There’s no better advocate for the MBE formula than franchisee Girvin Vincent
We hear a lot about the secret of creating a successful franchise business and undoubtedly one of Mail Boxes Etc.’s best-kept secrets is its people. Whatever their backgrounds, MBE franchisees share a commitment to personal customer focus that combines local knowledge with a unique mix of services that help meet people’s everyday needs – from the UK and worldwide parcel delivery, copy and print and mailbox rental to postal services.
There’s no better advocate for the MBE formula than Girvin Vincent. As the first person to join the MBE UK network, starting his business in 1993 in Store Street, London, Girvin was already familiar with both franchising and the MBE brand from living and working in Canada. However, in the UK the brand was still unknown and franchising was little understood, so by signing up as MBE’s first franchisee, Girvin was a pioneer on two counts.
Girvin left his native Belfast for Canada in order to work for a Canadian bank, staying for 15 years until he was transferred to London. Eight years later, he was made redundant and decided this was a good time to start up in business for himself. After in-depth research into the options and opportunities available to him, Girvin identified that franchising had real appeal for him.
“I knew I didn’t want to do anything in catering or cleaning and I discovered that some of the other possibilities were quite expensive in terms of start-up investment,” he explains. “So I was very impressed when I came across the MBE opportunity. It offered exactly the right combination of opportunities that suited my experience, talents and skills.”
His leap of faith certainly paid off. Girvin created a highly successful business, spending the next 18 years working as an MBE franchisee in Great Russell Street, London. He then decided to go back to his roots and is now back home in Belfast where he has a city-centre store. During Girvin’s years as a franchisee, the MBE network has grown rapidly, with steady expansion even during the challenges of two recessions.
“There have been many changes over the years in franchising that – as a sector – has also expanded at an incredible rate,” he observes. “The number of franchises and different business sectors they represent is astounding. But Mail Boxes Etc. has continued to maintain the same values and high standards of customer service, which I believe is crucial to the brand’s success.”
Dedication to supporting and training franchisees has also been a constant, says Girvin: “Mail Boxes Etc. is a very friendly organisation and has helped many people, including me, to have their own successful business.”
In terms of the customer offer, looking back on his years with MBE, Girvin recognises that to some extent the mix of services has evolved to reflect changing technology and customer needs: “One of my reasons for choosing Mail Boxes Etc. was that it was not a highly technical operation, which suited me just fine. Of course, things have moved on a great deal since then and now I’m extremely fortunate in having two young men working in the store who both have strong technical and design skills, which means I am happy to delegate those areas to them.”
Girvin is delighted to be continuing his franchising career in his home town and loves his new work-life balance: “I’ve had a great time with Mail Boxes Etc., both in London for 18 years and now back in Belfast. I am glad not to be a London commuter now, as I have more time to take things a bit easier - but with no intention of retiring.”