Business Franchise Australia

TRUSTED GLOBALLY FOR OVER 30 YEARS IN FRANCHISING

Future-proofing your franchise in the face of economic uncertainty

Franchising has been around since antiquity, when Roman law allowed merchants in long-distance trade to sell their wares under another merchant’s name without having to buy them first from the original source. But, it wasn’t until the 1900s that it became a viable business model. 

 

The first franchised business was created in 1892 by George Gilman who developed a licensing program for other grocers to use his brand name, logo and store layout. Gilman’s idea worked so well that other companies began following suit. Fast forward to today, there are many other types of franchises in existence, particularly here in Australia. 

 

In fact, Australia has more franchising outlets per capita than any other country except New Zealand, but close to 90% of franchises are Australian developed. That being said, the latest interest rate rise by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) – the tenth increase in a row since May 2022 – has presented a number of challenges for the franchising industry and our economy has suffered in several ways. The cost of borrowing has increased exponentially over the past 12 months, and this is having a negative impact on mortgage holders and household budgets which has sparked public debate.

 

 Though, there has been limited discussion on how this is affecting Australian businesses, particularly small businesses and franchises like Poolwerx. No doubt a number of business owners are feeling the pressure and pinch of interest rate hikes and consumers’ reduced spending power as a result, but it needn’t be all doom and gloom. 

 

While the RBA’s approach has been aggressive, interest rate rises are generally a response to economic growth which is hopeful to hear for many of us and, in a lot of ways, this is actually a sign of a healthier market on the horizon. Why? As the economy declines, interest rates decrease and when the economy improves, interest rates increase. This is where we find ourselves today. 

 

When faced with another economic downturn, there’s no better time for businesses to focus on improving workflows, investing in the right technology and streamlining operations. But above all else, strategising and listening to your customers while balancing revenue and costs is key for future-proofing your business. 

 

The concept of future-proofing is all about anticipating what’s to come and developing specific tools to minimise the impacts of unprecedented shocks and stresses of future events. It’s a process that involves creating sustainable business models and strategies that will ensure the longevity of a company—adapting, optimising and planning are key. 

 

Take Poolwerx for example, over the last few years we’ve prioritised crisis management and responsiveness to ensure we remain agile and act quickly to matters that are unexpected and out of our control. This has allowed us to implement a fast yet considered approach to supporting our franchise partner network during times of crisis, such as the South East Queensland and Northern NSW floods and COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

A dedicated Crisis Response Committee was formed with representatives from operations, business development, marketing, people and culture and supply, as well as leasing. The committee played a crucial role in managing rental relief and rebuilds for franchise partners and the retail department during this time and meant those who were flood-affected were able to continue servicing customers with the assistance of our cloud-based technology. 

 

Keeping innovation and technology at the forefront of our business is also imperative for future success. It is paramount for businesses to stay vigilant in monitoring industry trends, growth opportunities, new products, and emerging technologies. Neglecting this crucial aspect could result in the business falling behind its competitors which is something we cannot allow to happen if we want to remain successful. At our company, we recognise the importance of keeping up with the latest advancements and ensuring that our franchise partners are equipped with the most modern technology and processes. By doing so, we can help our partners stay ahead of the curve and thrive in the market. 

 

As Australia’s largest franchise network of Pool Retail Stores and Mobile Service Units, we strive to help our franchise partners succeed. In addition to a team of experts in marketing, IT, training, administration and sales, we offer training support from our regional business development managers, our Poolwerx Support Centre (PSC) staff in Brisbane and frequent interaction with fellow franchise partners. We reinforce this with information and modules at monthly business meetings, our annual Poolwerx convention, and upskilling opportunities from our Partners in Profits (suppliers). In terms of KPIs, franchise partner profitability is our number one for PSC.

 

 I don’t just want our franchise partners to survive – I want them to thrive. With that in mind, Poolwerx developed and embarked upon an initiative which was designed to benefit every single franchise partner – our client first strategy (CFS). The CFS looks for insights into what is making the industry tick this year, and forecasts what is coming over the next three. We used the CFS to sculpt a strategic plan with clear tactics that flows into a monthly calendar, collaborating and coming together to execute with excellence. Having one clearly defined and aligned brand, vision, and dream means we can operate in lockstep together with clear communication, honesty and transparency. 

 

In order to plan for the future, whatever that may bring, business owners and management teams must reflect on the past and consider how to leverage their biggest learnings from the pandemic. With the cost of living crisis continuing and further interest rate rises looming, businesses will need to improve efficiencies and look to reduce operating costs to retain their clients and customers. Offering value along with a customised and flexible approach will help your customers cope with these cost rises and maintain their confidence in your business and brand. 

 

In saying all that, there is a great deal of uncertainty felt right across the country at the moment, which often leads many to reassess life goals and career aspirations. As people were laid off during the 2007-08 GFC, Poolwerx had a great group of franchise partners join the network. In fact, their store footprint and revenue grew more than 50 per cent in the five years following the GFC and they’re anticipating a similar level of growth post-pandemic. 

 

Another outcome of the GFC was people’s decision to secure their children’s future by starting a family business that could offer them long-term employment. I know firsthand just how daunting financial challenges can be for business but with precision planning, the correct tools and technology, and a united front, we can all ride the wave to calmer waters.

 

About Poolwerx 

Poolwerx is the world’s largest global franchise pool service brand. Founded by Australian Executive Director and entrepreneur John O’Brien in 1992, Poolwerx has grown to nearly 600 service vehicles and 160 stores in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Poolwerx has multiple revenue streams, repeat clients, limited competition, is secure in the growing home services sector and is a technology leader. Poolwerx also champions the importance of teaching life-saving water skills through its annual community initiatives, Responsible Pool Person and Learn2Swim Week, in partnership with Kids Alive. For more information visit www.poolwerx.com.au

 

About Nic Brill – Chief Executive Officer, Poolwerx
For almost 20 years, Nic has served in key leadership roles for global and national brands including Donut King, Gloria Jeans, King Island Dairy, Nescafé and Vitasoy. His demonstrated history as a business leader in the franchising and retail industries has equipped Nic with critical insights into understanding the core values of the Australian small business owner.

 

Nic has developed a breadth of knowledge at a strategic and operational level and his international experience drew him to Poolwerx as the company continues to bolster its reputation as the world’s largest global franchise pool service brand across Australia, New Zealand and the United States.