Ralph Moccio was nominated by the InXpress leadership team in the Top Performers category for a 2021 Franchise Rock Star Award. He was chosen by Franchise Business Review from among 200 nominations for his outstanding achievements as an InXpress franchise owner in Austin, TX.
Editor’s note: Ralph passed away March 2021. The franchise has remained open, thanks to his widow, Kim Moccio, taking over the business. Below is the interview Ralph provided FBR prior to his passing.
Prior to becoming an InXpress franchisee, Ralph Moccio majored in business administration with a focus on marketing, management and entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. After college, Moccio performed many roles in sales and management, including commercial construction. It was those roles that eventually prepared him to own his own franchise.
After moving to Austin, Texas, from California to be closer to family, Moccio felt it was time to find a business venture that was recession resilient. Moccio began researching opportunities and discovered that virtually everything has some aspect of shipping. From bricks on buildings to warehouse equipment and tires, he knew a shipping franchise was the right investment. At 31-years old, Moccio knew the growth opportunity was substantial with a variety of shipping-service offerings available to prospective small-to-medium sized businesses.
Despite having all the right qualities and experience in sales, the new business came with a challenging launch. However, Moccio kept his head down and continued to grind. Today, he is one of the top performers within the InXpress franchise system and is currently up 57 percent in sales for the year versus 2019. Throughout the pandemic, he’s continued to obtain new customers by adapting a refined ‘caring-and-sharing’ sales strategy.
FBR: What habits should a successful InXpress franchisee form early on?
RM: They need to have confidence in themselves, work hard, be disciplined and have a positive mindset. These are certain qualities that people need to have when starting a business, and they need to be realistic with themselves. They need to be motivated enough to go out and generate the business without having a boss telling them what to do. That’s when the self-motivated drive and persistence to not take no for an answer comes into play.
It’s about embracing an attitude that there is always room to better yourself. I’ve been in the business for 9 years, and the business owner I was then compared to now is night and day. That said, I’ll evolve over the next five years because I’m hungry to learn, improve and surround myself with the right people to challenge me in these areas. I built a network of great business owners around me, some within the system and some outside of the franchise. Entrepreneurs share a common ground that not a lot of people can relate to, and those connections turn into friendships.
FBR: What was a ‘ah-ha’ pivotal moment for your business?
RM: Two years ago, my business was built 85 percent DHL. With InXpress, I have all these service offerings within my tool box and was offering 85 percent of my customer base only one of them. That’s when I knew I wanted to build my business to be more ‘50/50.’ Now, 50 percent of my business is DHL Express and the other half is other valuable service offerings, including: domestic trucking (LTL & FTL rail), international air freight and international ocean freight, as well as insurance for customers.
I didn’t want to have all my eggs in one basket. I knew the shift to offer more services would balance my business out. It took patience and persistence, but that pre-pandemic pivot helped me grow throughout 2020.
In order to scale any business, one has to understand what they represent and what they have to offer. In my case, it’s InXpress, and I made a tangible list of every shipping service offering the franchise has to offer. From there, I identified the Top-5 service offerings that would generate top margin for my business. Even in my own research and tapping into the global network, I found those in the Top 20 all sell a ratio of services to their customers.
FBR: Any best-practices for pushing past the toughest first-year in business?
RM: There is no fast-track trick to get around it. Be realistic and prepare to work harder than you ever have. It takes perfecting your prospecting, follows ups and getting to know the product knowledge.
I want people to know if I can do it, anyone can do it. InXpress has plenty of success stories of people who bit the bullet and made it happen. It’s a proven success model with great services. All you have to do is commit to prospecting, have product knowledge and know how to sell yourself.
Selling is 80 percent listening and 20 percent talking. If I have all the product knowledge and work ethic but I’m a jerk, no one will buy from me. Presentation is important. Present yourself well, carry yourself well and be direct.
FBR: Can you share some additional prospecting advice?
On top of the above, know your area. Know your strengths and weaknesses. I knew I had strong phone sales experience, but I created a combo approach. Some days, I’d door knock doors, send prospecting emails and/or a mix of phone prospecting.
There is no one-size-fits-all in business. Exploring different avenues to reach potential customers is necessary for success. For instance, I knew my ‘No Mess around State’ was not suited to the confines of door-to-door sales, and it wasn’t feasible for me to spend hours sitting in a car stuck in traffic getting nothing done. That’s when I created email campaigns and worked the phones. In addition, I would dedicate a certain window for door-knocking – a specific timeframe that I learned from doing my homework would ensure the most success of reaching people. From the launch to navigating business-to-business sales throughout this pandemic, it’s about being resourceful and listening to the needs of the existing and potential customer to see how I can best help their operations.
Time is valuable, and I refuse to waste my own or others. I even calculate specific highway to ensure I’m maximizing my time, taking on the right customers and managing my schedule efficiently. I’m mindful of my best time period to sell, while still planning my non-urgent items to circle back to. Get smart about how and when you’re going to spend your time.
FBR: Can you share how your business has been navigating COVID-19 impacts? How did your B2B sales approach shift?
RM: My team and I knew we had to adjust to the realities of the worldwide pandemic. When Texas shut down, I immediately told my team they would continue to receive a paycheck but to not call anyone for four weeks. I gave it two weeks prior to calling my customer base to see how their business was doing. Once I saw positive response from our ‘check-in’ approach with existing customers, then I felt more comfortable to do the same with new prospects. The check-ins were also a way to communicate with customers our world-class carrier partners and trucking companies were still running and able to meet all of their shipping needs.
It wasn’t the best time to sell but yet, it was also the best time because many business owners were looking for extra customer support since they had to lay off their shipping team. We started to process the shipping labels for them. In fact, I found I was actually getting to speak to the decision makers faster, as in some cases these companies’ furloughed staff and were willing to listen and be open with their own needs. The pandemic revealed the difference between vendors and true partnerships.
My team has always been customer-centric, we just learned to take our approach a step further by offering tailored services to meet the specific needs of these companies, going through their own COVID-19 impacts. One example includes, serving as a true extension for a customer who no longer had his internal team in place. At no extra charge, the team and I stepped in to process paperwork on the customer’s behalf.
It boils down to being transparent and genuine with every interaction. We’ve managed to have a successful year because of our sincerity toward the people we are calling. If you care about the success of the business on the other end of the phone call, it becomes less about a sale and more about sharing how the service offerings can help their bottom line. By using this refined approach my team was able to help the companies who needed more hands-on assistance and reach those experiencing an influx of shipping needs like ecommerce-based companies. We were able to gain new customers because superior service, reliable tracking abilities and transit time stands out in a time of need.
FBR: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own InXpress franchise?
RM: First and foremost, focus on the growth made during the tough-times. Especially, those in their first few years, reach out to others within the system. I’m beyond thankful for those who helped me along the way to get me to where I’m at. InXpress is selective at who they welcome into the franchise and new owners understand the big picture. Nobody should have to struggle, if they do, they have plenty of people to reach out to.
Be real when building relationships with others. I made it a priority to get to know my partners and to know them well and be transparent. In order to gain respect as an individual, one has to set themselves apart by how they treat others. And part of having respect for yourself, is knowing your own capabilities. People know when they are getting the runaround and I decided early-on that I would never act like I know it all. If a customer wants more details in analytics and/or wants to get more understanding about ocean/air freight, then I will gladly put them in touch with the better contact to explain. When one builds up their partnerships and values people’s time, respect and loyalty will follow.