Franchises Are Vital

Franchises Are Vital

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

Vital Express founder Dan Boaz hopes what''s good for the fast food industry is good for fast freight.

He plans to expand his small same-day delivery business from its West Coast base using the franchise model pioneered by companies such as McDonald''s.

It''s a model that''s been followed successfully by other couriers, including New Zealand-based Fastway Couriers, which began franchising in 1984 and now has operations in Australia, Canada and Europe, and Britain''s Sameday UK.

Boaz wants to sell 500 Vital Express franchises over the next five years. Founded in 1997, the company has offices in Valencia, Calif., San Francisco and Indianapolis and about $10 million in annual revenue.

"Five hundred locations may sound like a lot, but when I told our franchise consultants I wanted 100 they laughed and told me to shoot higher," Boaz said. "If you look in the trends in the franchise industry, 500 is a relatively low number."

Vital Express plans to open 10 franchised offices on the West Coast in 2004, he said.

Boaz sees franchising as a comparatively inexpensive way for Vital Express to grow: no need to purchase terminals, trucks or add hundreds of employees. "We''re not looking to build 500 trucking terminals, we''re looking to set up 500 small businesses in industrial parks across the nation."

Franchise owners bring a valuable entrepreneurial mindset to the business, he said. "It''s a different crowd of people, often business people who already have been very successful," he said. "They''re not going to leave at 5 p.m."

What''s needed to start a franchise? First, a 2,500-square-foot location and about five trucks leased from Penske. "We have a detailed manual on our procedures and how everything is done step by step," Boaz said.

Boaz started Vital Express with his wife Lisa after a career with UPS and Associated Air Freight. "The air freight industry lacked quality drivers and vehicles," Boaz said. "They used a lot of cartage agents. I thought it could be done better."

He began with one truck run from his garage. "I was the driver salesperson and my wife answered the phone and did the accounting," he said. In two years, they were in a 37,000-square-foot facility by the second year." The company nearly went under in 2001, but "we are definitely in a rebound. We more than doubled our revenue in 2003."

"Many of our customers were hit hard by the recession but when things turn around people need more and more product and it becomes a ''we need it right now'' situation," he said.

Vital Express offers same-day package and freight delivery, time-definite LTL service, air courier and air freight forwarding and customs brokerage services.