by Carpet Court
last updated 22/09/2019
Carpeted With Snow
by Carpet Court
last updated 22/09/2019
Carpet Court delivers lifestyle and business benefits for young couple in the regions
Two years ago, Craig and Anna Williams decided to abandon their lives in Wellington and follow their passion for skiing and snowboarding to Wanaka. ‘Initially it was a lifestyle move,’ Anna admits. ‘We have two small children and wanted them to grow up in the wilds. Since we moved here, our lives have become so much more as a result of buying the local Carpet Court franchise.’
Craig owned a carpet and flooring installation company, while Anna was an auditor and accountant with Deloitte for 10 years. ‘Between us we had a broad range of experience, so didn’t just move to Wanaka for romantic reasons,’ Anna explains. ‘We knew the booming level of building in the area, and Craig had all the right skills to take advantage of that. His installation business took off very quickly after we arrived.’
Ironically, it was the sheer volume of installation work Craig had that motivated the couple’s move into the retail sector. ‘I could see that with the trade going gang-busters down here, I could spend the next decade on my knees,’ he laughs. ‘I didn’t really fancy that, so Anna and I thought of opening our own store. Although we know the flooring market pretty well, we realised it would be hard to make it as an independent. Carpet Court has a great reputation with strong repeat business, product satisfaction and customer experience, so when we heard the local outlet was available to the right people, we didn’t hesitate!’
As an accountant, Anna had little trouble getting her head round the figures. ‘I did due diligence myself and got some advice from an ex-colleague, too,’ she says. ‘Although we didn’t have quite enough equity to satisfy the bank’s requirements, the figures made sense and our family came to the rescue so we were able to go ahead.’
Anna and Craig took over their new business in December 2018. ‘Of course it was a bit scary, but the franchise did everything it could to make it a smooth transition. Carpet Court talks about “franchise partners”, not “franchisees”, which reflects the nature of the relationship. Our induction training was spot-on, and putting faces to all the names at Carpet Court’s Auckland headquarters was great – everyone was so helpful, especially in HR, which is a new challenge for me.
‘As well as the training, we also spent a couple of months with the previous owners holding our hands in the Wanaka store, which gave us a handle on things and I found I really enjoyed it. We were lucky enough to inherit a couple of staff who’ve been with the business several years and they’ve been wonderful – they are very comfortable out front, which has left me free to concentrate on the nitty-gritty of growing the business while Craig continues managing installations. I’m still learning new things about flooring every day,’ she smiles. ‘When you are dealing with many of the big housing companies there tends to be a lot of compliance work, and having the support and experience of the franchise to navigate round that has been most useful.’
Big numbers, big buying power
Carpet Court is the country’s largest flooring retailer, which gives it big advantages of scale over all aspects of business from buying power to marketing, via product range to accounting packages. ‘We already have around 60 stores, and are seeking suitable people to open new stores or convert existing outlets in key locations around the country,’ says Colin Jones, the franchise’s Head of Sales & Partnerships.
‘Carpet Court are the leaders in both the retail residential market and the commercial office market. We have national relationships with insurance companies, group builders, retirement village operators and most other large commercial organisations, which means a ready market for our franchise partners, and they also need to build relationships locally with trade customers and householders. With additional stores, we expect to grow the three million square metres of floor we already cover each year, giving our franchise partners even more buying power.’
Depending on location, an investment of around $250,000 is required for a new store including fit-out and initial stock, while conversion varies according to circumstances. ‘Occasionally, current stores become available, enabling people like Craig and Anna to take over an established business,’ Colin says. ‘Whichever option you’re interested in, contact me to find out possibilities in your preferred area. You need to be a good manager, have a sales-driven focus and be good at building relationships at all levels.’
The right move
To the question, ‘Would you do it again?’ Anna gives a very positive ‘Yes! Carpet Court has brought us all the advantages of big buying power and good systems, and I’ve got really stuck in here. Having a nearly-two-year-old doesn’t always make it easy, but having the mountains and the snow on our doorstep makes it easier to get the work-life balance we wanted.
‘We’ve bought into an excellent company at a very good time – Carpet Court was certainly the right move for us.’
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