The Market

last updated 12/09/2019

Franchise Awards 2000 - Full Results

last updated 12/09/2019

November 2000 - The winners of this year’s Franchise Awards set higher standards than ever. Here's our full report.

It was a star-studded evening in more ways than one at this year’s Franchise Awards dinner. The Auckland Sheraton was decked out for the occasion in a Hollywood theme, from the entry over a boulevard of stars bearing the names of previous winners to the glittering ballroom itself where stars twinkled behind the stage and glimmered on every table. Special guests included Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton and his wife Carol, and it was clear from the start that the 2000 Awards were going to be something special.

In keeping with the Hollywood theme, MC Mark Ferguson kicked off the evening with a celebrity film quiz, getting three volunteers up on stage. Alan Edelmann of Action International proved to have a quick wit but a less than encyclopaedic knowledge of Hollywood. Obviously Alan has better things to do than visit the cinema, for he got the last laugh when Action International later took two of the top awards – Master Franchise of the Year and the Supreme Award for Franchise System of the Year.

The Supreme Award for Franchisee of the Year went to Timaru, where Jo and Brent Williamson have made the local Robert Harris Café into a shining example for franchisees everywhere.

This year, the title of Service Franchisee of the Year went to a representative of one of the fastest growing areas of franchising – financial services. It was Bob Donovan of Colonial in East Auckland who took the honours here, while Brumby’s Hot Bread Shops maintained their enviable record of wins with the Retail Franchisee of the Year title going to Cathy and Steve Wilson of Christchurch.

A Special Award for Outstanding Achievement was presented to Bill McGowan of Fastway Couriers, who has created the world’s largest courier franchise, and a new category introduced this year recognised media coverage given to franchising issues. The Media Award was won by Karyn Scherer of the New Zealand Herald.

Commitment To Business

After six years, the Franchise Awards have become a focal point for excellence in franchising, and this was recognised by Mr Anderton’s attendance – the first time that any government has shown an appreciation of the value and potential of the $6 billion franchising sector.

‘The franchise model is a springboard for small and medium enterprises,’ the Deputy Prime Minister told the guests. ‘As Minister for Economic Development I can’t stress enough the importance of the SME sector. 42% of all New Zealanders work in small and medium enterprises. 96% of businesses in New Zealand employ 19 or fewer full-time staff.

‘The challenge our economy faces is to turn successful small businesses into successful big businesses. Franchising is an effective tool for businesses to grow, and for prospective business people to get started in a proven business.’

Mr Anderton also spoke of the need to export ideas, not just materials. ‘One of the strongest advantages that franchising offers the New Zealand economy is the opportunity to export our intellectual capital. If we want rising incomes and more good jobs then we must produce more – far more – products and services that depend on the skill, imagination and creativity of New Zealanders, and not just on our sunshine, rainfall and clean soil.’

And he drew on his memories of being at school with racing driver and engineer Bruce McLaren, who typified the qualities of creativity, innovation and excellence which are sought by the judges of the New Zealand Franchise Awards.

This Year’s Awards

The criteria for this year’s WestpacTrust New Zealand Franchise Awards were again based upon those of the internationally-recognised Malcolm Baldridge Awards. Judges assessed entries according to seven key areas:

  • Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Customer & Market Focus
  • Information & Analysis
  • Human Resource Focus
  • Process Management
  • Business Results

Points were scored in each category, with results accounting for 450 of the maximum 1000 points available. Entries were evaluated by a team of judges, and every finalist received an individual site visit from the judges.

The judging panel once again consisted of Jeff Luskie – National Manager, Customer Service/Quality Development, Telecom Directories; Professor Gael McDonald – Dean, Faculty of Business at UNITEC; and Maurice Mehlhopt – Executive Director, Newspaper Advertising Bureau.

The Awards were organised by the Franchise Association of New Zealand and chaired by John Foreman. Sponsorship came from WestpacTrust, Franchise New Zealand magazine, Brebner Print and the Sunday Star-Times, while last year’s Supreme Award winners Green Acres generously sponsored the evening’s décor and entertainment.

Action International

Supreme Award – Franchise System of the Year

Master Franchise of the Year

Last year, Action International entered the Awards despite the fact that, having been operating in New Zealand for less than 12 months, they were not eligible to win. Nevertheless, the judges were so impressed that they awarded them a Certificate of Merit and encouraged them to come back this year once they had some results to show.

