Business Franchise Australia


Mister Minit: New CEO’s Leadership Transition Delivers Business Continuity and Growth

Recognised as one of the country’s top franchises delivering shoe repair, car key duplication, laser engraving, watch repairs, and other essential household services, Mister Minit, welcomed Maria Walton as CEO in 2023. Six months into the role, Walton leads a network of 360 stores across Australia, New Zealand, and a growing footprint in Southeast Asia.

Mister Minit has opened an average of fifteen shops per year over the last five years and recently acquired the 27 store-strong Shoe King business in Western Australia. As an executive leader of Mister Minit for over 20 years, Walton brings her people-focused human resources and franchise experience to the role. Her application for the role was swayed by the strong bonds she shared with fellow Mister Minit employees who were keen on continuity and equally saw her as a natural successor to Mark Rusbatch.


The value of leadership transitioning

Despite over two decades with Mister Minit, the value of a transition period with outgoing CEO Mark Rusbatch, who has joined the Mister Mini Board as Chair, was invaluable to Walton. “My previous executive position within the business allowed me to be integral in shaping the strategic direction and growth of the brand, however, the transition period increased my awareness of the CEO role and further responsibilities. It was great to have Mark available then and even now through the Board,” said Walton.

Reflecting that a long tenure in any role presents some blind spots to the business, Walton considers the transition period essential for the step she was making. “Any new role allows you start to see things afresh. Being CEO has increased my focus on identifying what can be done, and how. It’s invigorating and motivating,” she said.


Franchising as Business Development

Regularly recognised as one of Australia’s top franchise businesses, Mister Minit considers itself a service business first and foremost. “We don’t consider ourselves a traditional franchising business,” states Walton. “We are a household services brand using franchising to deliver those services. Franchising is an opportunity to develop our own team, with a focus on ownership for our people and the role they can play in their local community.”

Before becoming CEO, Walton repositioned Mister Minit’s franchising management as a business development function. Improved communication cultivated a comprehensive business development approach to franchisee management, and part of this transformative mindset shift is evident in one of Walton’s most significant individual achievements – making Mister Minit conferences franchisee-driven. “Our franchisees chose what they want at their conference,” said Walton. “They drive us with their passion and enthusiasm for innovation.”


2024 and Beyond

Customer service drives Mister Minit’s innovation and Walton is focused on anticipating customers’ needs and providing a solution. “The true line behind the brand ‘Real People, Fixing Problems’ encompasses all that we do,” said Walton, noting the example of Mister Minit leveraging a unique service opportunity from not offering watch repairs to now being the biggest watch repairer in Australia.  Identifying the next service Mister Minit can offer the market is what keeps Walton awake at night, ensuring they can invest in new technology and meet customer’s needs as Mister Minit did close to 30 years ago then they identified the shift towards car keys having transponder chips and requiring diagnostic programming. “We invested in training and diagnostics equipment to ensure we were at the fore front of this technology and today we are a leader in car key duplication services in Australia.”

2024 key business objectives include setting a new strategic plan that continues to focus on establishing new business infrastructure and brand architecture to support further years of growth.  The company is also investing in complementary distribution channels, developing a Mister Minit Mobile Service fleet in Australia and New Zealand, adding further value to a service it has offered since the 1960s.

Walton believes her legacy will be reflected in how well she can support her team to reach their individual potential. “If I can achieve this, it will be reflected in how every team member serves our customers and provides sustainability.”


Maria Walton’s Leadership Principles:

  1. Give it your best every time. The most important thing is what you are doing at that time – be it.
  2. Execution. Many people can come up with the answers but fewer can actually make things happen.
  3. You must keep learning. Never stand still otherwise you’re going backwards – you can learn from anyone.
  4. Do the ‘right thing’. It pays dividends.


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