Case Study: The UPS Store/Cal Poly Training

A university-created training brings consistency and enthusiasm to a national franchise network.


By Marianne Hamilton,Training and Development Manager, The UPS Store network

When the franchisor of The UPS Store decided to grow its business printing services, it knew it needed a training curriculum for its franchisees that was consistent, scalable… and convincing.

Since 2005, small businesses increasingly have been straying away from centralized printers and turning to community print shops to handle their projects. The UPS Store wanted to take advantage of this trend and expand its print service offerings. While many of its franchisees had the equipment to handle print requests, few had the expertise and marketing skills to proactively sell the services with confidence.

“We wanted our centers to make the transition from order takers to print sales consultants,” says Kevin Foley, who oversees training and development for The UPS Store. “To do that, we needed to convince our network it can be competitive in the print marketplace and to show it how.”

Given the tight time line and current resources, the franchisor knew the best way to educate and energize its network was to turn to an outside expert.

The Solution

The expert to handle such a task was Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. As a leading educational institution in print and digital imaging, Cal Poly’s industry reputation was highly regarded by The UPS Store franchisor, and its Graphic Communication Institute (GrCI), was one of the first places it turned.

GrCI is a nonprofit outreach of Cal Poly that provides businesses and professionals with access to the university’s premiere print resources, including workshops, custom training programs, consulting, laboratory testing and research initiatives.

With a dedicated training lab and leading-edge prepress imaging and press production facilities, GrCI teaches the art and technology of print production. It covers everything from prepress and print training to the project management, quality control, marketing, sales, pricing, and estimating that goes along with it.

“These were the precise skills we wanted to equip our centers with,” says Foley. “The combination of Cal Poly’s industry status, the depth of its curriculum, and its previous experience in developing similar training programs for other organizations made our vendor choice easy.”

They approached Cal Poly with several training requirements to support the overall objective of providing participants with the skills and knowledge to help grow their print services offerings. The training had to be realistic and applicable to center location and equipment. And, with nearly 4,400 centers across the United States, the franchisor wanted to ensure that a consistent, hands-on training curriculum could filter through its franchisee network.

The team, consisting of Cal Poly faculty, industry experts, and advanced Graphic Communication students, worked under a tight time frame and an extensive agenda to create a hands-on “train-the-trainer” program for area franchisees and field support staff. Upon completion, participants could then return home and pass the knowledge on to individual centers or in small group settings.

“Train-the-trainer allows us to seed the field with local print experts to help support franchisees once the program has been delivered,” says Foley. “The trainers are armed with the knowledge of multiple ways to teach the franchisees and their associates how to produce a product, based on their equipment, that will bring consistency across the network and product offering.”


Receiving positive participant feedback from the pilot, the Print Services Training was introduced at The UPS Store University in San Diego, a training facility where new franchisees come to learn all things related to The UPS Store. The print curriculum is a three-day, interactive workshop that is part of the overall The UPS Store University program, as well as a standalone course current franchisees and their associates can attend.

“This was a carefully thought-out curriculum,” says Harvey R. Levenson, Ph.D., the department head of Graphic Communication and interim chair of Journalism at Cal Poly State University. “We had a team of highly skilled instructors and access to sophisticated laboratories housing the type of equipment and software The UPS Store franchisees would be expected to have to serve commercial printing customers. Just as important, we had motivated participants who were engaged and eager to learn about these new business opportunities.”

The training encompasses 10 modules, which cover everything from the pricing, marketing, and workflow of print services, to software training to help participants become comfortable with the editing and design tools available in their centers.

During the course of the program, participants learn to efficiently produce one or more types of sample printed products with finishing services that can be completed using their existing equipment or through outsourcing. Every participant leaves the program with sample products they helped to design, edit, produce, and finish. They also receive a guide with instructions to recreate the steps of each activity when they return to their centers.

“My favorite part of the training was the hands-on experience and the sense of enthusiasm,” says Edward Ellis, a training participant from Melbourne, FL. “I believe that in the print category, we can set the world on fire.”

Foley credits the training’s success to Cal Poly’s industry expertise; its understanding of The UPS Store network; and its creative, hands-on curriculum. “Cal Poly took a complex concept of print sales, design, and production and translated it into something tangible franchisees could incorporate to grow their print services revenue,” he says. “They are confident about their abilities and are accepting jobs they may have turned down in the past.”

Marianne Hamilton is the Training and Development manager for The UPS Store network. She has more than 10 years’ experience in training and development. Hamilton holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a minor in Physical Education from the University of California at Santa Barbara.