Mail Boxes Etc. UK & Ireland's blog

Interview with Chun Tsang - MBE Sheffield Franchisee

Building on success

Qualified accountant Chun Tsang, who has just taken over the Mail Boxes Etc. franchise in Sheffield, is excited about growing business at his already-thriving centre and embracing the opportunities that come with being your own boss.

Chun had always wanted to work for himself, but spent the early part of his career in the corporate environment. “When I spotted that MBE Sheffield had come up for sale due to the retirement of the previous owner, Frank Bigley, I decided to look into the MBE franchise,” he explains. “I found it really interesting because there are so many strands to the business. That’s what attracted me initially. Franchising itself also seemed like a secure bet – the support is there and it’s a proven formula.”

Chun, who has lived in Sheffield for 20 years, was born in Hong Kong and brought up in Essex. He met his wife when they were both travelling, and they eventually settled down in Sheffield, so he knows the city well.

Shortlisted for the 2010 City of Culture designation, Sheffield’s economy has seen steady growth in recent years and its two universities bring around 60,000 students to the area every year. MBE Sheffield has a long history of serving the city’s students, law firms and small businesses. “Frank had the store for many years and had streamlined it brilliantly,” says Chun, who took over in August. “It’s busy, but I inherited two staff members who are really good, so I know I can rely on them to keep things running efficiently. I’m keen to learn from them and take the time to gain a better grasp of the business.”

Exploring opportunities

Much of MBE Sheffield’s business is based around pack and ship. “We do a lot of Auction Logistics work [MBE’s dedicated shipping service for antiques, fine art and collectables]. Most of the local auction houses ship with us, including Sheffield Auction Gallery and Wilkinson’s in Doncaster.” Asked why he thinks this is such a strong income stream, Chun cites the recent pandemic among other things. “People have been bidding at online auctions because they were stuck at home and had nothing else to do.”

Chun is determined to also build up the print and copy side of the business. “We have a bit of an advantage in that there are fewer local print shops around now, due to the pandemic.”

Mailbox rental is now at an all-time high for MBE Sheffield. “It’s difficult to say exactly why,” says Chun, “but I think one factor is that more people are setting up companies from home, and they want to be able to register their business at a mailbox address and keep their professional and personal lives separate.”

His customer base is mainly SMEs. “As a brand, MBE is aiming to move more towards serving the B2B community, so with that policy in mind I will be looking out for new ways to work with local firms and grow business with my existing customers. I think that’s very exciting.”

Goal setting

Chun is taking his new responsibilities as an entrepreneur very much in his stride. “I am trained in how to run a business, so it isn’t daunting. You just need to get your budget sorted out and focus on what you are aiming at.” His goal for the next twelve months is to consolidate on what he’s already got with this successful centre, improve where he can, grow the business steadily and seek more B2B opportunities.

The best thing about running his own business, says Chun, is being in charge and doing his own thing. “It means quicker decision-making. Having been in the corporate world, it takes forever to get things moving. I’ve got great staff, which gives me freedom to look for new opportunities. You get out what you put in. I want to build a culture where I recognise and thank my staff and my customers – build relationships. I find that prospect really inspiring.”

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