The business coaching franchise took the suggestion seriously, and made winning an Award a goal for this year. As you would expect from an organisation which teaches business owners about achieving their ambitions, they not only did what they set out to do – they surpassed themselves by winning both the Franchise System of the Year Supreme Award and the Master Franchisee of the Year Award.

Chief judge Jeff Luskie comments that the fact that Action won both titles shows the benefit of a good system in action. ‘If you have a good system and a good franchisor, the values should be passed on to the master franchisee and ultimately to the franchisees themselves. In the Action franchise, these links were clear.

‘Action International focuses on teaching people who own small businesses how to systemise, measure and improve various aspects of their businesses. It is clear that Action doesn’t just teach this – they also “walk the talk” and know exactly where they are and where they are going,’ says Jeff. ‘This applies at both master franchisee and franchisee level: their people are encouraged and empowered to generate their own business and do the job, but always with the support of the network behind them.’

Alan Edelmann, the master licensee for New Zealand, confirms that Action International had a clear intention to win this year ‘and where the intention goes, the energy flows. Last year we didn’t have a year’s trading behind us so we missed out on the results part of the criteria. This year, we had something to show.’

Last year, Action had 7 franchisees in New Zealand – today they have 18, with more to come. ‘And they are showing excellent growth,’ says Alan. ‘Our highest performer right now has increased his turnover from $3800 per month to a high of $17,500 so far, and there are plenty following in his footsteps.’

How has Alan applied the Action system locally to achieve such results?

‘By lots of hard work and choosing the right people,’ he chuckles. ‘The Action system is excellent, but it’s never finished – it’s a vibrant and volatile thing. Testing, measuring, feedback and co-operation are all part of our system.

‘For example, we place great emphasis on communication. Once a month there’s a conference call with all the masters around the Asia Pacific region, and once a week we have a conference call with all the New Zealand licensees. There’s a facilitator who runs the conference, and everyone is honest and open about how they are feeling, what they have learned or what they need help with. It encourages instantaneous sharing of good ideas.

Alan Edelmann has been self-employed almost all his life in a wide variety of industries from agriculture to tourism, and has a degree in business management. ‘I can honestly say, however, that it’s only since being involved with Action that I've understood what a business really is. I’ve learned more in the last two years than I did in the previous 30, and several MBA’s who have been through the programme have said the same.’

When Action International’s name was announced not once but twice, the cheers from the three tables of Action franchisees and staff raised the roof of the Sheraton, and the party was clearly destined to go on all night. ‘Not just in New Zealand, either,’ says Alan. ‘We rang Brad (Sugars, founder of the franchise) from the table, and congratulations have been streaming in from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, Canada – all the other master franchisees are as elated as we are!’

Apart from the satisfaction of winning, what value does Alan place on the Awards?

‘It’s recognition for the system that we work with and for our achievement in the marketplace. The criteria are so stringent, being based on the Baldridge Awards, that it gives us validation not just in New Zealand but globally. That has enormous implications.

‘And of course it gives us increased prestige to attract more people as clients and franchisees. It’s a tremendous marketing tool – but most of all, it’s given us a valuable critique of our business. Now we work at making it even better.’

Franchisee of the Year – Supreme Award

Brent & Jo Williamson

Robert Harris Café,  Timaru

Like Action International, Brent and Jo Williamson received a Certificate of Merit in the 1999 Awards. They, too, were spurred on to do even better this year.

‘We’ve spent the last twelve months putting every part of our business under the microscope,’ admits Jo. ‘Last year we were just trying to answer the questions, but this year we’ve been looking at what we learned and putting it all into practice. The model behind the criteria is just excellent – so valuable for analysing how you are really doing in all the areas that really matter. It gives you a framework for seeing the whole picture.’

The Williamsons are second-time franchisees – they started the first Robert Harris in Invercargill and ran that for seven years before moving north and beginning again. Now their Timaru Café is attracting national attention as well as complimentary comments from the mayor and Deputy Prime Minister.

According to Jo, preparing their entry last year took about three weeks. This year, however, that time was down to about ten days ‘because I’d been collecting and using much more information throughout the year this time – which is what it’s all about,’ she admits.

‘We made some big changes as a result of last year. We’ve improved our customer feedback processes and introduced staff surveys too. The Robert Harris Café franchise allows you quite a lot of room to be creative, so we’ve been able to respond to requests for healthy options. We’ve joined the National Heart Foundation programme, introduced low fat muffins  and fresh salad – things like that.

