The post covid great resignation has made franchising a popular option, but many find their entry limited by a lack of finance or skills. One brand however is taking the market by storm.
Unlike most franchises, initiated by tradespeople duplicating to grow, Gutter Knight founders Brian Brown and David Myles began with no trade experience. Instead coming from a coaching and consultancy background with a focus on transparency and team building.
Their take on franchising even has entrepreneurial leaders such as Greencross Vets founder and Shark Tank investor Glenn Richards calling it “one of the more impressive and better business models” he has ever seen.
The Gutter Knight approach enables franchisees to choose what they want to do, depending on their skills, lifestyle and goals, with options to either do everything; including sales and installation through to outsourcing the work so they simply run the business.
Making buying a franchise a breeze, Gutter Knight only charges a small monthly investment of $500 for admin and marketing instead of taking a percentage of franchisees earnings. The franchisor makes an income from the manufacture of the Gutter Guard which the franchisee has to purchase through them.
They believe this is a transparent and fair model where if the franchisee is successful, so is the franchisor. David says, “we have no intention of being another ‘Jims’, we want to be known as different” and even though they are shaking up the industry, David says Gutter Knight is the worlds best kept secret despite their seven years of successful operation and growth nationally.
They seem to have weathered the storm of launching a new franchise brand and the future looks bright but how did they do it?
Davids’ background is playing NRL and he brings his team building experience, skills and learnings into the way the business supports the franchisees to work together come rain or shine.
So far they have attracted new franchise owners from a wide range of backgrounds including creative, military, sports and politics as well as corporate roles and they know that pulling together a varied team only works if the right people buy in. David says it’s “attitude over aptitude” and he believes that “the right personality and ability to be coached is vital” but if someone is willing to learn, follow a system and fit into a team, they’ll be right as rain.
There is always pressure in franchise businesses with an expectation of people doing what they are told and also having initiative, but David believes that individual owners can develop their personal brand and stay aligned with the business brand as long as the focus is on building the person first.
Self development has always been part of his life, “I knew I performed the best when I was hanging around the right people, listening to the right podcasts and reading the right books” he says. The first step he suggests is “as soon as someone realises they can’t look externally for growth they start to look inside” and that’s going to weather them through any difficulties.
The business supports the team with fortnightly zoom calls and quarterly reviews, not just about the business but about their personal growth and development and although David admits not everyone gets into it, but the senior leadership mentor others in the team. He says it’s “all about education and having an abundance mindset” and he’s making that a big part of the brand culture.
Teamwork is something that comes from his football background and the directors role is to make sure everyone in the business knows this. “Good teams do everything together and they lift each other up to be the best, knowing they can’t do it as individuals” he says, and they are using their high performance background to ensure that the franchisor isn’t constantly battling with the franchisees. David realises that “not everyone is happy all of the time”, but he does make sure everyone understands that if they don’t make money the franchisor don’t make money either.
Their approach is attracting new franchisees and David believes that has to do with how they are building their brand profile, with consistency and understanding the importance of local marketing. The results are that the Gutter Knight franchisees are dominating in small areas and that is creating a local brand awareness.
But they are cautious about growing too fast, “We knock back more franchise enquiries than we accept” he says, knowing that not everyone will fit and having the wrong people on the team can affect the entire brand.
Bringing the right people together and growing them is all about transparency and they encourage anyone who enquires to contact any one of the team to ask about what it’s like and how the business works. They don’t have a sales team and don’t want lots of people, they want quality and the feedback so far is that those who join find the approach and the model refreshingly simple.
So how are they helping their franchisees grow? David swears by ‘Google My Business’ saying “it is such a powerful tool and critical path that feeds into the whole lead generation for every business”.
The head office also runs one of the franchises and has 250 reviews, the next closest is another Gutter Knight with 40 and another with 30 reviews. David shares that lots of businesses have 1 or 2 from Mum or the mates, but that social proof is just not there. He suggests that the opportunity is there to “go from 200 reviews to 500 and once you are there, no one can catch you because you are so far in front that your business will snowball.”
He also suggests using local facebook groups and community pages, not spamming but adding value for people, being there consistently and responding to requests for referrals.
He believes that although many home services business have done well through covid, the biggest challenge is not being complacent. He says “often when things go well people take the foot off the pedal and that fair-weathered thinking will not deliver long term stability.
For now, Gutter Knight is storming ahead and they continue to make hay while the sun shines.
Lauren Clemett is a Keynote speaker, International award-winning Neurobranding specialist and best selling author with over 25 years brand management experience. Lauren shares how to overcome overwhelm and lead with direction, purpose and meaning, making marketing professional services a walk in the park!