The Market

by Simon Lord

last updated 28/11/2014

Franchise Awards 2014 / 2015 - Should've gone to...?

by Simon Lord

last updated 28/11/2014

15 November - Specsavers is the 2014/15 Franchise System of the Year and Ivy Joe of The Coffee Club is New Zealand's top franchisee for the third year in a row - possibly a world record!

Specsavers has been named Franchise System of the Year for 2014/15 in the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards. The international optical franchise, famous for its ‘Should’ve gone to…’ humorous adverts, took out the title in their first-ever year of entering the awards after what the judges say was a close-fought competition.
The Franchisee of the Year was no newcomer, though, with Ivy Joe of The Coffee Club winning the supreme title for a remarkable third year in a row. The Bethlehem, Tauranga, franchisee has stepped up performance to yet another level this year, making her impossible to beat.

In this 20th year of the annual Awards, the organisers made changes to existing categories and introduced some new ones, including awards for Community Involvement and Field Managers. There was a pleasing symmetry to the fact that Green Acres, the home-grown system that has more franchisees than any other in New Zealand, was a winner in both the first and the 20th Awards.



Winner – Specsavers New Zealand

SpecsaversSpecsavers has revolutionised the optical industry since it was founded in the Channel Island of Guernsey in 1984. The value-for-money brand has 1400 stores in 10 countries and first came to New Zealand in November 2008, establishing 28 stores in its first 10 months here. There are now 53 stores from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

The company has expanded using  ‘conversion franchising’. This means that when it targets a new market, it identifies existing independent optometrists and approaches them, rather than the other way round. Specsavers offers an unusual part-franchise, part-joint venture model and has developed massive economies of scale in the supply chain that enable it to dominate the markets in which it operates. But, above all, it has achieved massive exposure through a series of witty adverts depicting the unfortunate consequences of uncorrected vision, with stars ranging from sheepdogs to Gordon Ramsay and Postman Pat. It has been, as Awards host Mary Lambie couldn't help observing, a 'blinder' of a campaign. In New Zealand, Specsavers also sponsors a group much-maligned for their poor eyesight – cricket umpires.

The Franchise Awards judges commented that the systems that Specsavers have developed and their successful business partnerships gave them the edge over the other finalists. ‘This was underpinned by their excellent results, moving what is a high-cost product into a volume business through their strong customer focus.’


Winner – Ivy & William Joe, The Coffee Club, Bethlehem

Jumping for joy! Triple Supreme Award-winner Ivy Joe with her favourite trophy'This is my favourite trophy - and now I've got three of them!' Ivy Joe received a standing ovation when she took out the supreme title once again. Winning once is special, winning twice was unique – winning a national Franchisee of the Year title three times in a row is a remarkable achievement possibly unmatched anywhere in the world! Yet that’s what Ivy Joe, the modest lady from Guangzhou, and her husband have achieved in The Coffee Club, Bethlehem.

Ivy came to New Zealand when she was just 23 with her new husband William, who had been here since he was 15 and had worked in the hospitality industry. Although Ivy had her business diploma, they had no real management experience; nonetheless, the young couple bought a run-down Chinese restaurant in New Plymouth with borrowed family money. ‘Slowly we worked out what worked and what didn’t,’ Ivy says. ‘In the end, it was simple – get the price right, get the food right, get the service right and make sure your customers are happy.’

It’s a formula the couple took with them when, looking for a business with more potential, they opened The Coffee Club Bethlehem in 2007, and it’s proved to be a winning one – three times over. As the judges noted, ‘By combining a proven, comprehensive franchise system with innovative ideas they continually retain and expand their customer base.’ The judges were also impressed by the way they give back to the community in which they operate.

Ivy says that having achieved a unique treble, she'll sit out the Awards next year, 'But I still want to go on making my business better and better.'


This year, the franchisee and franchisor awards were divided into four sub-categories:

  • Home Services
  • Lifestyle Services
  • Retail
  • Food & Beverage

These were combined into two categories for the main awards:

  • Home & Lifestyle Services
  • Retail, Food & Beverage


Franchisee of the Year
Winner – Dave & Shelley Coley, Hire A Hubby, Kapiti

David & Shelley Coley, Hire A Hubby, KapitiDave and Shelley Coley, the Hire A Hubby master franchisees for Kapiti, are used to scooping awards, having won the national maintenance company’s own Franchisee of the Year title three times in a row. This was their first time on the top step at the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards, though.