‘With the franchisor’s help we were also able to survey our staff on areas like leadership, clarity of direction given, style of communication, safety issues and so on. We asked them to rate each area on a sliding scale and post responses direct to David Goodstone, the franchise operations manager. He collated the results and had them sent back to us so it could be completely confidential. It was very valuable, and now we’ll make it a regular thing.’

Another area Brent and Jo have addressed is benchmarking. ‘Last year we made the fatal flaw of comparing our results against industry averages – but benchmarking is about comparing yourself to the best, so that’s what we do now. We get information from the franchise group, of course but we also get the University of Waikato business benchmarking surveys which are very valuable. It’s all very well thinking you’re doing a great job, but unless you have a point of comparison you don’t really know how you’re doing at all.’

Jeff Luskie confirms Jo’s comments. ‘Brent and Jo know exactly what’s happening at any given time. They seek comparisons, know the trends, and work out what they have to do to exceed them. Jo is very interested in the theory behind the business and quite technically-minded, but at the same time they are very market-driven. You might think a café franchise in such an established chain doesn’t allow much scope, but these two have diversified and actively sought business. For example, they realised there was a lack of conference venues in Timaru, so they opened up the top floor of their building. They run coffee clubs to educate people about coffee, too. They’re high performers.’

And Jeff also commends them for their bold staff survey. ‘It’s risky trying to implement big company measurement systems in a small company, but they’ve found a way to make it work and now they are establishing benchmarks there too.’

Predictably, the Robert Harris Café team are delighted with the Williamsons’ success. ‘We share a lot of information with the other franchisees,’ says Jo. ‘Now they all want to know how we won this Award!’

Franchisee of the Year – Service

Bob Donovan

Colonial, East Auckland

Bob Donovan is this year’s Service Franchisee of the Year. The Colonial Group started franchising in 1995, and Bob was one of the first to take on the insurance franchise: however, he had been with the group a lot longer, both as an agent and as a district sales manager.

‘When Colonial announced it was franchising I knew it would suit my temperament and the way I do business,’ says Bob. ‘This industry has always tended to focus on upfront sales, but I had always been service-minded and had kept records of all my customers so I could stay in contact – I gathered a lot of customers that way. When I attended a Colonial presentation where the CEO said we were changing the company’s attitude from ‘Sell, Sell, Sell’ to ‘Service, Service, Service’, I cheered.

‘The agents were given the choice of going with the franchise or looking elsewhere. I don’t think any of us believed the graphs they showed us of where our income could go as franchisees, but they were right. Today I have 600-700 clients with whom I’m in regular contact and about the same number again of policy holders who I can’t do anything else for right now – I still stay in touch though. It takes work - I have a full-time secretary, a part-time tele-servicer making calls and appointments, and my wife Lesley manages the financial side of the business.

Bob says he applies the franchise system pretty much as laid out in the ‘black box’ – the four manuals that set out how to run a Colonial franchise. ‘I don’t look at it as much as I did in the first year,’ he admits, ‘but I go on learning. Entering the Awards we found a few things we were doing very well, and we found some deficiencies too. That means we can make improvements, which is good. You mustn’t stand still.

‘Early next year I’m going to a training meeting of the Million Dollar Round Table – that’s a world-wide affiliation of insurance agents which meets every year somewhere in the world and shares ideas. It’s the first time I’ve gone, but I’m 52 – it’s time to get out and learn some more.’

Jeff Luskie agrees with Bob’s assessment of himself. ‘Bob really understands the life-time value of a customer. He constantly works on long-term relationships, evolving policy and coverage services to meet the customer’s long-term needs. He’s equally focussed on his staff – they have specific areas of responsibility, and are empowered to make decisions and ensure things happen.’

John Grant, Colonial’s franchise manager, says that ‘The Colonial franchise system encourages this approach, but even so, Bob stands out. He has complete files on each customer, documents each conversation, annually reviews the previous client analysis and makes the processes work for him.’

Colonial has recently been integrated into the Sovereign Group and Bob initially wondered how well the new owners would understand franchising. ‘But all they have to do is look at what we have achieved over the past five years,’ he says. ‘This Award is part of that, and shows the quality of the Colonial system. Service, service, service!’

