From one store to a multi-million dollar business, it’s clear Perth’s Poolwerx franchise partners Irene and Ian Hughes made the right choice to ditch their corporate careers ten years ago, with their immense success recognised after being named Australia’s best multi-unit franchise.
Topping sales in excess of $3 million dollars last year, Mr and Mrs Hughes deservedly took out the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) ‘Multi-unit Franchisee of the Year’ award at last night’s National Excellence in Franchising Awards.
Opening their first store in Sorrento in 2006, the Hughes’s grew their business operation to four stores and five vans servicing pools across Joondalup, Beldon, Hillarys, Ocean Reef, Woodvale and Sorento.
Mr Hughes said the award was a welcome surprise and an indication of the dedication and commitment of his 18 strong team over the past ten years.
“To think that we’ve come out ahead of some other very impressive franchises across Australia is very humbling and we certainly didn’t expect it,” he said.
“We started out with one store, added another within two years and then a partnership in 2010 saw us grow to four stores and we have continued to grow year on year at an average of 20 percent despite some tough economic conditions over the last five years.
“We bought out our partners for another 30 percent in 2011 to become 80 percent manager owners. We left our corporate jobs in pursuit of being the masters of our own destiny, and it is a decision that has paid off in many ways for us, both financially and in lifestyle balance and flexibility.
“It has really been one of the best choices we ever made.”
Mr Hughes said a stronger focus on digital marketing and social media helped propel awareness of the brand and contribute to strong growth last year.
"We dedicated budget to more e-marketing and social media campaigns and the results surprised us. Through one of our Facebook campaigns we increased sales by 35 percent. It also enabled us to widen our customer reach. Social media is now a permanent part of our marketing strategy.”
This is the third time (2012, 2013, 2015) Poolwerx has won the Multi-unit Franchisee of the Year category at the FCA Awards, and it has been a finalist in the category for the past five years.
Poolwerx CEO John O’Brien said the Hughes’s were poster children for the power of franchising in Australia and the potential for it to be big business.
“A common misconception is that franchising is only for people who want a small business, but Ian and Irene are proof of the level you can reach within this industry,” he said. “The sky really is the limit.
“Our model is specifically designed to allow franchise partners a strong career path from mobile to multiple store owners allowing them to develop a business as big as their vision determines.
“Ian and Irene wanted to build a business that afforded them a certain lifestyle and freedom and they have never stopped striving to achieve this. We are extremely proud of their efforts and their commitment to the Poolwerx brand which has resulted in our recognition as Australia’s leading multi-unit franchise once again,” he said.