Delivering in convenience

Post Office director Neil Ennis reckons retailers stand to gain from a franchise

Ennis said c-stores like Keystore More in Wick (above) make ideal Post Offices
Post Office network transformation and development director Neil Ennis

THE Post Office has undergone some major changes over the last decade, shifting focus from large town centre branches to a more nimble franchise offer.

Spearheading that transition, Neil Ennis, network transformation and development director at Post Office has been with the organisation for over three decades. Ennis reckons the shift towards smaller and more open stores is just what consumers want – and a good fit for convenience stores too.

“The modern Post Office is open plan so you can talk to customers and can fit a branch into a convenience store.

“What we’ve tried to do really is align ourselves with the convenience stores as much as possible,” he said.

Friendly customer service is central to the Post Office’s mission according to Ennis, which means most c-store retailers already have the key skill required to run a successful franchise.

“We like retailers who care about customers as we do,” he said.

“We like postmasters who are great with customers and can do a good job selling our products,” he said.

Convenience retailers might be a good fit for the Post Office, but what can the Post Office do for a c-store? Ennis thinks quite a lot.

As part of the Post Office offer, stores are kitted out free of charge with everything required to run the service including Post Office terminals, cash, stock and marketing materials.

Changes in consumer shopping habits, including the rise of home shopping and the continuing popularity of Ebay, also mean customers have plenty of reasons to visit, which is good news for c-stores according to Ennis.

“As the Post Office brings in footfall there’s a massive opportunity to cross sell.

“There are lots of examples of people taking on a Post Office and lifting sales in their store,” he said.

It’s not just footfall that a Post Office offers, retailers are also paid per transaction as Ennis explained: “Every transaction a postmaster carries out has a fee attached, from selling a stamp to a foreign currency transaction.

Our trainers will spend six to eight days in a new branch and are happy to leave their mobile number.

“They all have a fee and before anyone enters into a contract all that information is shared and they can make that decision.”

For retailers who like the sound of the Post Office offer, there are plenty of opportunities out there. While big banks continue to axe branches, the Post Office is looking to maintain its high street presence, and even expand in under serviced areas.

And while banking, foreign currency and mail services may be a bit more complex than some other franchise opportunities, Ennis said the training offered to retailers who sign up for the Post Office ensures they’re well equipped to serve customers with confidence.

“It can look and feel a bit complicated at first but once you get used to it, it’s pretty easy,” said Ennis.

“There is a training classroom at first and we have a really good training team that visit branches. Our trainers will spend six to eight days in a new branch and are happy to leave their mobile number. There is online training and a helpline too.”