Unishippers franchise owner offers shipping adviceWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The local franchise owner for Unishippers Global Logistics, Neal Manion, offered advice for businesses shipping products during the holidays — the busiest shipping season for many manufacturers and retailers.
“We can ship anything, anywhere, anytime with our connections and partners like UPS,” Manion said.
Founded in 1987, Unishippers has grown to become the largest third-party shipping reseller in the nation with more than 290 franchise locations serving 35,000 customers. Manion purchased the Unishippers franchise in Toledo on Aug. 31 and is building a local client base with 35 current customers.
“The bottom line is there are so many rules and regulations regarding what items can be shipped where, how and by what carrier. This is why we recommend using shipper industry experts such as a third party logistics provider to help navigate the ins and outs,” Manion said.
A number of products that can present shipping challenges for businesses especially during the holiday season include food, tobacco, alcoholic beverages and hazardous materials, according to Unishippers.
Alcohol is a highly restricted product when it comes to shipping. Only companies licensed to ship wine, such as UPS, are allowed to ship it and businesses must have a contract with them for wine transport.
Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco cannot be mailed, but cigars can be. UPS only accepts shipments of cigarettes to recipients who are licensed to receive them.
Many freight carriers will not transport perishable food if they lack refrigeration on their trucks. Refrigerated carriers will transport perishable products. Dry ice and gel packs used to keep food cold in shipments may be considered hazardous in certain quantities.
The rules for shipping hazardous materials are quite extensive and many companies are surprised to learn what constitutes “hazardous” materials. Many types of batteries and cosmetic products are considered hazardous. The U.S. Postal Service considers nail polish, perfume, flea collars and mercury thermometers to be hazardous materials.
If businesses are shipping products to arrive before Christmas, then the earlier they are shipped the better, according to Unishippers. The holiday season began with Black Friday on Nov. 23 this year, allowing only 22 regular delivery days before Christmas.
Any customers that normally have a daily UPS stop will need to prearrange pickup stops for Dec. 24 and 31. Remember that no pickups or deliveries will be made by UPS on Dec. 25 or Jan. 1.
“If this seems like a lot to remember, that is why a third party logistic provider can be invaluable to small or medium size businesses,” Kevin Lathrop, president of Unishippers, stated in a news release.
Lathrop reported that Unishippers works with more than 30 shipping carriers. It’s best not to leave all the details to chance at an already stressful time of year, he stated.
Businesses and consumers in Toledo and Northwest Ohio benefit from having regional distribution centers for UPS and Federal Express located in the area, Manion said.
“Reliability and trust are critical when companies are shipping anything to their customers. We’re not just after one shipment. We want to handle all your business so we build relationships with customers,” Manion said.
“Our ideal customer is a small business that’s not large enough for freight companies to service,” he said.
Manion said his international background attracted him to Unishippers. That company’s commitment to its franchisees and their shipping customers is what cinched the deal for him, he said.
Unishippers has a team of people to handle customer service for shipping business generated by its franchisees.
Manion is a veteran of the U.S. Marines and served in Iraq. He is currently working as a logistics manager for a U.S. government contractor in Afghanistan.
“I’m not the only franchisee who doesn’t live in their territory,” said Manion, who is from southeast Ohio and still has a home there.
However, he may be among a few who are conducting their business from the other side of the world.
“I’m like any other small business owner that has a global reach,” Manion said.
He conducts business by telephone and over the Internet. When it’s 9 a.m. in Toledo, it’s 6:30 p.m. in Afghanistan, so he conducts the shipping business after his “day job” there, he said.
Unishippers celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012 by developing a new franchise opportunity that created room for additional franchises to be sold throughout the United States.
The firm recently introduced the new national franchise model without geographic boundaries. It modified its concept of territories, allowing existing and new franchisees to serve business-to-business customers anywhere in the country.
Unishippers was ranked 40th on the Franchise Business Review’s 2012 “Top 50 Franchises” list for companies with more than 200 units. The ranking is based on customer satisfaction ratings by franchise operators, according to the publication.
For the fifth consecutive year, Unishippers was ranked in the annual “Franchise 500″ published by Entrepreneur Magazine, placing 211th overall and 33th for low-cost franchises in 2012.
For more information, go to http://www.unishippers.com/.