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JUST REWARDS

by Simon Lord,
last updated 07/12/2017

in this article:

New Zealand’s top franchisees are a semi-retired couple who believe in working smarter, not harder. They also prove that some of the best opportunities in business lie outside the big cities

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A lifestyle block in Te Awamutu might not be where you’d expect to find one of New Zealand’s best small businesses, but then Judi and Earl McWhirter might not be what you’d expect, either. The former teacher and academic bought their Just Cabins franchise in 2008 as a way of supplementing their income and saving for their retirement. Nine years on, despite having no previous business experience, the couple have just been named Supreme Franchisees of the Year in the 2017 Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards.

‘I was just speechless. Blown away. I did not expect that!’ says Judi. ‘It’s a credit to the Just Cabins franchisor, Fenton Peterken, the systems he’s put in place and the encouragement he’s given us, as well as the support we’ve had from the other franchisees and the whole Just Cabins family. We’re all in this together!’

Just Cabins pulled off a momentous double to win Supreme Franchise System of the Year and Supreme Franchisee of the Year. It’s only the third time in the Awards’ 23-year history that any brand has won both Supreme titles in the same year, and it’s the first time that a non-food franchise has managed the feat.

For Fenton, it marked the climax of a journey that started back in 2010 when he first bought a Just Cabins franchise in West Auckland. He was so taken by the concept that he ended up buying the whole business from the franchisor and selling his chartered accounting business so that he could put all his energy into it. Since then, Just Cabins has been a regular Awards entrant, winning the Lifestyle Services category for five – now six –­ years in a row. Now they are on the top step as Westpac Supreme Franchise System of the Year.

WESTPAC SUPREME FRANCHISE SYSTEM OF THE YEAR
Winner ­– Just Cabins

Just Cabins rents out self-contained units for individuals and companies to use as extra rooms, offices or accommodation. The carefully-designed units come in three sizes and are complete with built-in lighting and power, insulation, carpets, lockable ranch-slider and window, all on a steel-framed trailer base which can be easily towed by a four-wheel drive. They need no planning permission, making the franchisees’ job simple – find the client, deliver and set-up the cabin, then receive the weekly rent as long as the cabin is needed. Once the cabin is no longer required, it can be moved on to the next customer.

Originally founded by a project manager from the construction industry, Just Cabins really took off in 2010 when franchisee Fenton Peterken took over the company. A Chartered Accountant by profession, Fenton brought a financial mind-set to the task of building a business that would truly deliver to both customers’ and franchisees’ needs. ‘Cash flow is excellent and, as portable buildings are classified as depreciable items by the IRD, there’s much more to put back into the business to fund continued growth,’ he told Franchise New Zealand in 2013. In 2014, the company was ranked at number 14 in the Deloitte Fast 50.

With all the franchise territories sold in New Zealand, Fenton has been quietly working on expansion of the concept to other countries...

 

This article appears in full in the latest issue of Franchise New Zealand magazine (Year 26 Issue 4). Read the entire article in the digital magazine or, if you live in New Zealand please send for your free print copy.

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