New UPS Store Owners Offering a Menu of New Services and an Emphasis on Customer Service

Duncan and Lori SinclairListen to Duncan Sinclair talk for a minute or two and you swear he has a thick Australian accent. But that would be a wrong guess by thousands of miles.

“A lot of people think I’m Australian or even German,” says Sinclair, who along with his wife, Lori, own the UPS Store on Bainbridge Island, and two others in Kitsap County. “But I’m (neither). I’m Scottish.” Sinclair hails from Aberdeen, Scotland and has lived and worked in the United States for nearly 25 years. He sometimes hangs out with the “Bainbridge Brits,” an informal group of mostly United Kingdom ex-pats, to get a taste of the old country and share his dialect, but he considers himself an American first and foremost.

“This is home,” he says. “This (the island) is much more compatible (weather-wise) to Scotland than Houston (where they previously lived), but a much more milder version.”

The Sinclair’s purchased the three stores (the other two are in Poulsbo and Silverdale) last summer and have been slowly transforming them to better serve their patrons. The Bainbridge outlet is located in the Island Village Shopping Center, at 321 High School Road, Suite D3.

“We’re entrepreneurs,” says Lori. “I like to run my own show,” adds Duncan. “I like that freedom.”

“We were actively looking for business opportunities when this one came up,” Lori explains. “It just made a lot of sense.”

The previous owners of the Bainbridge UPS store also owned and operated 20 other outlets in the Puget Sound area before deciding to unload them last year. The Sinclair’s own the Bainbridge and Poulsbo offices outright and are partners with Jaime Hayward in the Silverdale office. Both Lori and Jaime are real estate agents, as well, with Lori repping with Realogics Sotheby’s on the island. She also is “very” involved with the school district’s Parent Teacher Organization(s). The Sinclair’s have two school-aged children.

The island’s UPS store – previously known as “Mailboxes, etc.” – has been located on Bainbridge for more three decades. Like Big Brown’s 5,300 other outlets across the country, it’s a franchise operation. Before they were accepted into the United Parcel Service family, the Sinclair’s had to pass muster with the Fortune 500 company and receive at least 40 hours of training.

Duncan basically serves as the operations manager, while Lori handles the books and helps out with marketing and human resources. When the couple took over the local offices last summer, they had to roll up their sleeves and get to work. The previous owners were “basically hands off,” they recall, and a number of products and services had been neglected or ignored, and staffing levels were low.

UPS Store Bainbridge IslandDuncan had to do some repair work and maintenance around the stores, and certain supplies, such as boxes, envelopes, and packaging materials, had to be reordered. Staffing was at a bare minimum at the outlets, so the Sinclair’s immediately increased the number of employees – now at 15 to handle the holiday and post-holiday rush. The couple also fixed the Bainbridge store’s Passport Camera, which was in disrepair when they took over.

“Customers get mad when they come in and you can’t serve them,” says Duncan, echoing he and Lori’s emphasis on customer service. “Your name (and reputation) is based on how you treat your customers.”

To that end, the Sinclair’s have provided additional training for their employees, and are adding new services to their business model, such as freight shipping and notary services. The store recently shipped some large pieces of art from Port Townsend and Sequim, and are advertising the freight component of their business, with a handsome direct mail piece to area residents.

The card notes the store’s “Pack & Ship” services, as well as its menu of other products and services, such as priority mail, first class mail, postage stamps, shipping to APO/FPO addresses, international delivery and so on. They also offer an array of print services, Lori adds, as well as binding, and the Bainbridge store still serves as a mini-Post Office. Behind the Bainbridge outlet, the new owners also repaired an old ramp that now makes it easier for UPS drivers to move products in and out of their location.

UPS Store Bainbridge Island“We want to be a pleasant experience for people,” Duncan says. “Speedy but not rushed.” Speaking of speed, on one given day during last month’s busy holiday season, the store handled 600 packages, which was “a record for us,” Lori adds, noting that the store typically handles somewhere between 300 to 400 packages a day. “Business tends to come in surges,” she says, and can often reflect the seasons when customers may be making returns through Amazon or to iconic retailers like Land’s End or Levi Strauss.

The Sinclair’s – both 51 years old – attack their UPS business venture with the experience and enthusiasm of veteran business people. Duncan worked for many years in Houston – their former home – for an industrial automation company after transferring there from Scotland. In 2015, they began thinking about acquiring or starting a business and soon discovered Bainbridge Island.

“We were looking for a slower pace of life and a place that had good schools and a boating community,” recalls Duncan. The Sinclairs rented a couple of houses here to get a feel for the place, and Duncan – a boating enthusiast – started a business focused on repairing boat electronic systems for pleasure boat owners on Bainbridge, Poulsbo, Bremerton, Kingston, Seattle and Gig Harbor.

Finding the repair business a bit challenging to pencil out, Duncan and Lori pivoted away from that venture when the opportunity arose to purchase the UPS stores. Now, the couple is “trying to build relationships with (local) businesses,” explains Lori, referring to the direct mail piece the store recently mailed out. “We want to get out there and talk to businesses about what we can do.”

BICoC - TIWBIn the near term, the Sinclair’s plan to renovate the Bainbridge store with new carpeting and counters. Down the road, as their business unfolds, they see an opportunity to expand further. “We would (someday) like to have five stores,” Duncan says. “It’s a good number. More than that, and it’s hard to manage.”

For more information on the island’s UPS store call (360) 613-0759.

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