BlueGrace Logistics Franchise Review: Q&A with Jeff Kelly
BlueGrace Logistics opportunity gave franchisee chance to be his own boss
Jeff Kelly enjoyed financial success as a sales representative for a logistics company, but he knew that as an employee his opportunities would always be limited. Becoming a BlueGrace franchisee provided him with the opportunity to be his own boss and reap the rewards of owning a business “without having to reinvent the wheel or having to build a company from the foundation up. BlueGrace has already done that, and I follow their model.”
Jeff’s franchise, BlueGrace Logistics Los Angeles, is a national franchise. He has owned the business since 2009.
What were you doing before becoming a franchisee?
I worked as a sales representative for a global shipping and logistics company that was purchased by DHL.
How did you become interested in franchising, and how did you discover BlueGrace Logistics?
I met a salesman who was doing millions of dollars in business — it turned out he was a reseller, working for himself, making millions. And this kid wasn’t much older than I was.
It made me mad. If this guy was killing it, then so could I. It was the beginning of my learning about franchise opportunities. The competitive side of me came out, and I said, “If only I’d been doing this instead of working for someone else.”
It was a very clear-cut example of there is No. 1, and millions of miles away there is No. 2. It made me thirsty for it. I became a DHL franchisee and continued to work a couple of other jobs while building that business, but their business model did not last in the U.S.
Then I learned about BlueGrace. I met Bobby Harris, the owner of BlueGrace, and had confidence in him and in the business.
What do you like about the brand, the management team, and support you have to build your business?
The difference between being an employee and owning your own business is night and day. It can’t be any different. I love being self-employed, and I love being a franchise owner because someone else did the work of creating what I get to sell.
Michael Dell said, “Don’t reinvent the wheel, go focus on the purpose of the wheel.” That’s what BlueGrace allows me to do. They’ve created a model that I can follow, and most important of all, they’ve done a fantastic job of creating a product that people want at a fantastic price.
The thing that brought me aboard was Bobby Harris, the CEO, and the management. I came in because of his demonstrated track record of success. He was the most forthright person, easy to talk to. I became one of the first BlueGrace franchisees.
I was 29 years old when I started everything, very much a babe in the woods in terms of business. There was no company really yet, but the potential attracted me.
I’d been in logistics and knew how lucrative it was. It’s so competitive, and anybody can compete — that’s why BlueGrace’s technology and support are so important. We’re building name recognition. People know about BlueGrace, and more and more the name is getting out there.
What do your customers like best? What sets BlueGrace Logistics apart?
The support, the service in general. We provide a level of customer experience you can’t get anywhere else. That is something we pride ourselves on.
We position ourselves as an outsourced version of a company’s logistics department. BlueShip works as a web-based transportation management system and is a fantastic tool, definitely better than the competition.
We can do everything for a customer at far less cost than an in-house logistics department.
If in-house costs $5,000 per month, we can do it for $3,000 and there’s no expense for hiring employees or workers’ compensation insurance. A customer can run their entire company from their smart phone.
What should an entrepreneur know about third-party logistics if they are evaluating the franchise opportunity?
From a purely business perspective, make sure you have enough money for two years. You’ll be making money, but it’s smart to have two years of reserves to manage cash flow. You’ll make sales, but you get the invoice maybe a month later from the carrier, then invoice the client. You’re looking at two to three months before you collect and cash your check.
And, it takes a while to ramp up and make the money you expect. Plus there’s the expense of an office, employees. Having a reserve frees you to focus entirely on building your business.
In terms of investing in a franchise and preparing, be prepared for a roller coaster — in a good way. BlueGrace is fantastic about initial training, but you have to come in with native business sense. That and your passion for the business.
And don’t ever lose sight of why you got started. You get to be your own boss, keep your own schedule. But it’s important to let your family know for the next two years you’re going to be working 15-hour days.
The thing I love is this is one of the few fields you can make exactly the amount of money you want to make. It’s a matter of following the BlueGrace process and being diligent. You reap the rewards for 100 percent of the work you do. It’s unlike being an employee, where no matter how hard you work you make the same amount of money.
What motivated you to start the business? What’s your goal?
I wanted to make a certain dollar amount, and couldn’t do that where I was. I wanted to be my own boss, and I wanted to make my own schedule. All of us want to be able to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. If you build a good team and good system with the support of BlueGrace, you can do that.
My daughter is 16 months old. My son will be born in October. If I want to take time to be with them, I can do that as opposed to having a short period of leave administered by an employer.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
My fun is the family right now. I’ve been lucky to hire some good sales people and build a business that is fun, where people want to come to work. The key is getting the right people on the job.
Would you recommend BlueGrace Logistics to someone else?
One hundred percent. The company has an extremely intelligent group of people. They are also very supportive and care about what they do every day — as a core group they enjoy coming to work.
I’m in touch with them daily. My business is 99 percent independent, but we’re in constant contact. Also, I’m on a huge hiring boost right now so I’m building a business that is self-multiplying. We have 12 employees and are adding sales people and renovating our facility.
I’m betting big on the future and investing heavily in our ongoing success. Other people should want to get in on this opportunity, too.
Learn more about owning a BlueGrace Logistics franchise
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