When Denise Christopher launched CKB Enterprises in 1998, she relied on the local post office to deliver her ethnic haircare and beauty supply products to customers across the country. The idea of forming a business alliance with the United States Post Office was not included in her long — term plans. But seven years later, Aurora, Colorado — based CKB Enterprises considers the USPS an important customer. “A few years ago, I didn’t know anything about the complete operations or business opportunities of the post office,” says Christopher. “Now, they are my biggest client.”
After a previous business transaction proved successful, Christopher was approached by the post office about expanding their relationship. Christopher had done her homework. She explored the postal service Website and learned what to do to pursue a partnership. Ruben Rojo, retail manager for the Colorado and Wyoming division of the USPS, was instrumental in helping Christopher secure a deal with the post office by advising and guiding her through the process. He says establishing a satellite post office within CKB Enterprises (www.ckbenterprises.com) was ideal, mainly because the company offers mail service to the growing rural communities around Aurora. “We were very impressed with Ms. Christopher’s tenacity and the research she did about doing business with the post office,” Rojo says.
So in December 2005, CKB Enterprises opened a fully operational postal substation — complete with stamps, mailboxes, envelopes, printing, faxing, and copying services. The USPS spends more than $64 billion annually on vendor products and services — a fact that Christopher discovered when she started doing business with the organization.
Revenues for CKB Enterprises reached $310,000 in 2005, an increase of 200% over the company’s 2004 revenues. Christopher expects revenues for her company to top a half million in 2006. Christopher points out that the contract with the USPS accounts for more than 67% of the total revenues for her company. She expects the figure to increase as she expands the number of services offered at the substation. Under the deal with the USPS, Christopher says she is paid as a contractor and her commission is based on the number of sales. “I collect up to 10% of the total profits generated from sales each month,” says Christopher.
There are between 40 and 50 USPS off — site contracted substations in the state of Colorado. Rojo says the process for doing business with the USPS follows a basic protocol:
Vision: Specify whether you want to market products in a location as small as your local trade area or as large as the entire country.
Purpose: Potential vendors with the best proposals are chosen, interviewed, and then a decision is made. Rojo explains, “we examine the bids and match them to those regions where the population has substantially increased and determine if there is a need for a substation.”
Performance: Suppliers and business partners that provide quality goods and services are the most attractive. “We expect our vendors to provide excellent customer service and to offer basic services for customers in a particular region,” says Rojo.
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