employees.