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  • 26 November 2014
  • Danica Oliver

Giving back to the Community is Gratifying for this Franchisee

Keith Johnston follows a personal philosophy of giving back. Keith owns The UPS Store in Madison, Wisconsin which allows him the opportunity to give back to the community in multiple ways.

I sat down with Keith and chatted about owning The UPS Store and his community involvement. The practice of giving back is something he fully believes comes full circle.

What in particular do you like doing to make a difference?
Being a community member is a two-way street, not a one-way road, we try to tangibly and intangibly effect change in our area. Last month our team took some time out of our busy workdays to participate in Alzheimer and Dementia Alliance training to become sensitive to the needs of all our customers, including those who may need additional assistance. Giving back to the community is perhaps just part of who my wife Cheri and I are; she also runs an innovative food pantry in the area.

On a day-to-day basis, is there anything your store offers consistently to the community?
We offer a discount on our services to anyone in the education system that can provide credentials or photo identification. Teachers are unsung heroes in my opinion. We want to defray costs for those in the educational system and know a lot of those costs end up coming out of their own pockets. Serving others, serving community – it all comes full circle. The UPS Store also has a national partnership with The Toys for Tots Literacy Program, we raise funds throughout the year to purchase books for children in need in each community our stores are located in.

What your background prior to owning The UPS Store?
I spent 20-25 years in corporate sales and marketing, HR and consulting for the IT industry. I worked for companies such as IBM, Booz Allen, and Sprint. What is one thing that made you decide to make a change? I was tired of travel. I wanted to be more plugged in locally.

What is your favorite thing about owning a business?
I love working with people and being able to make a difference immediately in whatever the task may be. After talking to my wife about what kind of business would be good, she mentioned The UPS Store. She was always shipping packages for a birthday or celebration and always had a pleasant experience. We loved the fact that The UPS Store is locally owned and is a neighbor to the community.

I walked into an existing The UPS Store back in 2011 and started a conversation, I eventually took over the store in June of 2012.

What is your favorite thing to do every day?
Training a team brings me the most joy. When we interview people, we make it clear we have a set of expectations. Accountability, responsible, trustworthy- and you have to be proactive. We strive to build a team that is loyal and understands the necessity of teamwork in the workplace.

We succeed together or we fail together and in the end it all comes back to the customers, happy customers will vote with their feet and come back.

What surprises you to this day?
Eight times out of 10, customers are surprised to hear how much is offered at The UPS Store: freight, printing, notary services, scanning, etc. People do not know all we do, or even half of the services we offer. We have to get the word out. I understand that as a consumer, it is not going to be top of mind until you need us.

What inspires you to get up and go into work every day?
Fear. As a business owner, my family depends on me and my business for dinner, the fear of failure is one that rests on my shoulders. Owning a small business – the potential is tremendous (In either direction). We always do our best to go the extra mile for our staff and customers, whether it may be greeting a new customer or a ‘hello sunshine’ to a regular we see often that brightens our day in our store.

What is your biggest challenge?
I rarely converse about this, other than to let my staff know when I may be tired and fatigued more than usual – as a result of having multiple sclerosis. I do not view this as a disability, I always remember that it can always be a heck of a lot worse and I deal with it and keep moving forward.

I feel blessed. I feel blessed because I am able to do what I do with this. It has increased my empathy for others and made me more sensitive to things for others over the years.

Keith opened his second The UPS Store franchise location in Shorewood Hills in late October. I think it is safe to say his community, staff, and family feel blessed that he continues to get up and give back – every day.

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