Franchisee of the Year – Retail

Cathy & Steve Wilson

Brumby’s Barringtons, Christchurch

Cathy and Steve Wilson are used to winning– last year they took the Franchisee of the Year Supreme Award, and this year they were back for more. It marks the fourth straight year that Brumby’s people have won a franchisee title.

‘We knew from last year what a valuable process just entering is,’ says Cathy. ‘We pinpointed things to work on from that, and entering again gave us the opportunity to update what we’d done, add our first full year of results and get some more feedback.’

One area which the Wilsons had wanted to work on was staff development. ‘We installed a new point of sale system which was able to track everything each staff member was selling, so we could see who needed extra sales training, for example. We tried to make it a bit of fun rather than a ‘Big Brother’ thing. We put everyone in teams, including the bakers – after all, a good-looking product is easier to sell. We put graphs and statistics on the board, developed an incentive scheme and gave out prizes.

‘It’s definitely increased turnover, and it’s also important for us to be able to monitor what’s happening in the store even when we’re not there. We might open another store if we can find a location as good as this, and we need to know everyone can perform without us.’

Steve Wilson manages the bakery operation, and he has been working on cost control since last year. ‘When you’re busy, costs can creep up little by little. This year, we’ve had the advantage of last year’s trading patterns to help improve our predictions, and we’ve also improved systems for portion control, weight and ingredients. I use the Brumby’s system, of course, but take it one step further. If you can increase turnover and control costs better, it shows on the bottom line.’

Jeff Luskie agrees that Brumby’s Barrington has just continued to get better. ‘Everything they identified last year they have worked on, and they’ve improved incrementally. It’s an even better business than when they won the Supreme title last year – the fact that Brent and Jo Williamson overtook them this year only goes to show that standards are constantly improving. That’s a great pleasure to see.’

Media Award

Karyn Scherer

New Zealand Herald

The Media Award was presented for the first time this year by the Franchise Association to recognise and reward the increasing coverage of franchising stories by business reporters. ‘This year has seen franchising become too big to ignore,’ commented Simon Lord, chairman of the Media Panel. ‘The result has been some excellent coverage of franchising stories in the mainstream press.’

The recipient of the inaugural Media Award was Karyn Scherer, acting Business Editor of the New Zealand Herald, for her coverage of the sale of the Eagle Boys franchise to Pizza Hut earlier this year and her exploration of the implications for franchisees.

Outstanding Achievement Award

Bill McGowan

Fastway Couriers

A special Award for Outstanding Achievement was made to Bill McGowan, the man behind Fastway Couriers. Starting with two vans and a vision in Napier, Bill, his wife Suzanne and a dedicated team have created the world’s largest courier franchise which has won awards on both sides of the Tasman. Fastway is now expanding further and plans to have master franchisees in 35 countries within five years.

‘Bill’s achievement as the first New Zealander to create a world-class franchise from local beginnings marks him out as a hero for us all,’ said Win Robinson, Chairman of the Franchise Association, in presenting the Award. ‘He has vision, dedication and an unswerving commitment to best practice in franchising. Fastway has grown through careful research and decisive action. It is a model for the sort of businesses which this country can produce.

‘Bill has also served for two years as Chairman of the World Franchise Council, which represents franchising globally. His leadership has enhanced New Zealand’s reputation and helped to open doors for those who follow.’

Giving Something Back

So what do this year’s winners have in common apart from their commitment to excellence? Two traits stand out – a desire to give something back to the development of their franchise system, and a willingness to look outside it for information which could lead to improvements.

Action International share information through regular conference calls across the world. Brent Williamson serves on the Franchise Advisory Council of Robert Harris Café and has assisted with new franchisee training. Bob Donovan has a similar role with the Colonial Franchise Trust. Steve and Cathy Wilson’s Brumby’s outlet is now a model store used for training. Bill McGowan has travelled the world for franchising.

At the same time, they can see beyond their own four walls. Jo Williamson attends Business Excellence Foundation courses and studies university benchmark surveys. Bob Donovan has the courses and seminars of the Financial Planners & Insurance Association. Steve Wilson goes outside to find better ways of portion control.

‘Every one of this year’s winners is committed to making their business the best it can possibly be,’ says Jeff Luskie. ‘That’s what marks them out as shining examples for franchising in the year 2000. Who will it be next year?’

About the Awards

The WestpacTrust New Zealand Franchise Awards are organised by the Franchise Association of New Zealand and sponsored by WestpacTrust with additional support from the Sunday Star-Times, Brebner Print and Franchise New Zealand magazine.

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