‘Hire a Hubby Kapiti have effectively taken a one-man operation and turned it into a successful small business,’ said the judges. 'They’ve combined systematic approaches with strong staff recruitment to achieve some excellent financial and customer results in a short time.  Their focus on knowledge of their market and maintaining good relationships has led to very impressive levels of around 75 percent repeat business.’

Franchise System of the Year
Winner – Green Acres

20 years after Green Acres was named Service Franchise System of the Year in the first-ever New Zealand franchise awards, Green Acres was among the winners again in 2014/15 as Franchise System of the Year in the Home Services category. The company won the same title last year, too.

According to the judges, ‘Green Acres is a very mature franchise showing clear evidence of ongoing innovation capitalising on the benefits of technology. As a market leader, they’re well aware of changes to the industry and competitiveness, both for franchisees and customers, and continually adapt their approaches to respond to that. They have comprehensive processes and their size has enabled them to invest effectively in supporting the franchise system.’

Other finalists: The Pro Group

Category sponsored by Yellow



Franchisee of the Year
Winners – Daryl Hill-West & Merrin Fagan, Just Cabins, Waitakere

Daryl Hill-West & Merrin Fagan, Just Cabins, WaitakereA former social worker, Daryl Hill-West’s ‘day job’ is as GM of a company specialising in injury prevention and management while Merrin is a drama teacher. Their busy lives haven’t prevented them developing a thriving business as Just Cabins franchisees, renting out portable cabins as extra rooms, offices or on-site accommodation.

‘Just Cabins Waitakere is a well-run customer-centric business with a clear distinctive advantage in people management; whether it’s the franchisor, suppliers, contracts and customers, the franchisees Daryl and Merrin know how to look after people,’ said the judges. ‘Just Cabins Waitakere uses sound processes to deliver a consistent set of results for its customers and is tightly aligned to the overall vision and value of the Just Cabins franchise system.’

Franchise System of the Year   
Winner - Just Cabins

Just Cabins is a regular winner of the Lifestyle Franchise System of the Year category and 2014 was no exception. The portable cabin franchise has been achieving recognition elsewhere too, being ranked at number 14 in this year’s Deloitte Fast 50 with a growth rate over three years of a remarkable 430 percent.

The judges said, ‘Just Cabins clearly understand their business, the competition and how to drive franchise success. They demonstrate continual improvement to the efficiency and effectiveness of their business systems with a clear focus that supporting franchisees is central to success. They have good growth trends, consistently exceeding targets in terms of numbers of franchisees, number of cabins, and financial results.  Just Cabins show they’re always looking at opportunities to enhance franchisees' success, and have combined this with a clear focus on understanding and meeting their customers’ changing requirements.’

Other finalists: Caci; Refresh Renovations

Category sponsored by Yellow



Franchisee of the Year
Winner – Alex Xue, Mister Minit Downtown, Auckland

Alex Xue, Mister Minit, Downtown AucklandHaving been a finalist in last year’s Awards, beaten only by two other Mister Minit franchisees, this year Alex Xue stood alone on the top step. Alex’s kiosk is the ‘go to’ place for workers and shoppers needing shoe repairs, key cutting, engraving and watch or remote batteries in the central city.

‘The Mister Minit Downtown franchise uses the franchise system processes effectively,’ the judges reported.  ‘They’ve delivered some exceptional results in a reasonably short time. Alex puts considerable effort into understanding his market and has sharpened the focus of products and services to respond well to the dynamic Auckland downtown customer base.  A market leader and award winner within the wider Mr Minit Group, this franchisee is a deserving winner.’

Other finalists: Michael Ash, Mister Minit St Lukes; Maninder Singh, Mister Minit, The Base

Franchise System of the Year
Winner – Specsavers New Zealand

Going on to win the supreme Franchise System of the Year title, Specsavers attracted the judges’ attention early on with their dynamic business model and impressive results.

They commented, ‘Specsavers is a very sound business. They have developed very good systems and responded quickly and constructively to feedback. They have strong documented processes and inclusive strategic planning underpinned by solid information technology systems. They display a very strong focus on the support and development of people within the franchise system and for the franchisees. Specsavers have a strong understanding of what’s important to the business and what to measure and focus on.'

