Business Franchise Australia

TRUSTED GLOBALLY FOR OVER 30 YEARS IN FRANCHISING

G.J. Gardner Homes builds successful franchise brand in the USA

 

 

Queensland-based building group G.J. Gardner Homes is a household name in Australia, and it is fast-becoming one in the USA too just three years after a major push into the world’s largest economy. Since home builder Greg J. Gardner started the business in Queensland in 1983, G.J. Gardner has built over 55,000 quality and customised homes for families across the globe. 

As a franchise organisation, G.J. Gardner is Australia’s most successful home building network, with 149 franchises now operating across Australia, the United States, and New Zealand. The business was recently ranked 53rd world-wide for franchise systems with locations in the USA – moving up from last year’s ranking of 68. The list was released in the Franchise Times, which features an exclusive annual ranking of the top 400 largest franchise systems by global systemwide sales. As of 2023, 20 G.J. Gardner franchise offices are located in the US and have built over 2000 homes, directly supported by 11 staff in the Franchisor Team, mostly based out of San Antonio, Texas.

 

“The decision to enter the US market was driven by the recognition of the opportunities in the American housing market. We knew with the right people in place, the US had great potential.”, G.J. Gardner CEO Trent Gardner said. The company made its first foray into the US market in 2005 with a Californian franchise, however, the country’s housing sector took a major hit just three years later in the Global Financial Crisis.  “This was tough initially, however in recent years we have seen areas of the country where the housing market is booming.” Mr (Trent) Gardner hails from the Sunshine Coast and has been G.J. Gardner’s CEO since October 2020. To properly push into the US three years ago, he decided to relocate to San Antonio, Texas, and travels regularly back to Australia and New Zealand.

 

“Three years ago, we decided to make a massive push into the American market, and we are now operating in California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, and Indiana, with further expansion coming in Missouri and South Carolina in 2024.” Before expanding internationally, G.J. Gardner Homes considered factors such as cultural differences, regulatory requirements, and market dynamics.  According to Mr Gardner adapting the business model, including its systems and processes, to suit local preferences and complying with local regulations were crucial aspects of successful international expansion.

 

“The US has a much larger and more dispersed population than Australia so there are many different regional styles across the country. In the US, you may find larger master-planned communities and suburban sprawl, while Australia might have a mix of urban and suburban developments,” Mr Gardner said. “US homes are generally larger than homes in Australia with different bathroom and kitchen styles, however the industry runs similarly to Australia, and our franchise model suits US builders who want to expand their business with our systems, sales network and building designs. 

 

                      

 

“Some of the key challenges we faced with expansion was building brand recognition, understanding local customer preferences as well as understanding the home builder market in the USA – but we overcame this by building a strong network of local franchise partners and by focussing on providing a joyful home building experience, ‘the G.J. Way’, in a market where that is uncommon.” Mr Gardner said underpinning the brand’s growth in the US was the decision about whom to partner with. “We look for Franchise Owners who are looking to take their business to the next level – who have passion, the right values, and a drive to succeed. Their commitment to quality and customer service is paramount.”

 

As part of the expansion into the American market, Mr Gardner said it was important the family-builder did not lose the “local” touches that had made the business successful in Australia. “Our US Franchise Owners, as in Australia and New Zealand, are local builders in their respective communities,” Mr Gardner said. “To maintain control of the build and service quality, the brand and the “local/family owned” aspect of our business, we have multiple touchpoints and controls in place with our Franchise Owners and their teams. “These controls include a rigorous franchise candidate selection process, robust franchise management systems, regular communication with our Franchise Owners, continuous training on best practices, continuous development of our enterprise software, and other quality control measures.”

 

 

As of the end of 2023, G.J. Gardner franchises include: 20 in the US, 31 in New Zealand, and 88 in Australia (30 in NSW/ACT, 21 in QLD/NT, 26 in VIC/TAS, and 11 in SA).  The brand sells about $1.7Bn in homes across these markets.  “All three countries are expected to experience relatively stable market conditions over the next two or three years and we expect to continue to grow our share through the expansion of our franchise network,” Mr Gardner said.