Special Forces Delivery: Logistics experience in the Army provides perfect skill set for shipping franchise

Steve Smith was a busy soldier during the 24 years he was in the U.S. Army. His two dozen years of service were spent as a logistics material manager. The second half of his military career was with the Special Operations Forces conducting worldwide logistics support ?" he even spent time working in the Pentagon. Smith served in the 101st Airborne during the first Gulf War and helped to defend Kurds fleeing Saddam Hussein in the "Provide Comfort" campaign in northern Iraq. In 2002, the Sgt. Major in the 10th Special Forces Group stationed in Fort Bragg, NC, retired.

That's when he used his G.I. Bill benefits to go back to college and complete a bachelor's degree in business and economics at Greensboro College. Desiring to work for himself, Smith looked at numerous career paths before deciding on franchising, partly because of the start-up discounts offered to veterans through the VetFran program.

"Navis seemed like a logical choice because of my Army background in logistics and materials handling," says the 46 year old Smith. He opened his Navis Pack & Ship in December 2003, in Greensboro.

In less than two years, Smith's location was named national franchise of the year by Navis. Smith attributes his success to his hard working employees and to his ability to follow the system that Navis provides.

"In the military, we learn to do things by following SOP," says Smith. "Franchising is the same way, it's a recipe, you just follow it and execute it and success will come." He believes so much in military training that he prefers to hire former military members because they know how to follow the "recipe" and stick to it. He says he's come to rely on this strategy because finding good employees is difficult.

Once he finds them, he takes care of his employees by offering them competitive pay, full benefits, and disability insurance.

Smith doesn't spend much time in his Navis location because he's out on the road making sales calls and visiting customers. "It's important to have close relationships with customers, to stay in front of them, and get feedback from them," he says.

Back at the store, Smith's daughter functions as his office manager keeping the operation running smoothly. He describes himself as "a Type-A person, driven and goal-oriented." He continues, "I'm pretty authoritative, I suppose, coming from the military. But I've softened a little bit, I do understand the importance of listening to others and considering what they have to say." He jokes, "I'm smart enough to know I'm not smart enough to know everything."

But, based on his success so far, he knows enough. Smith says he's happy running just a single location and is looking to do $750,000 in revenue next year, with an ultimate goal to hit $1 very soon.

Smith says he has a passion for helping other veterans and new franchisees who possess an entrepreneurial spirit and want to learn the benefits of business ownership. That's why Navis appointed him as one of its two company-wide training leaders. To date he has trained dozens of individuals, including three field support managers from 36 different Navis locations, on how to operate a successful franchise business.

He understands the recipe for success.

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