Other finalists: Mister Minit; Bedpost New Zealand; Harrisons at Home

Category sponsored by Super Liquor Holdings & Lion



Franchisee of the Year
Winner – Ivy & William Joe, The Coffee Club, Bethlehem Tauranga

Having won this category and the supreme franchisee award for the last two years, Ivy and William Joe weren’t prepared to sit on their laurels but instead set out to demonstrate their commitment to getting better all the time.

The judges noted that Ivy and William had worked to overcome the disadvantages of a physical location in a not yet packed retail centre. ‘The Coffee Club Bethlehem has strategically built strong customer relationships to continue to grow their business and deliver great results,’ they said.  ‘They’ve taken the “Where will I meet you?” philosophy of The Coffee Club and have listened to their customers and used innovative approaches to build a loyal customer base, resulting in the highest VIP membership across The Coffee Club network. With the franchisee stepping out of the day-to-day operations, the Bethlehem team have been empowered to take on more responsibility for driving business success, and the positive results reinforce their efforts.’

Other finalists: Janet Kim, The Coffee Club, Mt Maunganui

Franchise System of the Year   
Winner – The Coffee Club Franchising (NZ) Ltd

The Coffee Club are making the Franchise System of the Year title in the Food & Beverage category their own, this being the fourth consecutive year they have won the title. The franchise was brought to New Zealand by young master franchisees Brad Jacobs and Andy Lucas in 2006 and celebrated the opening of its 50th café in New Zealand earlier this year.

‘The Coffee Club has been in operation for eight years, during which time it has developed very sophisticated systems to support the franchisees,’ said the judges. ‘They have clearly listened to feedback and used it constructively in the ongoing development of their business. They have lifted their customer-centric focus to a new level through their new approach to boost field manager support and capitalise on the knowledge of successful franchisees. This, combined with their strong use of data and information, has underpinned another year of solid business results.’

Category sponsored by Super Liquor Holdings & Lion



Under the new system, the winners of the Home and Lifestyle Services, and the Retail and Food & Beverage, categories were then pitted against each other to find the ‘best of the best’. The results were:

Home and Lifestyle Services

Franchise System of the Year
Winner – Green Acres


Franchisee of the Year
Winner – Dave & Shelley Coley, Hire A Hubby, Kapiti


Retail, Food & Beverage

Franchise System of the Year
Winner - Specsavers New Zealand


Franchisee of the Year
Winner - Ivy & William Joe, The Coffee Club, Bethlehem Tauranga




Special Awards were also made in each of the following categories.

  • Service Provider of the Year
  • Community Involvement
  • Field Manager of the Year

Service Provider of the Year

Winner – Franchize Consultants

Franchize Consultants (NZ) LtdFranchize Consultants continues to dominate this category, winning the Service Provider of the Year title for the third time in a row and the sixth time since 2006. Franchize Consultants has provided franchising and business development advice to many of New Zealand’s best-known names for over 20 years, and helps corporations and new start-ups alike enter the franchise arena. They also run regular training seminars for franchisors and their staff.

The judges called Franchize Consultants ‘A deserving winner. Franchize Consultants is strongly process-based and shows evidence of ongoing innovation. They are a solid user of information management systems. With positive results trends across the board, their customer performance is particularly impressive leading to a high level of customer satisfaction and repeat business.’

Category sponsored by NZME


Community Involvement

Franchisee of the Year
Winner – Sonia South, sKids Paraparaumu/Otaki

Sonia South, sKids, ParaparaumuSonia South’s dedication to making a difference in her local community was recently profiled in Franchise New Zealand after she stepped in to help following a devastating fire at Paraparaumu School. This responsiveness to local needs made a particular impression on the judges.

‘They quickly scaled up their supporting wraparound childcare services for those families most in need, providing free care services. This helped not only existing customers but families across the wider community.'

'Franchisee Sonia South showed altruism and leadership by harnessing other community resources to support and entertain throughout this traumatic and disruptive situation.’


