All in a Day’s Work
Justin Brookes has been the owner of two Mail Boxes Etc. Oxford franchise locations for many years now and has built his business into a profitable operation, which he loves running. Gareth Samuel speaks to the hard working family man about how he spends a typical working day.
My working day begins with a pleasant drive with my wife from the pretty Cotswold village where we live to the middle of Oxford where we both work,” he begins. This is the only routine part of Justin’s day thanks to the nature of his Mail Boxes Etc. work.
“I love the variety of my business and every day is different. Anything can happen,” he explains. “Apart from the diversity of MBE’s services – from mail box rental to printing and courier services, to name a few – much of our business is seasonal.”
It is interesting to discover that Mail Boxes Etc. is a preferred supplier to local well known auction houses, so throughout the year, several times per week, Justin’s business collects items that have been bought remotely and despatches them all over the UK or abroad. This, and other potentially complicated operations, are made all the more easy by the excellent support staff around him. “I have very good managers who take care of the day-to-day running of both stores and looking after customers. I keep an eye on everything but delegate as much as possible, so that I can concentrate on the finances and managing the business,” he continues. “The day is always full: time in the office, being out and about, visiting customers, meeting prospective new ones and attending business events are combined with handling queries, emails and letters. I also have to ensure that we understand the stream of constantly changing rules and regulations that affect postal services and couriers in the UK and overseas.” While at work it is clear Justin is never ‘on a break’ and I am unsurprised to discover he prefers going for a midday swim than stopping for lunch. Of course while in transit, he uses the time to contact customers and staff via the hands free device.
After a frenetic afternoon his office day finishes at six o’clock. But just because he is not in the office, this does not mean he is not working. “The stores are open six days a week and I take paperwork home some weekends,” he explains. “Some of my time was given to the British Franchise Association (bfa). I was on their main Board as a franchise representative a few years ago, which was a great honour because there was only one other franchisee invited to serve on the board. Being part of the bfa has been very rewarding and I have met some really interesting people.”
Justin clearly thrives in his role and enjoys every minute of it. “My grandfather, father and uncle all had their own enterprises and I think I absorbed much of their thinking,” he continues. “Many people don’t have that background and family input, which is why franchising is great in providing advice, guidance, training and support. I have been very lucky with my franchisor, who was always there when needed, offering support and help but enabling me to develop my own business independently.”
As one of MBE’s first UK franchise owners, Justin is glowing about the lifestyle his business has given him. “I like being part of a network with the opportunity to meet other franchisees and share experiences with them. The great work-life balance I have now would have been difficult to achieve without being a franchisee. I am very content with my two stores, which are both trading well,” concludes a clearly contented Justin.