Franchise System of the Year
Winner – Bedpost New Zealand

One of New Zealand’s oldest home-grown franchises, Bedpost has shown a diverse and long-term commitment to supporting the wider community.  They’ve made a substantial contribution over 12 years with the Community Patrols of New Zealand Charitable Trust and sponsored the Southern Steel netball team over 4 years, as well as providing both financial donations and beds to support the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust. ‘Bedpost truly understands the important role that positive community involvement can have for a franchise system,’ approved the judges.

Other finalists: sKids

Category sponsored by Waipuna Hotel & Conference Centre


Field Manager of the Year

For the first time, the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards recognised the work of field managers – those individuals who are the first point of contact for franchisees, helping them set goals, develop their businesses and enforcing standards when required. Entries were divided by category and turnover, with three awards being made in this first year.

Retail, Food & Beverage
Field Manager of the Year – Under $500,000
Winner – Damion Kaukau, NZ Post KiwiBank

Damian Kaukau, NZ Post KiwiBankThe judges found that Damion has good clarity around his role as a field manager and how he can add value to franchisees. He has clear processes and shows good use of data, allowing him to monitor the franchisees he’s working with and provide constructive input into their development.'

'On a personal level, he’s built good rapport with his franchisees leading to their combined year-on-year success. At a business level, Damion’s processes have formed the basis of a manual to ensure this systematic field management approach can be deployed across NZ Post KiwiBank.'


Other finalists: Chris Wong, NZ Post KiwiBank; Nathan Li, Mr Minit; Stan Van den Han, Mr Minit

Retail, Food & Beverage
Field Manager of the Year – Over $500,000
Winner – Natalie Newton, Harrisons Carpet One

Natalie Newton, Harrisons Carpet One with sponsor Philip Morrison of Franchise Acccountants‘Natalie clearly has a planned and comprehensive approach to both field and office-based support for Harrison Carpet One franchisees,' the judges reported. ‘Responsible for a wide geographical region, she has a systematic approach that responds to the different stages of franchisee planning and operational development. She’s established a good rapport and works closely with franchisees to support their growth and success. Natalie has also facilitated the effective introduction of new technology across franchisees.'

Other finalists: Bhwana Magan, The Coffee Club

Category sponsored by Franchise Accountants


Home & Lifestyle Services
Field Manager of the Year – Over $500,000
Highly Commended - Andrew Kidd, Poolwerx

Andrew Kidd (centre) with Simon & Lorraine Lord of sponsors Franchise New Zealand magazine & websiteAs a field manager for Poolwerx, Andrew’s relationship building has supported sound financial results and satisfaction amongst his franchisees. With the experience and success gained in his short time in this role, the judges expect to see him flourish in his new role as Franchise Operations Manager. 

Category sponsored by Franchise New Zealand magazine & website



About the 2014/2015 Awards

The Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards criteria are some of the most demanding in the world, being independently evaluated and judged under the internationally-recognised Baldrige criteria for business excellence. They are administered by the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation and entry is restricted to Franchise Association of New Zealand members only.

As Ian Robertson, the chairman of the Franchise Association said, ‘In entering the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards, each entrant opens up their business to the scrutiny of the evaluators and judges. Through this process, those entrants learn more about their business, its strengths and its weaknesses to enable them to chart the directions for their businesses to follow for ongoing success. Participants in the Westpac Franchise Awards are key contributors to the ever-growing pool of business knowledge and acumen within the wider franchise industry of New Zealand.’

Speaking at the Awards Simon Power, Westpac’s General Manager, Business Bank and Wealth said, "Westpac has sponsored the Franchise Awards for 20 years and during that time we’ve seen the industry grow and enhance its reputation both locally and abroad. Franchising is a key driver of growth in New Zealand and as the industry has grown in sophistication events such as these serve as a platform to identify strong franchise systems for our business customers and create marketing opportunities for our franchisor clients.’

Brett Marsh, Chairman of the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation, commented, ‘It is important to acknowledge all the applicants and award winners for whom tonight is a milestone in their journey; the volunteer evaluators who give of their time freely and generously, but who in turn are inspired by the organisations that invite them to share their lives for that moment; and the judges who bring their extensive experiences of business to the process in moderating the results. To all of those involved, thank you, or congratulations, or both.’

The Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards 2013/2014 were presented at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Auckland, before an audience of over 230 people.

Results from previous years are available here: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

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